This morning after my swim, I was getting out of the shower and drying around my ears, I felt my diamond stud earring pull out of my left earlobe. I could sense that the earring was in the towel.
Below me was a drain with big holes, waiting to swallow up my earring if I wasn’t careful.
Gently and carefully, I stepped out and opened the towel over the floor. And as I opened the towel, I heard the earring fall to the floor.
Of course, then I couldn’t find it.
The floor could not have been a worse floor on which to find a small diamond stud. Speckled black and grey, with pools of water running from the shower to the drains.
I squatted down and started feeling around the floor for it while looking in every direction. I felt the floor of the shower, even though I knew it had fallen to the floor outside the shower. I even lifted up the drain cover in the shower — just to be sure I checked everywhere.
For 20 minutes I crawled around on the floor looking for my earring. Finally I changed my perspective: I knelt on the bench and looked down from above.
And I saw it. Crisis averted.
I searched a little longer for the back, but I couldn’t find it. It might have fallen down the drain.
So I let it go. I stopped looking for it. I have the important part. The back is easier and less expensive to replace.
As I searched, and after I finished, I noticed a few things.
No ADHD Meltdown
The circumstances here were for an ADHD meltdown, which in the past would happen often with me when I lost something — especially something important.
An ADHD meltdown would look like me hyperventilating or in tears as I crawled around the floor, then my getting very angry at myself and calling myself all sorts of nasty names as I blamed and shamed myself for my carelessness and my inability to take care of my things.
I didn’t even realize the lack of an ADHD meltdown until later.
No stories or blame
Even though I just lost a brand new tank top on Friday at Trapeze School, I did not tell myself a story about how I lose things all the time — which isn’t even true, but that is a story that I tend tell in moments like this.
Once or twice becomes always.
consequence of living all over the place or not taking good care of my stuff.
I noticed that I didn’t get into a story of “this happened because …” and “if you hadn’t …” and “you should have…”
Muted inner critic
The inner critic who would typically tell me I need to be more responsible and question why I was wearing my earring in the first place (mom’s voice) was not really there.
To the extent it was there, it was only a faded voice in the background.
I should have removed the earrings before swimming.
I should have opened the towel in a different part of the locker room, away from the drains.
You need to be more responsible.
Of course, noticing it’s absence meant it was there on some deeper level. But I didn’t allow it to come to the surface.
There might be a time and place for a conversation about how I can prevent this in the future. But that time and place was not while I was looking for the earring.
As for responsibility, I was responsible.
Response-able: Able to respond.
I was response-able because I didn’t get caught up in a story about how this is a terrible pattern.
I was response-able because I didn’t get caught up in self-aversion and self-judgment.
I was response-able by staying out of my head and in my body.
As I crawled around naked on the floor of the locker room, I remained in my breath, and in the moment. I noticed what was there and what wasn’t. I didn’t allow the critical voices to take over.
Even before I found the earring, I had let it go. It wasn’t my life or a limb. It is replaceable. All of this is obvious. But this perspective has not always been available to me.
How to Be More Response-able
The ability to respond in this way — to remain calm, to let go, to keep it all in perspective in the moment when the fight-flight-freeze fear response would typically kick in, is a result of hours of practice.
This is where meditation and mindfulness shift from ritual and practice to habit.
It’s a practice of continuously coming back to the breath, of retraining the brain, and of releasing the nervous system’s habitual defenses.
And in a moment where it mattered, it all came together.