My Uh-Ha Moment

Oprah constantly talks about her a-ha moments. And while I’ve had my own variety of a-ha moments including a few in the 80’s that included a Norwegian dude caught in a comic strip, just recently I had what I would call an uh-oh moment, followed by an a-ha revelation – an uh-ha moment if you will.

Let me ‘splain. Over the holidays as I made my list and checked it twice and thrice, I neglected to keep myself in check. As I am inclined to do, I overdid. But my overdoing wasn’t just about making sure Santa delivered the proper amount of joy to my offspring, it was about my tendency to have an Atlas complex. As you might recall Atlas had a particularly heavy load to carry, that being the world and all. (* side note here – the literati in me wishes to acknowledge that she is fully aware that originally the sphere Atlas was depicted carrying represented the celestial sphere of ancient astronomy – just saying) Whatever it was, it was heavy stuff.

While visions of worry danced in my head, my ability to handle much of anything dwindled and I went into ASM – automatic shut-down mode which translates into stress eating (mostly my nails), too much wine and an unhealthy amount of sleep. I’m sure to some people my opting out was selfish, insensitive and downright bitch-like of me. And they would be right about at least one of those things – it was selfish, and I’m slowly learning that a bit of selfishness is necessary at times as a means of self-respect. I’ve neglected and disrespected myself both literally and figuratively a good deal recently and I’m ready to end that cycle.

If that means someone feels hurt because I’ve grown distant, I am in no position to nurture them back to a place of contentment, because right now, I come first.

After being sick for nearly two weeks now with upper respiratory infections, stress-induced impetigo, and blood pressure topping out a near ER high of 160/130, not to mention vivid stress dreams that included me vomiting maggots, driving an out of control car, and having a tick embedded in my body, I have to say the time for change is two weeks too late. My father died at the age of 45. He had heart problems, but stress factored in as well. I’ll be 45 in October….and I’m not ready to die.

So, as per my usual MO, I went online searching for ways to help me overcome my need to solve everyone’s problems, so I could spend some quality time working on my own. And things began to click and make sense when I happened upon Judith Orloff’s website where I took a quiz called, “Are you an Empath?” I answered yes to nearly every question – which is not a good thing.

What I discovered is that according to Orloff, empaths often become “angst-sucking sponges”, and “perpetual shock absorbers for people’s pain”. Oh yeah, that’s me. And with no means of wringing myself out, or surrounding myself with only shiny, happy people, I feel overly saturated all the time. It’s self-destructive.

Starting today I am making a vow to myself to spend at least five minutes a day meditating (I’ll work up to more). The sitting still physically is the easy part. It’s the mental sitting that poses a problem for me. The Daoists call it “monkey mind” – and mine’s like a chimp on crack.

But it’s all about baby steps right? One foot in front of the other…one breath in at a time.

Orloff says, “Stress comes after you, whereas calm is something you go after.”

So this is me going…


  • By elizabeth, January 19, 2012 @ 5:50 pm

    I am glad I am not the only one who has dreams like that and I think reading this is making me take a hard, long look and I am going to be making some changes. Hope you like meditating – it is a wonder.

  • By Kerry, January 25, 2012 @ 9:32 am

    It freaks me out how similar we are. I’m able to check off every single question in the empath query as well. And I stay ill. Constantly. Andy’s tics worsen and he’s struggling with depression? Guess who comes down with vertigo?…Hubby having problems with co-workers? Guess who gets a mouth full of canker sores? My younger son complains about not having friends? Guess whose blood pressure gets so bad she has to go on medicine? And it even happens when friends or extended family have problems and – – god forbid – – share them with me. Maddening!!! BTW…I can’t do traditional meditating for the reasons you described, but I’ve learned to get pretty good at walking meditation. And the books “The Writing Diet” and “The Artists Way” by Julia Cameron are helping to focus some of that stress back into my writing. Hang in there lady. If nothing else, just remember that your doppelganger is out here cheering you on as we face the challenges of extreme empathy!

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