It’s very, very easy to beat myself up for not doing something I said I would do. I agreed to write in my blog every day for 30 days and yet yesterday went by and I didn’t realize it until 11pm when I was too tired. I don’t know what it’s like for people who have really horrible addictions, but I do know what it’s like to hold the bar too high for oneself. It’s not perfection I’m after, I believe that perfect is the enemy of the good. And I’ve become much more relaxed as an adult than I was as a child. And still, it’s disappointing.
But the wonderful news is that I woke up today, I have the chance to do something great. Doesn’t mean it will be this blog entry, or showing up to my job, or telling my husband I love him. It could be something small and I may not even know I’ve done it because my actions may affect someone else. That’s what I hope for, anyway.
Last time I posted, I was talking about how I was going to focus on my health in 2016.
Except I did, sort of. The truth is that I was reminded of how there is no silver bullet for anything (save maybe rest and liquids for a cold, and Berocca for a hangover.) Every effort I make to improve some aspect of my health has a trade off. For instance – lose that extra 5 pounds? No more cake. Want less GI grumbling? No more hummus. More sex with my husband? Get up earlier since he’s asleep by 8pm. Now, I get it – all of these things are worth it, right? If the goal is to live a long, healthy life, then yes. But if the goal is just to live… that’s different – and there’s a lot of grey area there.
In other news, a year has passed since I’ve written about my bonus daughter with mental health issues. She is now a full fledged almost-14-year old. And what a complete bitch sometimes. I know. Its not polite to speak that way – about a child, about a woman, yada yada. But y’all don’t live with her. Even her Mom and Dad refer to her that way. Not to her face, of course. To her face, we are all kinds of calm, and say the things we’re supposed to say… the prep from the therapists, the parenting books, etc. We tell her we love her but no, its not ok to continue to berate us just for existing. Some stuff – the not flushing the toilet EVER, leaving all doors open, not putting her shoes away – I think its a byproduct of being raised like a princess and the last few years of asking her to change isn’t going well. She is honestly the laziest human being I’ve ever met. Again – this is not a secret in our homes. She genuinely has no desire to do anything better. The only motivators she has are using her iPod and walking herself to school. Her Mom is constantly fixing or ‘helping’ her with homework. The girl has never failed. When she does poorly, she complains to the teachers, who call her Mom, who works with the teachers to re-test and re-work and give more chances. I can’t see how that’s setting her up to succeed in life, but I can see how its setting her up to believe everyone else is going to clean up her messes.
Ah. Sweet release.
When I began learning meditation, about 20+ years ago, the school of thought was that you could force your brain to be silent – that is how enlightenment would come. Stare at the flame of a candle, think blank thoughts… when I hear this now, it seems preposterous. Through decades of research, we have a better understanding of the human brain. Learning to achieve a cessation of mind chatter, a silencing, is like training a puppy. Which, anyone who has had a puppy knows, can be frustrating, annoying, and requires patience and consistency. And now that mediation, yoga, mindfulness, and any activity that is supposed to bring about a greater sense of self is all the rage in the Western world, the pressure to do so – especially here in our United States of Competition, is great and inevitably linked to failure. In that mindset, if you’re unable to achieve a pretzel body and a quiet mind, its more likely you’ll give up and go eat a bagel. At least, that’s what I do. Along with some general beating up on one’s self. ‘It’s not for me, I’m not good enough, I can’t do it,’ yada yada. What we don’t learn, what we can’t learn until someone has brought us up this way or taught us, is that it’s alright to forgive yourself. It’s imperative, actually.
I read an article recently about the founder of Spanx. When she was growing up, at the dinner table her father would ask what she had done to fail that week. He’d high-five her if she had a failure to share, defining failure as ‘not trying’ instead of ‘not succeeding’. We can’t grow or learn without struggle, and failures. And so, I forgive myself – for not meditating the last couple of days, for not making a blog entry yesterday, for overreacting to something my stepdaughter said last week, for not communicating to my man about my needs, for making a social faux pas with a friend. I used to hang on to all of these failures. Each and every one, and they would pile up and I’d feel that I couldn’t possibly achieve anything – good relationships, self-care, progress in my writing, or ever truly realizing what good I am to the world. It is a work in progress to let these things go, to realize I was lazy – which is a quality I abhor in others – and that everything is still going to be all right. But I’m trying.