Happy Passover, part II

March 30th, 2010

Here’s a more serious Passover question for you. Passover celebrates the journey from slavery to freedom, and marks the cost of that journey, as well. (This is why we deny ourselves certain foods during the holiday, and eat matzoh — “the bread of affliction” — instead.)

I posted this on Facebook a day or two ago, and liked the responses I got, so I thought I’d take it public: What have you been freed from in this past year, and what has the price of that freedom been?

I have been freed from my self-imposed pressure to become rich and famous. That joke I used to make about “All I want is my own talk show and my face on a bus”? It wasn’t a joke. I’d still be happy to have those things, but I’ve come to realize that what is valuable about the work I do — doesn’t necessarily depend on how many people I can reach, or on the way American society keeps track of success. I write things I’m proud of, I start conversations that I think help people learn from each other, I get and give some good laughs. That really is enough. The price of that freedom was a little bit of post-publication madness, and giving up certain illusions about myself.

I have been freed from a friendship that had gone very sour, and that was leading me to censor myself in both my private and public life. The price of that freedom has been realizing that not everyone is going to think I’m one of the Good Guys. For some folks, I’m part of the problem, not part of the solution.

What about you? What have you been freed from, and what price have you paid?


9 Responses to “Happy Passover, part II”

  1. Shulamuth on March 30, 2010 11:44 pm

    I’m still working on freeing myself from the belief that I must be perfect. The price is that I no longer have the out “well, I can’t be perfect so why bother”. I’m having to learn to be less-than-perfect as well as I can. Just failing was, sometimes, a lot easier.

  2. Amy R. on March 31, 2010 9:01 am

    I have freed myself from a lot of weight this year — literally and figuratively.

    The cost of freeing myself from bodily weight has been a lot of examination about my relationships with food, exercise, my body, and why after a couple months of success, missed workouts or unmissed bagels became a source of panic. (I think the first step of accepting your body — and despite losing weight, I believe firmly in health at every size and fat acceptance — is forgiveness. I don’t know what needs to be forgiven, but it is key.)

    I also freed myself from a lot of relationship fear. The cost of this is dealing with uncertainty and having disagreements, but the benefit of realizing you are loved for yourself and not because you are agreeable far outweighs that.

    And finally, I’ve also been freed from a toxic friendship. Sometimes this means not having someone to talk to certain things about anymore, which is sad. It has also caused me to think harder about the people I choose to get close to. But I also spend less time worrying about what I’ve said or done.

  3. BlondMaggie on March 31, 2010 9:20 am

    I’ve been freeing myself (in large part thanks to you) from my obsession with food and my body. I started with Kate Harding’s “Lessons from the Fatosphere” and moved on to “Health at Every Size”. For the first time, I think in my life, I am trying hard to enjoy food without any guilt attached to it.

    The sacrifice is that I have become much more painfully aware of how imperfect people – fat or not – are treated in our society.

    However, the freedom to eat is rather nice feeling, and I could get used to living like this.

  4. veronica on March 31, 2010 9:43 am

    I was freed from school (after being in school nonstop from age 5 to age 25), only to try and enter the economy in the worst recession I can remember. The price of the freedom included moving back home and living there full time for the first time in 7 years, moving 5 hours away from all my friends (including my now ex-boyfriend), taking a job way below my pay grade, and accepting the fact my life is not going to be what I planned or what I want it to.

  5. Carolyn on March 31, 2010 1:54 pm

    I let go of the long hair of my youth, since it no longer signified youth.
    The price is having to think about it more, and have it cut more often; I now have a hairstyle, instead of a non-style. I’m enjoying the attention, but not necessarily the pressure.

  6. conductmom on March 31, 2010 3:08 pm

    My freedom, of late is feeling free to be able to say “NO”. At first it made me feel guilty, but I am getting used to it now. It leaves me with the thought
    of “more time for myself, for fun things”. Of course I make myself available to someone that has a need temporarily, but do not allow myself to “be used”.
    Being an older person, the years ahead of me will have pleasure, and I still have the past memories of when I ‘was always there”. Thank you Robin.

  7. EA Week on March 31, 2010 3:24 pm

    Nine years ago, I moved out to the boonies for financial reasons, which unfortunately involved losing almost all of my free time. Partly as a result of this, I gained a lot of weight. I wasn’t happy about it, but I kept telling myself, “I’m never going to get this weight off until I can move closer to the city and get my free time back.”

    Flash-forward about six years, and I decided I was tired of that excuse. After reconfiguring my commute to get some free time back and making some small adjustments to my diet, the weight came off. It wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t nearly has difficult as I’d been telling myself all along.

    Later that same year, I began seeing signs on the wall of the pool where I swim, announcing the formation of a master’s class. I was curious about this, but at the same time terrified: of looking like an idiot in front of better swimmers, of being laughed at, ostracized, etc. Finally I told myself to give it a try. I forced myself to go, and after nearly three years, I can honestly say it’s the single best thing I’ve done for myself in my adult life (apart from finishing my education).

    Over the course of taking this class, I developed an envy of the swimmers who could execute flip turns. I wanted to learn, but I was afraid of turning somersaults in the water. I kept telling myself, “No, I can’t do this, it’s too scary.” Then out of the blue last summer, a friend in the class shared with me a trick she’d learned on-line for turning somersaults in the water. I gave it a try, and it worked. Several months later, I’m a “flipping idiot,” and now, instead of shrinking away from challenges in the water, I’m looking for them. Even if the learning process takes months or years and needs to be broken down into a progression of baby steps, I’m going to try, and keep trying, and keep working at it.

    So I think what I’m letting go of is fear, mainly because I’ve been using fear (the fear of failure, the fear of making an idiot out of myself, the fear of others not liking me) as a prop to keep myself from achieving things that are well within my grasp. This has begun to spread into other areas of my life, often giving me a crazy rush of self-confidence. I’ve never been the most assertive person, but in the past six or eight months, I’ve found myself standing up to other people more and more often–complete strangers as well as family members and acquaintances. Not in a cruel or vindictive way, but generally letting others know where my boundaries are. It’s amazing how that works. And it’s amazing how the lessons learned in a swimming pool can be applied to so many other areas of my life.

    The price of all this is of course running the risk that others might not like it when I assert myself verbally, or that I might fail if I try something new. And kicking away the crutches of my excuses can give the scary feeling of walking a high wire with no net. But the more I do it, the more I like it, and the harder it is to slink back into self-defeat.

  8. Robin on March 31, 2010 5:22 pm

    Wow, I am loving your comments, everyone! I wasn’t planning to put this up, but I’m so glad I did.

    @Shulamuth & EAWeek — I know what you mean, at least on a surface level. (I’m not going to pretend that reading a blog comment is the same as having a long heart-to-heart.) I think part of what I was trying to say about my career is that it won’t be “perfect” — it will be good enough. And that takes some maturity to work through.

    Also, EAWeek, I somehow managed to get indoctrinated with the idea that if I wasn’t *good* at a physical activity, I didn’t deserve to do it. Even though exercise is good for everyone, even if I enjoyed it. Working through that particular mishegoss took a while, and is probably a work in progress still (or else I’d have started those boxing lessons my gym offers a long time ago …)

    Veronica — so sorry. I hope your luck changes soon. At least, having read a lot of your comments, I know you are the kind of person who can see an opportunity where many others might miss it.

    AmyR & BlondMaggie — good on you for doing this work. And Amy R., I’m not against losing weight, not even when it’s a goal in and of itself. It sounds like you took your body to where it needed to be, and that might be a lot thinner than you were. And boy, when you start thinking about it, it really is amazing how messed up our culture is about bodies, isn’t it?

    And hey, the ConductMom isn’t the girl who cain’t say no anymore! Good for you, Mom! I’m so happy to hear how much fun you’re having now.

  9. veronica on March 31, 2010 7:36 pm

    On the plus side Robin, I’m working with a population I looooooove, even if its not in the capacity I would choose to work with them. My homeless veterans keep me grounded, but even they know I can do better than what I have right now and will do better with time and patience.

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