What a dramatic title. Doesn’t it sound like I’ve got something heart wrenching and inspiring to say ? What I need to do is whine. I need to whine until there is not enough cheese in the world left to go with my whine. Or I need to drink heavily so my whining is so slurred that no one understands me anyway and just clucks sympathetically.
I felt stupid today and I hate that. Not hate in small letters but HATE in great big honking shout it out letters. I HATE looking stupid. I HATE making mistakes and I find them unforgiveable. I worsen the situation by this hatred. It eats up my brain until I can think of nothing else. Lately I have made some mistakes in my employment that are just so completely preventable that I shake my head and wonder what is up. Has my brain deserted me ? Have I somehow gone into a stupefying coma that prevents me from accessing the parts of my brain that still work ? Ugh.
I know I am not a stupid person. I know in the part of my brain that allows me to think rationally that mistakes happen. Mistakes are how you learn. Mistakes are truly the only thing you can own as wholly your own. I would like to see the return policy on that particular philosophy. I would like to understand why I need to learn the hard way. Why I learn better when I make mistakes. Once I make the mistake, I don’t generally make it again but the pain of making it the first time is searing. When I make a mistake I’m not thinking about just this particular incident, I am thinking about every mistake I have ever made. This is not a singular reflection process for me. This is a reflection on my entire working life. Extensive as it may be.
For the most part I do well at my job. I support the people I need to in a timely and professional manner. I answer questions or find out who has the answers. I listen well and soothe the anxiety where it needs to be soothed. I hope that I make people feel at ease, empowered and good about the job they are doing. But those damn mistakes just KILL me. They are not critical. They are not going to cause the fall of the organization that I work for. They are not going to change the fate of mankind as we know it. The logical part of my brain recognizes this. The logical part of my brain says Hey, stop. It was just a mistake. It’s not that big a deal. Learn and move on. The hysterical bordering on toddler part of my brain wants to stop, stamp my feet, fall to the ground and scream NO NO NO ! Not again ! I think I will add the fists pounding the ground just to give you the complete picture. For some dramatic interpretation I will make myself have pretty blond ringlets a la Nellie Olsen. She threw some of the best tantrums I have ever seen on TV and I’ll use her as my role model for this particular fantasy.
What bothers me the most is the effect I let mistakes have on my self esteem. I drove home today berating myself over and over. I allowed the negative critical part of my brain to call me names, consider myself fired and unworthy, etc. That damn little voice who I thought I had control over just stepped right up with a megaphone and gave voice to all the insecurities that I have been trying to so hard to overcome. Top that off with a migraine and you can see how my defenses were useless. My supportive walls came tumbling down faster than Jack or Jill could have made it down that hill bucket or no bucket. This is where the despair worsens because then I am disgusted by my frailty. The pile of yuck that I am willing to allow myself to wallow in is just as annoying as the situation that put me there in the first place. Because you see, I got in this situation by doing what I was told. That is probably what frustrates me the most. Upon discussing this with my husband, he points out that I got in trouble for doing what I was told ! And I HATE that too. It completely rankles my chain when I follow instructions and still get a whoopin’. And when this situation causes others to question my ability to do my job, oh the hate goes into full gear. It becomes a seething ravenous monster that will eat up my very soul or at the least have a good meal out on my self esteem before shaking me out of its teeth like leftover spinach.
What I will find therapeutic is the exercise that I am doing in my writing course. It’s called blurts. This is where you take that seething ravenous monster by the tail and slam it down like it’s a WWE main event. You take that nagging, whining, nasty little critical voice and run it head on into one of the rings posts until it sees stars. This exercise is a wonderful way to regain the power that criticism, self doubt and frailty can have over you. It helps you to put things into perspective. It helps you to see that the mistake is part of learning after all and not just an indication that the stupids are here to stay. It’s goal is to take those horrible statements and find the positive. Find a way to remove the power the negative has on your life and place a positive spin on it. I’m sure I will stare blankly at first but having done this exercise a few times I know I will soon find my way into the writing vortex which will carry me along on a wave of therapy.
Part of my goal with my writing course is to overcome my fears and doubts about myself. Part of my fear is that I am actually stupid. That I am actually unworthy of the gift of writing. That I have no right to even consider myself a writer much less creative. Well try as it might, that seething ravenous monster has bitten off more that it should chew tonight. Tonight I will set down my glass of whine, forget about the cheese and write. I will write creatively and productively. I will find a way to silence that critic for today and remember that mistakes are good. Mistakes are not the end of the world. Mistakes are to be overcome.