I’ve only got 20 minutes to write this morning.
I woke up in a bad mood. My cat knocked my bulletin board down and that’s how I woke up, only to then realize I’d overslept by about 45 minutes.
The first words out of my mouth were “God damn it!” I proceeded to drop yesterday’s coffee grounds all over the floor. When I texted my boyfriend, he informed he was in a bad mood too.
I sat down to write feeling grumbly and tense. Didn’t help that it’s overcast and gray but warm and humid today.
I know I want to feel differently, but I’m too pissed off to meditate or do yoga or any of the practices people suggest for this sort of day. I am tired of forcing myself to be happy when no one else is watching.
It’s exhausting. It’s distracting. When things continually are not going well, it can be especially demoralizing.
There is a heckuva lot of advice, even commands, on the internet to be more POSITIVE. Love yourself MORE. Meditate and BE BETTER.
Of course, those types of tools and advice can be valuable for people. That sort of approach has worked for me in the past.
But, I have to confess. I got so wrapped up in self love and self care that I let other, more important parts of my life take a back seat because I was following what felt good. I was giving time and money to people who told me they could help me feel better. I was convinced that happiness or, at least, calm contentment was the secret to overcoming my personal issues and surviving whatever life threw my way.
Here to say: it did not work.
Not because the teachers weren’t good or that the practices don’t work (are y’all tired of me talking about how much journaling has improved my mental health?) but because I was so obsessed with feeling better that I wasn’t working on being better.
The reality that no one seems to want to talk about is that you can do all the woo woo, self care, put-yourself-first shit and life will still suck. Jobs will disappear, people will die, the worst parts of life will continue to chug along whether or not you did a face mask or meditated or said your affirmations.
But if you’re not showing up in a space that says “I’m doing the THINGS!” people are quicker to judge nowadays. They suggest you try this essential oil or a new work out or maybe this new app? They want to fix your bad feelings. Please don’t get that anywhere near me, unless it’s funny and #relatable.
I’ve been recently working on the idea of acceptance. Just letting my bad moods be bad and not fighting my to-do list or trying to make my situation more comfortably Instagrammable.
People in recovery communities have just nodded along as I’ve shared this personally major revelation that “Holy shit I don’t want to fight anymore.” But as I’m not in recovery, I’m trying to figure out how to do this on my own in my life every day.
Right now it looks like an almost militaristic morning schedule. It looks like being honest with people when they invite me to do things that I cannot afford. It looks like getting through my whole to-do list even when I don’t feel like it or nothing seems to be working.
It’s the kind of stuff that doesn’t inspire gratitude or sappy Instagram posts and what I’m here to tell everyone (but mostly myself) is that you don’t owe anyone the performance of positivity.
It Is What It Is
If things are hard, let them be hard.
If things are great, let them be great.
If things are fine, let them be fine.
If it changes every day, so be it. Who cares?
Waking up and surviving another day sometimes is all that you can do. But frankly? I’m rescinding my free pass to bum around and wallow in it. You can keep yours, especially if you’re clinically depressed or otherwise indisposed. That’s reasonable.
But I’ve disguised laziness and irresponsibility as “self care” and “radical self love” for long enough that it’s truly fucked my life up in some pretty scary ways.
My new focus is on actually taking responsibility for my actions and choices, therefore eventually rebuilding my life into something that I don’t need to self-medicate with wine or a face mask or too many hours of TV.
I want to earn my relaxation, I want to cultivate self-respect through hard work, I want to develop routines and habits that help me grow.
These next few months are not going to be pretty, but they will be good. I’m going to be busy, sleep like a rock, take care of business before I take care of myself. It’s going to be a process but I welcome the challenge.