What I’m Giving Up for Lent

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I’ve been thinking a lot about aloneness and loneliness lately.  Can’t imagine why, with that day coming up and all.  I have so many friends that are in the same situation I am in right now.

And honestly?

I wish I could just fast forward through this week.

No matter how much healing has come, and how ready I am to get on with it already, every “first time alone on……. in 18 years” I experience as a (soon-to-be) single person has been, is, and will be hard.

One of my best qualities – fierce loyalty – is also one of my biggest faults.  I tend to expect too much from people.  I simply don’t know how to be anything other than a devoted best friend/wife/partner/mom.

Learning how to be just me/mom and navigating new friendships/relationships with people that don’t owe me any sort of loyalty is excruciatingly hard.  Much more so than I thought it would be.

I’m not a person with a ton of casual friends.  I never have been.  I have a lot of acquaintances, but I’ve only had a few close friends.  I know that is because I tend to give everything to the people closest to me, and it’s exhausting when you try to do that with too many people.  I simply don’t have the energy or the personality to not be all there in any kind of relationship.  I have a hard time accepting that not many other people are like that.  So I’m probably not going to get that in return.  So it takes a while for me to figure out if a person is someone I want to really let in.  But once I decide you’re in, then you’re in.  

Sometimes whether you like it or not.

Or whether you’ve decided I’m in or not.

And that’s where the problem begins.  When I let someone in who hasn’t told me they want to be in.  And I start behaving as if we have an understanding, when we clearly don’t.  And then I get upset at perceived slights that don’t exist because the relationship in my head is not the relationship that is actually there.

I know a lot of that comes from the 18 years I spent walking on eggshells with people who’s picture is in the dictionary under “passive-aggressive” and “silent treatment.”   That has made me prone to viewing all lapses in communication as such.  Which leads to me obsessing over what I might have done that is annoying/frustrating/wrong and worrying about it or trying to fix it.

And I don’t need to do that.

I don’t want to be that person anymore.

And then today I read this post from Ann Voskamp.

And, like celebrating Advent in December for the first time in my life, I am actually going to observe Lent this year.

And it couldn’t come at a better time.  Ash Wednesday – the start of Lent – is tomorrow, February 13.

So, for this, my first Lenten observance, I am going to give up the unrealistic, unfair expectations I’ve placed on others.

I know.

HUGE GOAL.

But I am going to actively try to guard against obsessing about, worrying about, over-analyzing and over-thinking the actions of others by removing things from my life that encourage such non-productive wastes of time and energy.

Like social media.

Mainly Facebook.

I have several church groups that use Facebook for communication, so I can’t completely unplug, though I have thought about it.  But I am going to limit my actual “on Facebook” activity to those things and only check it once a day, probably in the evening.  And I’m going to set a reminder on my calendar, so that I only check it when that goes off.  I have even removed the icon from my phone, and will be leaving the iPad at home.

I need to chill out and re-adjust my focus.

40 days sounds like a good start.

Edited to add: This is the devo I am going to be doing during Lent – 40 Day Journey with Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I’ve tried to start it twice already, and stuff always came up.  But it’s a 40 day devotional, so I figure that’s a sign. 🙂

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