It feels a bit like I’ve dropped through a trapdoor into a different world.
Or I’m that guy in a movie, standing still in the middle of a busy street, the world moving around me in a fast forward blur.
From detached to detached, pole to pole, I have walked. Finding my way and working towards being able to be here, to be now. Sometimes at least. Most times I hope.
This is not a permanent residency I know but now I’ve been here I know the way, and the more I visit, the more familiar the path will become.
Self-revelation always makes me ‘prose’.
Self-compassion always alluded me.
I had no idea. Literally none. Every day I was failing. Every day I did nothing of note. Even the firsts were passed by without mention or pause. Why would I congratulate myself on THAT when there could be a better version of it tomorrow?
These are the self-learned behaviours, decades of being how I thought I should be and lest anyone think otherwise, it is very clearly how I thought it, I built this world view, I built these habits and practices. I honed them, finessed them, perfected them (pun intended, said the perfectionist). I embraced them as good things, flawed things perhaps I knew that deep down, but not bad things. Unable to see the trees as night descended on the forest. Daytime brought the odd ray of sunshine through the dark clouds above.
I am not the failings of my parents. They did not fuck me up, far far from it. No no, this is all me, which makes it both harder to comprehend and, notionally, easier to change. It’s me. Just me. No-one else.
It’s not been easy, re-tracing my steps, circling inward to the core, the driver, the centre of every interaction, every moment of my day. The one eyed daruma that will never be filled. But maybe, maybe one day it will be. Not now, but soon? I have hope, things are changing. People are noticing. I am noticing.
A glimpse then into how I used to live.
Break every moment of your day into good and bad. Where good is something done on time, something done to illicit a smile, or praise, or compliment. A job well done, a task completed. Except the praises from others never land, they slide off and drift away, meaningless the instant they are uttered. No self-congratulatory moments, do not give yourself a break, do not ever accept ‘well done’ as there is always better to be had, more to be done. Plan to be busy, plan to be quiet, but above all plan. There is no flow or spontaneity, not really. Whims are crushed so often they cease to exist and nothing, NOTHING, you do is every good enough for yourself. Now time all of this. 30 mins are your building blocks. Plan around that. Wonder why you are always early. Cannot be late. If I’m late they won’t love me, will think less of me, I’ll think less of me, why? because I’ve failed at TELLING THE TIME. Ridiculous when written down, achingly painful to discover. Every day. Over and over. EVERY DAY SINCE I WAS 9 YEARS OLD. But you build around it, protect the lie that this is how you should live and soon it’s just how life is, without much thought, it’s automatic. Behaviours driven from the core. Failing is bad. Failing means I am not loved. Failing because I was made redundant, failing because I got divorced, failing because I was late, or didn’t bring biscuits. Same thing regardless of magnitude. FAILURE.
And no, no-one said that to me. Not one person articulated it that way, but there is no need. I built my world around that belief, my own religion. Thoughtless and blinkered. This was my life.
Then the trapdoor opened. Counselling, a focus on me. I pulled the lever last year. Unaware of why I was pulling it, not really, not fully. And odd thing to find yourself unhappy whilst you laugh and joke. Except not really, with a few decades of practice you can fool anyone who is looking on. With that much practice you can fool yourself without even realising it.
Self-compassion. Pausing. Reflecting and praising. A whole world of strange habits to explore, practices to embrace, to cling to. Rebuild. Challenge. Slip. Catch. Rebuild. It’s an odd thing, realising you are slipping back, grasping the frame of the door, determined to remain here, determined to remain now. Determined to care for yourself, to congratulate yourself, to note your achievements, no matter how small.
There is a core part of me that is built on a lie. It will take time to diminish, to lessen, to shrink away until it isn’t who I am anymore. It will be with me for a while but it is shrinking. I am making that happen. Every day. Relearning how to be me.
“You seem happier” said a colleague. In the past my response would’ve been swift dismissal, but now I look up and agree.
Close your eyes, breathe, stop. Smile. Climb through the trapdoor again. Choose your world, then stand still and let it spin and blur around you, it’s ok to be that person, it’s ok to be this person. It’s ok to be you. It’s ok to fail.
I watch myself and I can see it too.
Yes. I am happier.