I’ve been sitting on this “positive” post for days because I can’t write about this kind of thing in a way that’s not completely boring. I want to blog, though, because I think this is a good CBT exercise. I have to trust that it’s interesting enough just because it’s different from what I usually write (regrets, anxiety, and interpersonal difficulties).
My mom made a reference the other day to having a “gratitude journal,” and I kind of internally rolled my eyes because it seems so pedestrian/artificial/a way to invalidate ones own feelings. On the other hand, there’s no way that’s nearly as lame as my own blog.
I’m not into self-punishment through positive-statement quotas. However, I don’t see why I shouldn’t write about it when I feel I’ve collected enough thoughts for a post.
I’ve accomplished all of the things that are a normal part of the pre-40 checklist (a fulfilling job, a marriage, a child, house). The only big gap in my life is l’amour, but I could also stand to build some more friendships that involve face-to-face time. In other words, my life is good, but I obsess over little things. If I can’t let go of that yet (not even close), I can find little things about which I’m happy or proud.
Here’s a kind of silly example: every time I do a load of laundry, I think about how lucky I am to be able to do it without leaving my house. I don’t know how I’d manage the laundromat with a bored 4 year old, and having a washer/dryer inside my own house is such a luxury. I think my house is totally dope, and I still can’t believe I own it, but the laundry thing is something I consciously recognize almost every day.
Here are the examples of me throwing myself a ticker tape parade for doing something that is just a normal, expected part of adulthood:
My parents are visiting. The way visits usually go are that I do little to prepare for their arrival (especially in regards to planning meals), I get crabby around the 72-hour mark, and then I beat myself up for those two things after they leave. I decided that this is going to be the visit during which I start being a decent host.
I did a lot to get the house ready (getting their room clean and comfy, and doing a serious scrubbing of the grout in their bathroom with a small brush, vinegar, and baking soda), I had a lot of treats baked before they arrived, and I planned meals. I just set a goal for myself to cook one full meal each day they’re here. That’s not exactly aiming high, but my dad did make a comment today about how I’m feeding them well, and that made me very happy and proud.
They’re even “letting” me do dishes and clean up and stuff (my mom hurt her wrist, so that helps), so I actually feel like I’m sort of treating them like guests. They’re the easiest guests, and in the past I’ve let them do things like that just because I’m lazy.
Last night, we hit the 72-hour mark, and I found myself getting grumpy because I missed my daughter (who was at her daddy’s) and kind of want to get back to the routine. I chilled, I reminded myself that I had therapy today, and it passed.
Every week in therapy, I get an assignment. Lately, my assignments have been to ask for something concrete from someone with whom I have a relationship. I wasn’t sure I’d do last week’s assignment, because it’s not related to my daughter, but I did. I don’t know when I’ll see her again–it’ll probably be weeks–so she sent me home with a bunch of reading on CBT things such as cognitive distortions.
She was proud of the things I’d accomplished since I last saw her. There were two other things about which I was proud today:
(1) My therapist said that I nailed my assessment of my own attachment style (border between anxious-fearful avoidant and anxious-preoccupied), and she seemed to agree that my parental attachments were secure until I was 10 or 11, and they became disorganized as my mom got more and more sick.
(2) She said she thinks CBT is the way to go. She said she’s not “feeling” DBT for me because I’m in control enough of my emotions, and, apart from stuff about my blogging in the beginning, I’m not histrionic. Even though I’m very far from the person I want to be, and I’m still ruled by fear and anxiety, this means that I’ve gotten MUCh better at self-soothing and tolerating my emotions over the last few years. I just need to work on not assuming the worst and viewing the world as an inherently unsafe place.
It was an interesting session, but I’ll save it for a post that isn’t dedicated to me tooting my own horn.
Also, I went back to the gym. Twice this week, actually. I wouldn’t say I enjoy it, but I’m always proud when I do go, and I think it’s important to continue to do things that make me pat myself on the back.
So, again, keeping a clean house, feeding guests, not taking crabbiness out on others, self awareness, and working out aren’t extraordinary things, but I’m happy with myself for doing them.
So then, I started to wonder if this is where I consciously decided to put the bar. What if I kept just doing this bare minimum but decided that’s good enough to make me like myself? What if I never found a group of girlfriends with whom I could drink mimosas at Sunday brunch or a man that was in love with me, but I still liked myself anyway? What if I made a choice to work toward being content with just this? Would that be a shame or a smart decision? Healthy, or just subbing the delusion that I’m doing well enough for my current cognitive distortions?
I have plenty of time to answer that, because I truly don’t know how I’m going to get from point A to point B here.