Hitting the mark or missing the mark is a conversation that happened a lot in my former context. I never really put the pieces together until recently, but hitting the mark in that context was never something I owned, while missing the mark was 100% always mine. I was never going to be good enough to hit any mark on my own, through my own choices or strength or possibilities. It's maybe not the lesson that was intended, but I internalized that into an endless feedback loop of "you're not enough/you're not good enough/you can't." And the floods of self-doubt started way back when, the constant second-guessing, the wondering if I could even breathe without making a mistake. Into adulthood that continued, as I got married and I was taught that I wasn't supposed to make final decisions and thus was responsible for neither the blame nor the glory because I wasn't the head of my household.
Now I'm an adult. Now I'm not in that context. Now I am the head of my household. Now...I still have the at times paralyzing self-doubt and non-stop second guessing of every blessed little thing. I worry, way too much. I agonized the other day that taking my kids for a donut before school was going to mess them up forever and probably contribute to long-term behavioral issues and weight struggles. It sounds ridiculous - and it is - but the struggle is real, and I'm not saying that in a #stupidhashtag sort of way.
I'm trying to wade through so much detritus, the wreckage of former things. I'm trying to find a solid place to put my feet. I'm trying to find a space in which to breathe, to not constantly analyze every move into a total blur, to make a decision (however mundane) and feel good about it and not agonize over it at night for a week or a month after.
I'm back in therapy - shocker to no one - and it's starting to sound like a broken record. Between my counselor and my dearest ones, everyone's repeating a similar refrain: "You're ok. You're doing fine. Give yourself a break." And it is so hard. I can at any moment rattle off a list of all the ways I'm actively and currently failing. I have (brokenly) joked many times that it's easier for me to make that list rather than hear it from someone else and be surprised by it. But for the love, can I just give myself a break, a little grace and space to be human? Can I just take a deep breath and acknowledge that, ok, things didn't go according to one plan, sure, but there are other plans, and life is good?
There's a song about tattoos that I quite like - it talks about how tattoos are permanent and the singer carries some that no longer mean quite the same as when they were done, but that it's likely he would get the same ones again, because they tell his story. I have a few now, and they are part of my story. They all speak to moving forward, to learning to be ok with myself and my story, and to cutting myself some slack. This one I just got today:
"breathe" is in my 9 year old's writing, and "be kind" is in my 11 year old's.
I need the reminder. I need a visual, potent reminder of these two basic things - breathe and be kind. It will definitely be helpful in certain situations when I need a reminder that punching someone in the nose is not the best way to deal with people but more importantly, it's a reminder to not be reactive and to be kind to myself - to cut myself some slack. Having it in my kids' handwriting reminds of me that more eyes than mine are observing the patterns I set, in a "this is how you do life" kind of way.
Breathe. Be kind. Some people just get it; some of us, we have tattoos to help us remember.