“To come to the end of a time of anxiety and fear! To feel the cloud that hung over us lift and disperse – the cloud that dulled the heart and made happiness no more than a memory! This is at least one joy that must have been known by almost every living creature.”
– Watership Down (Richard Adams)
There are two things I love about this quote:
- its expression of joyful relief that comes with the lightening of a heavy burden
- its expression of (or rather, of my experiences of) of anxiety and depression
I’ve become well acquainted with my own personal cloud lately, the one I insist on carrying around with me, the one that I suffer under at least partly of my own choosing. My cloud is the ever present and insistent judgement that I am not enough. Usually not good enough but there are numerous variations on the theme.
It has been a while since I’ve suffered as loud and persistent a negative self-judgement as the one I’ve ‘enjoyed’ over the last couple of months. Two people who I respect and admire have advised me recently that lessons (or sufferings) are repeated until we learn from them so I’ve been reflecting on what it is I need to learn from it. Not a terribly pleasant pastime, I have to say, and I put quite a lot of effort into busying myself to avoid reflecting on why I might feel a bit pants …
My conclusion – I am too busy looking to other people for validation that I am enough. That I do enough, that I am productive enough, that I am good enough, that I am a good enough human being, that I am a good enough colleague, a good enough friend … the list goes on. With a sense of mild shame, I’ve just realised that I was desperately hoping to get this validation and reassurance from my last romantic relationship and when it ended I was left feeling that I would never get the reassurance and confirmation that I sought.
Being unwilling to give myself permission to feel that I am enough, just as I am, causes me problems. It causes me to push myself unreasonably hard to try and persuade other people to give me permission to stop, slow down every now and then, to believe I am enough. Oops. That’ll explain the exhaustion and unwillingness to admit I was unwell for about 6 weeks then …
*sigh* we live and we learn. At least I try to. And the dispersal of the oppressive cloud and the realisation that the world is even more beautiful than you remembered, when you take a proper look around again, is a joyful thing. Forcing myself to write and share this has pushed me to be crystal clear about my story and what I am going to learn from this. Just to make sure I’m still on the road to being better or good enough in some way 😉
Think it is about time I stop, relax and read a book for a bit before bedtime …