I made a decision a few years ago that helped me reclaim a great deal of control in my personal life. It’s a simple one: “No one has my permission to make me have a bad day.”
People can do or say things to me which potentially could be upsetting, or scary, or make me angry, but I take ownership my emotions and reactions. Sometimes I lose my cool, but we all do. Emotions are sticky, odd-shaped things, heavier at one end, and oftentimes too tall to fit nicely into the overhead compartment.
I used to have a coworker that was a grade-a asshole. I’ve had a few, but this one seemed to take delight in marginalizing, humiliating, unfairly condemning, and generally persecuting me. I don’t throw that word around all willy-nilly. There was some emotional and psychological abuse going on. This petty tyrant was tormenting me.
After I decided they did not control my feelings, my self worth, or my feelings of self worth, it was like I was the boy from The Emperor’s New Clothing- I could see this person was incredibly insecure, and a disgusting, fear-motivated, information hoarding, brownnosing careerist with no actual character, expertise, life experience, or booklearnin’ to back any of it up. They enjoyed shaming and hurting people. I actually felt bad for them, because that’s an awful way to live, but I wasn’t about to re-engage after I got myself out from under their dumb, fleshy thumb. Also, I felt the same satisfaction I imagine I would if I had open-hand slapped them in public.
I had crossed the Rubicon, and it was liberating. It was a huge step toward self-ownership.
I had a somewhat similar epiphany earlier today. I may talk a little salty, and get familiar, but I am hardwired with etiquette and manners, to a point which becomes social cowardice, like many social conventions are. I oftentimes miss opportunities to confront someone, or ask important questions to obtain information I need, because “it wasn’t the right time” or “it didn’t feel appropriate.”
My epiphany is as follows: “I grant myself permission to be inappropriate if it will help me be fully alive.”
That’s it. As soon as I wrote it down and said it aloud, I felt as if I had recited a magic spell. I sighed and closed my eyes. I smiled, slowly. I felt light.
This doesn’t mean I’m going to be a sociopath, but I’m no longer going to let fear of seeming inappropriate keep me from speaking up and speaking out. I have no problem advocating for another or for a cause, but when it comes to myself, I often make a martyr of myself, by regarding my needs/beliefs/desires as less important than a conversation. I’m over it. They can talk to the damn hand. It’s okay for me to own my space, have a vested interested in events which involve me, and be assertive (even if I am perceived as “bitchy” or “dickish”, or any other weird gendered insult) to help me move forward.
Life is too short to swallow my words, and not strive for what I want and need. I am valuable. I am nowhere near my priority, but I’m not going to relegate myself to a zone of unimportance.
I’ve always been drawn to ritualistic self-denial, and stoicism, whether that means reading about monastic life, or fasting, or rigid dietary rules, or living simply. Refusing pleasure. Discipline. When I was younger, I heard messages in church about pride and ego and self-reliance being the foundations of Satanism. I internalized it, to a point where I denied myself in some ascetic pursuit of holiness, but really, I was just making myself feel crappy by not allowing myself to feel good about myself.
I need all the help I can get. There are days in which my depression is sucking me onto the couch like a black hole, but I have to put on my uniform and convince my subordinates that sending me a certificate for an online training course helps us fight ISIS.
So, I’m empowering myself. Also, I’m ready to talk about it for the first time- I have been seeing a therapist for months for my depression/anxiety/PTSD. I am on meds. They are awesome. I decided to seek help regarding my mental health after Robin WIlliam’s suicide last year. For a long time (too long), I managed Paloma’s diagnosis and the hospitalizations and the family, and being strong for everyone else. Lindsay was much more involved n the thick of it, but I felt I had to be the pillar, still going to work everyday and being a “dynamic, results-oriented leader”. I forced myself to swallow it and keep moving forward, and I got to a point where I felt I needed help. I went dark for a while, and the idea of going for a walk, or hanging out with someone on purpose, or putting on pants with belt loops seemed arduous, Sisyphean even. I never felt suicidal, but if Robin could be hurting for so long even though he was special to so many people, it’s possible I wasn’t making too big a deal out of things. The shrink and I are talking through some heavy stuff, and I took away some actionable steps. I’m doing a lot better. I attribute it mostly to the medication, but it’s a breakthrough, and I am grateful.
What do you need to give yourself permission for?