perfect sadness

i often struggle with being overly critical of myself and others. something inside me says i could be the perfect me if i could only understand how, if i logically had the data and the wherewithal. it frustrates me to be human, to be limited by the misfunctioning physical, the emotional baggage of life, the fears and doubts that come with just being what we are. nobody is perfect, least of all me, but there’s a constant war inside between the perfectionist that tells me if i just tried harder i could have the perfect body, a job i love, rewarding relationships, and the part of me that desperately wants to accept myself as i am. the perfectionist whispers that if i just tried harder i could have no bad habits, no vices, unchewed fingernails. i could make all my own organic food from seed to plate, actually finish Moby Dick, never speak to anyone in unwarranted anger. no one would ever make me feel bad because i’d be emotionally impervious to name calling and mistreatment, but i’m just not like that. names can be as hurtful at 35 as they are at 15, and i’m a sensitive person that takes these things to heart in the worst way. i wish i knew how to let mistreatment bounce off me like i’m rubber, but my capacity for pain is part of what makes me a creative, empathetic person, so i’m grateful for it, as all the while the perfectionist inside scorns what it perceives as weakness.


i need to stop berating myself for feeling hurt. yes, i can see how people could think depression is self-centered, that’s understandable if you think about it this way: if you were shot, you wouldn’t be thinking about much beside the bullet lodged inside. the pain would be all encompassing. the same thing happens when you are sad, but because other people can’t see the wound in your heart they don’t understand. you just come off as an asshole or whiny or snotty. the self-defeating downward spiral, caused by pain you may not even know about or understand, multiplies and festers as you isolate yourself in an ironic attempt not to drive others away or feel even more pain. you know it has to stop, but don’t know how. life feels more and more desperate and hopeless. 


these days it seems like no one is comfortable with others’ emotions. perhaps we’re all so used to facing an emotionless screen that we’ve lost the ability to truly relate. maybe seeing others in pain forces us to think about the pain within ourselves. we’re taught that if we just think positive that we can change anything, but really, i don’t think that’s true. years of thinking positive, without trying to actually figure out what was wrong and heal it, only made me think i must be inadequate at being positive. i stopped playing my angry songs. i stopped writing songs altogether because all i wrote was sadness and i didn’t want to express that to the world. my greatest creative and emotional outlet, and a true part of myself, was cut off.


truth is, i can’t live this way anymore. i need to allow myself to accept that there are problems, that i have valid reasons to be sad, and that sadness is not a weakness. i need to let the sadness flow so it can leave me and clean the wound out as it goes. recently i saw a quote; “be nice to yourself: it’s hard to be happy when someone’s being mean to you all the time”, i googled it and found this lovely article by Christine Arylo of if you feel like i do, i highly recommend you read it, it’s about self-compassion and -love. a friend of mine, a highly respected and published neuroscientist, told me that buying clothing for oneself has been shown to trigger self-love parts of the brain. or maybe it was chemicals? either way, can you imagine how amazing life would feel if you ALWAYS felt like you do after you buy a new pair of shoes? i honestly can’t, but i want that! i want life to be a never ending new pair of shoes, even if that means that i tell strangers that i’m sad and why. in the long run? you guys already knew i wasn’t perfect, and i really doubt you’re thinking i’m an asshole right now. there’s a very good chance you feel the same in this day and age of being everything to everyone while never thinking of ourselves. isn’t that amazing? that we can bring these things into the open and say “hey guys, i’m imperfect and sad, too”.  then we can all have pie or whatever and talk about it and hug. let’s do that. 


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