One of the things I struggle with most is that I just don’t feel okay. A lot. I don’t mean that I feel sick. I mean that I feel off. Emotionally. I feel like I’m wrong, like something’s wrong. Like I’m doing something that I shouldn’t be. Or that I’m wasting time. Or I’m being indulgent. The thing is, I feel this way about the most boring-ass things. It’s ridiculous.
Take, for example, the other day. I was feeling terrible about driving to the hardware store to buy light bulbs and maybe a new flavor for my soda stream. When I started the car, I considered stopping by the neighboring nursery to look for new plants, just because it’s spring and I love gardening. That was when the little black voice in my head went ballistic. She said that I was lazy, indulgent, good-for-nothing, and had no discipline. What was I thinking buying more plants? She said: You don’t need more plants, Julie. What you NEED is to go back to your office and finish that god-forsaken memoir. What you NEED is to go get a real job. When I caught myself, (which is huge, by the way, catching those black thoughts), I was sitting at a stoplight about two blocks from my house. As the conscious awareness of my thoughts gradually came, I actually laughed. I squeezed my eyes shut (only momentarily…still had that driving thing going on), laughed, and took a deep breath. I sighed a deep, sweeping sigh, as if coming back to myself, exhaling all that blackness, and returning to the me that is on my side, the me who is kind to myself.
For years I thought that this kind of self-abuse was merely a symptom of my depression. While I know that it partly is, and that negative thinking of this nature can seriously drag one’s ass deep into the shitter, I recognize now that, to some extent, everyone does this to themselves. Now that I’m older and have established those deep, soul-nurturing friendships with women, the completely-opened-heart, the this-is-how-messy-my-house-really-is friendships, I know that I’m not alone. I’m not the only one who does this. And I also know that if I feel myself sinking down, the key is to try to catch myself. When I do, I can be awfully nice, telling myself things like, “Wow. Aren’t you responsible to go get new light bulbs. You are so awesome to do mundane chores and take good care of your home. Your family is lucky to have you.” Then when I walk into the hardware store, past the guy outside begging for change, I smile gently then hand him a folded up dollar, touching both his hands with mine.