I’m giving me permission to not be perfect

I haven’t written a blog for a while. The last one was posted on 1st November.  I simply hadn’t felt able to do it. I didn’t have the energy nor the inclination. I was getting annoyed with myself, disappointed.

I read through previous blogs, hoping to find inspiration. I read my blog from October ‘Looking after health’. There I had focussed on physical health: food, exercise, rest. I missed something very important from that list – state of mind. When your head isn’t in the right place it affects every aspect of your life. It can bring you down as surely as physical, tangible problems.

I pondered on why I was apparently so busy but getting nowhere; I undertook an honest assessment of my life as it is at the moment. When I realised the amount going on in the background, I decided I was being hard on myself. There are things at play in life that we don’t always notice, or if we do, we don’t make allowances for them. So here is what I looked at and my conclusions.

Previous trauma.

I am not looking for sympathy here. I am sharing my self-analysis and new found understanding of my current lethargy.

  • 2015    my mother passed away. As a family, we had cared for her in her own home for three years prior to her death
  • 2017    in February I had a stroke. A few months later my daughter was diagnosed with cancer which needed surgery – she is doing ok now, though living with that shadow always at the back of our minds
  • 2019    my husband died after a long-term illness that had left him needing care and support for many years
  • 2021    my sister died, and shortly after so did my sister-in-law

(Notice the pattern? I am a little concerned for 2023!)

The cumulative impact of these events has given me with a background stress that leaves me with a steadily declining baseline from which to deal with life. I suppose this should have been obvious to me; I should have known this. And at a superficial level I did but dealing with everyday life – as you have to no matter what – I lost sight of this.

Background noise

  • Covid – both lockdown and concerns for family who were ill with it
  • my physical health
  • missing friends – it feels like people have become so used to being on their own that they are reluctant to gather, preferring to remain safe in the cocoon they have created for themselves to survive covid isolation. I can totally understand this. I am striving to get out more myself
  • financial concerns common to most people who survive on disability benefits

Again these are things drumming along in the background that are stressors at one level or another without me taking on board how much I am affected by them.

The impact of previous life experiences and current background noise means that without realising it I have less capacity to cope with extra anything!

Things that I want to do

  • the festive season is coming up – planning gifts and get-togethers, while all fun stuff to do, takes up time and energy
  • things that I have chosen to do because I love doing them bring their own stresses. I have recently released a book – persuading people to buy said book is something I could happily step away from, but it doesn’t make sense to write a book and then not attempt to sell it!

Things that I haven’t achieved that are on my list of things to do

  • completing things I have agreed to do – blogs, articles
  • putting all the family archive photos into albums rather than letting them languish in leftover Amazon boxes
  • completing minor repairs around the home – the towel ring has fallen from the wall, I still have an irritating small hole in the ceiling from a water leak, plus other similar problems
  • I don’t exercise as much as I should, nor escape from my home as often as I would like
  • celebrating my pagan beliefs and lifestyle in the way that I used to
  • this list could carry on ad infinitum!

This list grows longer every day. This in itself gives me stress. I think of myself as losing the plot, not being able to stay on top of things. I make lists of things to do before I go to sleep at night, and check it when I wake up in the morning. When the same items are on the list days or weeks later it reinforces that that I’m not dealing with things as well as I should.

I’m being hard on myself

And then I stopped to re-assess things. I worked out what was important to me, and I wrote a list of things I had achieved.

  • I have stayed in touch with my children and grand-children, although maybe in not quite the same way given covid issues. We message frequently, visit when we can
  • my home is still standing in one piece, both major water leaks have been repaired and damage resulting mainly put right. We have warmth now the boiler has been repaired
  • we are fed and watered and on the whole happy with our lot
  • I have not forgotten my pagan beliefs nor practices though celebrations may have become smaller, quieter affairs

These are the important things in life and I reminded myself that as long as these are right then I have achieved a lot. Anything else is a bonus. Accepting this is taking the pressure of perceived failure away.

That hopeless cycle of failure leading to stress which drives failure needs to be broken. I will keep reminding myself of this, especially when I start to feel I am losing the plot again.

How are you feeling? Check if you are being hard on yourself. Perhaps you are. I suspect it’s something many of us do without even realising it. Let’s think of what we have achieved – and probably ignored – and give ourselves a pat on the back.

Written by Portland Jones, Disability Liaison for Pagan Federation Midlands