Photo by averie woodard on Unsplash
THE LONGER I LIVE, the more I realize how little I know. I see laid out behind me a veritable country of bad decisions, aaaaall with little headstones and wooden crosses.
They have inscriptions like “This is the time you allowed yourself to believe these words about yourself” or “Here lies the remains of your self-respect” or maybe “This is the time you trusted your feelings instead of your brain.” So many, many crosses.
The problem seems to be that I think I have something figured out for 5 minutes and then I move ahead. But OH here’s a bump in the highway with my next big screw-up where I didn’t remember that I am supposed to be in charge of my own safety, my own growth, my own self-care.
It’s tricky, taking care of myself after so many years of capitulating to the beliefs of others. I believed for years the words of my mother, the actions of my mother toward me, that I was A Disappointment, that there had Once Been Hope that I would be Worthy but clearly I Had Failed. I tried and tried and tried to disprove that by my own actions, my own words, to her and everyone else around me. SEE! I am THIS person! The person who loves her children! The person who still tries to have a relationship with a mother who is dismissive and mean to her! SEE! THIS IS ME!
[bctt tweet=”I don’t know how to feel pain and not want to stop-drop-and-roll into my own little hermitage away from the world.” username=”julielelder”]
For years I tried to prove in my marriage that I Was Good Enough. That I was loving, kind, nurturing, could put up with being yelled at and belittled by a man with clenched fists and still have a sense of humor. BUT, still I believed, a little more and a little more over time, that he must be right. The one with the loudest voice wins, the one who can roar the longest and the fiercest must be right. Therefore I am wrong.
Surviving this Psychological Warfare shit means I am now supposed to, at age sixty-freaking-five, be in charge of my own safety, my own well-being, my own sense of self. I am to Take Care of Me.
Again, for 5 minutes I think I have it figured out–Engage in Life. Walk in the sunlight, write poems and prose and pointless rhyme. Talk to friends, build friendships. Continue building the relationships with my children. Do the creative projects that feed my soul.
5 freaking minutes.
Then I add another cross to the Country of Bad Decisions. I lose being present in the moment. I forget that I’m still fragile, still healing. Still very stupid and un-self-aware. I beat myself up for making mistakes, for being human. I’m back into my head, and sometimes the inside of my head is a war zone.
Will I ever get “it” right? Will I learn to be more than human? More than full of mistakes?
No. I can’t. As long as I’m on this earth I WILL BE FULL OF MISTAKES.
I’ve spent my whole life trying to avoid screwing up. Messing up was a reason to be crucified by people who were supposed to love me and want the best for me, so I learned to fear my mistakes like the devil. And what better way to avoid making mistakes? Do Nothing. Do not engage, do not join, do not risk, do not breathe. All that does is make one light-headed and lonely.
I don’t want to be frozen like I was for so long, but I don’t quite understand how to move forward and risk and still be in charge of my own safety. I don’t know how to remember to keep breathing. I don’t know how to feel pain and not want to stop-drop-and-roll into my own little hermitage away from the world.
Such a painful way to live!
SO–I think my self-care for today looks like this:
I will get down on my knees and look my little girl self in the eyes. I will hold her shoulders gently and say:
“I am here for you. I will always be here for you. I will have your back, no matter what happens.
“It’s okay to make mistakes, that’s how we learn. It’s part of being a human. I love you! I will always always love you with my whole heart, I will always be here when you need someone to hold you, even if it’s early in the morning and you know how much I hate morning.
“You can’t do a single thing to make me love you less.”
Then I will hug her for as long as she needs to be held.