Over the last couple years, I have worked hard to change the philosophies and mental models I developed while growing up. I have acted against what my mind and feelings told me to do. I have done very scary things for me and been incredibly vulnerable because it was the right thing to do.
This week, I started thinking about those philosophies. I started thinking about what they are or were and how they developed. One of those philosophies was that it didn’t matter if you did something good, if you did it in the wrong way or at the wrong time, it was bad.
This is why it is so hard for me to do nice things for people. I like writing letters and dropping off flowers or treats for people and doing little acts of kindness. But I have been so terrified of doing it wrong. Every time I did any of those things, I would panic. I would hide in my room and cry because I was so afraid that I did it wrong. I was so afraid of being hurt. I was afraid that the person would dislike the kind thing that I had done and shame me for it.
I don’t know how this philosophy developed. I don’t know how my self worth became so fragile that I was afraid anything I did, good or bad, was wrong and that I was a bad person because I did not know how someone wanted to be served.
I have looked back and scoured my memories for examples of that philosophy being carried out. I remember a few examples of my grandmother perpetuating that philosophy, but over and over again, I just remember myself doing that to others. I did it to my best friend, to my father. I yelled at them or told them to stop helping because they were doing it wrong. I was the monster I so greatly feared.
It has taken me a long time to change that about myself. It has taken me a long time to realize that there is more than one way to do something. It has taken me a long time to learn to appreciate someone’s efforts more than their results.
And it has taken even longer to forgive myself for not doing things perfectly. It has taken me a long time to allow myself to do good without tormenting my mind with thoughts of worthlessness. I still get scared. I am still afraid of doing good or doing bad or doing anything at all. I am still afraid that I am not enough and will never be enough. But I am trying. I am trying to dispel the monster within me that I don’t know how it was created.
But I am so grateful for the friends in this journey. I am grateful for the people that haven’t degraded me for the kind things I tried to do. I am grateful for the people that have loved me and encouraged me, because it has been really hard. It has been really scary. And those few moments of encouragement, that text that said thank you or the hug or the smile, have made all the difference. I needed each of them, and I am incredibly grateful for them and for the people who showed me that compassion.