Last week I started working with a therapist, because boy howdy it was time. My coping and self-care skills were being drowned by the tsunami of life, and I needed help. It was a long time in coming, and I know it’ll help as I start venturing into what I’m calling Act II of my life. It’s just…doing the work is hard, and when you’re already struggling…
I don’t know how to be gentle with myself.
Pretty much the takeaway from today’s session, and something I need to work on. Miserable Maude, my unhappy inner voice, is a harpy, but she’s my harpy and she’s trying to tell me why she’s so miserable. And because I don’t like what she’s trying to tell me, I tend to tell her to shove it and bugger off instead of listening and working with her. You know, like I recommend parents to do with their kids; listen and work with them, instead of pushing back and forcing do as I say.
Maude tends to tell me three things:
1. You don’t have enough time
2. You’ll never get it all done (“it” varies)
3. You have no idea what you’re doing
Unfortunately, Maude is quite correct on all three counts, I just don’t want to hear it. Maude and I need to work on our communication skills.
So fine. She’s correct and I need to listen to what she’s saying.
You don’t have enough time. I don’t, that’s the flat out truth. But time for what, exactly? Andy once pointed out that I have all the time in the world until I die. Gee, thanks for your perspective, young child. I have time for what I make time for. I have time for sleeping, because I’ve learned the hard way that when I don’t I pay for it dearly. I have time for my family, because they are my life. I wonder if I don’t have too much time for some things, like worry and anxiety. I can’t tell if they have pushed their way into my life and forced the time suck, or if I unconsciously made time for them. Maybe it’s that I don’t have enough of the right kind of time? That I’d believe. I need uninterrupted focus time while I’m awake and functional. I could stay up really late for a quiet sleeping house, but then it’s eating into my sleeping time and I’m sure as hell not awake and functional that late. My best awake and functional time is 10am-4pm. It’s always been that way. Not an early bird, not a night owl, a solid middle-of-the-day canary. If I’m going to focus and write and create, it has to be within those hours. Unfortunately, most of my teaching is within those hours, or driving Andy around, or other things outside my control. This needs to change, Maude is getting quite vocal about it.
You’ll never get it all done. Nope, in fact I’m pretty sure I’ll leave a crap ton of shit still to be done when I shuffle off this mortal coil. So what am I so worried about, getting it all done, whatever it is? Disappointing people? Disappointing myself? Only as good as your last performance? Not getting to experience new stuff? Not getting to excellence in stuff you want to perfect? What is the elusive IT? Does it matter what doesn’t get done vs what does? Is it okay for most things to be half-assed or even quarter-assed, if that means the most important things are full-assed? (Except for your actual ass…that could definitely stand to be half-assed). You do realize, dear Jen, that not everything has to be 100%, 100% of the time, right? That’s only a music thing, remember? So where does a lot of your shit land? Get it out, write it down, stick it in the BuJo…just to remind yourself on the regular of what really matters to you and only you. And that it all can change, and that’s okay.
You have no idea what you’re doing. Absolutely accurate, thanks Maude. I have no bloody clue what I’m doing, in my life, in my career, in parenting, in my marriage. I’m just doing it the best I can, with the info and resources I have at the time. I can’t believe people think I’m a good musician, because I see my friends and colleagues and am just blown away by their talent. I can’t believe people think I’m a good writer, because I have such a hard time committing to putting butt in chair and fingers to keys to get the words out. Seriously, I haven’t written in so long…because of time and anxiety and getting all wrapped up in my head. I can’t believe people think I have something to say, something to share, about G2e kids and parenting. I mean…really? I’m not an expert! I’m barely an expert on my own 2e kids and parenting. I’m not a researcher or a life coach or a therapist or a gifted teacher. I’m just…sigh…I don’t know what I am, I don’t know why people think I know things, I just know I’m grateful for that and hope I don’t let them down. Impostor Syndrome lives here with Maude; those two are in a toxic relationship and I really think they need to stop seeing each other.
So I need to be gentle with myself as I converse with Maude. She has valuable insight to share, she’s just really blunt with her input. Not so hot on tact, that one. So like any other challenging relationship in my life, when she comes barreling into my day I just need to remember to breathe, take a moment, and meet her where she is before moving forward together.