My grandmother saw a picture of me that I am rather fond of, it’s actually my new profile picture on Facebook.
I like it because I am happy in it.
It’s just a selfie of a care free moment in between unloading groceries the other day, nothing special.
But, the sun is out and this picture seemed to capture the ecstatic feeling of the crisp winter air and the warm sun on my face simultaneously.
I wanted to share that moment.
At first my grandma said something about wishing she was as photogenic as I am.
I said thanks and was showing her how to post stickers and GIFs like we had been learning on the previous post she had been looking at.
She joked a little with me about “finding someone” with pictures like that, which to be honest I mostly ignored because I’m trying to become immune to comments like that.
Then she looked at me and said, “you know, I think you just love yourself.”
And I smiled.
But, something hurt too.
After a moment I said “good! I’ve been trying to learn how to love myself for a while now,” before wandering back behind her chair, to the kitchen.
I pondered the pain.
Right at the front of my chest, at my heart center.
Not the back which would be a defensive self-love reaction which I kind of expected, but no, in the front – in my community-love center.
Why is it hurting here? Questioning myself, I sat down at the counter.
I could hear my grandma’s iPad playing videos on her Facebook and suddenly recognized one I had posted about human overutilisation of animals as resources.
I started crying immediately.
I wasn’t sad because I thought my grandma couldn’t appreciate my self-love, I was sad because for some reason I felt that her noticing my self-love meant all my other love wasn’t noticed.
My love for her.
My love for this planet.
My love for creatures great and small.
My love for the men I have left broken hearted because I don’t want to be a wife.
But it wasn’t the love that was hurting, no, it was my ego about my love and the “sacrifices” I make.
I quickly did an inventory of my actions today and how sustainable they’ve been.
My eyes got stuck on the excess of material objects in my grandmother’s old family home and I just sighed…
What my grandma said is painful, not because of what it potentially means to her, but because of what it means to me.
I am the overly critical, hyperaware, never satisfied personal critic and I was just letting her voice echo my thoughts in those moments.
I’m very sneaky
I seek to prove my biases in all sorts of tricky ways, and if I’m not careful I can believe something untrue by virtue of my own distraction and impatience.
I love to make things that aren’t really my responsibility, my problem.
I know it comes from my childhood but knowing where a problem comes from doesn’t mean the work is done.
I’m still noticing when/how these patterns of behavior present themselves and trying to correct course.
Like catching myself hyperanalysing messages I’ve sent to people and groups because I worry my intentions may be misinterpreted.
Even though I truly know the people I’m talking with understand me in a raw way and I don’t even have to worry about it – I still find ways to worry about it and look for evidence that I’ve been socially inadequate.
Because I believe I am socially inadequate.
It always comes back around to me
My anxiety and insecurities have been constant, ever present companions – but, I don’t take them as seriously as I used to any more.
They are still there and as loud as ever, but I’ve changed the way I allow their opinions to affect me.
Instead of just believing whatever initial worst case scenario my mind cooks up, I explore it, like I did today by crying in the kitchen.
Does it resolve the fact that I have over an over inflated sense of duty to the world’s ecology and am using my grandma to project judgement on myself?
I still have serious stuff to work through.
But it does save me from being disgruntled and hurt by my grandmother, which could make all the difference in the world.
Now I actually know what the problem is
I have a limiting belief that I can never do enough good to justify the harm caused by my existence.
So I can work on that (nbd right).
And this new habit of patient exploration also helps to keep me authentic and vulnerable with my friends.
Understanding that my desire to want to see their innocent reactions as critiques of my awkwardness is a reflection of my own beliefs and not necessarily theirs, keeps me from closing up and withholding from them.
They deserve the benefit of the doubt.
My grandma deserves the benefit of the doubt.
And I deserve the benefits of doubting my own anxiety and insequrities, especially when they are causing me to doubt the good intentions of myself and the people I love.
Even if I am awkward, that doesn’t mean I am less worthy of my friend’s love.
Even if I am not 100% sustainable in everything I do and even I forget to bring my reusable bags to the grocery store sometimes, that doesn’t mean I get to wallow in the self-depreciating ego-tantrum that doesn’t solve anything anyway.
And even if I have lots more work to do on my limiting beliefs and insequrities, this new patient awarness is certainly helping me feel more capable of taking those things on in honest and healthy ways.