Learning To Be Self-Reliant

The Altar in my Studio

I sat at my desk staring down at the paper in front of me.  No matter how much I tried, I couldn’t figure  out what to do next.  I was in elementary school, and we were learning long division.

I knew how to do long division, I did it the day before, but now, the more I stared at the math problems, the harder I tried,  the less what was in front of me made sense.  No matter what I did I couldn’t figure it out.

The teacher wanted me to stay after class so she could go over it with me.  But I knew if I stopped trying and came back to it the next day, I’d be able to do it by myself.  When school was over, I ran out of the class room before my teacher could tell me to stay.

The next day I was able to do the same long division problems, that made no sense to me the day before.  I had experienced this kind of thing before.  I didn’t understand why it happened, but it was familiar to me.

On Friday,  when my sewing machine kept getting jammed and my automatic thread cutter came apart, and I couldn’t figure out how to put it back together,  I planned on  bring my sewing machine to the repair shop.

But when I went into my studio yesterday morning, I decided to give it another try, because I woke up   thinking about that day in school trying to do long division.  I’ve thought of that day often throughout my life.  It’s been a reminder to me, when I feel that kind of confusion, to stop what I’m doing and try again another day.

This morning was the first time I realized that what I experienced that day in school, and so many times after that, was a panic attack

I never had a name for what it, but back in elementary school, I figured out a way to deal with it.

Yesterday morning, when I tried using my sewing machine again, I could see exactly what I had been doing wrong on Friday and why it kept getting jammed.   My mind was clear enough to go on  YouTube and find a video that showed me how to fix the automatic thread cutter.

By 11am I was sewing again.

This kind of awareness about myself, understanding who I really am and what I’m truly capable of, is a process I seriously began in my mid forties, when I got divorced and decided to change my life.

At that time,  I remember my soon to be  ex-husband saying he felt like an onion, that were layers and layers to him and he didn’t want to keep pealing them away.  He didn’t want to know what was at the center.

I felt the exact opposite.

I wanted to shed myself of a lifetime of hiding and find the real me. And I’ve been doing that ever since.

More recently, I’m seeing that even though I suffer from panic attacks and anxiety, it’s much better than it used to be.  And I have new ways of recognizing them when they happen and calming myself.  Because when I panic, I can’t think clearly, I used to think I was stupid or incapable of doing certain things.

But now, almost everyday, I’m discovering what I really am capable of.

I’m doing things I never would have even considered doing before.  Like Bellydancing and fixing my own sewing machine, making my art  and running my business successfully.   I’m learning the things I really don’t do well or don’t want to do, like bookkeeping, graphic design and cleaning the house, and I’m paying someone else to do them.

I’m finally learning how to be an adult.  How to live my life well and how to take care of myself.  How to trust myself and believe in myself.

At the age of fifty-four, I’m leaning to be self-reliant.





10 thoughts on “Learning To Be Self-Reliant

  1. I sometimes think the world is divided not by politics, but between people who would rather know than not know, and those who would rather not know than know.

  2. Figuring out those bouts of “confusion” took me a long time and your insights are very helpful. Now I just back off and give myself some time; move on with other things; come back to the task later. Still learning about myself at age 72, and still finding it an interesting process.

    And, I think, sometimes, that I have learned how to “give over” to someone else to do things that I need, or want, done. That has been the hard part of learning about myself, or perhaps just accepting that I can allow others to do things. Perhaps I never got over the toddler stage, of “me do!” “me do”!

    1. I guess we can always learn about ourselves, no matter how old we are Barbara. I love to hear someone who is older than me say they are still learning. And to find it interesting too is a bonus. I definitely get the “me do” part.

  3. So sweet, Maria. Letting go is a powerful tool.

    I had a similar experience using my neighbor’s portable air compressor to fill my tires. By mistake I let the air out! Had no idea what I was doing wrong. (I learned later it was because I wasn’t pressing hard enough.) I panicked and then used the tire guage to check the pressure and for pity sake let out more air. I knew it was time to stop and regroup the next day.

  4. Congratulations on your progress. Some people go a lifetime without learning the lessons you have learned. Continue to have faith in yourself and you will continue to grow to be the confident woman you are meant to be

  5. I just love this. And quite honestly I often think “if I could be like Maria and change out a window or create the gizmo to hang quilts” or any of the things that Jon admires you for and I do too. So while you are becoming more self-reliant you are my talisman for getting to where you are.

    When I saw the first post my thought was how could Maria not be able to fix that, she has remodeled houses and has so much wisdom. Which you do!

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