Catherine Gracey

Living Life, One Misadventure At A Time.

Starting Again

on July 16, 2016

No matter how nostalgic I might feel for an earlier time in my life, it is impossible for me to pick up where I left off; my financial situation is different, my family situation is different, my attitude is different, even my body is different. Over the past year I have tormented myself with comparisons between where I am now and where I used to be. I constantly feel as if the me of today falls short compared to the me of yesterday.

There are obvious problems with nostalgic comparisons. I have conveniently forgotten all of the nights when I was unable to sleep because I was plagued with worries and doubts. Time seems to compress, so that problems it took me a year to solve feel as if I overcame them in the space of a week. My memory is faulty, and it captures the moment of triumph as I worked out a solution, but omits many pertinent details about how I struggled to get there. I can make as many comparisons as I like but, unless I am brutally honest with myself, they are never fair.

I am not often kind to myself. When I am confronted with an obstacle, I tend to talk to myself in a way that I would never dream of speaking to another person. All of the toxic thoughts that I have edited out of my memories have simply been supplanted into my present, causing havoc where there is already a sufficient amount of difficulty to work with.

In April I took Shroomi for a month of traipsing around Europe. It was just the two of us and our luggage, so I had a lot to contend with. She is two and a half, and at the start of that trip I had never spent an entire day alone with her before. Two days into the trip and I had a spectacular case of bronchitis. One week into the trip I pulled a muscle in my back. Somewhere in France I partially ruptured the posterior cruciate ligament in my knee.

There are a lot of things I learned when it was just my daughter and I, and a lot more when it was just the two of us and a fairly debilitating injury, but one of the main lessons was that it’s time to start being nice to myself. Doing things in the hardest possible way doesn’t make me a badass, especially when no one is around to see me do it. Achieving my goals is the important thing, not how much I suffer in the process. Pain is a warning, not a measure of success.

Many of my current goals focus on reclaiming things that have been lost to me. I have the expectation that if I could do it once I can do it again, but this is an unreasonable and unkind way to view it. The first time I achieved my goals I had no idea if I could succeed or not. I wasn’t burdened by flawed memories of what it was like, so I had a green field to build on. Every solution was equally valid until I had tested them.

By clinging to the past I am clinging to old methods, but my context is different and no amount of wishful thinking will change that. The kindest thing to do is to give myself permission to start again, to find new solutions to things that I will deliberately view as new problems. This way, when I succeed and get what I want, I can get it with a sense of pride in my accomplishments and not just a sense of relief that I repaired the damage and salvaged the situation.

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