Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Breaking the Cycle of Self-Sabotage

OK. I'm going to lay my cards on the table: I am filled with self-doubt. I mean, to be fair, there are moments when I, frankly, think I'm fabulous. But,then, an opportunity to prove my fabulousness to the world arises and I, historically, go running for the hills, into hiding. After all, I want no one to be able to disprove my hard-won intermittent theory that I am a superb human being capable of amazing things. Alone, punching the heavy bag at the gym, eyes closed, dancing to Michael Jackson, or throwing myself at the wall to stand sturdily on my hands, I can be all that I believe I can be and more. Sleeping too. Ah, to sleep, perchance to dream...In dreams, I can change the world. Harder, really, in the waking hours. Where to start, how to proceed.

The beginning of the year with all its potential to tap one's potential is scary. Getting back into routine or trying to create new ones, making decisions on what to do, when to do it, how and with who. Not easy. Throw into the mix watching Milk, as we did last night, and it's a recipe for disaster, or at least divorce. My poor husband. He definitely deserves a gold star for trying.

After the movie ended, heroic Harvey Milk made a martyr for the cause, I lost it. As usual with anything I read, watch or see, I turn the lessons learned onto myself. In this case, the movie begins as Mr. Milk turns 40, an age I will all too soon see.

"But I haven't done anything yet..." he says to his new, I might add GORGEOUS lover. It reminded me of Sally in When Harry Met Sally when they are driving to New York. "But I haven't done anything yet..." she says, wide-eyed and innocent, hopeful.

The story of Mr. Milk is both incredibly inspiring and, at the same time, sad. He so tries to help so many people, individuals and the masses. Sometimes his hard work pays off, sometimes not. He loses more than a few along the way. I know that's life, that's what trying is all about. But I totally related to the moments where Sean Penn sat angst-ridden, listening to opera. I hate opera, that alone would depress me, but I get it. The passion with which he wanted to make a difference was so palpable in his eyes, in the voices of the sopranos.

I feel that same passion so often but yet, sometimes, before I can act, panic sets in: what if it doesn't pay off? Luckily, Mr. Milk didn't allow himself to wallow in those kind of what-ifs too often.

As the movie ended, and my own personal panic set in, I tried to explain myself to my husband. He tried so hard to help, to say the right thing. Poor guy. Probably anything he said wouldn't have worked, but his frustration at watching me sabotage myself over and over again came through loud and clear and communication shut down. Bummer. I needed support and he wanted to support me. I had just been advising someone earlier this week that this is often what happens in a marriage. Just in the moments you need your partner the most, they get so paralyzed by not knowing how to help that they lash out and become mean. I think we're all a little too conditioned that "tough love" might snap people out of their funks. Maybe, sometimes, delivered in just the right way, but more often it feels like a punch in the stomach, best intentions go majorly awry. Luckily, this idea was top of mind so we recovered quickly, albeit a little worse for the wear. But a lot of times people don't.

A friend of mine reported to me recently that she was, after much unhappiness, leaving her husband. Communication had shut down, not just for minutes but for months. I sympathized. It is so easy to see how it happens. She is being pursued by a number of people, people who want and appreciate her as well anyone should. She is beautiful, bright and full of life and energy. She smiled big as she spoke of herself emerging into a more confident creature at 40.

"I finally understand my value!" she said. I loved that, someone being able to appreciate themselves as a hot commodity. I gave her a big gold star.

"Do you know how big that is, that some people never get there?" I said as we parted, as I gave her a great big good-luck hug.

It is the most important thing, understanding your own value. My friend's self-confidence, like my own on-again, off-again fabulousness, may be brought on by external interest, external validation, but, really, it rests in our own hands to uphold. I wish it were different. I wish someone had the magic wand. Whoever finds one gets a BIG GOLD STAR! In the meantime, I'm going to forge forward, trying to maintain my fabulousness daily in some form or fashion. I hope you will too...and, if you lose it, try, try, try not to blame others!

1 comment:

  1. Steph! Who gives YOU a gold star when you could use one? i agree, as you say, that our self-confidence rests in our hands to uphold. and as hard as that is sometimes, it is so invigorating, to me at least, when I can get there.