When my wife was in her last few weeks of pregnancy, she started on a cleaning frenzy. She is not normally the type to grab a broom, or window cleaner and paper towels, but there she was, bulging belly and all, going at the house like the King of Norway was on his way for monocle-eyed inspection. This final frantic burst of energy is considered normal for humans and animals alike. Nature gives expectant mothers a boost of energy to help them prepare for the wee one(s). They call it "nesting" and it's driven by pure instinct and late-in-the-game adrenaline. Even fathers get involved, feeling the need to clean out the basement, or paint the front hallway or fix up the car.
I find myself many times going through phases that mimic this nesting phenomenon. I am not with mop in hand per se, but I do feel a sense of cleaning house—in a focused and methodical way. I was listening to the wonderful Bishop T.D Jakes last night, and he spoke about living a life focused. He preached that in order to receive new blessings, it is important we organize our life for them, in practical and spiritual ways. I cannot receive new food on my plate when I have yesterday's leftovers and dirty cutlery on it still. This spoke to me as I have been going through a recent need to declutter my life. I have been sensing that it's time to shuffle the deck of cards and remove the jokers—not that the jokers are bad, but they just aren't needed right now.
As as active alcoholic, people pleasing was my business. Self-care wasn't. My concern, other than making my sure my belly was full of booze, was to ensure others liked me. Or at least dislike me as little as possible. I cared plenty what others thought of me. I twisted and bent myself to secure other people's approval. In the process, I lost my own sense of self. Part of that Like-Me-At-All-Costs program was that I said "yes" to everything. No matter how much it would mess my world up further, I agreed to everything so that I would get a gold star in everyone's book. As a result, I would say "no" to the things that really mattered—family, my wife, etc. I was saying "yes" to the wrong things and "no" the right ones.
Boundaries were blurred at best, and with that, I made many questionable decisions. I feared asserting myself and asking for what I needed. I didn't want to be seen as either dominating or weak. I was a sniper in life—alone, in control and a sharp shooter. In fact, I was just a scared child afraid to let someone know I was alone and wanted a hug.
When I got into recovery, learning to set boundaries and lines was challenging. I was standing up for myself, in small and not-so-small ways, and it frightened me. I didn't want to upset others. But what I found is that in marking those lines in the sand, people respected me more. I respected myself more. Others knew what I stood for and while they may not have agreed with me, they understood. I was able to make clearer and more refined decisions. The blur was gone and I found a structure within that kept me on the beam. I was becoming focused. And with that, the blessings came—a job that I still have, a new child, working with others in recovery, etc. I found freedom in something I once thought would be confining.
Every now and then I need to turn the lens and recalibrate, refocus. These days, I am finding myself moved to sweep the deck. I feel some sort of nesting instinct kicking in. I am saying "no" to a lot more things. I am rearranging my life to create space. I am passing on projects to other people. I am, in essence, taking away my dirty dish and leftovers and setting the table for something new. New focus, new blessings.
I am not sure what is coming down the pipe for me, but I know that I will be ready soon. Ready to take on whatever the universe needs to give to me. Ready in the nest, ready for the birth of something new.