With a weary sigh I say that 2016 is nearly at an end, and I cannot stand to speculate what may happen in the coming year, on so many levels; if you follow me on social media at all, it probably has not escaped your notice that I’ve been having some troubles with my usual nemeses: chronic illness, PTSD, anxiety, and depression, all of which are connected and fuel off each other.
At this time of year, goal setting for the next journey around the sun is expected. New Year’s Resolutions abound, and are so often broken before the new January is finished. As evidenced by my post around this time last year, I do it too….but then again, I goal set and add expectations to myself continuously throughout the year, on large and small scales, often reevaluating and adjusting as I go.
This year…I don’t think I’m going to do anymore goal setting than I have, and naturally do, even compulsively. Honestly, how many times can I rewrite, resort, and rework my goals without actually moving forward enough to require it?
After a lot of thought and consideration, not to mention the all too raw and recent passing of Carrie Fisher, and an unexpected dive into #sexabusechat on Twitter regarding self-compassion and self-care, I’m going to try and take a different tact…
But before I go into what I’m going to do, I feel the need to highlight what I currently do. In the light of such a strong and courageous advocate concerning mental health, a woman who pulled no punches and spoke her mind, and the truth, no longer able to continue the fight against stigma, it’s the added motivation to work on how I intend to utilize my own voice in more ways for the purpose.
Due to a combination of my natural personality and tendencies with that of what I’ve experienced regarding trauma …I’m incredibly cruel to myself. I wouldn’t dream of talking to anyone or speaking of anyone the way that I speak to and often about myself. As discussed last night in the chat, survivors of abuse have to learn a new vocabulary because the one they are taught is one of self-punishment and self-loathing. I’m still learning the vocabulary of self-compassion.
There’s something else that is highly unhelpful that I’ve been trying to work on, and that is internalized ableism. For those who are not familiar, internalized ableism can surface in many ways, but it’s essentially the practice of internalizing the ideas, prejudices, and judgments of a society that sees those with disabilities as “other” and unable to “properly” contribute to it; it’s the quickest way to demoralize yourself for something that you have no control over, and I’m incredibly guilty of it.
For me, it’s largely the limitations and issues I have to contend with that come from dealing with any number of things, but not least of which involves my chronic illnesses. I have begrudgingly attempted to make compensations for my physical limitations (most of the time); this can take the form of how often I leave my lair, where I go, what I take with me, who I go with, when I go, what I wear (sun, weather) etc. I do spoon math to decide my activities for the week and individual days and mostly keep within my safe threshold, including being sure to have adequate time to lay down and recuperate when necessary.
The problem is that I have an exceedingly difficult time affording the same consideration for my mental limitations….to clarify, writing is something you can do in a more reclined position, it can be done with some level of accuracy with or without certain necessary medicines in my system, in the comfort of my lair, where I do not have to worry about social energy because I’m often alone; somehow, my mind equates this as something that can be done within my physical limitations that I “should” be able to do nearly continuously, pushing myself to the point of attempting to compensate for the ways I “fall short” (i.e. not able to keep up with social norms of acceptable energy levels and ability to do things).
Fatigue, brain fog, cognitive issues, all are symptoms that I deal with that I always seem to paint over and try to push through…often to my detriment. I become frustrated with my inability to work, I attempt to work, I’m unable to be productive, I get more upset, and it devolves from there. The point is, I don’t allow myself the space I need to accommodate these, and what’s more, I harass myself about not getting enough done….
Ever had a boss that looked over your shoulder (or made you feel like they were), watching your every move, evaluating you constantly, all while yelling at you, insulting you, hounding you about not getting enough done, not doing anything well enough? Yes? No? A little? Well this is me to myself, and it’s hard to get away from me.
You see that I know this about myself, I have for years, and am constantly working on trying to correct these things. It’s not bad to expect a lot out of yourself and push for your best, but it is bad to overwhelm yourself and then get mad about it. At the very least, it’s unproductive, unhelpful, and isn’t the best way to feel good about yourself or what you’re working on.
Which brings me back to things I want to do differently. Rachel Thompson (@RachelintheOC), made two excellent suggestions during the Twitter #sexabusechat last night that I would like to put into action for myself.
Okay, so maybe I will be reworking my goals a little bit to do this, but it’s not the same way I usually do. Just like she points out, it’s about helping focus, which I sorely need, and it will (hopefully) relieve enough pressure to get a steady flow so that the 5 circled goals can change.
One of the best things about this for me is the normalizing of the need for these shorter increments of time to be enough. Beyond the issues stemming from PTSD related concentration issues and into chronic illness, this suggestion was like a breath of fresh air; I’m still at a place where this felt like permission to try something different, something not within “normal” standards of working time, but it felt good, vindicating.
I have some hope that, if I actually keep with these suggestions, and continue learning the language of self-compassion, I think I might just surprise myself….hopefully even in a good way.
Some people need to learn more empathy and compassion for others, some need to learn to have compassion for themselves; either way, the world could certainly use more of it.
How can you be nicer to yourself and others this coming year? Do you have any (reasonable) goals for yourself?