I few years ago, I was out for a walk in a pretty neighborhood, and I played a game of which house would I want to be mine. I looked at houses with porches, houses with tin roofs, houses with long expanses of front yards, but they all had the same issue: if the house were mine, I’d be in it. It wouldn’t be a new start or a haven. It would be a cage
I started running when I was thirteen. Running felt right. It was a way to both be me and not me. I was the one running, but I was also running from myself. I was there and not there. If someone had taken teenaged me, stood me on a desert island, and said, see you in a year, I would have eaten myself alive just to escape my thoughts. Living is tricky when your sense of self doesn’t align with your body and your mind.
I remember the first time I realized I was fat. I was in a dressing room with my best friend trying on pants, and I noticed that the tops of my thighs touched and hers didn’t. The next week my mother came home with Jim Fixx’s book on running, and I took one look at those muscular legs on the cover and knew that was the answer. I’d run my way to thighs that didn’t touch.
To be a runner is a complicated thing. You can just be someone who jogs a few miles every day, or you can be someone who regularly runs. I learned to deal with anger by watching my mother run from the room after expressing her feelings. What I learned was the style of anger management I call blow and go. Let it out but don’t hang around to have a conversation. Don’t own what you say. Throw the acid and run before you see what damage it causes.
I was talking to my friend Pam the other day about limiting beliefs, and I told her that I most struggle with the belief that I can support myself. I have never supported myself without the help of parents or husbands. Ever. I truly in my heart believe that I can’t make enough money to pay my bills. Pam asked who I would be without that thought, who would I be with two billion dollars in the bank, and I realized I’d be a person full of fury, a person who had to face the fact that even though she had plenty of money, she still wasn’t enough.
So I’ve been walking around telling myself I have two billion dollars in the bank, and, let me tell you, it has been a good week. The fury, it turns out, was temporary. I was temporarily furious that I’d never been taken cared of enough, that no matter what my parents or my husbands did, I was still left wanting. The cool thing was that once I recognized this fact, it left my body and I wasn’t furious any more. I was…free.
I went grocery shopping with two billion dollars in the bank and I didn’t buy anything extra because I didn’t want to clutter my place. Since I have two billion dollars in the bank, I have a new kind of control over my life, and part of what I want is to have no clutter. I want everything I own to have meaning. When I didn’t have two billion dollars in the bank I would buy stuff just to buy it, for the power I felt in exchanging dollars for things. Purchasing was a kind of power even if it meant I had a new bike I didn’t really want to ride. I’d been able to buy it. I was somebody.
But now that I have two billion dollars in the bank I am more certain in my shoes, more confident in my lungs. I breathe better with all that dough in my account. I feel safe. The spinning thoughts of You are going to be in trouble… There is not enough…You may not be able to eat next week…You can’t be trusted to even take care of yourself…are all gone because I have two billion dollars in the bank.
The fact that I don’t have two billion dollars in the bank surprisingly doesn’t matter all that much. When I pay attention to how my body feels when I imagine all that money in my possession, I notice I feel as if everything including me is in slow motion. I feel like a cat sitting in the sun, in a body I get to enjoy instead of reacting to, a body I can inhabit instead of trying to escape.
I have been told a ZILLION times that I control my destiny, that I can manifest any life I want with my thoughts, but I don’t like to be told what to do. I had to come to this new life view on my own. So this is why it took me 52 years to realize I am a billionaire. A double billionaire.
And so here is the point of this entire essay: I posted a video online of me saying that my dream was to sing Dream On with Aerosmith and Run DMC to a roomful of adopted and foster kids wearing superhero capes. And it is a dream. But it’s not THE dream I have for myself.
I want a place of my own. I want to pay all my bills myself. I want money in the bank, enough so that I don’t think about it. I have spent my life acquiring things: All-Clad pans, furniture, pencils from Japan, houses, and then giving them away or leaving them behind. I didn’t dare dream of owning a house of my own because truly, I thought as soon as I got it I’d probably do something impulsive and give it away. But now I think I would keep it. I think I can have a place of my own because I can exist in it, because I can stand my own company—more: because I love my own company.
Being a massage therapist helped me with the whole fat thing because I saw that working with a fleshy body is much more interesting than working on bones. Bones are beautiful, but the flesh that covers the bones is so full of life and stories. When you touch flesh, energy runs up into your hands and straight to your heart if you really pay attention. It’s so…real.
I don’t know how I came to believe I’m enough. I think in large part it is from working with people so intensely in my Write or Die classes and seeing that the limiting beliefs almost everyone seems to have truly, truly are limiting, that people who are made of stardust sit small in their chair because they believe things that just aren’t true. (I’m not lovable; I’m not smart enough; I’m too mediocre.)
What I see is that when people realize they carry these limiting beliefs and laugh at how ridiculous they are, magic happens. People are amazing, and what I’ve seen, again and again, is that amazement springs from honesty. When you hit onto the truth of who you are and what you believe and what you love, you turn into light. Anything is possible.
A year ago—a month ago!—I never would have had someone video me while I sang Dream On and then posted it on Facebook because 1. I can’t hold a tune and 2. It makes me look like I think I’m special, but I’ve changed. I don’t really care if I can’t sing because the fact is, I can sing. I just can’t sing what most people would call well, but if every person who tells me they don’t write because they can’t write well sat down with me and did one of my writing classes, I’d get to show them: Look! Look at what you just did! It has never failed to happen. Every single person who has taken my class has broken my heart with his or her words. And the whole special thing is just beside the point: we are all special. We are all worthy of attention and love, from others and ourselves.
It’s not about being good enough. It’s just about being.