Instead of writing over the past few days, life happened .
The past few days have been non-stop. I have worked six days in a row, traveling 1 2/2 hours each way. Then there was the 3+ hour commute in the snowstorm.
This was followed by the unexpected invitation to go to the movies yesterday. This was a great thing, but it still cut into my writing time.
Self-care for me now includes unstructured family time.
Just hanging out, sitting on the couch, not having a specific agenda, just talking. This has been a huge win for me, to be able to be in the moment. You could probably count the times I have done this over the years using only your fingers and toes.
In the past few months, I have done this as much as in my entire past 40 years.
This is exciting, but it takes practice. My default is to cut things off, to wait for the other person to pause, and then jam them with my agenda. Being in the moment and hearing what they are saying is very new. I am still catching myself setting up a quick exit, just in case I need to scram.
But even this is not happening as often.
I was on the phone while driving to work (Bluetooth to the cars speaker!) and I mentioned that I was going to be going through some back roads and we may lose signal. In the past, this would have been the perfect out if I couldn’t talk anymore. I could “blame it” on the loss of signal and even just stop talking until they hung up.
When asked if we should hang up because we may lose signal, I realized I was afraid of having a conversation.
So, I said NO, just be aware I may fade in and out. And we talked for 35 minutes and I was ok. And I felt so good afterwards. The house didn’t burn down, I didn’t have a relapse and there was a period of interaction that “made my day.”
So, then next time I was able to talk, I did it.
Forcing myself past salutations and the weather, I stayed in the moment and continued to talk. This felt good and I made a stronger connection with the person I was speaking with. I’ve said it before, in the past my ideal scenario is to have knowledge about others that is two miles wide, and two inches deep.
As much as I get along with and respect others, I never thought of myself as a “people person.”
In fact, I have used that as I discuss using specific stories in a job interview that relate and illustrate what the interviewer is looking for. When asked, for instance, about customer service, you could say “I’m a people person.” Well, my dog is a people person, but I would never hire her for a customer service job.
Now, if I told you a story about how I solved a problem for a customer on Christmas Eve, you would be more likely to remember it.
I am learning how to get people’s stories. I am learning to ask better questions and get to know people beyond the surface things I had clung to for most of my life. Staying near the surface protected me from having to care, to feel, or to give a hoot about what happens.
Not caring protected me; but cheated both me and the other person.
I am tired of being cheated by depression. Choosing to face depression means I choose to face myself and I also choose to face other people. This gives me a chance to see behind the curtain and to see the “real” person. Plus, they get a glimpse of me. Now that’s probably the scariest part for me.
Being in the moment means being vulnerable.
I have not been comfortable being vulnerable. I tell people all kinds of things about my life, but sharing how I feel, now that’s a different subject. It has been hard for me to even be honest with myself, let alone opening up to others. All I saw was possible exposure to ridicule if my thoughts didn’t measure up.
I was ashamed of how people might perceive me if I was not perfect.
That perfection was driving me crazy. And I did not see it because depression was using it as a tool to undermine my efforts to be in the moment, to be open to what was going on, and open to how I felt about it. Striving for the unattainable perfection gave me an excuse not to do things.
I could justify anything I did or dd not do based on this skewed logic.
Lately, I have been using this to not write. If it couldn’t be perfect, if it wasn’t long enough, if I didn’t have enough time, then I just shouldn’t write. Writing a few thoughts, a feeling, some quick idea was not acceptable. How could I just put down one or two quick thoughts, what would my readers think?
Once again, perfection and unhelpful thinking has gotten me to not do what I most wanted to do.
I would never judge others as harshly I as do myself. “Why can’t I do that” pops into my head, not “look at all you have accomplished.” Setting myself up for failure is something depression taught me years ago and is something I am still unlearning.
Well I guess you can see I am writing.
I took my laptop on an errand to get my oil changed. While Jiffy Lube did the oil, I sat in their waiting room and wrote on my laptop. Most of this blog post was written in the time it takes to change the oil in my truck. And while it all worked out well, I was a little disappointed that I had left my postcard for $10 off at home, and the manager wouldn’t accept my on-line coupons because they were not specific to his location.
Still, I was able to write today and that makes me happy.
And tomorrow is looking better as well. I will remind myself writing is my self-care.