In May 2014, I turned forty and like a lot of women I began to think about where I was at in and where I’d been. And at that time a thought came to me:
You’re not so bad.
That thought came from the surface of my life at that time: a decent-paying job I hadn’t learned how to hate yet, a nice little apartment, a car I think was paid off (or close to being paid off), great pets, time to piddle around with my writing, and books to read. The reason that simple statement, ‘you’re not so bad’ resonated with me so well back then was for so many years I felt like a terrible person. I felt like that no matter how much good I did, any time I made a mistake that single mistake no matter how unintentional it was wiped out all that good. That feeling came from dealing with people treating me like shit or flat-out ignoring me in my twenties when I was busting my ass trying to care of everyone else and have a tiny bit of time for myself. By the end of my twenties, I internalized so much awful shit it was amazing I was able to establish some semblance of life for myself in my thirties so that by forty I didn’t look so bad.
In the fall of 2016, I sat down and started the process of asking questions of myself to try and figure out why I thought and felt the way I did in order to make better decisions. As I’ve said before, healing was not on my mind back then because I didn’t think that was possible. But now I’ve begun to see the healing process truly began for me in May 2014 when I told myself for the first time I wasn’t such a bad person. Since then I’ve told myself I’m as flawed and fucked up as anyone else, but deep down, I know I’m not a bad person.
Why would someone feel like they’re a bad person, like they’re broken or damaged beyond repair? My answer is that I internalized all the wrong things about myself and not enough of the good things as those good things seemed few and far between. I’d been told in the past I came off like a self-sacrificing attention-seeking martyr though I think that was just a bullshit-excuse people used to project their shit onto me instead of dealing with it on their own. But those awful words and lies were razor-sharp talons that were sunk into the depths of my mind, my heart, and my soul and where the wounds and breaks came from.
In the last seven years I’ve been removing those talons one by one, a process that is very slow and painful at times. Once a talon is removed I burn it to ash and sweep that ash away, then I clean and stitch the wound closed and put a bandage over it. But I still pull splinters out and I’ll be doing that for the rest of my life.
For so long, I’ve always felt like a failure, like I didn’t have it in me to fully live my life. But I’m not a failure for internalizing shit in order to survive the hell I’ve been through in the past. The human mind internalizes things it hears enough and the experiences that accompany those shitty thoughts. But like I said yesterday, you can change that narrative, you can change the what your mind has internalized. It’s not an easy process but one that is definitely worth going through.
Saying ‘you are good enough’ is not false-positivity either. It’s not saying everything will be hunky-dory and fixed with a single snap. Anyone who buys into that bullshit is an idiot and an asshole for pushing it onto others. Telling yourself ‘you are good enough’ is just the beginning because if you just cover up the hard stuff with a façade made of lies in an attempt to appease someone, trust me that façade will come down very hard and in a lot of pieces. Since 2018, I’ve been picking up those pieces and working to build something better and stronger.
As the great singer Lizzo sings so beautifully, ‘truth hurts’, I also know the truth can set you free. Accepting the truth and refusing to back down from it means you can remove the talons that need to be removed from your mind, your heart, and your soul. And yes, that won’t be popular but life isn’t a popularity contest. You can’t, and you sure as hell don’t need to live your life to suit someone else’s narrative of you when that narrative isn’t good for you.
Looking back at May 2014, I didn’t realize how much a single thought could change me but I’m glad it came to me. And I’m glad it’s with me now and for the rest of my life as this: you are good enough.