Gratitude Log: Open-Mindedness

In a recent session, I asked J to provide me with a writing prompt. She assigned me another list. Lists are her speciality, if you didn’t know. This one was about gratitude. Why am I grateful for my positive qualities? How have they served me? My goal is to use this prompt as a new self-love challenge, by creating a post for as many of the reasons I listed in this post as possible.  

Open minds. In the modern world, it seems like so many people cling hard and fast to their opinions. The amount of fighting I see in Facebook comments is evidence of that. We’re divided more often than we agree, and I think that’s partially because many people are unwilling to truly entertain ideas that oppose their own.

I have never had that problem. For a long time, it has been the opposite. To quote April Kepner, as I did in my original post, “I see eight sides of everything.” Toss me into a discussion on any controversial issue and what you’ll see me nodding along as each person introduces a new perspective.

Because to me, it all makes sense. 

Yesterday, I wrote a post about my empathy and how it has made me a tolerant person. Today, as I’m considering why I’m grateful to be an open-minded individual, I’m realizing how much the two complement each other. Open-mindedness allows receptiveness to someone’s thoughts or ideas, while empathy instills the capacity to recognize the feelings. Thoughts and feelings.

They are like the salt and pepper set of a personality, a pair best recognizable when seen together.

So, like with my empathy, I am grateful for my open mind because it has made me a person who tries not to judge. Who accepts the variety of perspectives. In our political world, that’s a gift. I may not appreciate the attitude some people bring to political arguments, but I am usually interested in why they feel the way they do. Because honestly, with so many people in this world, there is always the potential they will teach me something I never considered.

Speaking of which, I am grateful for my open-mindedness because it is what pushed me to pursue higher education. I have always really loved to learn. If being a student paid well, I think I could continue doing it for life. I always felt there was more I could learn.

My open mind is probably part of the reason I excel in psychology. There are many different schools of psychology, and it is all constantly evolving. I would never have been able to survive in this field without an interest and an ability to tolerate the fact that there is no singular answer to life’s questions.

It’s another reason I’ll be a good psychologist too, because I have the motivation to keep learning about new professional developments in my field. I’m open to knowing what has changed.

I am grateful for my open-mindedness because it makes me forgiving. Conflict is not my favorite; I may have said a few (thousand) times that I’m bad at the fighting part of conflict because of all the associated emotions. But the after part, where you make up? I’m good at that. I don’t stay upset or angry very long because I know that they had a reason for whatever they did or felt.

Even when the feelings do persist, all I have to do is hear someone explain their intentions to me and my mind immediately latches onto it. Rationally, I’ll understand. I can hear and accept their viewpoint.

This has helped me survive living in my family, where my aunts and uncles are constantly arguing about their contentious views. If I were not open-minded, I might feel like I fit in better them, because they are very committed to their opinions, but I also think that I wouldn’t be able to accept our differences with the same level of calmness. It doesn’t phase me anymore and I don’t let myself get roped into it, I just watch with curiosity, wondering what I will learn.

Finally, I am grateful for my open-mindedness because it ignites the adventurer within me. I am usually game to try anything new. It excites me. You can imagine the traveler within has been itching to break free for years and see what there is to be discovered out in the world.

Whether it be an escape room, rock climbing, or going to a bar, my open-mindedness propels me into new experiences. It competes with the social anxiety that tries to stop me from going by reminding me of what I might gain from the experience. When I’m lucky, the open-mindedness wins.

I hope that it keeps winning. I hope it keeps me listening to others perspectives, aiming to learn, forgiving them for their mistakes, and getting out into the world.

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Gratitude Log: Empathy

In a recent session, I asked J to provide me with a writing prompt. She assigned me another list. Lists are her speciality, if you didn’t know. This one was about gratitude. Why am I grateful for my positive qualities? How have they served me? My goal is to use this prompt as a new self-love challenge, by creating a post for as many of the reasons I listed in this post as possible.  

There are very few things that I would consider to be a “pro” of Borderline Personality Disorder. Something that can be incredibly painful for me are the emotions that I have to deal with on a daily basis. Namely, I never know what is coming my way.

However, because I am extremely familiar with emotions of all kinds and intensities, I tend to be able to recognize and understand the emotions of others in ways that some people around me cannot. I am very empathetic, and I am grateful for that.

I am grateful for my empathy because it allows me to sense when other people are hurting. Due to my own experiences with the nuances of feeling a million different things, I am perceptive and can pick up on minor cues that someone else is not in a good place. If one of the girls comes off the bus with a different energy, if my friend seems more withdrawn or snippier than usual, if my student is avoiding eye contact, I notice these things. It helps me intervene quicker, work more preventatively, which increases my effectiveness in whatever problem I am trying to solve.

Once I’ve recognized someone is in need of support, my empathy helps me by allowing me to be able to relate to their emotional experiences. Even if I haven’t experienced their specific situation, I can usually imagine the plethora of feelings they are enduring. For example, I had a student whose father’s substance use meant he was no longer allowed contact. Despite never being in his shoes, I was able to imagine his helplessness, his anger, his hurt.

Because I understood the nature my student’s feelings, I could validate them for him. I could think about what I would want someone to say to me, and use those words with him. My empathy makes that validation genuine and I am grateful for that.

My empathy make me a good psychologist, because I can relate to the intentions of parents even when I disagree with their actions. It makes me a good babysitter, because I can relate to the frustration, enthusiasm and need for autonomy that causes the girls to react impulsively or rudely at times, and respond with calmness and patience instead of yelling. It makes me a good friend, because I can lend them an ear when they need support with the knowledge that their issues will be respected.

On a similar vein, I am grateful for my empathy because it keeps me tolerant. When tragedy happens, people are always so quick to cast blame. I remember a story of where a child had died tragically, horrifically, and some of the top comments were attacking the parents for being in the wrong place with their child. My first thought? The parents must have been going through incredible grief. My heart hurt for them and the guilt they must have been feeling for an outcome that they could never fix. My ability to empathize restricts my inclination towards judgment, and I am thankful for that.

I am grateful for empathy because fuels my kindness. My empathy is what put me on the path to my career helping other people. It pushes me to handle confrontation or differences in opinions with others as it occurs, even when it’s scary. It is whatencourages me to accept responsibility when I make a mistake that hurts a friend. I hurt when others hurt. I literally feel their pain. So I seek to avoid that as much as possible.

Every person in this world needs to have their feelings truly heard and understood by someone. I am grateful that, if nothing else, I am able to that for those around me.

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Gratitude Log: Kindness

In a recent session, I asked J to provide me with a writing prompt. She assigned me another list. Lists are her speciality, if you didn’t know. This one was about gratitude. Why am I grateful for my positive qualities? How have they served me? My goal is to use this prompt as a new self-love challenge, by creating a post for as many of the reasons I listed in this post as possible.  

I am a kind person. I am kind to people and kind to animals. I can also be kind to myself. I am not always kind, but it is something I strive for.

Kindness is incredibly important to me. I feel that it is almost instinctual for us to judge each other in this world, because this seems to be the first inclination in a situation that is ambiguous or confusing. However, I think there is so much more to be gained from showing people kindness, even if you don’t necessarily understand where they are coming from.

I am grateful for my kindness because it helps me show that I care about other people. It has helped me build friendships and other relationships. My kindness is probably what compensates for the mistakes I make with others, and I’m thankful for that too.

Take my friend that I just recently had a big fight with. Were there mistakes? Yes. But we are still friends, because I’ve also done things like send her notes when she missed class, bring her soup and ginger ale when she was sick, and send her mother flowers when she was ill. That was all because of kindness.

My kindness helped me remember to check in with a friend when she had a family emergency this week. It’s what urged me to offer to babysit two extra kids just so the girls could have their best friends around for awhile. Kindness helped me gently but consistently teacher the young middle school student that I counseled all of her positive qualities. It it what allows animals to trust me pretty quickly and earns me lots of licks and cuddles.

This care applies beyond just people that I’m familiar with. I care about people on a whole. A story that has always stuck with me is the one about the man who stated in a suicide note that he would not jump from the bridge if only someone smiled at him on his walk there. No one did, and he jumped. Now, I’m grateful for the ability to be kind and engage others in conversation, to smile or say hello. It helps me be a positive presence in their day if only for a moment. It helps me

I am grateful for my kindness because it helps give me a sense of what the right thing to do is in situations. Once I’ve made that choice, my kindness helps me be at peace with my decision.

There are examples of this. I remember a day that I was babysitting. The girls’ father was sick and asleep in bed, and their mother was on her way home but would be about 40 minutes late. She told me I could go home, but I knew that the right decision was to stay and make sure someone was around in case the girls (or their father) needed something. So I hung out, because I knew that was the kind thing to do, and their mom was grateful. I’m thankful that kindness made that choice simple.

I am grateful for my kindness because it helps me take care of myself. It helps me make choices that express the value I have as a person. To read my DBT skills book, to complete a meditation exercise, or to direct my focus on something that distracts me from pain like a funny movie or a phone game. I’m grateful for the kind voice that tells me to go to sleep instead of planning suicide, to go to therapy instead of cancelling.

In fact, the kind choices can be very simple ones. Today, that kindness was taking a shower and making myself lunch. This was kind because I was feeling down and sleepy, not much like being active, but I took care of my basic needs like eating and hygiene. Other days, kindness is going for a run even when I really don’t want to.

For me, the kind choices are not automatic, so I’m grateful to myself for making them even when it is hard. My kindness helps me look ahead to see the long-term consequences of caring for myself.

Kindness is important, to ourselves and to others. I’m grateful I have a natural ability to make kind choices for others and that therapy has increased my capacity to make kind choices for myself. In fact, I would say “kind” is one of J’s most used words. It is a skill I will try to keep working on.

The world needs more kindness, for it’s something that we can never been satiated with.

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How Fireflies Reminded Me to Be Mindful

Right about this time last year, I was at my grandfather’s hanging out for the evening. I don’t remember how the conversation got there, but we were talking about fireflies and wondering when they would be showing up for the summer. Neither of us had seen any!

When I got home that night, I took a detour from my car into the backyard. Standing in the darkness, I saw them. Tons of fireflies speckling the air with flashing lights. They’d been there, probably for a number of days, but I’d never taken the time to really stop to notice. I called my grandfather and told him right away, and we had a laugh about how sometimes you need to slow down and actually look to appreciate things.

This post probably isn’t going where you think it’s going. It is not just a sentiment of “appreciate the good things in life.”

It’s a post about how I have trouble doing just that.

I started to become more aware of this after commenting on a fellow blogger’s page about how I have difficulty truly enjoying things that are all about fun and relaxation. Even things I’ve really looked forward to. It’s like I’m so caught up in how much I’m supposed to be enjoying something that I can’t focus on what’s in front of me. My mind is running through 3,000 different scenarios for how things could potentially go wrong.

As I try to micromanage whatever I’m doing, I end up wishing for it to be over because I want so badly to be able to characterize the experience as a positive one . To be able to look back and have it as a good memory. Yet that causes me to miss out on actually experiencing and enjoying what’s in front of me.

For instance, the fireflies are back again for their annual summer rendezvous. I was babysitting the girls last week and they really wanted to get outside and start catching them. I have always loved doing this too.

I had fun while we were outside chasing the poor bugs around, but probably not as much as I could have had. I was too much in my own head, because I really wanted to make sure that the kids were enjoying themselves. My head was swirling with reminders to make sure no one was fighting, no one got hurt, everyone had the opportunity to catch a bug. Plus, I was also thinking twenty minutes ahead to their bed time. I wish I could have really just stopped and engaged more with the girls.

Now that I’ve learned about mindfulness, I understand that what I am doing is time traveling. To past experiences that have gone wrong. To the future, where I hope to remember the fun event fondly. What I’m not doing is being mindful of the present moment and using my senses to soak it all up.

I’m not someone who believes that we get to choose whether or not we are happy on a whole. If only were that simple! I have enough mood fluctuations that I understand our moods change without our consent all the time.

But I think that we have the choice of how we get to experience our lives. We can get wrapped up in every minuscule detail of what we are doing, or we can let our eyes and ears and hands guide us through it. Make a conscious effort to stay present.

“Balance is not better time management, but better boundary management. Balance means making choices and enjoying those choices.”

I liked this quote when Ashley posted it on her page and while I don’t think this was the speaker’s intention, I believe it could be extended to this topic. By trying to be mindful, we’re setting boundaries for our brains about what we will focus on and what we will filter out. We’re choosing to do our best to experience the fun and joy that’s in front of us. The fun and joy we deserve to be able to have.

I tried this when I went to see the fireworks on Fourth of July. Usually, I want so much for the show to be perfect that I end up worrying my way through it until it’s done and over. And this year was no exception, I love this particular show and was anxious about something getting in the way of it for days beforehand.

When I got there though, I strived for mindfulness. To really appreciate everything that was happening around me through each of my senses. The visual of the colors lighting up the sky. The auditory bang as each one exploded. The feel of the grass beneath me and the thickness of heat in the air. The smell of smoke that followed the show. The cool and sweet flavor of the vanilla ice cream I just had to buy from the truck.

The show was not perfect, by the way. Some of the fireworks got trapped behind the smoke. But I really enjoyed it, because I made a clear choice to be present for the experience.

This is still a skill I’m building. Mindfulness does not come naturally and I often need a verbal reminder to enact it. Plus, if you have minions like I do, they will fight it. Because there’s always so much to think and worry about at any given moment.

I think it’s worth the choice though. Moving on from the days of just getting through, I want to be able to start really enjoying the things I love.

Even if it’s just catching some fireflies.

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A Letter to My Suicidal Self

This prompt was suggested to me rather emphatically by J after I told her honestly just how intense and difficult my suicidal ideation has been in the last couple weeks. I had, for the first time, moved past simple thoughts and into actual plans. I think this admission scared her, and it has scared me too. The depth of my challenges has always been formidable, but lately it has felt insurmountable. 

I hoped to wait until I was in a truly stable and perhaps even positive place to write this, because I wanted some true light to contrast the darkness I feel when I am suicidal. However, the difficult days continued to linger. In fact, I spent most of the weekend in bed, chained by a depression that refused to let up. Finally, finally some relief has come in the last day, and I am hopeful that it will be enduring. Since I know the course of my disorder, I know that the pain will return at some point. When it does, I hope that this will help me in avoiding giving into the voice of temptation, as a fervent reminder about what remains here for me. 

To the part of me that is suffering in a grievous pain, whether of the past, present, or the future, I have some things I want to say to you:

I know your pain is huge. It’s a great big mammoth. Always present and easily aggravated, it threatens to spear you with its giant tusks, to step on you and squish you, at any given moment. Even when it is quiet, it is always there walking beside you. Following. Stalking. And you never know when something else will set it off into a frenzy again. It really takes so little.

Day to day living is not easy for you, I know this too. You think you’ve damaged your life with mistakes that cannot be corrected for. You look around and see the friends that you could have had, feeling a loneliness that cannot be extinguished. You feel anxious at the thought of trying to begin new friendships, and even the premise of a real romantic relationship makes you want to run in the other direction. Conflicts happen, people leave; I know you struggle to trust them because you see abandonment as a rule of relationships.

Worst of all, I know the awful names that you call yourself. You know them too, so I won’t even give them the power of speaking them aloud. I know they’re on repeat in your head, those minions telling you that you’re destined only for failure and continued pain. They retreat from even the slightest glimmers of positivity, refusing to let you feel good for even a second, instead clinging like super-glue to those terrible names.

Right now, you want to die. You want to take yourself out of this world. You have plans for this, because it feels both like a comfort and penance. It makes sense to you, I get it. But living makes sense too. There are the reasons you need to stick around and stay in the battle, even if persistence means keeping your sword drawn and hiding behind your shield for awhile just to get through.

It’s understandable that you want to escape your pain. Anyone would. But here’s the thing: There are safer ways to do that the ones your mind invents.

Think of the things that make you happy. Like how completing a difficult run is exhilarating. There are still self-imposed running records for you to break. Once, you thought you’d never be able to complete six consecutive minutes; now, you can run thirteen. You know what else brings you joy? Animals. There is a homeless cat or the dog (or both) that is waiting for you to adopt him and smother him with love. Don’t let him miss out on the chance to know you. Don’t forget how much you cherish the holidays. There’s almost nothing as special to you as the process of decorating a Christmas tree or the magic of a fireworks show. These moments are perennial; they come back to you every year, a guaranteed piece of happiness to look forward to.

So many other things go on this list. Old home videos. An apple-scented candle. Pretty much every country song on the radio right now. Sunflowers. Snoopy. Your absolute favorite meal at your favorite restaurant. Lighthouses. The Green Bay Packers. Any of those cute videos of a puppy. The moment when it just clicks in your brain and something makes sense. All of these things spark happiness.

The pain may be intense, but so is the joy. You need the one to know the beauty of the other. And you do know that beauty. Think of how proud and excited you were when you got the call with the job offer, how truly spectacular it felt to reap the benefits of your hard work. That was a joy that the pain can’t touch, no matter how hard it tries. It happened, and it’s a memory to hold on to, ammunition to fire back at the pain.

You are not alone in this world. You have people, to whom you are connected to intricately. Your parents, who really try so hard to support you despite not always understanding the way you wish they would. Your grandfather, with all his charm and humor. Your aunt and cousins, who care and check in. Your friends from graduate school, who have known you at your worst and are still there. A few friends even from undergrad, with whom the relationship is fun and silly and strong. You have H & S, who you absolutely adore. You have J too.

I know that it doesn’t always feel like enough for you. I know you long for a certain type of connection and reciprocity among your friendships. I know how much you yearn for a real intimate relationship. But what you have here is something. It’s a chance to work on feeling comfortable with people. It’s proof that you are capable of cultivating lasting relationships in a positive way. It’s evidence that you are worth the love you don’t believe you deserve.

Being with people is hard, I don’t dispute this. But you cannot discount the skills you are learning to make existing in a social world more manageable. Every interaction is an opportunity for you to learn. There are so many more people out in the world for you to meet. People who will like you for your good qualities: your kindness, generosity, and empathetic heart. It will get easier, but you must not give up. Not everyone is a winner, and not everyone can appreciate or understand perfectly, but there are many fulfilling relationships awaiting you.

I’m not encouraging you to live for them, I’m encouraging you to live for the hope and happiness that your current relationships and these potential relationships can bring you, if you keep working for them.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed with your current situation and even easier to believe the cruelty of those minions.  Their voices are the loudest, because they’ve been with you for years. They tell you that you are fundamentally flawed, but we are all flawed. Your humanity doesn’t make you deserving of death.

And just because they are the easiest voices to hear, doesn’t mean there aren’t other kinder voices back there hiding. Waiting to be encouraged forward.

What you deserve is kindness. I know you don’t believe me right now. You believe you deserve punishment, for any number of reasons I’m sure. But remember that you’d never say that to anyone else on this planet. You’d try to offer them kindness on even their darkest day, to find the glimmer of hope for them, so you must do this for yourself too. And if you can’t get on board with that, remember a general rule of psychology is that positive reinforcement is so much more effective than punishment.

Be kind. Please, please, please find room for kindness and care. Look at your safety plan, because it has everything outlined to keep you safe with your feelings. Fight back against the minions with whatever you can throw at them. Meditation. Music. Running. Wrapping yourself up like a burrito in your blankets and sitting through the emotions. The intensity will pass because it always has. You’ll thank yourself  for not acting impulsively in the darkness when the clouds begin to let light in again.

When it does begin to pass, recognize that you are allowed to feel better. You are allowed to feel happiness, relief, and even hope. Especially hope. The minions will fight it, they will try to remind you of all the reasons to slip back into pain, but screw them. Take each moment of the good, however brief, and live for that.

Then curse out the minions, if you’d like. They are wrong. Don’t let them persuade you back into suicidal thinking. They’d make you live there if they could, but you can stay housed faithfully in a place of healing.

Remember that healing is not linear, and that feelings of stagnancy and struggle may precede patches of growth. You may feel very differently in a few days or weeks, if only you give yourself the opportunity to get there.

Remember that your feelings are not facts; you may feel worthless and like a lost cause, but there is so much concrete evidence to the contrary.  It’s here and here and here. It’s in the way you keep trying to be better and do better. It’s in every kind gesture you show to everyone else. It’s in your sticking with therapy, even when you want to quit.

Remember everything you want out of this life: a home, a husband, kids, travel experiences, pets, participation in your community, the ability to make a difference, and know that these aren’t doors that have closed indefinitely. These aren’t far-fetched fantasies, you can achieve them. They just may be further down on your journey.

You have spent over two years getting to know yourself and building a better life for you. I know it can really fucking suck, but its worth the fight and you know it is. Now is not the time to prematurely cut it all short.

You are worth life and all it has to offer you. Plan out the next goals you have and the steps you’ll take to get there. . Plan out a recipe for the meal you probably need to eat. Plan which shows are on the docket for tonight’s viewing. Plan a playlist for tomorrow. Plan an outing with a friend. Plan a trip to Ireland or Italy or Nashville, even.

But please, stop planning to die.

You have survived everything before this and you can keep going. You have the power to keep going. You, not the minions, are in control.

Keep fighting, okay? You’re stronger than the pain. You’ve got this.

Celebrating Success, Not Squashing It

So a funny thing happened recently. I may have actually found…a job?

It was a crazy situation. I had an interview on Tuesday morning that went really well.It was for a high school position and only a year-long substitute appointment (although with the potential to become a long-term position). By lunch, I had received an email informing me that he was going to recommend me for the position.

I felt excited, but not crazy excited, because I also had a second interview in a different district that day for an elementary position that I really wanted and am still waiting to hear back from. Still, I had this news when I went into see J that afternoon. I showed her the email and we were discussing my mixed feelings when the phone rang.

It was the superintendent of the district. He told me that things had unexpectedly changed. Instead of the original position, someone had just vacated an elementary school position within the last hour. He wanted to know if I was interested. I told him I was. He’s going to call me with more information tomorrow.

As an aside, can I tell you that I was so extremely happy and felt it so fitting that I was in J’s office when I got that phone call? She was really excited for me.

It’s crazy how fast it happened, and I’m still waiting to hear from the other district too. If I were offered that position, I might still take it. But either way, it looks like I may have finally found a full-time position and can feel some relief.

Which is really exciting!!!

But.

You knew there was a but, I pretty much told you in the title there would be one.

The minions are at it in my head. When I first got the news, my first reaction was literally tears of joy. I got off the phone and just cried. Feelings of extreme go both ways for me. While the pain feels unmanageable, the joy is also sometimes so intense that I could burst. J and I both sat there while I reveled in my happiness, because I couldn’t concentrate enough to produce full sentences. It was a really nice, good moment and I haven’t had a lot of those lately.

Unsurprisingly, that pure happiness was short-lived, as other thoughts and feelings have been creeping in. Or maybe they never really left, but were overpowered by the joy for a little while. They don’t want me to be excited. They want to push their agenda, by making sure I know loud and clear I’m still all the terrible things I fear.

It goes a little something like this.

Me: I got a job! This is such exciting news. 

Minions: Is it though?

Yes? Why wouldn’t it be?

Well, it sure took awhile. Weren’t you like the last one of your friends to get a job?

I mean, yes, but —

And didn’t you get passed over not once, but twice, in favor of them choosing one of the other interns from the district where you trained?

I did. But that doesn’t change that I got a job now. 

Yeah, but only after all the better, more skilled and capable people were already taken. Like all your friends. Funny how they always thought you were the smart one. when actually you’re just like the best of all the leftovers.

I’m skilled and capable too. I’m smart. I’m a hard worker. I’ve got great initiative. 

You can keep telling yourself that, but you’re really just the reject. Look at all those districts that didn’t want you. If all those things you said were true, one of the first places you interviewed would have hired you.

That’s not necessarily true. It wasn’t that I wasn’t good enough for those districts. It’s just that someone else was a better fit or had more suitable experience. I found the district I was meant to be at. 

That sounds like something losers say to make themselves feel better about being losers. A better psychologist and a smarter person would be able to make any district like them and want them.

No one has the capability to make everyone like them and want them. It’s more complicated than you’re making it.

It’s not. You just didn’t have the charisma or the skill to have made those districts want you. Simple. It took you so long. 8 interviews?! You should be ashamed.

You’re wrong! I’m allowed to be happy about this! I worked so hard for it and I want to celebrate it!

Reject. Loser. Not good enough. I bet that the only reason this district wants you is because there’s something wrong with it. Your friends are all working in respectable districts, but there’s got to be something messed up here.

There isn’t. It’s just a school like any other school.

There’s something wrong. There is. You’ll find out eventually. Only a reject school wants a reject psychologist. Because they’re desperate.

My friend is working here too! It will all be fine. It’s a good job.

Well, you realize that even though you got a job, it could still fall through, right? And if it doesn’t, then you still have to actually do the job and be good at it. Which you’ll probably fail at. Are you sure you still want to be excited?

I can do it. I can figure it out. I’ve learned so much and I’m motivated to put in the time and energy to be the best I can for my students. 

But will it be enough? How can you be sure?

Can you please just SHUT UP?

Never. You know I’m right. That’s why you feel that uneasiness.

It goes on and on and on, but that’s a little bit of the internal war waging in my head. There’s a message being so clearly communicated to me that because I didn’t secure one of the first jobs, and because I didn’t earn a job before my friends, that I’m not allowed to be excited about this job opportunity.

It’s my perfectionism kicking in and a little bit of the black or white thinking. Success means I have to get the first job I interview for, before anyone else, otherwise I can’t celebrate it. If I don’t succeed within those parameter, I fail.

So to the minions, I have failed. They’re trying to make sure I know it, trying to introduce as much anxiety and shame as they can, and I’m fighting back.

The truth is, I have worked so damn hard for this position. To get better. To learn more. To be more efficient. To be good at the job. Even though I’ve had my doubts, I still showed up every day and put forward the effort to be the best intern I could possibly be. Before that, I put my heart and soul into my classes, of which the workload was stressful and taxing. And the interviewing, which has been some of the most terrifying and awful times of my life as I sat among panels and tried to sell myself.

It’s been hell and it seems now (although not officially officially) like I achieved the ultimate goal of my program. 20 years of schooling coming down to this.

Whether I got my job first or last, whether it took 1 interview or 19, I deserve to be able to celebrate. Because the end outcome was the same, a goal achieved.

Even as I type that, I feel like I need to make some sort of statement in opposition of what I’m saying, because what I’m saying doesn’t feel true. I don’t feel like I’m allowed to celebrate, I feel like I’m still waiting for the other shoe to drop.

But regardless of what I feel, I know that I am allowed to be happy and proud of myself. Earning this job is evidence that all the good things in the lists J forces me to write. Minions don’t like positive evidence, but screw them. I am a hard worker. I am persistent. I am capable.

I got a job and I’m happy. I GOT A JOB AND I’M HAPPY. Scream it from the rooftops!

I sense that the minions are going to keep sticking around, but I will keep fighting them in celebration. Whether that be telling my friends, which I haven’t yet because I’m still waiting on complete confirmation of the job (I was honestly even afraid to blog about this, because I’m afraid that’s jinxing it) and also because it still doesn’t feel completely real, or going out and doing something really fun. I deserve the opportunity to rejoice and put myself and my hard work front and center for others to celebrate as well.

It feels weird, but I can learn to accept the positive attention.

Success is success, period. Embrace it, don’t squash it.

Self-Love Challenge Day 31: One Kind Thing

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Well, here we are. The end of the self-love challenge. I began this in January and now half a year later it is finally complete.

This is going to be a very short and simple one. Unfortunately, I am again in a really bad and difficult place. I am having extreme suicidal thoughts that are consuming me. I wish that these episodes weren’t so close together lately, but every few days I tend to get swept up in the storm again.

In this moment, I don’t love myself very much. My disorders are doing all the talking right now. In fact, every time I start to feel even marginally better, the minions take over by reminding me of all the reasons I deserve to only feel like shit.  No, you must not smile or be happy. You are not allowed when you still don’t have a job or a relationship and are basically failing at all the important aspects of life. 

I have followed through on my safety plan every day this week. Sleep, exercise, meditation, writing, and sudoku. Kind thoughts wherever possible. Today, about all I can do is breathe and just be. That’s all I have the energy for. So I may not be able to accomplish all of the things on my list.

In that post, I mentioned what J’s response was when I told her all the things I was doing. If you even do one of those things each day, that’s great. 

That’s the inspiration. How will I love myself every day, even when I don’t always like myself?

One kind thing. 

I am not particularly great at self-kindness. It seems counterproductive to nap when I know I need to run, to play games when I could be writing a post. Sometimes, I’m not sure which of those is the kind thing. Is kindness pushing myself to do what’s good for me or is kindness allowing myself to do none of the things I really don’t want to do?

I think what is kind is what feels manageable. I’m writing this post, that was manageable. I’ll meditate a little later. I’m seeing a friend even though I don’t feel up for it. But what I really need right now is to cuddle the dogs and unplug for a bit. Take a nap. Listen to music.

That’s the kindness I can show myself. A reprieve without guilt. Maybe tomorrow I can show myself kindness through a run.

Value yourself by doing at least one kind thing for you a day. It’s worth the extra effort.