(Preface: This entry is SO LONG and SO RAMBLY. OH MY GOD. I AM SO SORRY.)
I used to pray the rosary. A LOT. Like, it was my Go To thing when I needed anything: comfort, strength or ease of guilt – I would pray the rosary. It was my favorite Catholic ritual (that and the Stations of the Cross, loved going to that) and many Lents I made it my “promise” to say the rosary every day during the 40 days leading to Easter.
I guess you could say that praying the rosary was my jam.
The thing I would meditate the most on – while praying the rosary – was usually: How can I be a better person? When I was young I would think about how I should stay away from the little white lies. As I got older I thought about how I should probably not be thinking those thoughts I was thinking. And then, towards the end of my stretch with the church, I meditated on how I was losing my Faith.
(Funny! Because I did lose it! HA! DO YOU GET IT?)
(Not at all funny.)
I haven’t prayed the rosary in – decades maybe? I don’t know. It’s been awhile. But lately I’ve been thinking about it a lot because I find myself doing a lot of self-reflection/meditation on the rosary topics of yesteryear: How can I be a better person?
I think I had reached a good point in my life where I was feeling like I had grown into a good person. I have done a lot of shitting on people in my life, so it feels good to be at that point where I can look at myself and think, “Yay! We’ve not been evil in a long time! Go us!” The overall feeling of the last few years has been: Kim Is Finally A Good Person.
But the last couple of weeks? I’ve been feeling that falter. I’ve been having a crisis of Faith again, but this time in myself.
I found myself recently experiencing some bitterness and jealousy of the good things that were happening to other people. It wasn’t long-lasting and it didn’t flavor much of my behavior, but feelings those feelings? Those negative feelings of bitterness and jealousy over something that was adding good into the world? Upset me. Good people make the world a better place. If good things happen to good people? I should be celebrating that…not be jealous.
Funny sidenote: When good things happen to bad people? I never feel jealous. And it’s because I know that I am still better off because I am a good person. I have a lot of Faith in the power of being good for someone who worships at no alter, don’t I?
Anyway! Bitterness! Jealousy! I was feeling it!
And man, I was hating myself for it. And it gave me horrible pangs of self-doubt and self-hatred and I went from tiny flares of bitterness and jealous to HUGE FLAMES of disappointment in self and I found myself falling down the pit of I AM SUCH AN AWFUL PERSON, WHY DO PEOPLE EVEN TALK TO ME? faster than I could say, “Downward Spiral.”
That’s where I’ve been recently: Feeling strong negative feelings towards good people, and then strong negative feelings towards myself for those strong negative feelings towards good people.
I’M HAVING ALL THE FUNZ!
It had gotten so bad that I didn’t even pay attention to two really wonderful compliments I got this week. One, a friend shared an article about raising Kind children and commented how she thought of me because I was doing a lot of what the article mentioned.
COULD THERE BE A GREATER COMPLIMENT? No!
Actually, yes. It came later.
I was discussing on Facebook how frustrated I get that Atheists get such a bad wrap just because of a few assholes and how that would be like me judging all Christians based on Westb0r0. (Misspelled intentionally. I don’t even want their organization showing up on my blog.) And then a friend mentioned the interesting note that he thought I was very much like Jesus for being an Atheist.
Now, THAT, my friends. Is the best compliment ever. We talk a lot about Jesus’ teachings in this house, even though we attach no religion to it other than, “What a good guy!” So that meant a lot to me.
For about two seconds. And then I was back to hating myself for hating the joy in other people’s lives. And I was back to feeling guilty for feeling bitter. I started worrying that I was becoming a Bad Person and I found myself eating all of the foods in all of the land.
It’s just been a negative couple of weeks. I even found myself very bitter towards a certain spouse of mine for forgetting my birthday (I don’t care about gifts! I just wanted someone to mow the grass for me for one week!) and not helping me prep our house for Family Dinner. And then – while I know that practically those are very good reasons to be bitter – I do not support bitterness at all. It manifests into ugliness and there are ways to deal with that so that they don’t turn you mean. And I usually deal with those things better. And I wasn’t. I was soaking in the bitterness from having to mow the lawn or vacuum on my birthday, I was feeling bitter over the success of others, I was turning into someone I hated and I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to be friends with me.
Can everyone say: DOWNWARD SPIRAL!
And then I got sick last night. Again. I have this INCREDIBLE sensitivity to raw vegetables/legumes/some fruits. It’s not entirely consistent because it depends on their ripeness but sometimes things like bananas or fresh almond butter or edamame make me SICK. Like, severe abdominal pains for hours, sick. And last night was one of those nights. (DAMN YOU EDAMAME!) I was soaking in a hot tub, crouching in the fetal position (it helps!) and just wallowing until it passed. When it started fading I pulled open my phone and started just poking around social media to distract myself. And BAM! I had the most wonderful, kindest, most beautiful message on my phone from a friend. Basically telling me I’m a good person.
And y’all? It tore me up.
I just need to get out of my own head. I need to remind myself how I made it this far in my journey towards Awesomeness. By taking baby steps. By not expecting perfection, but celebrating progress. By recognizing when something needed to be changed…and working towards changing it instead of wallowing in guilt over that thing that I am hating about myself. These are the things I do to stay on the road towards BETTER instead of setting up a permanent camp in the town of Good Enough. Good Enough is a large town that has a lot of access points, it’s very easy to stop trying because, eh, I’m fine as I am. I should celebrate those moments where I see concrete evidence of work I need to do because that means I’m still on the road to BETTER instead of just being satisfied with Good Enough.
And, oh Lord, there is plenty to keep me on that road. And normally I just work on those things and leave the guilt and the shame on the side of the road somewhere. But I got sucked into that spiral and I couldn’t get out and you can’t travel forward when your circling one point of shame and guilt over and over and over again.
So, yes. I have areas I need to improve on. I always will. And standing around thinking about those things instead of working towards improving them does NO good for NO one.
And I’m grateful for my friend taking the time to send me that lovely message to yank me out of that spiral downward and put me back on the road forward. My goal is never perfection. My goal is simply to always be on the road towards BETTER. To never stop in Good Enough, and to never get sucked into a shame or guilt spiral. So, I’m back on the road again. Thankfully. I’m recognizing the errors I’ve made and the bitterness I felt and I’m looking at ways to deal with that so I can see the success of the good people in my life and celebrate it because good things happening to good people makes the world a BETTER place.
Here’s to avoiding spirals of guilt and shame, here’s to traveling towards BETTER instead of settling for Good Enough, and here’s to always spreading joy by telling people the things they might need to hear.
Okay. I’m ready to roll again. Let’s get this party started.
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Oh! And this beautiful thing happened! That’s how bad my shame spiral was, I didn’t even give this the celebration it deserved.