Holding my own shape

A couple of weeks ago, I was berating myself for not being good at boundaries. My therapist kept asking me questions, pulling out specifics (like it’s his job or something, weird), until I saw something new:

“Hey, wait… Maybe… I think… You know what? I’m not bad at having boundaries. I’m pretty good at it. I was just bad at having boundaries in my marriage. In this particular relationship.”

He nodded.

The top row of my bookshelf is a post-divorce self-help litany, a row of titles like Breaking Free and Emotional Resilience and Codependent No More.

I have read about myself on many of those pages.

Sometimes I get so angry at myself for doing what women are taught to do: adjust, adapt, make yourself fit.

I’m a good student, quick to grasp the concept, eager to please.

Don’t look for the space that fits you, no; instead, disassemble and reform yourself to fit into the space that’s available.

Got it.

Several years ago I started a new year’s tradition of choosing a phrase as a marker for what I wanted to embody and learn in the year ahead. On January 1, 2019, the phrase I chose was walking in my own authority.

I had no idea of the shitstorm ahead, or how much, how very desperately, I would need to cling to that phrase. Or how many times, and how very badly, I would fail to do so.

I’m not angry at myself anymore. I had a lot to unlearn, and some big new concepts to face. Learning meant I had to wrestle with things until they broke. I thought for a while that it was me breaking. But it wasn’t. It was me being, becoming, embodying my own self. All the cracking / breaking / splintering came from the lines and boxes and too-small spaces and distortions around me.

I am learning how to hold my own shape.

Of course, it’s still temporary. What are we but water, or spirit, or the space between atoms, formlessness taking on form?

But I am no longer water poured into a cup. I am a wave crashing onto the beach.