I know we’re almost done with February, so a New Year’s resolution isn’t timely. The ads for diets and gyms that plastered the airwaves have faded, the gyms aren’t overcrowded, and we don’t see Ray Liotta for Chantix quite as much.
Although there are some who used to tell me what they thought I should (or should not) do to improve my life, they have no hand in this resolution, except perhaps being the architects of its necessity.
This year, 2019, I’ve resolved to like myself.
Or at least work at it.
It’s a hard thing.
I had heard for years, from people whom I trusted, that I was lazy, fat, self-indulgent, my own worst, enemy, a thief, a liar, irresponsible, slimy, bad sister/bad daughter/bad granddaughter, burden,user. I exercised too little and read too much.
Every time something goes wrong, my first thought is that this is what I deserve. If you’re raised in the Christian (not Evangelical, but basic Christian) mode, you are raised to believe that good people are rewarded and bad people punished, even if there isn’t a direct correlation apparent at the time.
We are told that we must love ourselves as we are. A lot of times, this is followed by “then you can make the changes you need.” Until I set fingers to keyboard to type this, I had not considered the absurdity of that concept.
I am a student of the Law of Attraction/Manifestation movement and that has taught me (though I don’t remember the specific source) that the two most powerful words are “I am” for what follows is what you believe about yourself.
So, it’s time to change the internal dialogue (and I do talk to myself in my head. You do, too. Don’t deny). It’s not easy. We’re talking 50 + years of habituated thinking to overcome. It’s not going to so much be positive, ego stroking as not condemning myself constantly.
Part of the change of thought needs to be the self-acknowledgement that, although my past choices may be biting me in the ass right now, I can’t go back in time and change them. I can only deal with the current situation and (even if it hurts) make the right, best decisions now without beating myself up for how I got there.
There are so many situations and issues that require my attention and effort right now that I want to curl up into a ball and hibernate (I know things are bad and stressful when I can sleep at the drop of a hat). However, I have only me to depend on, so no matter how tempting to ignore things, I must take action. No matter how much I want to wail about the unfairness of life because there are people (women) out there who would get help, goods, services thrown at them for a hangnail, but I have to take on bullies by myself. The internal dialogue has convinced me that I have gone to the well too many times, my causes (whatever they may be at the time) are not just, and “you made your bed; lie in it.”
I’ve not been in a 12 Step program, but I am familiar with the broad strokes, especially the “making amends” steps (I owe a lot of my knowledge to “Mom” and Mom). When I take these steps (usually financial) to deal with the consequences of previous decisions, I do not permit myself a “pat on the back” for having done so. The habituated thinking is “Had you not _____ in the first place, you wouldn’t be in this position!” I allow myself to think in terms of “that’s done.”
Like I said, most of my transgressions have been financial. Growing up, my family, although we weren’t given lessons in running a checkbook or responsibly using finances and credit, had an undeclared fixation with money. It was used as a means of control, family members would figure out ways of getting it out of each other. You were “good” if you didn’t ask for it, if you saved it, if you didn’t object that it wasn’t repaid in kind. One memorable explosion by my father was when I withdrew $5.00 from my own savings account. “Susan, you CHEAT!” He never elaborated on why or who I was cheating. Like I said, money equaled control. A lack of it reflected a moral failing. (On a grander scale, this is how we seem to regard poverty and weight. Not being on the “right” end of it is a clear indication of bad character).
I am still cleaning up after years of financial folly. Part of the “tape” in my head is my mother calling me a “thief” for running up credit card debt and not repaying it. These comments always came after some debt collector had contacted her looking for me. (By the way, I have learned a ton about debt collectors and what they can/cannot do. One of their favorite weapons to get a promise to pay is shame. They should have hired Mom). Anyway, I hear her voice every day telling me that my circumstances are my own doing, I need to deal with it, and if I’m only getting paid $11.50, I should be grateful because clearly that’s all I’m worth. I hear my older sister telling me what a fool I am because I’ve earned a bunch of licenses and degrees and I’m not using any of them. Sure. Had I tried a little harder, I could have gotten a job as a lawyer. Had I been smarter, I would have maintained my relationship with Fidelity Investments to keep my Series 7 valid. If I applied myself harder, I could be coding websites now. It’s all my fault for expecting things to just happen for me.
In addition to paying back the IRS (I have a payment plan), I now have the US Dept of Education garnishing my wages, and frankly, with the shitty pay I get, I can’t afford to keep myself going, let alone Betsy Fucking DeVos. I THOUGHT the loans had been discharged through a bankruptcy court error in 2004, and I have managed to hold off collection efforts until now by sending a copy of the discharge to the collectors. Apparently no, and BFdV wants over $125 grand from me. (Oh, and that BK, which was really intended as a negotiating tactic for some creditors to work out a payment plan? My mother called me “slimy” for it) So I have THAT shit to shovel now, too.
As you can see, I don’t do things the easy way.
You hear a lot about “self-care” these days, and it’s a term applied to a universe of actions and thoughts. I don’t care for it, seeing as it’s a fashionable term and the concept is wide open to abuse, I think, as a rationalization for narcissistic behavior. I don’t believe I’ll indulge.
The negative self-talk is reinforce the self-loathing, which is beginning to morph into, “you know, you’re over 50, alone, and struggling. You’re not getting a decent job anytime soon. Why not exit stage right? Yeah, you saw the video today of the guy who jumped from the Golden Gate and survived, but that’s not you. You’re a giant damned failure and not going to redeem yourself.”
You see why I need to stop it. At least, for now, I still have to will to stop.
So, I will “cancel cancel” on the negative thoughts and work to reprogram. I will keep on keeping on. Detest my current job, but still do my very best at it while looking for something else (Pro tip: Sutherland Global Services is a crappy place if you’re not going in as part of management, and good luck with that because Command and Control is overseas).
It’s a step. We’ll get to the more positive thoughts later.