I've been out of the loop a lot lately, I must admit. I've been rather... busy. I've been going through my own odd "coming of age" and transforming in ways quite unexpected. I've been reaching out, doing more, accomplishing more, meeting new people, actually taking care of myself properly... all things which have left me more than a little confused and exhausted. I know my coming of age is a bit late by traditional standards (26) but looking at other people in my age group I feel lucky to be "growing up" at all. I'm becoming a fully self-responsible adult, which seems to be rare these days.
I am currently experiencing my first Lent as a Catholic and it's been an interesting experience. I don't quite understand the process as of yet, but I do understand the concept of sacrifice which accompanies Christ's crucifixion, and I somewhat understand the idea of "giving something up" for Lent.
This year, I gave up my self-hate.
Let me be more specific on that concept. My deeply-ingrained self-hate is what makes me anxious and emotionally self-destructive and what feeds my anxiety disorder. My disorder isn't exactly something that requires medication or hospitalization, and isn't something that interferes with my ability to take care of the children and life's little details. It does however suck away all the joy that should come from doing those things, and the happiness I should be feeling overall. So when I say I am giving up my self-hate, I really mean that I am giving up my entire concept of myself and my innate worth (or rather it's lack), and all of the needless emotional turmoil that comes with it.
I must admit though, that I have been having a bit of trouble. After all, the voice inside me that constantly tells me that I don't deserve this good life and all of that... well, we're old friends. We've known each other for a while now, and bad habits die hard. It's a bit like quitting smoking, just without the ability to throw away the pack of cigarettes. So I've been fighting the craving to give in each and every hour of each of every day, and I'm a little tired.
So after lunch I went in to see Chris for a little cuddleage if he had the time (he usually does if he's not in a meeting) and for whatever reason I lost my ongoing battle for the space of a couple of minutes. It's not much, but goddamn it hurts to hear that voice come back and berate me. And about the time it's telling me that I'm a horrid, unattractive, spiteful person, I finally get it. I've finally figured out what's keeping me from licking this thing for forever.
I had yet to forgive myself.
I had yet to forgive myself for the downward turn my life had taken after my first real heartbreak. I had yet to forgive myself for my first marriage, for my legal issues, for having to move back in with my parents, for being a single mother. In my mind, I was a bad, bad person for all of these things that had happened, and I didn't deserve the life Chris made possible.
But I'm different now. I'm older, wiser, less naive, and more understanding of people as a whole. The person I am now would never have gotten in those situations to begin with. And since I've learned better, I could forgive myself for those past mistakes.
And I did.
As soon as I forgave myself, I realized something else. Those bad, bad things I had done were directly influenced by other people, and even directly contributed to by other people. Yes, I made the bad decision to enter those situations to begin with, but that was either because I was assured by people who "loved" me that they could give me what I wanted. With the exception of moving back in with my parents (which was the much lesser of two evils) I had another person who actively made a less-than-good situation worse while I worked my ass off to make it better. I had been blaming myself for the actions of a few men who "loved" me, and forethought and work could have made things better, if only they had tried. But they didn't, and I finally realized that I couldn't be blamed for their shortcomings, only my own. And I have more than repented for my shortcomings and have worked hard to make life better.
I'm not the same person. Why did I still hate myself for those mistakes after years spent rectifying them?
It's pretty simple actually. It's the same reason people would rather believe 911 was a U.S. government conspiracy than admit that people in other parts of the world would like to kill us just because we're Americans. If it's the government, you have a minute amount of control over who runs it. If it's terrorists who hate you just because of your nationality, you have no control at all.
As long as I blamed myself, I had a small amount of control over the situation. Now that I admit other people are to blame as well, I lose my control over what happened.
But that's okay. I'm tired of my "control". At this point I'd much rather be realistic and happy. And now that I've found the missing piece and given up my self-hate, things are looking a lot better. Let other people do what they will to try and hurt me; I don't think I deserve it anymore, and I WILL fight back. After all, I've got something I want to protect: me.
Just call me Mel, everyone else does.