Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The search for self

I have been working hard lately on refocusing my attention away from others around me and what they need, and back towards myself and taking care of what I need.  While that may sound selfish on the surface, and it does to me even as I write it, I find that it is an important exercise for me because it helps me to find the balance between taking care of others and taking care of myself.  In my life, far too often, I tend to direct my energy outwards, be it towards my children, my friends, my family, or any other relationships; and again, far too often, my own needs become ignored in that process.  For a long time I was able to blame my husband for not providing for me—he was simply an easy scapegoat.  But now, as a single mom, I am learning more acutely that I am entirely responsible for myself, and any relationship I may have in the future needs to complement me as a balanced individual rather than completing a version of me that is not whole. 

To that end, I have been spending less of my energy lately in reaching out to others, even towards those people whom I dearly love.  Nevertheless, being a mom, the needs of my children can never go ignored, and I am still required to put a lot of energy into meeting their ever-evolving demands for attention, love, and overall maintenance.  But when I take the time to turn my attention back towards myself, I recognize that the part of me which has evolved spiritually over the past several years has been neglected for too long, and I think that is where I need to direct my energy in order to start feeling more balanced.  I no longer have any affiliation with any particular church, and although I have tried to explore different churches and faiths, I find that I have developed a strong aversion to any form of organized religion.  I think that comes from the push I felt for years to conform to the faith I used to follow.  I was constantly being told what I should think and should believe, and now I feel suffocated by that type of rhetoric and simply want to walk the other way as soon as I suspect that it may be looming on the horizon.  On that note, I recognize that I will need to follow some form of independent spirituality rather than a church environment, at least until I feel like I have more clarity about what I want to pursue and what I want my children to grow up with.  

One thing I have wanted to try for a while is meditation.  Several friends have suggested that I try it, and although I have been interested in it for a while, I felt like I didn’t quite know what meditation meant or how to begin.  I also didn’t quite see it as a spiritual process, but more as a way to clear the mind of clutter.  This week, though, I felt a strong desire to explore the concept more thoroughly, and this morning I found myself reading this article and then trying in my own way to follow the direction it gave me.  It was actually a very positive experience for me; I felt strangely relaxed and invigorated afterwards, and I was able to draw upon the imagery from that brief meditation session throughout the day to help prevent myself from being swayed by too much emotion.  I want to learn more about the process of meditation and hope to practice it some more.  Tomorrow I plan to take a trip to the local bookstore and see if they have any books on the topic that I can’t resist.  (Alone, without the kids!  That is always such a treat for me.)

I also stumbled across this website as I was searching for more information on meditation, and I was pretty surprised at the wide variety of topics that it covers.  What struck me the most when I read the main page was all of those categories listed on the left that encompass what could be considered major life changes.  I realized that I have been through many of those things myself in the past year, and still have more yet to undergo--a pretty wide variety of topics, from adopting a pet or getting divorced to moving into a new home or finding a new job.  It was kind of surprising to recognize how many of those major changes I have been through, and how my kids are I are thriving in spite of it all, as best as we possibly can under the circumstances.  It also allowed me to cut myself a little bit of slack about not having accomplished all that I wish I had by now; there are only so many things a person can do at one time.  And there is also information on that site about spirituality that I hope will be helpful as I continue to search for ways to complete that part of myself.  

In any case, I find that it benefits me and my kids to learn more about how to take care of myself, so that there is more of me to give to my children and my other relationships.  I have discovered many things over the past few years that helped me work my way through some major life changes and brought more of a sense of balance to my life, including books, music, writing, friends, long walks with my dog, and afternoons at the beach.  I see this search for spiritual balance as one more way of completing the picture of who I am and who I want to become, and I anticipate that it will be a long road with a lot of things for me to learn along the way; I’m kind of excited about that. 

And incidentally, I feel like this blog is doing a terrible job of saying what I want to say, but I'm going to post it anyway because I can.  


Kim V. said...

As trite as it may sound, this is why we, as Christians are told to love our neighbor as ourselves. God knew that we needed to see to our own needs, discover ourselves and feel at home with ourselves in order that we might accept and love ourselves and then in turn, love others with the same compassion. It's harder than it sounds.