Fumbling Around in A Funky Attic

love it allI’ve been in a bit of a blue funk the past few days. It has been very tough to shake off. My brain’s been working overtime and I’ve been flinging mantras up there into the attic, I’ve tried meditating, diet, exercise, anything that might silence the crazy chatter going on up there. All to no avail.

So I’ve gone over all the possible triggers and reasons. First and probably foremost, this is prime SAD time…Seasonal Affectiveness Disorder. The skies are grey, the weather’s gloomy much of the time, and the lack of light does affect me. So I can count on that being an active factor.

This week is the anniversary of my Dad’s death in 1999, and I miss him terribly, even after 14 years, so there’s another valid trigger.

My nose is leaky, eyes and throat itchy and I’m sneezing a lot, so there must be an allergy at play in there too.

But in amongst all of those probable triggers is a relentlessly noisy abundance of undertalk going on in my head, dark negative chatter that I haven’t really had to deal with for quite some time. It’s flinging detrimental garbage into my psyche…stuff that I’m normally now quite adept at warding off and fighting back with positive replacements.

For some reason, this week, it’s hitting me so hard and fast and non-stop, that I’m finding it difficult to keep up, and can feel an old familiar weariness creeping in. Not good. So I thought, well, writing often helps. So let’s pull it all out of that dark attic and put it out into the light of day, and hopefully turn it around into something useful and maybe even positive.

One of the things mucking around in all of that dark chattering is a very old nemesis that I thought had been dealt with long ago. Perfectionism. I used to be a perfectionist, painstakingly scrupulous in an exhausting obsessive (and perpetually impossible) quest to BE perfect.  So much so that it almost killed me, and so I dare to call myself a recovering perfectionist. Usually now I’m quite happy being imperfect. In fact, I revel in the freedom to be flawed, and heartily embrace and enjoy all the spare time and energy that comes from not worrying about being perfect.

And yet, this week, after coming face to face with what can only be called my own stupidity (and yes, it was a very stupid mistake), I completely crumpled into a weepy mucked-up mess. I can barely stand to look myself in the mirror, because I’m so upset with myself for being so, well, incredibly stupid. I know firsthand, all too well,  how everything can change in the twinkling of an eye, and how one single stupid mistake can snowball into catastrophic fallout. This mistake, hopefully, will not have dire repercussions. But it could have. And could still have. It’s still too early to know. And I’m banging my head against the mirror, remonstrating with myself, knowing that I know better, how could it have happened. But it doesn’t change the reality that it did happen. And the equal reality that all the railing in the world won’t make it unhappen. You can’t rewind and do-over. So just deal with it.

Arghh. So I’ve been chatting back to that relentless chatter…it’s done, this too shall pass, move on, focus, refocus, eat chocolate, get busy, do something else, find something else to focus on…it’s an endless task, and the more I try – and fail – the more fuel that chatter gains to further convince me that I’m an idiot, failure, blah, blah, blah…the “same old, same old” that I’ve been dealing with my entire life – yes, since I was a young child. That’s how it goes with perfectionism (AKA fear of failure) and how it can lead to succumbing to futility, which in turn can spiral into depression.  A constant, constant – seemingly inescapable – litany of proof of failures and imperfections. It was many many years before I discovered that everybody doesn’t have that kind of chatter going on in their heads…for me, it’s always been there, 24/7. My job for the past 20-30 years has been to learn how to cope with and better manage it, while continuously trying to rewrite the tapes (or as I call it, rewiring the attic).

And I HAVE come a very long way. I’ve built up a huge repertoire of positive mantras to fling back at that chatter, and have learned a great deal about giving myself the same love, kindness and compassion that  I would freely and without hesitation show to anyone else. It’s slow-going at times, moment-by-moment substituting those negatives with positive messages, trying to once again tame down the ferocious lion that perfectionism can be if allowed to go amuck.

It’s okay to be an imperfect human (we might as well get used to it, since it’s all we CAN be). It’s normal, expected and okay to make mistakes, even stupid ones. That’s how we learn. Therein lie the seeds of tomorrow’s wisdom. And if need be, in any worst-case scenario somewhere down the road, strength and resources will be there to help deal with whatever repercussions may or may not fall out from the mistakes we make today. For now, it’s imperative to just breathe and believe that it will all work out…choose to trust that all is well…and to do everything I know to do to get myself safely through this rough patch.

It doesn’t completely mollify the part of me that still hungers to be everything I want to be – or at least better than the me that made such a stupid mistake. But I have to start to move forward if I don’t want to get sucked back into the deadly quicksand that lies waiting behind these insidiously dangerous feelings of failure. Been there, done that, took a long time to get out, and won’t go back there again.

So it’s been a bit funky up there in my attic lately. Time to open some windows and let the sunshine in.

Ain’t it grand to be human!

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Copyright © Sharon C. Matthies, Meanderings (blog), 2012. All rights reserved.

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About Sharon

I love to write. I love to write myself into being right here right now. Writing releases something in me that needs wings, writing opens doors and windows that I often don't even realize are possible, writing helps me breathe out the dusty old, and to breathe in the new and possible. My hope is that maybe writing here in this blog will bring new light into these dusty old hallways and help me to clear out the thinking processes and mindsets that just don't work for me anymore. I seek to breathe new light and life into the nooks and crannies of a soul that has been feeling somewhat lost and frayed because of the last few patches of road I've had to travel.
This entry was posted in anxiety, brain training, coping, depression, empowerment, mental health, panic attacks, perseverance, positive, purpose, Sadness, Seasonal Affectiveness Disorder, self help, social anxiety, survival, Whine. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Fumbling Around in A Funky Attic

  1. Does anybody, other than you, think you are stupid? I thought not. So that many people can’t all be wrong, right?


    • Sharon says:

      Well there’s a point I hadn’t thought to mention to the gal in the mirror…thank you Ruth for the reminder. The mistakes we make aren’t the totality of who we are…I need to remember that.


  2. angelika says:

    As I read your article, Sharon, one thought kept going through my mind;… What an eloquent writer!

    You know, maybe you need that chattering up in your attic, in order to be such a brilliant writer. I’m just wondering how many brilliant writers, may have been very complex people. I bet most of them.

    Embrace your self, your thoughts, your being,…and be thankful that you are who you are. You lighten many peoples lives,..but not only that, you give us many new things to ponder about. What a gift!

    I know how shattering it can be when life brings on unexpected turns and especially the unhappy ones.

    And I thought; how did I cope? Usually I went through phases.
    Phase 1: numbness.
    Phase 2: anger
    Phase 3: exasperation and depression…
    but then came that welcoming
    Phase 4: Determination and fight.

    So whatever may get you off your track, it strengthens you, every time a little more. You are still here. You say you are comfortable with your life.…
    So dear Sharon, you have managed to get back in that saddle again…and ride on! Now all you need is some Samba music and Cuban sun to learn again not to take life all that seriously.


    • Sharon says:

      Angelika, I know without a doubt that I’m here in this better place precisely because of being immersed in wisdom like yours for the past few years. By the time I arrived in BWS all those years ago, my mind had become my entire world and was literally driving me insane. BWS opened so many doors and windows and turned my “living hell” into this wonderful new life that I love waking up to now.

      Your insight into how this constant chattering might be connected to the writing is wonderful…I had never made that connection before! It instantly turns that crazy chaos into gift, a perspective I could not have imagined before today.

      Your phases of coping are so right-on. I recognize them all too well…and wanted to say “unfortunately”, but then your next paragraph again turns that “unfortunate” around into “gift”…blessing, lessons learned, new strength.

      Yes, it’s fascinating to me how everything fades into a hazy oblivion the moment that hot Cuban sun embraces us. it really does help to put everything into perspective. Thank you dear friend!


  3. angelika says:

    No es nada especial. 🙂 Sending you a hug.

    By the way, I love the backgrounds and photos you choose for your blog. I know a lot of time is invested in such.
    In your blog you ask for suggestions for topics. I would love to hear any thoughts you may have on downsizing, preparing for our “autumn years”. when is the right time, and where to go. I don’t know if this is a topic for you. It’s just something I’ve been mulling around with myself.


    • Sharon says:

      Thanks Angelika! Great topic idea…I’d love to do a blog on that…on options and timing, etc…especially interweaving some of the experiences we’ve had cleaning out other people’s houses because of death or sudden life changes. I know it has made me think about downsizing and cleaning out our own home so that nobody else gets stuck having to figure out what to keep and what to throw. I’ll see what I come up with…


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