The term "fight or flight" goes all the way back to our ancestors and choices that they made when faced with danger in their environment. They ultimately had one of two choices....fight or flee. In either of these cases, it has been said that the physiological and psychological response to stress prepares the body to react to the danger. The body believes it is in acute stress and all sorts of "stuff" is in turn prompted to be pumping throughout your body. Adrenaline, hormones, cortisol....yada, yada, yada. The anxiousness, nervousness, fear, anxiety and countless other emotions that this state of being triggers can wreak havoc on so many facets of your life. So here's the thing....what I've been realizing through these last couple months of healing from my last surgery is, I've been in fight or flight mode for the last THREE AND A HALF YEARS. No joke. Perhaps it hasn't been every second of every single day, but it's been a pretty steady state thing. It has felt like some sort of "danger" has in fact been lurking around every corner so to speak. For me, though, it's been fight AND flight. I kind of wish it was one or the other, haha, that sounds more simplistic. For me, it has felt like fighting for my life, looking at the danger head on, slaying one dragon after another and then running for safety and hiding under the covers over and over and over again until the next monster comes at me or for me. I started with a stage 3 cancer diagnosis that flowed into chemo, surgery, sepsis, radiation, clinical trial.....a little Covid pandemic thrown in there.....and then another surgery, staph infection and now a more complicated surgery on the horizon. What the actual F*#K?!?!?
As I previously stated, obviously I've had moments through all of this where I haven't been completely panic stricken, but nevertheless, the threat has been pretty evident and quite honestly staring me directly in the face this entire time. My body, hell, my soul longs for the day where this threat isn't quite so ominous and where I can feel like the chill Mia shows up more often than the warrior Mia. I mean, the warrior Mia is a freakin' badass, but holy moly this gal needs some R and R. What is this realization teaching me you might ask? I mean, what's the point in this discovery? Glad you asked. First and foremost, I seriously need to cut myself some freaking slack. This is one hundred percent factual. I'm the queen of high expectations especially when it comes to myself and feeling like my "best" is one step further than that which I had the courage to take today. As I reflect on this kind of great quality of myself, I also am realizing that there is space for me to rest. To acknowledge that my best in each moment is enough. I need to move on from the "I wasn't good enough today" mentality and replace it with "I did my best today given the circumstances I've been given". I'm in no way lowering my high expectations of myself because I also believe this has served me well....probably to the level of it has saved my life time and again, but I need to pump the breaks on this belief that the bar can never be moved up or down, even just a titch (my mom has always used the word "titch" and I'm full on embracing it here!). I am always willing to allow some grace to others, it's just really about time that I give that same respect and leverage to myself.
I saw a cool quote this morning that read "Do not just slay your demons; dissect them and find what they've been feeding on"-Awaken Healers. This really resonated with me. For the last few years I've been just slaying one dragon, demon after another. It has truly felt like that. I did some of it solo, some of it after some reflection with a therapist, throw in some dieticians, wholistic healing doctors and numerous others for guidance (which was/is life saving by the way), but only now have I been focusing on what these demons/dragons have been feeding on. It's like I cleaned up what I could see, but didn't understand why they kept coming back for more. I guess I still can't say I know with absolute certainty, but I have my suspicions and let's just say that I'm testing some stuff out and honestly, the dragons, demons have been at bay (for the most part). Let's celebrate that! So I guess my focus has become to just keep going....not in flight or fight mode, but in healing mode. Those high expectations that I mentioned earlier make it obvious to me that his is a process not just a magic wand kind of a thing (darn it, ha!). My heart is open to the fact that this, however, is part of the healing process that makes it a gift. Day by day, bit by bit, I'm realizing that the art of healing is just as beautiful as perhaps the day I can say that I'm finally great. And don't tell me that the day I finally feel it all come together won't happen, because this high expectations, fully optimistic, giant heart of a girl KNOWS it will. I will achieve it. Just you watch.
As we start a new week of healing, dragon slaying or just finding the strength to keep going, I invite you to give yourself some dang credit! As my yoga teacher always says everything is an invitation! You decide if it's for you or not....that in itself is pretty empowering. Some of life's invitations may not suit me and so be it! Other invitations might just be what I need to not only feel alive, but to feel love, contentment and an overwhelming sense of gratitude. So if you feel so inclined, take my invitation and celebrate how much you have grown and how far you have come. I've been reading the book The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. Put this to the top of your "must read'" list! Again, just an invitation, but you won't be sorry should you accept it! Anyway, one of the agreements is "Always do your best". So in the spirit of a new week and clean slate, this is what I want to leave you with today:
"Under any circumstance, always do your best, no more and no less. But keep in mind that your best is never going to be the same from one moment to the next. Everything is alive and changing all the time, so your best will sometimes be high quality, and other times it will not be as good. When you wake up refreshed and energized in the morning, your best will be better than when you are tired at night. Your best will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick, or sober as opposed to drunk. Your best will depend on whether you are feeling wonderful and happy, or upset, angry, or jealous. Doing your best, you are going to live your life immensely. You are going to be productive, you are going to be good to yourself, because you will be giving yourself to your family, to your community, to everything. But it is the action that is going to make you feel intensely happy." -Don Miguel Ruiz
Let's stop perceiving everything as requiring the fight or the flight mode, instead seek out the reasons those damn demons keep coming back and move that expectations bar up or down my love! It' doesn't have to be fixed in place for all eternity. Always do your best and never, ever leave yourself behind. Keep on Killing It. Much love-M