In my About page, I talked about taking a good hard look at myself. Well, here goes…
Our family photos are stored in a somewhat ugly cardboard box in the loft. Every once in a while it gets dusted off and I immerse myself in years of memories. Even though I treasure each and every snap, I have always felt more than a little disappointed. Instead of choosing to remember the love and laughter I could always find something in each picture to criticise myself about – even if I wasn’t in it.
Just writing this makes me feel sad.
Milestone birthdays, loss of a loved one or illness are times when we may reflect upon our life and where it is going. I have done this, but not as openly and honestly as these past 12 months. Although it has been difficult, uncomfortable and has sometimes reduced me to tears, there has also been a huge sense of freedom in facing up to the past and letting it all go.
Once the initial shock of becoming a grandparent had passed, I immediately began putting pressure on myself to become the best Grandma ever, even though I had no idea how to, or what that looked like. I then began to look at all my shortcomings as a human being. I found myself re-living some of the hardest moments – conversations, arguments and those falling outs that have led me to become estranged from people I was once very close to.
I started asking questions of myself.
Why do I hang on to negative comments? Why is it so easy to believe the bad things about yourself? Why, even at my age, do I give other people the power to bring me down with harsh words?
This is definitely a work in progress, but as my priorities have changed, I am concentrating more on what makes me happy, like this blog, and have less time to waste on minutia.
Why couldn’t I ‘just’ stay in one job for longer than 5 minutes? Why couldn’t I ‘just’ put up with all the BS, keep my head down and get on with it? Why did I have to get involved in situations that someone else could deal with?
I am never going to be satisfied. I used to see this as a weakness. Now I see it as a strength. It is my motivation to keep moving forward, learn new things and not have regret because I didn’t try. Yes, there have been times when I have got in over my head and been terrified of what I was doing, but I had the courage to stand up for what I believed was right and ultimately justice was done.
I used to berate myself at my inability to just ‘put up’ with whatever was said or done to me. So what if people were using me? At least I wasn’t on my own. So what if they judged me and brought me down – maybe they were right – I was a disappointment and would never make anything of myself? Being lied to was not such a big deal was it?
After all, I’ve told many lies so surely this was Karma at work?
There are and always will be times when my mouth starts before my brain engages, but I am trying to be more benevolent (yes, really). I am really referring more to extreme situations. I mentioned estranged relationships but I now realise that if someone makes you feel like you are a lousy human being, and deep down you know that you are not, or they make you feel worthless, you owe it to yourself to just walk away. These people held me back and did not want me to succeed. They do not deserve to be a part of my life or join me on this amazing journey.
I had no definite plan for my life, other than to write. So when I began to examine my ‘achievements’ I couldn’t help but feel disappointed at my lack of them. I remember my somewhat bitter Mother’s words ringing in my ears when my exam results were not as expected ‘Its just as well your Dad’s not here -what ever would he have said?’ the look of judgement, disapproval and disappointment was all over her face. That has stayed with me all my life and has been a stick I have used to beat myself with.
How can I have a so-called passion and have not done a single thing about it? I’m nearly 50 years old.
Yes, it has taken a while, but here I am, writing this blog and loving every minute. As for being 50 – we are already making plans for an epic celebration.
So, what on earth does all this have to do with the ugly box??
EVERYTHING. It now brings me nothing but joy. I cannot wait to share these pictures with my Grandchildren and tell them about the holidays we had and the things their parents got up to as children. I feel an immense amount of pride and gratitude to have this beautiful family around me. I have talked previously about defining moments and this is most definitely one of them.
Whilst writing this I have realised that the ‘ugly’ box reflected the way I felt about my past. I think its time to replace it with something more fitting to hold all of my wonderful memories.