Commiserate or Elevate?

Jan 04, 2016

In a women’s recovery group I attend twice monthly, we share where we’re at and support each other to focus on a solution. We help one another live healthier lives—spiritually, mentally, emotionally—one day at a time.

Sometimes I dread trekking out on a Thursday evening when I’d rather stay home, eat chocolate, watch “Scandal,” and snuggle with Moose. My memory must be short because I never leave those gatherings lesser for the wear—quite the opposite in fact. Either my heart sings from getting to witness an ah-hah moment in one of the ladies or on the rare occasion when I’m willing to be vulnerable, I feel seen, heard, and validated. There’s power in being witnessed, a lesson I’m slowly learning.

Last month, I attempted to be open and let down my finely tuned guard. I’d been contemplating taking medication due to some physical manifestations of stress and anxiety. I’d had a wildly busy summer—promotion at work, feeble and failed attempt at a relationship, family reunion, best friend’s wedding, the many lovely events that accompany the wedding, kickoff to high school reunion planning. All wonderful things. But it was a lot all at once, and I hit a wall. My body screamed at me to stop.

But, you see, I’m always fine. I take care of you. You do not need to worry about me.

That night I pulled off that mask—just a smidgen. As a result, I received a flood of experience from these women. Each one related to some aspect of what I shared. Most offered hope from the other side of the struggle. One woman opened up and said she was right where I was. But then she said, “The difference between you and me is that you actually like yourself.”

“Oh, that’s funny. I’ve done an excellent job selling that to you, haven’t I?” I retorted self-deprecation without hesitation. In that moment, I wanted to hold onto the connection she and I just made—a connection at the bottom.

Over the last 30 days, I’ve participated in a self-care group facilitated by Suzanne Hanna and Elena Lipson and built a committed morning practice to writing and meditation. In those quiet morning moments, I’ve received greater inspiration and clarity than I’ve felt in a very long time or ever. Through that practice I’ve uncovered both pure beliefs and false truths. The truth is that I do like myself—maybe not perfectly or wholly but more and more each day.

I no longer want to commiserate at the bottom. I want to stand in the light of the truth that I am lovable. And so are you! I want to elevate my self worth and stand beside you as you do the same. The bottom is a lonely, dark place, which also eventually becomes stinky or cold enough that I must climb out of it. And I need circles of like-minded people to do that.

How do you rid yourself of the old adage that "misery loves company?"