Sunday, July 17, 2016


I spent my Saturday with a group of people whom I'd only met the evening prior, plus one I've known a few months. We went rafting, something I'd never done before, and then out in the evening for dinner and drinks. I tied one on, for sure. I am a pretty social person, not shy really, but in the company of all new people, drinking definitely amplifies my ability to relax and just have fun. I drank a fair amount more than normal, but I was in good company, nothing got out of hand, and I'm pretty sure I good time was had by all.

It's a double edged sword, however. As I lay awake listening to the birds outside and quietly waiting for the others to wake, I replayed the night in my head. I recounted all the side conversations and noteworthy moments, analyzing my behavior, my choice of words, wondering what kind of impression I'd given these new acquaintances. Was I too loud? Was I obnoxious? Did I embarrass the person who invited me? What must they think of me, getting completely drunk the first weekend they meet me, they probably think I have a problem.

I think this is partially normal hangover stuff. Maybe.. I don't know if the delayed social anxiety kicks in with everyone else's hangovers. I think it's also a product of various times I'd been shamed and chastised after a night of drinking, my then husband telling me I'd embarrassed him at the family dinner with his cousin from out of town, but not remembering anything of the sort. It's not that I blacked out.. I didn't. I just remembered the night differently. I remembered everyone having a great time, and getting along wonderfully with his cousin's wife, everyone laughing and enjoying themselves. He ended up getting into a debate with another member of the group about something like whether garbage is public or private property. I asked someone who was there if I'd acted out of character or done anything obnoxious, and to please be honest. She insisted I hadn't and thought it strange that he'd suggest that. Other times we'd be out at a bar and I'd end up having a conversation with someone that seemed to me to go well, and he'd later tell me I'd made a fool of myself. Little instances of gaslighting that I hardly thought anything of.

I caught myself this morning along that line of thinking. Enough times being told I'd been behaving poorly when I remembered doing nothing of the sort got filed somewhere under ways to berate myself in my psyche. Even if you think and remember everything went fine, it probably didn't and everyone probably thinks you're the worst. I recognized this morning, though, that the criticisms in my head were in his voice. It didn't necessarily make all the shitty feelings go away, but it took away some of their power and allowed a foothold for the pro-me side of my internal debate.

I inquired in an attempt to not sound insecure or like someone with a problem would sound asking if I'd been an embarrassment. I tried not to think that the answer (no) was out of politeness. I reminded myself that everyone was right there with me drinking and socializing. I told myself that if these people had a problem with what I remembered to be perfectly reasonable behavior, then maybe they're not my people. I had fun, and all is well.

Monday, July 11, 2016


Processing some stuff today. Mindfulness is an interesting experience. It's like an out of body experience for emotions. I can observe myself feeling the things I feel but I can also see them for what they really are, and I can see how they relate to my past experiences and upbringing. It's been a good tool for adjusting habits and ways of responding to various cues and triggers.

In moments of wavering self worth and confidence, I find myself fearfully grasping for reassurance and validation. Seems pretty normal, but I can see how in the past, I'd misdirected that inclination towards people who weren't properly vetted sources of stability or comfort. I had appraised my value so minimally and assumed a superiority in others that was false and a product of whatever misstep I'd made. Its that perfectionism thing again. Any point of perceived failure acts as a chisel to the pillar of my confidence.

Really though, what I should be doing (and have begun practicing) in those moments is acknowledging the discomfort of imperfection, affording myself the grace and leeway I give to literally anyone else, and finding the strength to buoy myself without relying on an ill equipped and poorly chosen confidant to lift me up (or leave me where I lay, as was sometimes the case).

The old practice, I can see now, was a product of fear and an attempt to find the emotional support that I lacked as a child. "Maybe this one will have what I need." In addition to giving away my power and burdening a bystander, its a detriment to my personal brand. So much of our externally perceived value is defined by how we value ourselves. We teach the people around us how to see us and how to treat us by the way to talk about and treat ourselves, as well as what we're willing to accept. A low self valuation results in accepting a low valuation from others and therefore potentially poorer treatment.

I will have setbacks. I will make mistakes, I will stumble and have bad hair days and make bad judgement calls once in a while. I will have failures. Try as I might to be perfect, I can't be. However, my value is not malleable and my standards are not negotiable. Those things aren't invalidated by my being human. I can stand with my head held high and despite my imperfection, expect excellence from others and dismiss where the bar isn't met.

It's not easy to forge new habits of thought and action, but it's necessary for growth. Nothing changes if you don't.

Friday, July 8, 2016


Little reminders have popped up lately of a theme that used to hover in my life. Fixing people. When I was about 15 I decided that was my calling. I didn't want to mend broken bones, I wanted to repair fractured psyches and ailing perspectives. I set out for a career in psychology with a sense of determination and focus that landed me with a BA from UCDavis when I was 21. On the side, I dated broken men boys and counseled misguided friends.

I married a man I thought I could fix. His family thought I'd gone a long way towards fixing him too. Everyone commended my valiant efforts and nobody thought to mention that the idea of fixing your partner is very, very flawed. I tried everything I could to fix him. He was severely depressed and was disinterested in doing anything to fix himself, which, I understood, was common for people with depression. On more than one occasion I dumped all the alcohol down the drain, engaged in screaming matches, begged and cried for him to try to do something. I secretly dosed him with St John's wort extract. I was down the rabbit hole of codependency, trying to control all the variables and stuck on an emotional rollercoaster as my efforts were shown to be futile, time and again.

I learned, from my time with him that you can't fix people. You can't really hope for them to change, either. That's not to say that people can't change. They certainly can but it has to be their change, their desire to fix themselves and not for anyone else. But.. the safest bet is to take people at face value and then evaluate whether you want them in your life.

I'm no longer interested in trying to fix people. I don't have a career in psychology, and I am thoroughly disenchanted with the notion of being a hero and saving the day by putting the pieces back together of some broken person. That is not my role, and I'm not interested in trying. Fix yourself if you see fit, and take responsibility for it. I nearly became broken trying to fix the cracks in others. No more.