I’m ashamed to say I’m still staying at my parents’ house. Getting back is proving to be more complicated than anticipated. The car my sister and I share is getting fixed, so my dad agreed to take me back to the convent today. Twenty or thirty minutes into our drive there, we decided to turn around. The rain didn’t want to let up and my dad had worked late. He decided he couldn’t drive there and back safely. I’m glad he felt comfortable admitting this, instead of pushing through. Yet, I’d prepared myself to return to the disciplined schedule I follow. It takes a bit of mental preparation and courage to go back to a life of solitude. I use the word courage, because I’ve always heard about how courage isn’t the lack of fear, but our decision to stand up to it, and I certainly feel afraid.
Living with my parents makes the anxiety worse because of their unhealthy work habits. They work hard, and I’m thankful they passed on such a strong sense of work ethic to me. That being said, they compromise their health and happiness for work, and I’ve been struggling to unlearn this for a while now. They think I’m lazy, because we value different things. Reading, writing, or having some sort of new epiphany doesn’t impress them much. I understand I’m not a conventionally practical person to have around. I don’t clean or cook. I can see why they get frustrated when they are stressed to the maximum, and I’m doing everything I can to learn how to avoid stress. I know a person can’t entirely avoid stress, but there’s plenty of times we can control it or minimize it.
My stress related health problems in the past came because I had unrealistic expectations for myself and used to believe everything that came up came down to life or death. I now try to live by the “five year test,” meaning I ask myself how important the event/decision that is stressing me is going to be in five years. The wonderful nun who set me up with my living arrangements reminded me to go easier on myself when I return to the convent. Instead of feeling like a failure for not making much progress on my book, she said I should just soak up the experience. She thought some of my current health problems could be stress related. When I told my dad this, he laughed and said, “Yeah, what do you have to stress about? You don’t do anything.” I called him out on the fact that he can’t do what I do. If he has time off, he’s restless and looking for something to work on. I don’t think people appreciate the work involved with attempting to be a conscious being. It’s much easier to live asleep.
I feel like I’ve been given a second chance to change how I think about this great opportunity I have to live with nuns. I’m going back with a new enthusiasm, yet a humility I lacked before. I thought I could dive into writing hours every day, and felt awful when I couldn’t produce what I thought I should be able to. I need to lose the guilt about these imaginary expectations I have for myself and do what I’m there to do: learn everything I can and love life.
I’ve been especially bad at keeping up with messages during this tough time I’d been going through. I can’t thank you all enough for the words of encouragement you provide. They seem to come just when I need it the most. I’ll try to be better at blogging and answering messages when I go back to the convent on Friday. The kind words keep me going. Thank you.