Your purpose in life is not to love yourself but to love being yourself.
If you goal is to love yourself, then your focus is directed inward toward yourself, and you end up constantly watching yourself from the outside, disconnected, trying to summon the “correct” feelings towards yourself or fashion yourself into something you can approve of.
If your goal is to love being yourself, then your focus is directed outward towards life, on living and making decisions based on what brings you pleasure and fulfillment.
Be the subject, not the object. It doesn’t matter what you think of yourself. You are experiencing life. Life is not experiencing you.
I dreamt that I found out I was dying (not sure from what, but it was clear in the dream) and Coffee looked me in the face and said, “Yes, that’s why I wanted a divorce.”
I dreamt that I had fucked up a friend’s work schedule and her dad came to confront me about it (I kind of know him, but not enough that he’d get involved in a work-related thing). When I told him it was an accident, he asked for a hug. When I started to hug him, he yelled, “BE CAREFUL, MY RIBS ARE ALL BROKEN.”
I got a message from someone today, apologizing for something they messed up. It wasn’t a big deal and the apology was appreciated but not hugely necessary.
What was interesting is that, after apologizing, they said that they know I’m going through some assorted stuff in my life and they really admire the fact that I’m still holding my shit together .. and they don’t know why they can’t, too.
Hahahahahahaha Whoah, buddy. WHAT?!
There are many forces of chaos in my life lately – some of which are just about accepting change, some that are hugely disruptive, some that I’ve talked openly about, some I’ve only told a select few, some that I can’t do anything about.. etc.
Yes, I am holding lots of things together, easily, at the moment. And I have also fumbled, or completely dropped, a bunch of things. I have handed a few things over to a few people. I have handed a LOT of things over to other people.
Am I making it all look easy? Two reasons why – first, you’re probably only seeing part of the picture. Second, I’m lucky.
Where I’m lucky is that I have the ability to fuck up, drop balls, hand things off to other people, be open about the hard things, and go through some shit, without it majorly impacting the bigger picture of my life.
I have a job where I have worked for over a decade, and where I have demonstrated commitment and skill – giving me a bit of leeway to drop off a bit. A coworker covered 2 weekends in a row so I could have time off. I have vacation hours banked up to use in the coming weeks. If I needed to take a leave, I could. There is immense security in all of this.
I have coworkers who have picked up my slack in big, and small, ways. In part because they have strong commitment and passion for the work, in part because they are incredibly supportive of me, and in part because they (hopefully) know that I would do the same for them – we’re a team. Some of us have worked together for many years and there’s a great deal of comfort in that.
I have friends who repeatedly check in, send love notes, hug me, send me snacks, mail me postcards, and listen to me vent – and also celebrate with me. Distract me. Boost me up. Tell me hilarious stories. Send me memes. I am not the best of friends right now (or ever, really) but I am so very well-supported with so much love. I do not feel alone with whatever’s going on – there are people I can, and do, reach out to for support. Not everyone is that lucky.
I have the financial resources to live reasonably. I can afford groceries and I eat meals of my choosing. I sleep in a climate controlled home. Mustang therapy is limited but still continues. I don’t have a huge amount of financial insecurity hanging over me while I try to deal with other things. Money is tighter but it’s an adjustment, not a terrifying situation. I have empty credit cards and access to a couple lines of credit, if I need them. I’m paid by salary, not hourly, so my finances are consistent.
I have decent health. Allergies and migraines, sure, and wild insomnia – and all of that is an inconvenience, not a major concern. I don’t have chronic pain anymore. I have the normal trash heap body of a mainly sedentary 46 year old, but I don’t stress about that body – I get up, I go. (Sometimes an extra advil, sometimes an extra mug of coffee.) I have sick days at work if I ever need them.
I don’t have small children at home. I am not taking care of anyone other than myself. I have the space and time to decompress and be grumpy and not worry about how that’s impacting on a tiny human. My kids are all adults – they are making choices and living lives that belong fully to them, not me. (That said, some of my current stress is related to my kid…) I can be wildly selfishly self-centred when I need to be, and go to bed early or eat cookies for dinner (or skip dinner altogether) or sleep late.
My stress is not at all the same as many other people’s stress. If I am making it look easy, it’s because some parts are (relatively).
And, too, things are getting easier. I am finding a nice routine and structure for my life. I have started doing new things. I am finally starting to sleep a bit more. My budget is starting to make more sense to me and I’m less terrified about the future of my finances. My kid is (sort of) stable at the moment. There is also a nice predictability in my job, some of my friendships, in some of my old hobbies and routines.. And my awareness of the little shifts makes the stressful stuff feel less overwhelming.
Life is still weird. But it’s not terrible… And it keeps getting better, bit by bit, which helps so much. A lot of people don’t have/feel hope for things to improve.
I went out a few nights ago and, in the process, verbally gave one my friends the official “you got me to leave my house for something other than work” award.
It was weird. We were the only ones in the place wearing masks. I do not know how I feel about this, in the bigger picture, but it felt so very surreal. There is no option to NOT wear a mask at my workplace (except when I am alone in my office which is just like being alone at home) so I haven’t seen the bottom half of a group of people’s faces for.. a long time.. in a public setting.
Other than that weirdness, it was a nice evening. I made a little (profane) embroidery piece that I will hang up on a wall or give to someone. I haven’t done embroidery since childhood, so it was both familiar and awkward. Not a bad combination, honestly.
I bought myself a pre-birthday pair of limited edition Fluevogs – delightful! expensive! so frivolous! so many shiny stars on them! – but have otherwise just been focused on all the things around the house that need doing. So much yard work! So many questions about the pool! Like a little old man, I just seem to putter around. I am figuring things out as I go along, mostly, while sending messages to Coffee (and others) with my endless questions. So far, at least, no one has blocked me. Win!
I am getting into a nice routine around here. The things that felt impossibly hard are getting easier as I get used to them – or, at least, less stressful. My brain is calming down a bit around the hypervigilance and endless rolling of thoughts.
We’re on a bit of a cooler weather streak right now, which is fine with me, but I’m looking forward to a bit of sunshine for the upcoming Mustang meet-ups. It feels like forever since I went to hang out with all the beautiful cars (and their owners, I guess, too?).
When I was in school, and having a hard time with my field placement, I remember my supervisor telling me to always remember that I was seeing just a small part of someone’s life – not the big picture.
People would come to pick up harm reduction supplies and they’d be in withdrawal – the worst sickness I had ever seen on someone still moving. Or they’d be screaming at their friend or partner. They’d be hitting redial on their cellphone over and over and over, trying to call their dealer on the phone, getting increasingly agitated. Or they’d be begging to use someone else’s phone. People would show up so high that they’d fall asleep on the cabinet where I was working. People would show up after court dates weeping or furious.
Being surrounded by intensity makes it hard to remember the bigger picture. Sometimes I would go home at the end of my day and feel my own intense despair – so much suffering. So many upsetting conversations that I had no power to diffuse (which wasn’t my job, anyway, but I didn’t fully understand that at the time).
I never got to see the quiet times with loved ones. The laughter. The sitting down and watching a TV show. Sharing a snack with their dog. The little meaningful, and meaningless, moments that make up a life.
But now – usually – I am able to remember. Not just for clients but for everyone. The moment of awfulness that I see, in the moment, isn’t the big picture. It’s just the moment. And it will pass and it, in and of itself, doesn’t define the human.