Back to square one.

meta_andrea_self_500

Meta self-portrait, shot with iphone 4S

Maybe I should have knocked on wood, or crossed my fingers, or whatever one does to ward off the evil eye. I said it, then wondered if it was true, or if I’d be punished for saying it.

“I like myself,” I told a friend. We had been at our meditation class and after hours of inspiration and inquiry, I shared this insight – “I just realized,” I told her, “that my old stories, the ones about being fat or stupid or unworthy of love, they’ve expired. I don’t think that way anymore. I like who I see when I look in the mirror.”

Maybe I should have added “these days” or “lately” or “at this moment.” Maybe it shouldn’t have been such a bold pronouncement. It felt transgressive and I immediately wondered if I should take it back.

And then yesterday, a dear friend got upset with me. And when someone gets upset with me, I panic. And I immediately want to say the thing that will make it better, that will smooth it over. You can have anything you want just don’t be mad at me. Please.

And when she didn’t answer her phone, I texted. And texted again. And then nothing.  All night there was nothing except the ache in my stomach, terrible like a rock, and it was hard to sleep and hard to wake up and hard to ignore the terrible, horrible ache.

But here’s the thing: Where I go in my mind is like a superhighway to the darkest dark. I’m a horrible person. I don’t know how to be a good friend. I should just be alone. I should be blotted out and erased.

And I thought about what I said last week, and maybe I spoke too soon. And maybe what I should have said was, “I like myself most of the time. Except when I am triggered. Or pissing somebody off. Or making mistakes.”

And that puts me somewhere back at square one all over again.

Update: Just want to share that I had a beautiful conversation with this friend today and I am not only feeling relieved, but more connected to her for having had this process. When we are in tender territory, our minds can go crazy with stories… most of which aren’t true. I will remember this next time.

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Hi, I’m Andrea

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56 Comments

  1. jen gray

    i love you…

    Reply
  2. Kris Katsuko Oster

    Beautiful Andrea,

    I love that you like yourself.

    xox,

    Kris

    Reply
  3. Connie

    {{{hugs}}}

    Reply
  4. dani

    oh sweet one, everyone has crap days…you are very, very loved

    Reply
  5. Jolene

    Thanks for being honest and vulnerable. There’s power there…for you that express it, and for us that receive it.

    Reply
  6. Juniper

    I send love and good energy… ox

    Reply
  7. Aleece

    I like you all the ways. Starting over is one of them. There is beauty in beginning. Again and again and again.

    Reply
  8. Amy

    I understand this post, a lot. I felt really left out recently, and immediately went down the road of “not good enough, not worth anything, not okay” despite really liking myself most of the time. It’s a process. One bad moment or series of difficult thoughts doesn’t mean you’re back to square one — it means you’ve got a new thing to grow through. It’s a test and a challenge to like yourself, and I bet you’ll figure out ways to cope the next time someone gets upset with you. Keep going. Much love to you.

    Reply
  9. Beth

    {{{{Andrea}}}} you are such a courageous soul – so brave and true to yourself – I’m so inspired by you – by your dreams by your journey on your path through the light and dark. Sending you so much love and hugs xoxo

    Reply
  10. {sue}

    Then you just have to listen to other people tell you that it’s on her, not on you.

    Everyone says things that come out wrong. And everyone deserves the chance to make it right.

    I’ve spent all day upset that someone is mad at me over something I said. What I said was truth, so I wouldn’t take it back. What he said in response was mean and uncalled for.

    So now *I’m* listening to my friends (who were also all caught up in this) who are telling me it’s on him, not me.

    So I’m telling you. 🙂 You deserve more than that.

    Reply
  11. Mariella

    I’m the same way….except for the first part. Still working on that. Getting close I think. xo

    Reply
  12. Pamela

    I can well relate to your post! But you know, I don’t think we fall back all the way to square one. I know it can feel like that–big time. But I think each time we survive disappointments and loss, as well as the hypercritical voice within that excoriates us for being less than perfect, each time we not only survive that experience, but learn and grow from it–the ‘base line’ goes up, and what feels like square one is actually somewhere well beyond it.

    We might be blue and down and hopeless, but there is growth, and pulling oneself up from that low place is quicker and surer. And wiser.

    Good luck; I do hope you feel better soon!

    Reply
  13. Kim B.

    Awesome post; awesome you.

    Reply
  14. sarah

    Andrea-

    Something one of my teachers said to me recently that has really stuck with me is…

    (I’ll paraphrase)
    It is not sustainable to ONLY be good.

    Perhaps it will strike a chord for you too.
    Being ourselves is, and that may upset some folks.

    (hugs)

    Reply
  15. RookieMom Whitney

    Learning that someone is mad at you is the worst feeling! When you describe it, I can feel that drop in my stomach when I realize I’ve hurt someone’s feelings or disappointed them. I want to wiggle that feeling away, hide from it.

    Reply
  16. laurie wagner

    see how beautiful you are? When you show up like this – which you do so often – honest – vulnerable – real – shit girl – see how it is? See how everyone gets it? Love you – brave girl!

    Reply
  17. Nilofer Merchant (@nilofer)

    Ah, I relate. But what I saw when I read your story….? That you had the moment. That clarity. That calm. Which means you can return to it now that you know where to find it. And isn’t that worth a lot?

    Reply
  18. vivienne

    I’ve so been there…and sometimes it isn’t that we are at the beginning again but that we are digging into a deeper layer of the learning.

    Sending love.

    Reply
  19. debbie

    last night something good happened – something I’ve been wanting to happen for a long time, and I felt sweet relief … followed almost immediately by fear. I’m happy. crap. is something bad going to happen now? Is it ok to be happy about this? am I going to be punished by the universe for wanting this so bad and finally getting it?

    deep breath. thankfully I fell asleep. but holy hannah, those thoughts are like a steam train.

    sending you so much love and peace and a gentle reminder that our growth is not linear. we grow in rings, like a tree, circling back to rough patches but a little further from it — a little stronger — and a little wiser, I think.

    Reply
  20. W. Lotus

    I know that ache. It stinks. *hugs*

    Two days ago my daily Note from the Universe from http://www.tut.com said this, “Feeling lost does not make one so. ”

    Feeling unloveable does not make you so.

    Reply
  21. HeidiRenee

    thank you SO much for posting this Andrea, it’s so important for me as I’ve been shaming myself for not being “past” something I have publicly owned – it’s so difficult and is almost magnified by our former confidence. Conflict is my achilles heel and reduces me to a sniveling, terrified mess… hate that so much. Thanks for reminding me that I’m not alone and don’t need to be perfect to be growing.

    Reply
  22. playcrane

    Glad you hit publish on this one!

    Reply
  23. Nina

    Enough
    These few words are enough, if not these words,this breath…
    If not this breath, this sitting
    This opening to the life we have refused
    again and again until now. Until now.
    In this moment of epiphany
    This opening to the life we have refused
    again and again
    until NOW

    ~david whyte

    Wild Geese

    You do not have to be good.
    You do not have to walk on your knees
    for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
    You only have to let the soft animal of your body
    love what it loves.
    Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
    Meanwhile the world goes on.
    Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
    are moving across the landscapes,
    over the prairies and the deep trees,
    the mountains and the rivers.
    Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
    are heading home again.
    Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
    the world offers itself to your imagination,
    calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting–
    over and over announcing your place
    in the family of things.
    -Mary Oliver

    Hang in there.

    Reply
  24. Jill Salahub

    I know that feeling, “you can have anything you want don’t be mad at me please.” It made me feel sick to read that, I know it so well.

    And this whole post made me think of something I’ve been contemplating all day, an email I got from my Inner Pilot Light that said, “let me fill you in on a little secret. Your imperfections are your gateway to intimacy. When you’re willing to be vulnerable, to expose your big ugly tail, to share your imperfections with others, they see in you their own imperfections, and they feel connected, and you give them a gift – letting them off the hook, giving them permission to be imperfect, just like you. Then – swoon – two imperfect beings can bond, and compassion grows, and intimacy thrives. You don’t have to always get it right. And when you don’t, you don’t have to keep it a secret.”

    So thank you, again, for this gift, for showing us your big ugly tail, for not getting it right and not keeping that a secret. It’s a crazy, twisted logic–but it’s because you are honest about not liking yourself all the time that we can like ourselves more of the time. So much love.

    Reply
  25. kathryn

    andrea,

    i’ve been here. those superhighways, those started out as little paths. you’ve taken them so often that they become smooth and wide and then you surfaced them with asphalt. now, you know you don’t want to be on the highway. but you find yourself there anyway, out of habit, almost by instinct. so you have to learn to notice it, and take the first possible exit onto a smaller road. the kind of path that you want to become well worn in your mind. it’s not an instant thing. but the more you do it, the easier it will get.

    one ride down the highway in a couple of months isn’t so bad, compared to how often you used to travel it. the more time you spend off of the highway, the more well-worn and automatic the alternate paths become, and it sounds like you are acing this.

    xo,
    kathryn

    Reply
  26. Karean

    Seriously no kidding, this exact thing happens to me.. sending you warm wishes…
    and may you get back to that place where you had that knowing that you liked yourself just as you are.

    x
    Karen (former student)

    Reply
  27. Bridgette

    I certainly couldn’t say it any better than Sarah’s teacher or Debbie. (Now I want both of those saying stitched on a pillow or tattooed on some part of me). What I already have tattooed on me is – everything is temporary – so is this and you’ll come through it as you always do, a little wiser in knowing yourself a little better and able to forgive yourself a little easier next time.

    Reply
  28. Kimberley McGill

    Hi Andrea,
    I know that rock in the stomach feeling. It’s long past being familiar, that feeling is like an intimate friend of sorts. I’m loving myself right now. A lot. But I know that if someone I love, or even kinda like, gets angry with me, well, I’ll probably curl up and cuddle up with that rock.

    But there is something else for me, and I wonder if it might be true for you too. I used to feel that way almost all the time, even if it wasn’t full on, every way I turned I felt the sharp edges of that rock. And now, well it’s only there when someone gets mad at me or I feel like I’ve done something stupid … I know it feels like square one, I really really do. But I just wonder about how it was for you before being able to love yourself at all.

    And then there’s this, and I always believe Rumi: On this path no effort is wasted, no gain ever reversed ….

    Gentle hugs and much love,
    Kimberley

    Reply
  29. Andrea

    I <3 you (you know, in a non-sycophantic, bloggy way).

    Most of us would be lucky to have a friend like you who cares so much.

    Reply
  30. Kimberley McGill

    Well, it’s not a Rumi quote. It’s Hafiz, but I hear he’s equally as trustworthy! 🙂

    Reply
  31. Lucia Figueiredo

    you are not back at square one. just by knowing what ticks you, you’re way ahead of the “love yourself” game! knowlegde is everything. thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  32. jane

    standing here at square one with you and just so grateful that you write about what happened- yes i am sorry that it happened but so grateful that your recording it here means that i don’t feel so lonely.

    Reply
  33. Bethany

    Every single person everywhere makes mistakes, and as someone who recently rocketed back to square one herself, I think the thing I am trying to take away from it is that there is more recognition here than last time. That the way I feel in any given moment will not last forever. That if I am RECOGNIZING that I am being triggered, then that is not square one, that is a step ahead of square one and is a step toward more learning and growth. Sometimes all we can do is see that we’re being triggered, and that’s enough in that moment.

    Reply
  34. Erin Wilson

    It doesn’t sound like you’re back to square one.
    Just sounds like you’re still picking up other people’s stuff.
    Different thing entirely.

    ps. I stand in agreement that you’re fab
    xo

    Reply
  35. Elizabeth

    Yes, yes, and yes. I am sitting with just such an ache right now, and I don’t know what to do to make things better, and I am frustrated that after all this time of working on self-love, my mind still goes there. I suppose it’s a spiral, but I wish it were more linear so I could really see that I’m making progress. Sending you love.

    Reply
  36. Teresa

    Thanks for sharing with such honesty.

    Glad it had a happy ending, growing the friendship with new light and perspective.

    Reply
  37. Sara

    This story reminds me of another story you wrote about, “What do you project into the silence?”. I remember it because it TOTALLY hit home for me and I now ask myself this phrase every time I feel myself falling into that trap. I think LOTS of us have this bad habit and I’m not convinced that it means you don’t like yourself. It just means that the “self” that you like so much can be vulnerable at times. XXOO Here is your other story…. http://aliedwards.com/2012/07/summer-voices-andrea-scher-what-do-you-project-into-the-silence.html

    Reply
  38. Mairi

    You can like yourself and still make mistakes. You can love yourself and still make mistakes. You don’t expect your children to be perfect in order to love them, do you? You are loved. And beautyful. And real. You (and I and all of us) need to accept that we are worthy, while being flawed. I love you. And your courage. 🙂

    Reply
  39. Jen Diamond

    Andrea**

    I love you.

    I don’t think you are at square one. Square one is you have never even experienced loving yourself (or remember the experience). And now you have. And, my love, it is easy to love ourselves when we experience ourselves being the way we want to be in life. It is way more of a practice to love ourself even when we say or do something or don’t do something that hurts another. It is a practice. And I know you are masterful at practicing. And 1 more thing… all those thoughts aren’t you. Those are just the thoughts that happen when you are confronted.

    I love you BIG! Even in the gap of being all that is possible.

    Reply
  40. Tracey Miller

    You catastrophised this situation. I have been known to do this time and time again. But I now know that when I catastrophise something, that by giving it time (usually a couple of days) it usually fades and becomes something I can accept. Most things are a ‘time thing’. Really. xxx

    Reply
  41. Sandra

    I think it’s lovely that you were able to feel and say that you like yourself. Hooray! I don’t think that’s going away. It sounds like (and I’m going to sound like a therapist here, which I am) your feelings from the past got restimulated, your brain got flooded with that old feeling, and that’s not really about not liking yourself. It’s a memory. It’s about being scared. I hope all these comments help heal.

    Reply
  42. Milly

    I am so glad that things are good with you both. I know that horrible feeling of not knowing how to make something better, whilst feeling that whatever you’re doing, you’re somehow making it worse.

    However, who would not want a friend who is brave, caring, funny and hugely likeable (which is you btw)? Who is courageous enough to show all sides of herself (you again). Who fights for a friendship (yep…you got it). Clearly your friend knows exactly how likeable and precious you are.

    Reply
  43. Nancy Peevey

    Andrea, thank you for pushing the button! I can so relate to that part of you that wants things to be right. It can be agonizing to sit with the pain, to give things time. Sometimes that is exactly what is needed – time. The space of time gives way to healing if both are willing. Not only do we get the chance to grow, but so do our friends have that opportunity. I have done a lot of praying during those times too. It is definitely a feeling of grief. Know that my heart and prayers are with you.

    Reply
  44. Nancy Peevey

    Just read your update. And sometimes healing takes place quickly, and that’s the best <3

    Reply
  45. sarah

    I had a similar roller coaster this week, and OH! Explaining it to someone else was torturous.
    I felt so great about myself on Sunday, and one conversation on Monday triggered the spiral, and then my husband made an innocent comment which just confirmed (in my mind) all the awful things that I was saying to/about myself. Then I had to rock my toddler to sleep (because OF COURSE this happened at bedtime). Which gave me time to try to figure out a way to explain it. Which was awful, but i think helped explain why whenever I have to deal with a certain person I take all other forms of criticism, or just benign comments, completely irrationally.
    And the whole time I was thinking, “but yesterday you were so kick-ass! Shouldn’t have tempted fate like that by acknowledging it!”
    More optimistically, I feel like we acknowledge those moments of highs as touchstones so that when we crawl out of the muck, we know which direction to climb in.

    Reply
  46. moyra

    we definitely get better at remembering this next time, but only slowly! so many times I realise this!!

    Reply
  47. Belinda

    Thank you for having the courage to share this. I have been having a tough time lately as well – just when I think I have it all together as a supermum we have a couple of sleepless nights and I’m at breaking point again. I think we all have triggers but not all of us take notice of them.

    Reply
  48. kristin

    amen!

    i think a creative mind is more able to go to the darkest places, we are more able to imagine the worst, we are more apt to come up with the crazy.

    and then the glorious flip side…when our creativity erupts with joy and perspective and the sunny side possibilities.

    glad there was reconciliation…

    Reply
  49. Jenna

    I can relate to your post. How I feel about myself often feels so fickle. Something that has helped me is separating who I am from what I do. I’m gonna make mistakes and hurt people and not be the best me at all times. And that’s ok. That doesn’t change who I am. Rather than telling myself, I don’t like me, I try to focus on I don’t like that I was impatient with my kids this morning or that hurtful thing I said to my sister. There will always be things I want to improve about myself and room for growth. That feels more hopeful and gracious to myself. Just some thoughts. Hope you will be kind to yourself. Thank you for your honesty and your transparency. I like that about you.

    Reply
  50. Elisa

    There’s something about our culture of instant communication that makes silence so unbearable!

    I propose that we all fight by handwritten letter. At least then we would expect progress and resolution to come slowly, and that is a realistic expectation!

    I feel myself hitting the ‘send’ button as if it were the ‘all better’ button, and when it doesn’t work, oy.

    Love you.

    Reply
  51. Barbara Schwartz

    I’ve finally recovered from the trip to San Miguel. I could see just where you were painting last year. Great group there this year too. It has taken me a week to get through feeling terrible. When you read my blog today you’ll see how closely we’re on the same track. Seems like life is one big cycle of feeling off, then feeling good, then remembering how easily you can get off track and tripped up by old ways of thinking and then doing what it takes to feel happy with yourself again.

    Reply
  52. kate

    I feel you girl. 🙂 It’s hard to trust the good. I like to think of life as a marathon, a continuum of ups and downs, and I try to work on accepting wherever it is that I am in that cycle. But know that no matter where you are, the most important thing is to keep going. Eventually things will shift, and you will feel strong and loved and worthy again. And the next time, it will take a little more to knock you out of that good place.

    Reply
  53. tawnya

    Oh, yes. This is me. Perfectly to a T.

    Reply
  54. Kat

    And my guess is that while you mighta gone back to square one, you bounced back to that gorgeous place you’ve been inhabiting much quicker than you anticipated.
    We’re always going to stumble, sweet pea. But all that hard work and self care does actually work. It lights the way to our path that much faster.
    xxx

    Reply
  55. Niki Samek

    How many times have I been in this very place… Even even I haven’t pissed somebody off. Maybe I imagined it.
    One of the things I’ve learned to *try* to remember I’d to Allow people their disappointment.

    And every time (so far) I’ve allowed their disappointment a heartfelt conversation has followed and our relationships have become deeper.

    It is so hard though!
    Practicing…. Allowing…

    Reply
  56. Claudia

    You took the words right out of my mouth… I can SO SO SO relate to this. Thank you for this Andrea.

    Reply

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