Note to self – Never say ‘where is my revelation?’, even in jest at the end of a post because the old adage about ‘watch out what you wish for, as you just might get it’ came back to stab me in the heart.
Yesterday was my therapy day, and in short, it really was not my day. Five minutes before therapy I got my fifth rejection e-mail from agents I have sent my book ‘The Time Keepers’ Union’ to. I was in a pretty good mood before that, but as you can imagine, I was pretty bummed out by this.
I will discuss my therapy session in more detail, as this will be the main crux of this post.
I will skip ahead to two hours after therapy. I was exhausted mentally and physically and I thought ‘I will just have a little snooze and maybe feel better.’ No sooner had my head touched the pillow than my solicitor phoned me to give me an update on a legal dispute I have been involved in for a couple of years. At this point I just laughed and gave up on the day. Wednesday was out to get and it was doing a bloody good job of it. This will probably make more sense when I have written (and you have hopefully read) the therapy session part. So let’s get to it.
Back in my new therapy room, I was having a chat with my therapist, because that’s what we usually do. I was telling her about what I had written for my post yesterday. Incase you don’t want to go back, it was about me working super hard, but because I was not earning much money, I didn’t feel like I could stop or deserve to say I am busy. She asked me what I did.
This roughly what I do.
Five hours of gardening a week. A couple of hours of food testing if they are nice enough to give me sessions. I am writing two plays and heavily researching for one of them. I blog. A lot. I make connections on LinkedIn, Twitter etc with the aim of creating projects and publicity for me and the projects I am already working on. I keep the flat tidy so Gauri can see her therapy clients here. I generally cook a meal from scratch for dinner. I do the shopping.
Now, at this point, I got told off for saying ‘But, this is what mum’s (or dad’s) do everyday and they have kids to look after as well.’ It is weird getting told off by my therapist, but she pinned me down (not literally, that would be unprofessional) and said that it was not about what other people do, it was about me not giving myself credit for anything I do. Therapy is horrible at times. I know it is all a positive in the long term, but having someone tell me something so obvious that I should not need telling, makes me feel kinda dumb.
She asked me what I had done in the eight months since I quit my job to write full time.
This is roughly what I have done.
I have written a play called ‘The Poe Show’ which won a Best in Fest Award at the Ottawa Fringe Theatre Festival. I have completed a book and sent it to agents. I am writing two plays because I created the opportunity to do so. I have met a lot of cool people through wordpress that I know I will be working with in the future. I have created connections. I am helping as many people as I can promote themselves and what they do.
She asked me if I felt that was a lot? I said ‘No. I haven’t achieved anything. My book doesn’t have an agent. I am earning no real money from all this work, so it doesn’t feel like I am doing anything of consequence.’
Then she looked at me. I should have known something was coming, but she asked me in such a gentle way, it got past my defences.
She asked ‘So, you are trying to be the perfect boyfriend, the perfect writer, the perfect house-husband, the perfect blogger, the perfect human being.’
I said ‘I guess so.’
She said ‘Do you think you are doing that to make sure no-one can ever criticise you for not being perfect again?’
I can’t go into the details, but lets just say someone said somethings about me that were not that nice, or accurate, and I thought I completely did not care about it. I even blogged about how little I cared about it yesterday. Or how little I thought I cared about it. When she asked me the question about trying to be perfect to avoid criticism, it broke me completely. I have never broken down in therapy before. Eight months, no break down. I realised that I was driving myself into the ground, never giving myself any credit and feeling a relentless compulsion to be a success. I did all this to avoid ever feeling so sad about someone criticising me again.
I had to stop the session there. I couldn’t stop crying and, I knew that I still had an hour train journey to get home. I had to clench my jaws together so tightly on my way home to avoid the shame of crying in public, that I still have a headache today. And then when I got home my solicitor called. And that is when I gave up.
Today is a new day however. I had two and a half hours of gardening today, and there is nothing quite like manual labour to give time for some self-contemplation. I did not know how to feel or how to react to my revelation in therapy. I would have used to got angry; used that anger to say ‘Fuck you, I don’t care.’ (while secretly caring more than I knew), but getting angry about it doesn’t feel like me anymore.
So, what to do? The answer is in the title for this post. I am giving myself absolute absolution to be unashamedly imperfect. I may not be perfect, but I work hard every day to be better, and it is ok if I do not get it right sometimes. I think things will work out eventually. I may have to change a few ideas. I may have to self-publish my book. I may have to think of different ways to make money out of writing. But that’s what we do right? Humans change and adapt. It is all moving forward. I can see that now.
My friend John Rapp posted this yesterday, and I saw it through bitter teared eyes. I think it is a great way to sum up what I am trying to say.
‘It is better to do a few things well than a bunch of things shoddily. If you are feeling overwhelmed, don’t take on anything more. It’s okay, and you might be giving someone else a chance to get involved. You don’t have to be all things to all people; a few things to a few people will be just fine.’
I am going to be a few things to a few people for a while. The world can look after itself.
To conclude, the next time someone criticises you, unfairly or fairly, don’t get upset. It is not worth it, trust me on this one. You don’t even need to say anything in response. Just remember that no-one is perfect and those who feel the need to judge others (except for actual legal Judges) are often a lot less perfect than most.
Take care buddies,