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Unmade bed.

On most days:

I wake up. The first thing I do is mindlessly reach for my beeping alarm clock. If I move my arm the wrong way, too fast, too far, I can upset the already torn-but-on-the-mend labrum. I slide the lever down to stop the beeping and tell my alarm clock “I’m up.”

I pull my legs to the side of the bed, place my feet on the floor and pause. Every morning I think about approaching 50. It’s three years away. When I thought about being in my fifties years ago, I assumed I would have accomplished more, understood more, cared less about many things. This thought comes to me almost every morning.

I have two beautiful sets of pillows tightly tucked in iron pressed linen covers. They sit to the side of my bed, stacked in the order that I place them on the headboard. I bend over the mattress, and pull the top sheet and blanket to the top of my bed. I neatly pull back and fold both, and then tuck them under the mattress.

I move my way to the other side of the bed, stepping sideways because there is no room to walk. Because of this tight space, I often wonder if I would have to move because I got in a relationship. Then, I sigh and realize I would have to meet people in person and talk outloud for that process to start.

I have all the pillows stacked in front of the soft headboard, and I pull the comforter on top of the blanket, and fold it too. I run my hand deep across the top of the fluff on the comforter so its shape falls into place… A perfectly made bed.

Fifteen years ago, I was at the top of my career. Prior to what would soon be known as my darkest days, I was a Vice-President and top performer in my field. This was not a goal of mine. My approach to any career has always come from a place of survival, a guarantee to make sure my needs get met, a deficit (lack) of security, and building so I could one day exhale.

After years of working like this, the exhale came. But when it did, I felt it went on for far too long.

When my breakdown came, I slowly had to let things go. I don’t mean that I stopped letting things get to me. I mean that I had to resign from my job, and I lost a lot of friends because I did not always have the strength to explain how confused I was. I lost a lot of years, because I did not know how to explain to the world I lived in that I always felt I was getting worse.

I am grateful that I found resources (people, places, things) that started me on a recovery journey. I still think of how little I knew at that time. I was so committed to my community, my faith, my family and I did not have a single resource to explain that all of these things I am committed to are all committed to their own agenda, and none of that included me being well.

But I got well. And, I moved away. And many people from my old home would say “Do you feel like you ran from here?” I always tell them “Yes. Best run ever.”

There were several months after I moved away where my body and mind started to work together again. While I do not have proper definitions of what was happening, I have memories of not being able to stay awake every day when I got off work. I think I was experiencing something new. I was…relaxed.

Over the next two years, I had about 10k worth of delayed dental repairs done, a tumor removed from my throat, and was sick often with fatigue, viruses, sinus infections, pulled muscles. You get it. It was a mandatory reset if I wanted stuff to work again.

Every time I relaxed, my body said “Oh nice. Here are seven years of stress I have needed you to breathe out.” It felt like some sort of purging. I trusted that I was building something that would help me get back all the things I lost.

I launched into new habits. I quit smoking after 21 years. I ran half-marathons. I flossed the hell out of my teeth every night. I made my bed every morning. I was a realized improvement. I put the things in place that helped me move forward.

I threw myself at every type of therapy, book, conference, connection that would help me make sense. I had been diagnosed with cPTSD, but I did not pause to understand what it meant, or what I needed to do to work with that. I only understood I was working with an inner dialogue that felt like hell a lot of days.

That did not slow me down from making the bed, running the runs, dominating the career.

I was still on a path to make sure I arrived at a place where I would not have these nagging feelings inside of me about the next step.

Year after year, no cavities.

Year after year, new sheets, a tighter fit. Beautiful pillows.

Year after year, success.

Year after year, coming home and wanting to be someone else but not knowing who.

Year after year, coming home and wanting to be somewhere else, but not knowing where.

I had many new discoveries ahead. A lot of heartbreak in core relationships. A lot of loss. A lot of rebuilding.

Along the way I learned things that helped me shape a different life:

1). I am an introvert. By Myers Briggs standards, an INFJ.

2). I love living in small spaces.

3). I desperately want to learn the basics of how to take care of myself.

Each year I would implement a new good habit, and each year there would be a new discovery about how much my life was going to change again.

It felt like this:

Success!! ANXIETY… New friends…MisUNderSTandINg?!!  …Ahhh, travel… depression …New home! …Recession!

None of these accomplishments above are bad things, and none of these hard things were personal to who I was. But, I did not know who I was and was mirroring the life I thought would make me likable. A life where I could convince others I was not the inner turmoil I felt.

The reality of what we are told will give us relief should be directed back to our mind and body being at peace and knowing what actions to take when that is not the case, or not accessible.

I kept falling for different paths and along the way would meet people who were also doing what they thought would bring them relief from their inner turmoil.

Off we go.

A new chapter.

A new interruption that exposes that chapter needing additions in order for it to work.

Making different additions, or avoiding the chapter by changing course.

Everywhere you go there you are.

Everywhere.

You go.

There.

You are.

At some point I think we have to surrender any ideals we think are going to help us find relief, if they are not talking about how to care for our souls.

But until we have the resources, we make the bed. We stretch our arm. We feel time holding us, and the discomfort of waiting, uncertain, of what the end goal is.

I like my routines. I like the way they help me understand what I need to get done. But, what I think I like most is when they tell me I have done the right things, and therefore I am allowed to feel good about myself.

How the hell did that sneak in?!

That we have to do the checklist things in order to then prove we deserve rest? We have to show our discipline to all the mantras in place before trusting when our body is saying “THIS is NOT real!”

I am not saying making my bed is bad. And, it is safe to say I will never miss a day of flossing for the rest of my life. Root canals are from the pit of hell.

But, I am saying when you miss the core foundations of having a relationship with your soul, you are looking for cues that tell you what that is, and it is often never someone else’s idea.

Is discipline wrong? Nope.

Goals? Not at all.

But do we have to do them in order to prove we need space from the grind sometimes?

On my soft days, I make myself not make my bed. I leave the shades down where no natural light can come in. No matter how beneficial, or how much that light wants to offer me warmth, there are some days where I want to be in a cocoon and know I am not accessible.

There are some days I think of how fast my life is moving and I need evidence that I am living the life I have worked for. The one with less of the demands from people I do not want to be. Less tugs telling me I will finally deserve relief when I accomplish________.

Three years away.  50.  Fucking 50. And, there is so much I still don’t know how to do. It’s like I woke up just ten years ago and realized I have been living someone else’s life. I am constantly revisiting my list to make sure I never (EVER) have another awakening like that again.

My soul.

It feels free most days.

I lose touch with it when I do the lists.

My soul becomes rigid–fast.

It has many memories of being ignored, and is always waiting for me to do that again.

My soul felt free today.

The alarm clock wasn’t set.

It was a beautiful day to go for a walk, and I didn’t even open the shades.

I didn’t even make the bed.

I didn’t even read my list.

Because I knew today was about softness. For whatever reason, a hard day, a tough conversation, for whatever reason… my soul needed a soft day.

I never even made the bed. I sat there for a couple hours on Sunday morning and I thought about how much I crave being there and how many reasons come at me that tell me this is not allowed.

When I decided to leave the bed, I was tempted to start my process. The tucking, the folding. I left the bed as it was, the way it looked after holding me for a little extra time. I did not shape it. I did not make it look well-kept. I left it unmade so I knew it was waiting for me to return, because on some days I don’t have it in me to do the extra steps. And, it is not because I am sad, lazy, or depressed. It’s because I have read from the wrong lists, and sometimes I need quicker access to the things that help me know I am on the right path.

All this, from an unmade bed.

From a rested soul, I send peace.

Nate

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