It’s a new year full of new beginnings! I have a lot of goals and dreams for this year, and a lot of exciting things to come. First and foremost though, I’ve had to tackle a great hurdle: to forgive and be-rid myself for good of self-pity. Only then will everything else follow.
Last year was challenging in many ways, and the last five months of the year put me through hell. The year wasn’t obviously all bad, but when we’re hit by a personal disaster, we tend to forget the good.
Hence for me, the time came for me to forgive – myself. As I’ve stated on several occasions, I’ve considered myself a perfectionist in recovery. Or so I thought. Boy have I been wrong. Now though, I am genuinely a perfectionist in recovery, before, not even close. Perhaps I’ll see things in a very different light in a few years again, but as for now, the lessons I have learned have pointed me to a drastically different direction.
Striving for constant continuose perfection is a trap
What is perfection? How you experience things yourself? Or rather how you presume the outside world sees you and your actions? Here’s the truth: There is no such thing as lasting perfection. Exquisite success and accomplishment, excellence, feelings of serenity, peace and love, the crème de la crème are all real, but they’re not permanent.
Nothing “perfect” will last forever. Striving for constant perfection is a genuine trap, a kind of la-la-land that will eventually bring you down. We’re all flawed and make mistakes, and that’s what makes us human – pun intended; perfect, if I may. Now I’m not saying you shouldn’t do your best, or even mildly confuse perfection with determination, but you need to also face reality. Some are better than others at juggling a million things at once and always end up with great results, but those same people also have bad days and face failures – just like anyone else.
Forget the pressure of social media
Shame on for example social media for upping the game on what a perfect life looks like. Even though we all know that social media portrays just a fraction of the truth, for some odd reason, we become brainwashed into thinking how much better off everyone else is, or how much more talent someone else has, a perfect family, the best job in the world, you name it. In my case it wasn’t social media that was the culprit, but perhaps still a part of the big picture, i.e. keeping up appearances for the greater public.
But back to perfection, if you can’t handle a let down or failure, you need to do a bit of self-evaluation. Which is what I did. A lot in fact.
The easiest place to get lost in is self-pity
Aah bliss, self-pity. Such a horrible, yet gloriously powerful state of mind that will make you loose all your senses. When you allow self-pity to come over you, you get lost. It’s a self-feeding mechanism that will bury you. It will keep you awake at night and blind you from reality. Finding your way out can be huge, but it’s not impossible. Now there’s always a reason for self-pity; it can be anything from failing an exam, feeling overwhelmed by parenting to loosing a loved one, and there’s no harm in feeling a little sorry for yourself every now and then. More relevant is how much and for how long you choose to torture yourself.
Depending on the reason for your self-pity, you can justify it to yourself in many ways. For me it was triggered by health issues that led to an operation, followed by a strenuous and much longer and harder recovery than anticipated, that led to domestic disputes, etc. All my plans and everything we had been preparing for months, including a huge move, were swept under a rug. And that’s where the show really began. I got buried deep in self-pity and couldn’t find my way out. I undermined everything and anything that I did. Every failure and hiccup during that time turned into a hurricane. I went from bright, shiny and exciting to dull, grey and miserable.
Though I’ve always been an advocate for positive thinking and sustaining a positive mindset, last fall I failed at it miserably.
Take your pain, misery, failure or fear, face it, then use it
So what do you do when you’re lost? You force yourself to find a way out. And eventually, you need to forgive yourself. You forgive the torture you put upon yourself, self-inflicted or not, but you forgive. Literally you need to take your pain, misery or fear, whatever triggered your self-pity, you face it, analyse it, embrace it, and then you use it. Empower yourself by taking all the negative energy and create something new and improved for yourself.
It’s okay to hurt and it’s okay to feel miserable, but it cannot become something that defines you. I, as a perfectionist, chose to bite lip. I shared my misery with only a very small handful of people, leaving out a lot of my nearest and dearest. Instead of being open, I kept everything on the inside, and let my self-pity get the most of me. I felt like I had failed, and God forbid the world would have seen my perfection crumble. Then one day, I spilled my beans publicly on my private Facebook page. A status update that hurt a lot of people, but yet gave me so much strength and support. (Though it was a breaking point for myself, I still strongly urge to consider twice, if not sixteen times, when and what is okay to be posted publicly on social media.)
Look at the people who surround you
I found out I have an absolutely amazing support network. I’ve written about the importance of a great support network before, but I forgot. Or I just didn’t realize it was there, even though all the time, my family was incredibly helpful and kept me standing. I spent a week on an amazing woman’s couch, pouring my heart out, crying and laughing, drinking so much rosé wine I care not to disclose, and I slowly began to find my direction.
Eventually, one day, I woke up happy. I had forgiven myself and accepted myself for all my flaws and imperfections. It was a deliberate act and required a lot of self-reflection, but also a good old shove in the right direction. Now two weeks later, after my epiphany to shake it off, I’m still at a high. For the first time in years, I’m finally sleeping again and hating my alarm clock like most people. I’m shining again, feeling like myself and a bit more. I’m far from perfect, and couldn’t be more at ease with myself and my future.
To forgive but not to forget
Now though I highlight how extremely important it was for me to forgive myself, by no means will I forget. One of my good friends, a children’s psychologist, recently reminded me of the cliche, “what doesn’t kill you, will make you stronger”. I won’t forget what all brought upon my misery, instead I will forever remember them. This time though, they won’t be painfully chewing away at my insides, they will be fueling my success and accomplishments in life. And in case I ever again find myself really falling down the rabbit hole, I’ll have this journey to look back on, to remind me, that there is always an out. And no matter what, time and again, I will come out so much stronger on the other side.
To a grand, successful, exciting and fabulous 2019, take care of yourselves and each other! And remember, you yourself are solely responsible for your own happiness! x