I was twenty-five and had just found my husband dead.
Someone had recommended a therapist for me. I called and the receptionist answered.
“Is this an emergency?”
“Uh, no, no, it’s not an emergency.”
We scheduled a first appointment to see the therapist a good week later.
What We Think Matters
Back then, my inner dialogue went something like this:
I don’t want to make waves. I want to be easy, not a burden for others. This therapist obviously has a lot of patients to see if she can’t see me, a new patient, in the next 24 hours. I’m in terrible pain right now, but I am not bleeding, not on death’s door. I do not have the right to call my situation an emergency, since I’m still alive and breathing on my own. So, I will sit with the pain, shock, and fear I do not know how to process until it is a better time for this recommended therapist to meet with me.
The Balm of Self-Compassion
Writing this now, I want to hug that young woman I was, look her in the eyes and grab her firmly by her hunched shoulders. I write with tears in my eyes, yearning for that young adult to honor her experience and the feelings that were emerging, to explore the pain instead of holding it in her body like a grenade until it was convenient for a therapist to see her.
The Allure of Being Easy
There are many levels and forms of “being easy” for others.
We contort ourselves under the false notion that doing so will help us somehow belong, experience love, and feel worthy.
The desire to feel a sense of belonging and acceptance is normal; after all, we are social creatures, spiritually wired to connect and even flourish through connection. The problem arrives when we subjugate our own needs to please others.
When our sense of self is inextricably tied to the approval of others, we lose our inner compass.
We starve ourselves, either physically or spiritually, to feed what we believe others want.
The Most Important Question
The late playwright, George Bernard Shaw is famous for his pithy line:
“Youth is wasted on the young.”
I argue that it doesn’t need to be. You don’t need to be a twenty-five-year-old widow to discover the lesson that you can stop being easy, NOW — regardless of your number of years on Earth.
So, what can we do to help dissipate the often, knee-jerk reaction some of us have to please others at the expense of ourselves?
We can check-in with ourselves. We can cultivate a habit of asking ourselves a simple but profound question: What do I think?
If I could go back to that young adult who had just found her dead husband, I would ask her: What do you think?
She would say:
I am fucking scared! I am broken and lost. I don’t know how one minute, I was sleeping next to my husband, his warm hand on my stomach and now he is dead. I need a therapist NOW; this IS an emergency. My heart, mind, and soul cannot comprehend what just happened. I need someone to process what feels impossible to process NOW.
Easy is Overrated
Easy is overrated. Easy is the Corset of Life: it might look easy and effortless on the outside, but inside, we are slowly losing oxygen.
Easy doesn’t avoid growth; it just postpones growth.
The longer we are easy, ignoring what’s under the hood of our psyches, the greater the spiritual repair fee. But make no mistake, there’s a price for Easy.
The Impossibility of Pleasing Others
We will never please everyone, no matter how much we bend over backwards. There’s a comfort in knowing that when we start to please ourselves first, honoring our birthright gut, life actually gets easier.