One of the exercises I’m really liking from Keiko Zoll’s The You Project (the best $7.50 I’ve spent in AGES, by the way) is writing down the negative things I think about myself during the day.
There are a lot of them.
Most fall within a specific pattern: I tend to feel I let others down, then I feel guilty about it.
Darcy had a birthday and we make a big deal about birthdays around here. I spent 4 1/2 hours baking him a homemade chocolate cake with buttercream frosting. In a way, cake-making might be the biggest nightmare out there for perfectionists who are hard on themselves. (Remember how baking a cake caused one character to have a nervous breakdown in “The Hours?”) The cake tasted incredible, but it looked in a word: WONKY. I didn’t make enough of the buttercream frosting so it wasn’t covered completely. The buttercream recipe was completely fussy and required me to add very small amounts of confectioner’s sugar over the period of an hour to the butter. Again it tasted incredible. Darcy (who never holds back his words and whose opinion I care most about) loved it.
It didn’t look picture perfect.
So I was simultaneously annoyed with myself for not DOING IT RIGHT then I beat myself up because I didn’t include my kids in the baking of this cake like the French do, then I thought, why do I care so much about making things the best?
That’s a bad wormhole to go down.
In addition, I have a friend who has the worst timing in the world, at least when it comes to our friendship. She calls at the worst possible moments, shows up when I’m in the MIDDLE of something or when the house is a total wreck. I’m always explaining, it’s not me, it’s you, I’m tired, I’m sick. It’s happened enough to strain our entire friendship.
Today I woke up with the feeling that someone was sticking a dull, cheap Ikea Allen wrench deep into my left ear every 15-20 seconds. It hurt a lot. I was able to make it to a doctor’s appointment, and he quickly told me I had a nasty ear infection and I needed antibiotics.
Poor Darcy took the day off for Yom Kippur and went to services without me, drove me to the Doctor with the kids, dropped us off then went to pick up the meds.
During the doctor’s visit, my friend called. I didn’t answer. Then as soon as I got into bed, trying to amuse the kids while still feeling the dull pain of the Allen wrench, she texted me and said she was around the corner with her daughter visiting her dad.
I did not answer her text.
Readers, I hid the phone behind my pillow.
Darcy got home and said he had seen my friend at the drugstore while he was picking up my antibiotics. She was really upset and wanted to hang out. She was sick of my excuses, he could tell. He felt badly for her.
I let down a friend today. I didn’t value her friendship enough to put away my own suffering and blithely serve her the leftover chocolate cake. Which is what I should have done.
I don’t really know how to atone for this.
Keiko Zoll tells me that for each negative self-thought, I need to show myself one kindness.
So right now I write this entry, because what I love to do is write. And tomorrow, I will call my friend (even though I hate talking on the phone) and try to make it up to her.
Do you have negative self-thoughts? How do you ignore them/get past them?