If only

There are certain words and terms I want to exorcise from my vocabulary and use. Words like “fail” or “should” and terms like “if only.” Context is absolutely critical here, though, because it remains glaringly obvious to me that I cannot completely extricate myself from using these words and terms in all situations and in all contexts.

Context, context, context. I am kind of obsessed about it this morning because of recent incidents that have me on a spin cycle about diffusing the destructive context of “if only” as a verbal weapon.

On 2 memorable occasions (think “a date that will live in infamy” sort of events), my mother told me that I would be better “if only ….” I was 13 the first time, kind of a chubby girl suddenly a couple of inches taller and trying desperately to be more invisible and less gawky and coming off some of the other shit that had gone on in our prior neighborhood and home. Per my mom, “if only you lose a little weight you would not look so ill proportioned.” Take yet another one for the team, self esteem. The second was when I was 29, newly divorced single mom with 3 young children, and I invited her to meet me in therapy so I could tell her about my childhood sexual abuse in a safe environment. This was my first attempt to talk about it outside the confines of therapy, and it was the sort of huge, life-altering event my therapist at the time had been patiently coaching me toward. So after haltingly, tearfully coughing up the admission and the details of the who, how long, and the highlights of the various events and ways I had been assaulted, my mother turned and with that angry, stone-faced expression looked me right in the eye and said “your life would be better if only you would stop lying about things that never happened.” If she had stabbed me in the heart it would have hurt less.

So yeah, I get that the term in these sorts of contexts is a big giant trigger of an emotionally loaded gun. Honestly, I make allowances because I know my own history and how affected I am by the term in a negative context.

This morning, while going through my List I was playing a game inside my head sort of centered around this and other negative trigger terms. If only I could finish 3 sets of this list I could be completely happy and fulfilled. If only I do not think in with f-bomb loaded epithets while doing those f–king walking lunges I might feel differently about them. If only I could return to ignorance and bliss and accept my lot as an insulin-dependent diabetic I would not be here, dripping in sweat, swearing inside my head.

It was a silly little game, something that made me smile while performing the less desirable aspects of today’s List. So much so that I completely lost track of time and suddenly woke up to the fact that it was nearly 7 and I was only halfway through my sets in the B block. It is apparently true – time does fly when you’re having fun. Or distracting yourself when you’re not having that much fun.

We have been interviewing for an additional associate, possibly 2, and a couple of interns for the summer. So much of my time the last couple of weeks has been spent talking to candidates about compensation, benefits, general policies, our hiring process, and answering questions on these and other topics. After my most recent HR experiences, it was difficult to resist the urge to ask each and every one of them about his/her relationship with the parental units. Fortunately I am a professional; I avoided asking about their family and probing for signs of helicopter parenting.

Today I met with the senior associates and partners regarding candidates, interviews, and who we would like to meet with a second time. I hear a lot of “if only” qualifiers regarding experience, attitude, compensation, and personality and potential fit within the office. In this context it is not negative so much as part of the reality of good, if imperfect candidates. The way the term kept coming up in the context of our evaluations made me smile inside.

Yesterday I met with RD to talk about my latest dietary sins and omissions. Actually, I am not sinning terribly, but I have been trying to expand the list of vegetables and foods I will consume and not doing such a swell job with it. RD did the equivalent of a professional eye roll – if I don’t like something, then there is no need to eat it. With his encouragement, I am good to go on with whatever proteins and vegetables and grains I enjoy as I wish. The important thing is eating more protein, of course, but not at the expense of eating food that tastes like crap to me and then turning around and eating crap food just because. Am I self-sabotaging? Probably not. Probably I am just trying to be more adventurous without a backup plan. If only I liked a broader variety of foods I would not be a picky eater. But I am, so I should just suck it up and make the best of the palate I possess right now. May e it expands, or maybe I am stuck with the tastebuds of your average 4 year old. All is well.

My head tends to get into more trouble with the rigidity of concepts like “should” and “if only” and their negative connotations. TM has suggested reframing negative girl’s bleating into positive thoughts and experiences, hence my going through practice this morning with my little mental game to keep pushing along with fatigue and through things I enjoy less than others. Thus far, with negative girl safely ensconced in her box, I can continue working and get through. While life would be so much simpler, easier if only I could silence or at least keep negative girl contained, she has been a constant staple in my head and my life. Exorcising her is unlikely to ever happen completely; containing her is the best I can hope for right now.

Containment is good, though. There was a time when I would feel poorly, badly, guilty, a failure for thinking that I could not ever exorcise her completely from my psyche. I am learning to be whole and accepting of all parts of my mind and my thinking. Like my memories of horrible experiences that shaped the person I am today, those events are not the sum total of who and what I am now; those memories and experiences no longer define me. Nor does the crippling fear and anxiety they inspired. Same is true of my thoughts and how they direct my choices. Negativity, fear, anxiety still occur, and I expect it always will to some greater or lesser degree. However, I can contain it, and I can control and direct it for my benefit. That makes me powerful. That makes me worthy. That makes me so much more than any should or if only scenario I can imagine or manifest.

And just for today, I am princess of the forward lunges. Supersets including those bad boys? Conquered this morning. Go me!

2 thoughts on “If only

  1. Yes the mental “game” is so important to get through workouts. I always just focus on “this one” … just gt through “this” then comes relief. Such tricks we play on ourselves to get the job done 😉

    • Yep, I’m pretty weak in the mental game, so I indulge myself in whatever gets me through each exercise, another rep, the next set. But I admit loving the days when the last exercise is on mat and I can just lay there for an extra minute at the end. 🙂

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