Monday, February 14, 2011

Day 43: Freedom Conceptualized Part I

I will choose to find a positive perspective under even the most negative circumstances.
I will choose acceptance over resistance.
I will choose to focus on the things I value about my children, not the things that drive me nuts.
I will choose to extend the same grace, love and forgiveness to myself that I try to lavish on my husband and children each day.
This is going to be a thinking-out-loud post that may or may not make a whole lot of sense along the way, but will hopefully come to a thoughtful conclusion at the end of part II. The concept of freedom is one that I'm still working through, so my thoughts aren't fully formed ideas yet. I say this to say: if I ramble, bear with me!

Freedom is the cornerstone of my country, my politics, my faith, my worldview. You would think this would make it accessible to me, but it always seems decidedly out of reach. The obvious conclusion, then, is that I am the only one denying myself freedom. How ridiculous. To be surrounded by freedom, yet choose to live in captivity to anything is simply asinine (I've secretly always wanted to use that term and never found a fitting place for it, but if ever there was a time!). But to everything there is a purpose, so what purpose does rejecting freedom serve in my life?

When it comes down to it, living freely requires accepting responsibility...for everything. If I'm tethered to my defaults, they can take the blame for my failures. If my feelings control me, I can't be held liable for my actions when they take over. If my Italian genes determine my fiery temper, it's not my fault when I fly off the handle. All of this comes in quite handy when I don't want to carry the burden of responsibility that comes along with my choices.

If I'm tied down by my circumstances, I get to complain about never getting time to myself. I can talk about all the sacrifices I make for my husband and my children, and how those things don't allow me to do what I find relaxing or stimulating. I can moan about how stressful my life is and how that makes me less patient, less capable of living outside of default mode. To put it in no uncertain terms, if I'm captive, I can be a martyr.

But when I take a good honest look at my life, and when I remember that at every moment of every day I am free, suddenly things are very different. Suddenly I'm choosing to yell when I'm angry, choosing impatience, choosing not to make time for myself, choosing to let the things that bring me fulfillment (outside of my children of course!) fall by the wayside. Suddenly these things aren't happening to me, they're happening because of me. 

In most of life I have a strong sense of personal responsibility; I can't stand a victim mentality. But in these insidious ways, I've been living as a victim. How ironic that I'm my own perpetrator. I've refused to accept freedom because I don't want the responsibility that comes along with it. I don't want to accept that the reason I don't get time to myself is because I choose to sleep with my baby and refuse to offer him breast milk from a bottle. What fun is it to look honestly at why I feel stressed: I take on too much, I refuse to admit when I can't do something that's asked of me, and I refuse to ask for help. Oh, any my time management skills suck! 

No one forces responsibilities on me, and no one can make me feel guilty for saying no or not getting something done. That's a lot to accept. But whether I accept it or not, it's reality. So why pass on the freedom staring me in the face just so I can hide behind a false sense of "I'm not responsible?"

More on that tomorrow...

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