In my new "evolved" state (don't giggle) I'm really really really really trying to focus on the positives and let the negatives roll off my back. Impossible? Some days, hell yes. My amazing therapist *Marla asks me this question at every session "What does this <event> make you believe about yourself?" and darn, that's hard to answer. Try that one on for size.
*Marla is really helping me sort through the old school fake denim luggage set I drag around. My goal is to eventually just have a carry-on sized bag, and one of those efficient ones I'm always jealous of at the airport...compact, compartments, trendy and with wheels for easy escapes. I'm exhausted from dragging around my fear, guilt and self-loathing. So how will I fit all of this into my carry-on? I have no earthly idea, but I am sure going to try.
STEP ONE: Let the purging begin. I am prepared to purge three very weighty items today. It's certainly not all of it, but I think they're the biggest ones.
*I left my marriage of 24 years to a man I love dearly (yes, not past tense). I don't regret one day I spent with him. I couldn't have ever dreamed of a man who loves our kids as much as he does. I couldn't have asked for a man who was more apt at loving me out of my crazy. Out of respect for him and my kids I will not go into particulars, but sometimes the hardest and healthiest thing is to walk away. I've been horribly lonely, bone-weary sad, dated quite a few losers, a prince (another blog post on that cluster someday) and felt guilt and shame. But in all that chaos I have also had incredible moments of happiness, peace and validation. I have had to force myself to ask for help and then, tada, let others help me.
laissez-faire attitude toward her ailments - but hey I live with that anvil of guilt every single day. I could have been a better daughter; I could have cared for her affairs and feelings with more patience and kindness. She was incredibly loved and taken way too soon from me and her girls. I can't go back and change things, but I can look forward to the future she envisioned for me. All she ever wanted was for me to be happy. I'm working on that, Mom.
*Years ago we had an encounter with bed bugs, a mild infestation by exterminator standards. Yes, everyone shudder. It's been 4 years this month and I am still acutely and horribly scarred by that experience. It was expensive. I avoided people and places for a long time for fear I was a walking bed bug pez dispenser. I became a recluse - work and home, that was it. Most people can treat and move on. This CHANGED me so profoundly that it has become a part of my EVERY DAY LIFE! Imagine, a bug being able to get into your psyche like that? Yes, it's insane. I often think I am insane. For the past four years I have spent thousands of hours searching with reading glasses, a flashlight and magnifying glass in hand. I have spent hours asking my kids and friends intimate questions about their skin. So many wasted hours resulting in some ruined relationships. I basically owe everyone I know an apology for this phobia and my obsession. I also apologize if I surreptitiously checked your house for them too 😉. Some days I do o.k., but other's one red bump on my skin can push me over the edge. I've cried an infinite amount of tears. This is eating me up and I can't go on like this anymore. I've been in intense therapy and we're making progress. I have some unresolved issues from my life that have created this hyper-vigilance and it has manifested itself in this phobia. Funny, not funny, how the mind works.
Through all this my biggest struggle has been accepting myself and understanding that even with all the negative things about myself that I can rattle right off the top of my head, that I am essentially GOOD. A worthy person. A funny person. A loving person. But that mix-tape creeps back in and asks me questions..."if you were a good person, you wouldn't have gotten bed bugs, left your marriage, been lazy financially, emotionally and physically. You would have payed more attention to your mother. You wouldn't suffer from crippling depression and anxiety. You would get up off the couch. You would write more, complain less, volunteer, craft a program for CLM1, ask CLM2 to see you more, be calm and live in the moment. You wouldn't need validation because that validation comes from inside." But yet, here I am constantly seeking validation in the weirdest ways.
So, my carry-on bag can only contain self-validation, a feeling of worthiness and the belief that I am lovable, in-spite of bugs, guilt and fear. That's STEP TWO!
What's your carry-on packed with?