Survival and the Art of Minimizing

It’s been nearly eight weeks since my surgery and over the last few weeks as I have gotten back into my normal routine, I’ve been feeling better and better. I’m still struggling with insomnia and some other menopause-related symptoms, but overall, I am doing quite well. Actually, very well. I’m so grateful to be rid of the pain that shaped my every action and interaction for too long. Since I was a teenager, the pain of endometriosis had been such a “normal” part of my existence that I couldn’t remember anything different. During the last several months as the pain got progressively worse, I felt awful, but now that I am on the other side and actually feel “good,” I am beginning to realize just how much agony I really was in. I am not a biologist or neuroscientist so I cannot explain the intricacies of the body’s sensory processing, but I do know that our bodies were created with built-in coping mechanisms to endure sometimes harsh conditions. Those coping mechanisms are good. They are necessary for survival.

As I reflect on my pain now, though, I realize how often I minimized it, unconsciously AND consciously. It was often easier to say I was “fine” than to explain what was really going on. We humans do this for many reasons: we don’t want to hear others’ solutions to our situations because, after all, they don’t really understand anyway; we don’t want people to make a fuss over us; we don’t want to be perceived as a whiner or complainer; we don’t want to admit that we are imperfect and fallible creatures who are otherwise “less than;” we don’t want to be vulnerable. So we neatly package everything and smile and try to keep moving. It’s hard to be honest – with others and ourselves. Yet honesty is critical for authentic relationships. And making time for reflection is crucial if we are to honestly assess ourselves and our situations.

As I continuously reflect on who I am, one thing I have discovered is that I am a minimizer. This can be a gift in many circumstances. It helps to maintain one’s composure and avoid over-reaction to a given situation; it gives an allusion of calm. But it can also be a detriment – in both good and difficult situations. It keeps us from reaching out for help when we need it and it hinders us from celebrating the truly good things, too. In recent weeks, as I’ve been challenged with the menopausal effects and the natural plateaus of weight loss, I have minimized my success. I’ve lost 84 pounds (as of last Friday’s weigh-in), but it will take at least another 84 pounds to reach my “ideal” weight. Some of the voices in my head say, “Really, Robin, it’s not a big deal. You’ve got a long way to go.” Yet it is a big deal. It’s a huge deal. And so I am telling that minimizer voice, “Shut up! This is something to celebrate!” I’m now just 16 pounds shy of 100. Wow. That is something to celebrate. I’m beginning to consider ways to mark the occasion and welcome any and all suggestions. I’m so grateful for your support on this journey.

Until next time, peace …

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