8.3 Editor's Pick
June 11, 2019

How to Sober Ourselves Up from our Internal Sh*t Show.


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The promise of a steady meditation practice is to be kind and gentle to yourself and others.

But what happens when we think our inner self is just a lazy, depressed slob and just wants to be left the hell alone?

That happened to me today.

Meditation was not an option. Taking a walk was not an option, or taking a bath, or reading a book. As I laid on my bed at 4:00 in the afternoon with my shoes on, scrolling through the highlight reels of other people’s lives on my phone, a feeling of shame fell upon me that felt like a tightly strapped straightjacket.

It was all I could do to move my thumb, and with each stroke through the posts, the straps of shame tightened. I felt like I would suffocate.

I was stuck in a trance of negativity. I kept thinking, what kind of a poser am I that I can’t get myself out of this?

Serendipitously, I scanned a post and found a woman just like me in the 10,000 member private group that we both belong to, except that she was balled up on her couch. “Can someone give me a reason to get up off this couch?” her post read, “I feel like such a loser.”

Geez, I thought, is this some kind of a cosmic mirror?

Her cry for help sobered me up from my internal sh*t show.

I actually felt something in my body, like I did when I saw a lost black kitten on the street last week. I felt sadness for this stranger. It was a feeling of concern and a desire to comfort. It came as a gentle ping inside my head, right behind my eyes. My thumb stopped on the screen, transfixed. Then out of seemingly nowhere, an urge to reach out came over me.

I tapped, “We all feel like this sometimes. I am feeling it now too. Is there just one thing you can think to do to get up off the couch?”

It always helps to know that people are hurting just like you. Is it because misery loves company?

In this case, I decided to take my own advice. I put my phone down, got up off the bed, took my shoes off, and started to fold some laundry thrown around the room; which led me to clean the bathroom, take a walk around my neighborhood, and finally to sit on my meditation cushion for a short while.

Sometimes, being human just plain sucks, but there is a transformative magic in vulnerability when we humans share our secrets.

I didn’t have the courage to share, but the unknown couch warrior is my hero. She spawned in me a desire to comfort her, which in turn led me to comfort myself. Who knows how long I would have laid in my bed sinking into a depression and making myself and others miserable?

Her courageous act to reach out to help herself may have helped me more than her. It transformed me to take action and move from lost and numb to feeling upright and grounded.

We teach others when we don’t even know it, especially when we come from our own place of truth, no matter how messy it looks. Let’s all take a step into our mess, feel it, and share it.

You never know when the magic of vulnerability will touch and benefit our fellow beings.

author: Betsy Heeney

Image: IMDB/"Friends"

Image: @ElephantJournal

Editor: Catherine Monkman


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Joe Cyr Jul 3, 2019 7:01pm

I love the grace that you found in this moment Betsy. Thank you for sharing!

emilydh9 Jun 25, 2019 6:10am

Love this Betsy. I have been there too. And why do we feel more compassion for a lost kitty than we do for ourselves? Maybe it is because the kitty is helpless and we know we have it in us to help ourselves. I need to get up off the couch (soon) and this journal entry inspired me to do so.

Elke Blight Jun 14, 2019 10:15pm

“You never know when the magic of vulnerability will touch and benefit our fellow beings.” I love this, it is often in our most vulnerable moments that we can make the most difference, not only to others but also to ourselves. Love this, thank you for writing 🙂

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Betsy Heeney

Betsy Heeney is a 60-something writer, and host and founder of Elder&Wiser—a podcast about creative aging. Betsy’s aim is to break the silence around age shame, and change the conversation about ageism to inspire all generations to make friends with their own aging bodies and minds. As a trained visual arts educator, storyteller, and Buddhist meditation instructor, Betsy knows that the world needs us to share our natural wisdom, insight, and humor. A newlywed, Betsy lives with Joe (her fellow artist and husband), Charlie the cat, and a constant stream of Airbnb guests passing through their row home in the Hampden section of Baltimore, Maryland.