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  • Laura Ryder

The Weekly Catharsis: Something I have learned about myself in isolation

There are lessons to be had in isolation, if you stop and look. Thanks to everyone who took part in The Weekly Catharsis this week.

"Not good enough."

A decent amount of therapy culminated in me uncovering that I believed those three words were true about me. And suddenly my life made a lot more sense. Seeing how this skewed belief coloured my view of the world and impacted on my behaviour was a revelation.

With a lot more work, I changed.

I figured out where that belief had come from and I consciously challenged it, time and time again, until things got a lot more balanced.

I got much better at recognising when it was at work, and didn’t give it the power it had enjoyed for years.

For years now I have had a much healthier sense of myself being good enough, which strangely has allowed me to own more of the ‘bad’ bits of myself - and, for example, apologise for when I am in the wrong more easily (because now it’s not just another example of why I’m not good enough).

Isolation has been good and bad for me. I’ve enjoyed a lot of it (the slower pace, getting out for leisurely walks every day) but I really miss a lot too (connecting with the wider world, chatting to friends). I’ve noticed my not good enough belief crop up a bit more than usual though (which isn’t really unusual, given that bogie beliefs tend to try and get a grip again in more vulnerable times).

Baking has been a resource for me, but every so often I have to give it a break because my not good enough belief kicks in and starts putting pressure on me with ‘shoulds’ (I should bake fresh bread every morning; I should have a home baked treat on hand at all times; I should do more fun baking with the children…). It's the same with lots of other things. Given a chance the idea that I’m not good enough creeps back in.

In isolation I have learned once more that I will never fully be free of my ‘not good enough’ demon. I will always have to be on guard against it. I will never truly conquer it, only manage it.

I feel that the things I learned about myself are negative. But then, looking at them on a good day makes me feel like I'm lucky to notice them so i can change. 

One of those things is that I don't actually talk about my feelings. I tell everyone else to. I sit and listen to other people's feelings but when it comes to my own I just don't open up. 

I pretend everything is grand. I'm "fine".. 

Looking at why this  is, I think it comes from having to support my mother emotionally when I was a teenager so I learned to just nor bother her more with my stuff. 

I learned to just keep it in. 

Luckily I'm a pretty happy person. 

Life to me is good, we are lucky to have what we have. We are healthy and have enough to eat and  warm bed. 

I guess I should learn to tell people about how I feel.

I always felt if I did open up and speak and the other person didn't like it or it ended in a row that would be bad. So I just didn't.

I don't even know where to start with it  all, I'm too busy running a household and minding kids to even sit down and see how I can help myself. But maybe just by being aware of this, it might help me in the future. 

For now I'll try not to let anyone walk all over me. I'll somehow find the strength to stand up for myself. 

What I love about this task is that it creates some element of focus in a period where I feel like it is really lacking for me. At the same time, you can write what you like. I like that a lot, having a starting point, a root, that can shoot anywhere. Maybe that’s where I should start.

I have learned that I like some structure, or resemblance of routine.

I have always known this but what surprises me is the flexibility in the routine that I can enjoy. I definitely like to exercise, get outside and achieve some small thing but I am ok with incorporating these activities into my day, wherever they fit, as the day unravels.

I definitely like having more time to myself, something I once really feared.

I don’t feel as behind or split in recent weeks. In the past I tried to balance too many plates, but never felt like I was doing quite enough. It’s a strange sensation to actually want to busy yourself and yet never feel like you can keep up. Unfortunately, I can see that cause and causation of this lie with me which is both sickening and irritating as hell!

I’ve learned that technology is truly amazing and is playing a major role in supporting, connecting and even educating many, myself included right now.

Contrastingly, I have also learned that few things will cheer up a six-year-old more than sending them (in their own envelope, with the good stickers…) a personal letter and a slightly wonky looking drawing of Olaf the snowman from Frozen.

I have developed a strange relationship with the Tv show The Chase.

I often find myself feeling quite bitter on behalf of the constants who did so much right and leave with nothing. I vent that Winning Streak is easy money, then just as quickly become horrified that I need to get a life, worry about coming middle aged prematurely, realise “I can’t get out more” in the present climate …. Then watch another contestant get their hopes up for nothing!

Whether the game shows have influenced me or not, I have found myself thinking a bit lately about addiction. Up to this, I never really dwelled on it, probably because when I have felt disconnected or wanted to numb, I generally made use of more socially acceptable methods such as excessively scrolling, online shopping, exercise, even reading to block it all out. I’m thinking of the word motivation and how it is often used to encourage people to stop some addictive behaviour. Yet if you are running on empty, and these are your crutch, it seems unfair to expect people to hobble on with no support, only “motivation”, no matter how great their why or reason for stopping. I remember as a child, a friend of my Dad coming over around Christmas time. As we all gorged on selection boxes and tin of sweets, I remember being so amazed that he wouldn’t be tempted by even one. I even tried to reassure him of the ones that were nice, had no nuts or white stuff (Bounty) inside. He explained that he had given up cigarettes 20 years previous and worried that he would gain weight by turning to treats as a replacement. I admired his discipline and his all or nothing approach. Now I wonder how he coped. What was his crutch.

This is a bullet points of additional things I have become aware of. I want to get them off my chest but they are so random they fit nowhere.

1. When I get angry, I really feel like putting my hood up and knees forward. I think it’s called The Turtle Technique. I think it’s aimed at children! but I find it quite calming

2. I both hate and love Afterlife by Ricky Gervais

3. I despise (strong I know) children’s books with small writing that neither flow or are in any way accessible for children to read. Why not just leave them as wordless picture books for children to create the narrative themselves?

4. I love walking in nature and only now realise I don’t absolutely have to have my earphones blaring to enjoy a walk

5. I began wearing sun cream during this pandemic even inside, because avoiding pre-mature aging seemed a positive controllable one day when I was very bored.

6. Very few things frustrate me as much as when I think I am hearing contradictory statements or advice- even though I do this myself

7. I will never get tired of using the 3D function to bring animals into a room

8. I am a bit of a snob when it comes to some things- I thought I had to have a moleskin diary – then had to check, moleskin is created from cardboard and oil cloth nothing else!!

9. Three zoom meetings are my absolute max in any given day

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