It’s our first full day in the new apartment and I was in a terrible mood all morning – mainly because I didn’t sleep. It’s funny that my last post was about “leaning in” to adjustment and I’m crashing and burning before I can even get my optimistic little rocket ship off the ground. The landlord – who lives on the floor above us – definitely oversold the “quiet” part of our new home. It seems as though there may be as many as four people staying upstairs at any given time (maybe more???) – and some of them seem to enjoy building boats (or something) at one o’clock in the morning.
If renting has taught me anything, it’s that no matter where you go – there you are. My idea of coexisting with others is that they – frankly – act in a way that suggests they don’t exist. Admitting this in print gives me pause. It’s true. It’s mean. It’s also sad.
I spend a lot of time teaching the value of connection and community as it relates to recovery. Some studies seem to suggest that the further we get from our tribal and/or communal roots, the sicker we get. To be fair, other studies demonstrate that sleep disruption and deprivation destroy your mental health. I’m at a loss as to how to reconcile the two: “Hello, it’s your new neighbor, Autumn. I’ve baked you a cake. Also, can you please shut the fuck up?”
The “here I am” part of all this is that several of my own neuroses are at play. Let’s count. 1.) I’m catastrophizing; i.e. if they were building boats last night then they are obviously going to build boats every night. 2.) My rage is disproportionate to the situation. I wasn’t allowed – or didn’t know how – to have boundaries for most of my life. So now, when someone disturbs my peace, I turn into the Hulk. Trust me, it isn’t that scary. I mostly just angry cry. Unless, of course, I’ve been stuffing that shit down for awhile. Then it might get a little scary.
Yesterday afternoon I said, “I can’t believe this apartment is ours! I don’t know if I want to move to Florida anymore. They don’t have old New England style spaces there”. In a matter of hours, I was already back to a “grass is greener” mindset. My addict brain is incredible: “This will never be good enough,” it whispers. “You need something else”.
I might be able to find peace and quiet in Florida but, on the other hand, a snake might crawl out of my toilet.
I’m not going to discard every lesson I’ve learned through this process. When we buy property, it probably should be disconnected from other people’s living spaces. (Or on the highest floor.) What I do need to discard is my “other people ruin everything” attitude.
If I were three years old, I would be stomping my foot. The clinician in me says, “well, silly goose, you do have an inner child. And she is stomping her foot”. Now I’m rolling my eyes, which really doesn’t help me look like less of a mad woman. Thank goodness Cedric the Magnificent doesn’t care.
When I was pursuing my degrees in substance use counseling and social and human services, one of my instructors accused me of being a black and white thinker. I was aghast. How dare she call me – a socially progressive female lesbian – a black and white thinker? Was I not the quintessence of openmindedness? At the time, I dismissed her evaluation. Black and white? Psshht. How about I’m right and you’re wrong? How’s that for black and white?
She was right.
I have a nasty habit of putting people on pedestals. You’re either on a pedestal or off. You’re either all good or all bad. (Oh, hello there! It’s another one of those pesky thought distortions: all or nothing thinking.) Unfortunately for me, that’s not how humanity works. We’re like Sherwin-Williams paint cards in shades of gray.
Whenever I’ve lived in a town or city for a few years, I find myself starting to feel disillusioned. People’s true colors start to “shine through”. Eventually everyone (unknowingly) topples off their pedestal and I sit around thinking, “Ick! Humanity! Someone get the rubbing alcohol!”
Here’s the ugly, ugly, ugly part. I am repelled by other people’s humanity because I am actually terrified of my own. I am a perfectionist. What disgusts me about others is what I fear holding space for in myself. I imprison myself on the tallest of tall pedestals and get pissed when I teeter off like a drunken toddler in zero gravity. Not to be defeated, I clamber back on – determined to do “better” this time.
Maybe…just maybe…being a little more forgiving of others means being more forgiving of myself.
Good grief. I hate it when I’m right. I feel attacked.
As a perfectionist, I always try to wrap up on an optimistic note. That way I can tell myself I’ve Martha-Stewarted the shit out of my blog. Oh my. What a pretty little bow. But I’m not doing that this time.
I don’t know if I can be a more loving person today. I sure am gonna need some help.
See? That’s certainly not the most alluring bow I’ve ever chosen. However, it might be the bow I need; the one that gives my humanity a little room to breathe.