"When you Assume you make an ass out of you and me" Mr. Black, Naomi's seventh grade science teacher
There are three things that immediately come to mind when I think about my seventh grade science class: 1) Studying the cells we scraped from our cheeks under microscopes in lab that year. 2) My friend Jeremy
giving me a rose on Valentines day outside that very science room. 3) ASS (U) and (ME) written in large letters in chalk across the blackboard of my science class. I am sure there is good reason that all three memories have stayed with me. But of them all, #3 has certainly been the most useful. Especially in recent years. Since my husband's death, I've considered my assumptions rigorously. There were patterns in my own behavior that weren't getting me the results I longed for in the relationship. Once he was gone, those patterns still remained. They existed over many years in a dynamic between us, yes. But they were my responsibility now to understand. Why was it so hard to change the behaviors that continually failed to get me the results I wanted? Assumptions. Assumptions are the beliefs and stories we have told ourselves trillions of times over without our conscious awareness. Our operating system grew up around them. I am talking about the deeply ingrained assumptions about ourselves, the world, and our closest most intimate relationships that were formed before we could possibly have asserted our voice, or made a choice about what we believed. Our biology clings to those assumptions as we grow. Our assumptions were set in families and environments that were far from perfect. We cling to them because they were effective in the environment in which they were formed. The fear that formed those assumptions into being has now had decades to fine-tune its messaging. It has marshaled thoughts and behaviors that have become automatic, if ineffective, reactions to what we perceive will threaten the foundation of our safety. Now that we are grown (ass) women, we can make a more informed choice about what we want to believe is possible about ourselves, other people and the world. We can tend to the fear that formed those beliefs in the first place. It is not easy work to shake a foundation built on 52 (in my case) years of life. But shake I have! I shook the foundation because I want to feel closer to the people I love. I shook that foundation because I want to see my courage bloom into its full potential before the end of my days. I shook that foundation because I love the part of myself who wants those things. She is so passionate about trying. We begin by testing our assumptions. We have to do the hard work of change. No one can do the changing for us. This is work do by taking small steps, and is best done in the company of other women who can help you replace the old assumptions was a new ones that are more true than the ones built on fear. I can tell you that it is hugely rewarding, and often spectacularly mind-blowing and fun, to shake it up and find out how brave you really are.