Justification for ‘Good Person’ Status

Since I was a kid I really liked ginger ale, however, since I try to minimize my sugar intake and it is full of sugar, it’s not something I usually have in the house. But while at the grocery store last week I saw it on sale and spontaneously bought it (thanks to good product placement).  So when my teen saw it in the fridge she asked ‘what’s the special occasion?’ jokingly.  I immediately said it was on a special, even though I don’t think she expected an answer.  No big deal, right? But why did I have to explain why I bought such a simple thing? Would it have been somehow unacceptable had I bought it at full price? Certainly not to my daughter or anyone else I care about.

Unfortunately, no matter how many times I tell myself that I don’t care what other people think of me or my choices, I am apparently still stuck in this cycle of trying to predict people’s thoughts and planning an acceptable response.

I first had a clue this was an issue for me when our kids were little, about 15years ago when we decided to buy a minivan. We only had a small car and it could not fit a 3rd booster seats in the back seat, so I could never drive any of my kids’ friends anywhere (since they use booster seats till they’re almost in high school these days this was very frustrating).  That was my justification for the minivan. But when we finally found one that met our needs, it had leather seats.  Oh, and they were heated leather seats.  How could I justify this? Well, it was a used van with low mileage, in good shape, in our price range and there weren’t many around.  But leather?  And heated? That seemed like a luxury that was beyond me (at the time I was a stay-at-home mom married to a corporal in the army). My husband convinced me that it was a good van for us so we did end up buying it. But I couldn’t justify it no matter how I tried. So although I didn’t recognize the feeling at the time,  I never felt good about that vehicle and was relieved when we sold it several years later. Now that I look back, I can see that the feeling was shame.  I had unconsciously decided it was an unnecessary luxury and one I did not deserve. No one ever said this to me, or even implied it, but somehow I did not feel deserving of such a vehicle and therefore could not feel good about having it.

I don’t expect to understand or agree with other peoples life choices nor do I expect them to explain their choices to me.  I believe in a “live and let live” philosophy, and yet that’s not the end of the story. I still find myself trying to justify myself even when no one is expecting or asking me to. In fact, I wholeheartedly believe that most people really don’t care about what I’m doing or buying, they have their own lives to worry about after all. But knowing that is obviously not enough to end this pattern.

So why am I sharing this?  Simply because I can no longer deny it’s impact my overall mental health and I am quite sure I am not alone.  This pattern of thought implies that we do not feel worthy just for being ourselves. That we feel a need to justify why ‘we do what we do’ and that our personal feelings are not sufficient reasons. As if there is some imaginary board of examiners that will decide if our choices are acceptable (whatever that means to you) and if we get to keep our ‘good person’ status (or whatever your preferred status is).  I know this sounds ridiculous and intellectually I know it’s absurd, but unfortunately, that doesn’t make it less real.

Have you found yourself wondering what people might think when making a decision? Or justifying your choices even if they do not affect anyone else?

PS. I am not looking to get your support or seeking reminders that I am worthy.  This is just an old pattern I’m aware of and working towards changing.

wet drinking glass

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My Mind is not Always on my Side

After years of counseling, self-help books and workshops, and inspiring mantras, my mind is still not always on my side.

A few weeks ago I decided that it was time to get a few of my rings resized as they have not fit properly for years. I also had some other jewelry I’d inherited that needed cleaning. So I gathered everything together in a small cloth bag and headed off to the jewelers.  I sat at a little desk across from a woman with beautiful makeup, perfectly manicured nails, elegant clothes, and high heels. I sat there in my leggings, t-shirt, and birks, so I was a little out of my comfort zone, to say the least.  After putting everything out on a little tray, she took several pieces to the back to be cleaned and then made notes on what needed to be done to which ring. I left with my little bag of cleaned jewels and a receipt for the rings to be altered. As I sat in the car I checked the note. My engagement ring was not on the list, nor was it in the bag. Actually, I couldn’t remember if I even brought it with me. I assumed I must have left it at home. So as soon as I got home I scoured my jewelry box, checked under the dresser, the bed and everywhere I could think of. I started to fret that I would never find it again. Could it have fallen from the bag?  Or dropped on the floor at the store? Or maybe it has been gone for weeks and I didn’t notice till now.  I had no recollection of when I saw it last. Perhaps it was that morning, or perhaps it was weeks ago, I had no clue. How could I let this happen?

After a few hours of searching, I got the nerve to call the jewelers and ask if it could have dropped on the floor, or misplaced somewhere in the back if it went with the other pieces to be cleaned.  They searched and confirmed it was not there.

I felt terrible, sick to my stomach for losing such a sentimental item, and since we’ve been married for almost 20 years, it’s almost an antique!

Ten days go by and I get a call from the jewelers that my rings are ready to be picked up. They looked great and I was happy to be able to wear them again, but I was also reminded of the one I had lost and a wave of self-loathing came over me. The clerk working was not the same one I had met on my previous visit and for some reason, I blurted out that I had recently lost my engagement ring and was feeling terrible about it.  Her face lit up and she asked me what it looked like. Then she disappears to the back and returns with my ring. I had not lost it. It was not my fault!

The clerk explained that they had found my ring stuck in the corner of the counter near the cleaner. But I couldn’t even hear the rest of her explanation as I was so elated to have my ring back and to know I wasn’t my fault.  I had, in fact, brought it that day and they had misplaced it.

Once again, I am reminded that things happen for all kinds of reasons, and usually, they have nothing to do with me doing something wrong.

close up of wedding rings on floor

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Are You The Person I’m Writing To?

It has been months since I shared anything new here and I finally figured out why. In the spring I received some supportive and thoughtful messages about how some of my posts had helped people feel less alone. It was validating and should have encouraged me to keep writing.  Instead,  my anxiety lied to me (which it likes to do) and my thoughts turned those comments into something they were never intended to be. I started to worry that what I was writing was not good enough, or was not well written, or might be misunderstood. I worried that I needed to make sure everything I shared was meaningful and worthwhile. That I had a responsibility to help people, and therefore if I didn’t help them, I could hurt them.  As time went on, it became even harder to think of sharing my thoughts. I figured I had nothing really valuable or worthwhile to say. That there were better blogs and better writers.

However,  something clicked in my mind when I was writing in my journal at 5am this morning (some mornings I can’t get up and other mornings I can’t stay in bed). I asked myself why I had started a blog and why I would want to continue writing it, or if in fact I did want to continue.  The answer was clear. I write for the person I was 5 years ago. The woman who felt alone and misunderstood. The woman who wanted to talk about what she considered to be a mess in her mind but didn’t want to be a burden to anyone.  The woman who feared that there was no way out, but at the same time knew she didn’t want to continue living this way. The woman who was ready to make changes if there was a possibility of improvement. The woman who wanted to be ok with not being like everyone else.  She didn’t want her mental health issues preventing her from living a good, if not a great life, even if she had no idea what to do next.  She was determined not to give up (even though it was very tempting at times).

The person I am writing to does not care about my grammar, or if I write about things that may be regarded as silly or strange to some people.  This blog is not for those people.  They also except that I am doing the best I can and that I am here to share my journey. I am not a teacher or leader or expert, rather just someone on a similar journey.

So if you think you are that person I am grateful you found your way here, and please stay tuned for more regular posts. If you know someone who might also appreciate reading my blog,  please share it with them. 2CynbRoPTACXp2%0Igftrw