I don’t know that we ever really feel ready for what we have to face in life. The old teaching that we are never given more than we can handle or that we are always where we need to be are intended to comfort in these situations but too often leave us still in doubt. Why me? What super power do I have to deal with the garbage and drama that has landed on my door step? What am I exactly supposed to do about it? Where was my say if I even wanted to be a super hero anyway?
Our circumstances and experiences shape us like nothing else in life. We encounter a lot of challenges at times that seem like they are large enough to swallow us up. Sometimes they do too. Yet, even though we do eventually come out of those events we are left with the trauma, pain and hurt to go along with that shiny new experience. It doesn’t always seem it is an even trade. When you’ve had a particularly hard road of these types of things you have to wonder why. I do at least. I wonder that a lot some days. After a while you give up thinking about it and just try to take solace in a quiet place hoping it blows over for once without needing you to act in it.
I cannot explain why life makes us these unintended super heroes in our own life stories. Most of these stories are never even told or remembered but by us. They are not the ones they make epic movies out of and show us in spandex outfits and capes. The movies also don’t show the aftermath of how we really look and feel from those battles. The stress induced weight, dark circles from lack of sleep and exhaustion. This part is conveniently skipped over to the happy ending when it is assumed recovery was speedy.
The scars of living through life battles stay with us though. We awaken in the middle of the night remembering them and thinking about the current battle we face. I’m never wanted to be a warrior. My idea of life was the happy little setting where things went smoothly, jobs were never lost and always rewarding, and I stayed slim in my cute jeans. Drama and bad things didn’t happen that often and always had a clever way of dealing with them like in the sitcoms. My real life is nothing like that, and mostly has never been that way. The happy times are where you can find them in those stolen moments of appreciation you’re holding it all together and can still smile.
We build strength over time to be able to hold more and more back so we can carve out those happy things in our life. We squeeze in as many good things as we can to make life feel normal. This idea that normal is where we need to protect that which we love the most. Sooner or later though even the strongest super hero gets tired. They feel the weight of the battle against them and need to take rest, a new approach or call in reinforcements. That part of the movies is accurate. The stubbornness that we can take it on ourselves and do often try results in us realizing that sometimes we do need help too.
Having people around us to help is a wonderful blessing but not all of us have that for a variety of reasons. There is too often not the safety net we thought there was when we need it most and that is enough to make anyone lose sleep at night when things are not going well. The responsibility of it all still rests on us even when there is help. We have to make those decisions, choices, actions and set the path. We have to be the one to change the circumstances for ourselves. Help if it is there can be a meaningful resource but should not be solely relied on for solution and action.
It all makes us unintended super heroes. Whether we set out to be so or not, we became them. We push through the hard days, we put up with asshole bosses and thankless jobs, we do what we must. We do it when we don’t feel like it and then we do it more because it demands it. Sometimes there is no choice. The weight of it all becomes our shield we brace against us as the reasons we cannot do other things in our week, season or year. It becomes our barrier between what we wish we could do and what we must do. It unfortunately becomes where we also stop seeing the balance in our life because our shield becomes too heavy to lift.
We think the answer lies in making more time for self-care, going to the gym or doing something to take care of yourself. With the promise of making us feel better, more empowered and back to our old selves we commit to these additional activities that often become added frustrations we cannot uphold. Others do it so why can’t we, we ask. We cannot see all the things we are doing that are in the way of making it possible and instead blame ourselves for not being strong enough, capable, pretty, financially ready or just plain genes we are cursed to hold in our body.
The backside of the unintended super hero is torn with scars of the beatings we have taken in our careers, relationships, communities and families as we have tried to eke out a living. The forged path of life is never free of briars and things that make us bleed and hurt. We are told the untraveled path is the best and yet many of us feel trapped on a path that we don’t like not really knowing how to change directions. We are so beaten down by the path we’re on we have given up hope that such an untraveled path is even out there like some mystical unicorn. It makes our days gray and our waistline bigger as we try to continue holding up the shreds of what we think we need to have the life we wanted.
Was it really all about that though? Is it really all about our children or even our future? What are we doing to ourselves now in the process of trying to make that future? For me the bigger question to all of that is am I even headed in the right direction to have the life I envision or is that fake too? My own backside is ripped and beaten to a pulp as a result and I question if it was worth it in some respects. What makes it worth continuing to do if it is not even pointed in my true North? I’m not talking suicidal tendencies here but rather the deeper purpose of our individual lives that we are forfeiting little by little every day for something most of us don’t really want now or later.
Figuring out how to retire from being the unintended super hero in our own life is bigger than waiting until we can retire from our jobs too. It is the journey of figuring out how to live now, every day, right now in this moment. Feeling our best without the need for a heavy shield and sword. Can you even imagine a life like that or has your own back become so ripped and scarred that seems laughable? It did to me at one point too. This isn’t some crazy middle-aged awareness that struck me though, it is the idea that I deserve better. I actually deserve it to feel good in the process too. Not just when I need a mani-pedi.
That awareness is what changes our energy, focus and all that we do. It becomes the thing we think about at 3AM for how to move it forward just a little. It is the secret dream we start to give credence to figuring out how to realistically materialize it. It is the stuff people call you crazy over and start to ignore you because they think you’ve lost your mind. That space where it looks like a blank canvas and we are unafraid to use our own creativity to begin to move about it freely, uninhibited and creatively. Using all the talents and skills we actually possess without fear of judgement. Can you even imagine?
I may find in my own journey of this that I am still an unintended hero of this story. It may come out as a failure and I am forced to once again pick up shield and sword to fight like the old days. I hope not though. That’s the thing about this too, I actually can allow some hope in my heart again. I can use all that I have, am capable of and manifest it to the highest place I can to see what happens and that is simply liberating. It makes me actually feel like a hero that has purpose rather than just a battle scarred warrior waiting to be taken down. That is what happens when you release the barriers between yo and your shield and look at the strategy for getting to the path you were meant to walk.
I don’t know what that picture will look like for me but I can already feel the difference it is making in my body, mind and spirit. I awake ready to find more ways to create it bigger in my life to the point it bursts from the small places it currently lives protected and safe. When old ways threaten to spark up new battles I double down my efforts to build more aggressively my own path off the battlefield and in my true North direction to the place where life lives in balance to my favor. Realizing we can manifest that is powerful and puts so many things in perspective for where we focus our energy as we transition our life to this new way of living.
It won’t mean I won’t ever fight in another battle but it will be a battle I can win because rather than being strengthened through pain, scars and pain I am build on a foundation of my own. I am toned and strengthened from the experience of being an unintended hero but now I can put that into use for the positive growth I do actually desire. The ability to grow where we want to be rather than where we are held back is a huge differentiator in knowing, caring and giving it your all in what you are fighting for. It makes saying I am doing it for my family mean I am the best I can be and they are benefiting from that too. It’s no longer a matter of them versus me on why I do something.