Why is self love so hard? I’m not talking about masturbation, that’s easy. Or at least it should be, if you’re doing it right. But that’s a conversation for another time.
I speak, of course, of that effusive quality of gentleness and respect that I happily and readily bestow upon those around me whom I consider worthy of such attention which becomes an elusive quality when applied to my own self. I know I’m not alone in this. How did this become so commonplace? Is it just that I have such high expectations of myself I can’t help but be a source of constant disappointment? How is either of those perspectives fair?
Example. I expect that I will use my impressive and delightfully crazy brain to create beautiful things all the time. Every single day I will write words or music that will make the angels weep with it’s relevance. Ernest Hemingway will come back from the grave and desire to take me rhinoceros hunting. I will explain how horrifying and inappropriate that is and we will opt for a whiskey soaked picnic instead. To be honest, I have not read Ernest Hemingway yet and do not know if I would deign to dine with him.
What is the craziest part of this expectation? No, it’s not Ernest Hemingway coming back from the dead, all accounts suggest he was very stubborn. “Every single day I will write words or music that will make the angels weep with it’s relevance.” I do believe I can write something every day and I am trying to stay consistent with that. But some days it’s shite. Some days I just don’t have enough left in my brain to muster up anything more than a limmerick about how I’d rather be watching some television show instead…
My brain would just love to be clever
But creativity might take forever
I’ve got nothing to say
After this hell of a day
So fuck it, I’m just going to watch Firefly again
To be fair, Firefly is awesome so that’s totally okay anytime.
But still, I can’t shake the feeling that I’m somehow failing, even though I’m still here, still doing it. Still trying to shine the glaring light of reason and patience on habits archaic and pointless (just because it’s tradition, doesn’t mean it’s right..looking at you marine mammal slaughterers) in the hope that bringing awareness to them makes for an easier transition. And part of that path involves times when those old familiar voices of ‘it’s so much work, why bother’ and ‘you’re not very good anyhow’ make a compelling enough argument for my sliding backwards into self-loathing and opting out of improving. How quickly that sad shadow relishes in saying, I told you so.
I have a bit of a hard time with milestones. I know that many people do and thrive within them and that’s great. I just don’t and that’s fine too. Saying, I’ve written a page every day for the last 486 days. Or, I’ve filled a notebook every month for the last 14 years. Or I’ve not had a cigarette in 42 minutes. Or I’ve not had a drink in 7 years, 3 months, 4 days and 26 minutes. Whether they are goals one is moving towards or moving away from, they are (to me) static points in an ever evolving experiment that is existence. To have the expectation of myself that I will be doing exactly the same thing every day from now into whatever point in the future is completely insane. I cannot possibly know what’s going to happen and so to demand of myself that I establish a routine that may or may not be practical within every possible scenario that could play out, sets me up for failure and disappointment. Because when I write for 41 days and then go visit some friends in the city and there’s just so much going on that I don’t get a chance to write anything that day, it resets the counter back to one and there’s a glaring red spot on my trajectory graph of accomplishment. I’m that dude climbing on the rickety ladder switching the days without incident number back to zero. Everyone hates that guy. Or more likely, they hate the guy who broke the streak. Who is me. Ouch, self. Give a girl a break.
I need to be kinder to myself than that. Every day I write is a good day. Every day I can play the piano is a lovely day too. Every day I can go for a good walk, do some stretching, drink some water, eat food regularly instead of hours after I’ve forgotten and get swimmy, spend less time looking at pictures of cats who get stuck in places and more time reading. Every day I can is great. But every day I don’t get to isn’t bad. I go to bed some days with this resigned attitude, thinking ‘hopefully tomorrow will be better.’ Like I’m a big fucking letdown. But the only person around here who is feeling let down, is me. The only person who has expectations of the life she should be living is the girl who forgets sometimes to notice that all in all, the life she’s living is pretty good. And getting better all the time. Because every day is an opportunity to be better.
To quote Ruth Gordon as Maude, when Harold asked her “No more revolts?” She replied, “Oh, yes! Every day. But I don’t need a *defense* anymore. I embrace! Still fighting for the Big Issues, but now in my small, individual way.”
Every single day.