I was just writing a comment to the incredibly wise Mary from Fibromy-Awesome – she was writing about coming to terms with not working any more – when I had a light-bulb moment:
I started crying when I read “I just want to make myself proud again.”
I’ve gotten over not having a job – it only took about a year and a bit of soul searching and therapy. But I still struggle with the purposelessness of my life. Just being able to do basic things like cook dinner a few nights a week, go for a walk every day, not feel like a huge burden on those around me – if I could only master those then I’d be happy.
But then I realised that this was part of the problem: it was a lie.
We all tell them to ourselves. I’ll be happy when… I’ll be OK if… I’ll have enough when…
It will never be enough.
To illustrate: I have been steadily improving for a while now (albeit incredibly slowly). When I was at my worst, I wasn’t able to shower regularly – I felt gross and icky and all I wanted to be was clean and nice-smelling. Now that I am able to shower every day and wash and blow dry my own hair with no problems (but resting before and after of course) I completely take this huge achievement for granted. Instead of revelling in the things I can do now (drive myself places, go for a short food shop, teach a few piano students, pick up the dog poo) I am so focussed on the things that are just on the horizon. Possibly they are all the more tantalising because they are just out of reach.
And I’m sure it’s not just me – I’m sure lots of perfectly healthy people feel like they don’t have enough time, or money, or success, or power; that they aren’t organised enough, or well groomed enough; that their relationships aren’t perfect enough. And I’m sure that it’s natural to want more. It’s what drives us forward. As long as it’s balanced with an appreciation for what you have, and an understanding that no matter what you have or haven’t got, you are enough.
Of course, it’s much harder to feel like you have enough when those around you have so much more. Looking around at my healthy family and friends I feel so different – somehow lesser. All the things I struggle with they do with such ease. I desperately want to do the boring, everyday tasks of life, and they take them for granted. I deeply resent the unending boredom of my life, and they find the stimulating busyness of their lives a hassle. Nobody means to rub their life of plenty in my face, but often it can feel like their successes only highlight all the things I can’t do.
Of course I want these things. It’s a natural and reasonable desire to be healthy and ‘normal’. But I don’t need to fixate on these things. My happiness shouldn’t depend on the having or doing of things. No matter what my abilities, I am enough.
You can read Mary’s post Time to Kill here.