More often than not, in pretty much every area of my life, I have chosen to play by the rules.
As a kid, I bought into the mentality that if I achieved good grades, listened to adults, and more or less stayed out of trouble, then "the good life" could be mine. I based my self-worth in achieving the "A." I rarely rocked the boat, and I felt anxious when others around me would test the boundaries.
I was (am) a perfectionist. I was (am) a control freak. I was suffocating myself trying to keep my shit together at all times, even when I had every justifiable reason to just go ahead and lose my shit. And, oh man, the guilt and the shame that would soon follow my inevitable shit-losing sessions...
As an adult, this mindset has manifested itself in a similar way. While my perfectionism has receded somewhat, and I am more willing to rock the boat when I think the situation necessitates, I am still very much wrapped up in state of mind that suggests my self-worth is defined by a certain level of productivity, the degree of accomplishments I can rack up, and keeping face.
Case in point, this week B observed an emerging pattern of behavior I've exhibited each day. Almost as soon as he walks in the door from work, I start by rattling off my minor "successes" for the day. "B, guess what. I did the dishes and ran the laundry. I have spicy chicken in the crock pot for tacos tonight." I then follow it up with a sheepish confession. "But...I read a book in bed until almost noon, and then I watched 4 consecutive episodes of the Real Housewives....and I ate ice cream for lunch."
His response, paraphrased, but more or less, "That's great, Molly, and dinner sounds good to me. Thanks for taking care of the laundry. But you know you don't have to keep a scorecard. It's ok right now to just relax. Wasn't that supposed to be a part of your time out? I think it's good that you're watching TV and reading and decompressing. Don't feel like you need to hit some quota of accomplishments each day, for my benefit."
Wise words those are, from my dear husband, who knows me so darn well. Because he's right. It's ok for me to stop looking for that gold star of approval, and I don't need to be caught up in proving my worthiness to others at all times.
Yes, defining and achieving goals is a good thing. Doing things for others is a good thing. And, keeping our shit together is often a necessary thing.
But, sometimes it’s ok to go ahead and lose that shit. It’s ok to adopt a temporary vegetative state now and again to watch frivolous TV and eat a fucking Hostess cupcake without feeling like the worst person in the world for doing so. It’s ok to turn inward to listen to your own voice instead of always looking outward for some kind of validation. It's ok to do the opposite of what is expected of us, sometimes anyway.
And, that's a big part of why I'm taking this time out. I need to care enough about myself to figure I really want and need out of life, fearlessly and selfishly, listening to my own voice. And right now the first step toward doing that means a legit, hedonistic chillax session, without trying to justify it or worrying about it seeming irresponsible or “wrong” in some way.
So, for now, I’m not going to pay much attention to the rule book. I'm not concentrating on figuring out the “right” next steps or solving the puzzle. I’m finished keeping a scorecard. I’m going to take some days on my own terms, which today means heading to yoga, maybe making some cookies and eating a bunch of them myself, and taking an afternoon nap with my cats. No guilt. No shame. Just me.