Confession #1: my close friends and family members know that I consider my books to be my friends. From paperbacks to hard-covers, from Shakespeare to Shteyngart, I love those glue-bound sets of paper with an adolescent intensity. And, beyond my treasured books, I have other possibly surprisingly friends as well...like my feelings, my inner lizard, and my houseplants. Confession #2: I am not joking.
Lately I have been earnestly getting to know one of my oldest, most loyal friends: Resistance. She probably appeared when I was given my first bath or perhaps when, around age two, the optometrist fitted me for my first pair of thick eyeglasses. Over the years I learned to ignore her, keeping too busy with 4.0 maintenance and a squillion extracurricular activities in my teens and then, in my 20’s, numbing my body and ignoring her many warnings: Quit your job! Don’t buy a condo in a city you loathe! Dump the cruel boyfriend! And, for goodness’ sake, take a NAP!
I felt bone-shakingly afraid that my life would literally fall apart if I listened to her messages - I’d be unemployed, hopelessly single, with no achievements or motivation, plus I’d be well-rested enough to fully take in all my failures. Not possible!
Only in the last few years have I recognized that Resistance has always showed up to help. Always. For example:
- As a youngster, I strongly resisted baby-sitting my siblings. Now, as an adult, I know that was not because I disliked helping my parents or hated responsibility; I simply didn’t have the skills to take good care of them and myself in those circumstances.
- As a beginning teacher, Resistance frequently appeared in my classroom. I thought she meant that I was a weak, lazy teacher and that I had wasted untold time and money pursuing the wrong career; however, now I know that she was illustrating how much my educator’s heart simply needed a different setting to thrive.
- Even as recently as a few months ago, I resisted re-connecting with a formerly dear colleague. That was not because I’m cold, self-centered, or careless; Resistance was nudging me toward more balanced, fulfilling relationships and helping me make space for new friendships to blossom.
With a new understanding of her intentions, a little shot of optimism, and support from extraordinary coaches, I have ended the decades-long feud and opened my heart and mind to Resistance. I’ve grown the self-compassion required to hear her wisdom.
Resistance carries holy messages. It just takes courage for me to pay attention.