Forgiveness in the new year
I run on guilt. Exist on it. Even before Ana got sick, I walked around worried that I wasn’t doing enough for people in my life, saying the right things, living up to their expectations. It’s a setting I’ve yet to learn how to switch off, but for self-preservation alone I think I need to change that – or, at least – turn it down a little, because I’ve already lost two teeth in the past year due to grinding, and I can’t spare any more. My back hurts. My shoulders ache. I can’t sleep…
As a gift to myself and a resolution for the new year, I’m going to try to release some of this guilt. I’m going to try to forgive myself for not being perfect. I’m worried this is going to make me seem selfish, but the pressure to live up to expectations (whether real or imagined) is threatening to crush me. I realized that a couple of weeks ago when I completely lost my shit on an insurance rep from Fidelis who didn’t deserve my foul-mouthed, tear-filled tirade when she couldn’t confirm that my children were enrolled as of January 1st (they’re in the system now, and all is well).
I realized it again when I could barely get out of bed the day after Christmas, overwhelmed with feelings of failure because I didn’t get the right gift for one person or other, didn’t go to enough events, didn’t get a chance to send out more than a few cards before the holidays came crashing down…
When people say to me, “I don’t know how you do it,” or “I can’t even imagine..” I don’t really have a good answer, but I think part of it is that I paste a smile on my face and force my brain into “normal” mode – and that means trying to please everyone, get everything done, be the person that fulfills a role that is difficult for me to live up to, even during the best of times.
So first, the confession: I’m not an especially selfless person. I fully admit to that, and I’m not particularly sweet and nurturing. I can be withdrawn, cantankerous, mule-headed and bossy – I can insist I’m right when I’m totally wrong. My house is often messy. I’m a terrible cook. I need to get back on my bike and lose 35 pounds. Don’t even get me started on my ability (or lack thereof) to balance a check book.
Now, the forgiveness: I don’t need to be perfect. I have to keep saying this to myself because at some point in my life I convinced myself that I should be a calm, supremely organized nurturing woman-goddess who never loses her temper, always has a clean house, eats organic food all the time, and always, always, always lives up to everyone’s expectations. I don’t know when I signed that contract, or why. But I think I lost the paperwork. I don’t have the energy to try and be that person anymore. I mean, I never WAS that person, but at 43 years old, I think it’s time to let myself off the hook.
Right now I only have so much inner strength – and I need to preserve that for the coming months – for Ana, for Emily, for Jim – and for my poor, damaged teeth. If I don’t express gratitude, say or do the right thing, it’s not because I’m not grateful. I am so very grateful. I hope you all know that. But I’m also tired, and frazzled, and overwhelmed. I need to fortify myself and let some things go so that I can save myself – and my sanity – for the battle to come. This is my resolution for 2015. What’s yours?