Throwing out the stick


I’ve got a measuring stick. It is made up of goals not achieved. Of expectations that I should be saner, calmer, more compassionate, more ambitious, more involved.

That I should be a perfect weight. That my gum disease is my fault. That my depression means I’m crazy. That my clothing is not right. That I am a loser because I have no savings apart from a small retirement fund. That I am a live-in-the-moment, immature asshat marshmallow eater because I sold my lovely little unit at a loss. That my loneliness means I am unworthy of love.

  • This stick means I don’t measure up. WHACK.
  • To whatever potential I had in my youth (some said great potential). WHACK
  • That I will die alone if I don’t lose weight. WHACK.
  • That my need for medication means I’m crazy. WHACK.
  • That my friends are sick of me because I rarely get invited out. WHACK.

I am sick of the welts and the pain this stick inflicts on my heart, energy and spirit. Measuring sticks are supposed to be helpful tools, not instruments of punishment.

  • I have gum disease because of genetics. CRACK
  • My friends have kids and most weekends are taken up with that. CRACK
  • I like chubby guys – surely there are guys that don’t mind a specious woman. CRACK
  • I have a medical condition that is controllable. CRACK
  • My idea of success can be focused on fulfilment, not on job titles or money. CRACK

I have thrown this stick away.

Without my stick – I feel a bit lost. The idea of just being – just living, with no other focus except to savour what I have and make practical plans – this seems like chaos to me. Like I’m surrendering or giving up in some sort of competition I had with myself. It leaves me with nothing to rebel against.

And that’s a thing.

Everyone self-sabotages at times. It’s a form of rebellion I think. Whether that rebellion is against parents or spouses (living, divorced or dead) or societal constraints and injustices – very few of us want to feel we are victims or trapped.

I have rebelled against my stick by escapes that are not beneficial to me. I have rebelled against my stick by sleeping – as much as 18 hours a day. I have rebelled against my stick by being careless with money.

I still have slivers of the stick.

They say “Without me, you will be mediocre. You are being childish – just because you haven’t achieved it doesn’t mean it’s not worth pursuing. You are justifying being lazy and unambitious. You will end up alone and unloved.”

These slivers will take some time and care to remove. Some go deep into my being. Removing them is part of the next phase of my life. Some need to be probed and incised. Others, I suspect, will work their way up and out as I grow and strengthen and move forward.

Without my stick, I will feel lost for a while. I must replace cruelty with kindness. There is a big difference in restraining oneself by berating and embracing better ways of being because of the joy and fulfilment they will bring. I’m willing to do this work of a lifetime. And consign that stick to the rubbish heap.

Image licenced from Presenter Media

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