The Introspective Salon
I don't really feel like making a monthly playlist or a monthly favorites post, but I wanted to post one more thing this month to keep up the momentum, so I thought I'd do a little Thoughts On. They seem to get the most reaction, and I enjoy writing them.
Today, as I'm kind of coming out of a slight funk, I want to reflect on the various ways I hate myself. It's going to be so much fun.
I pretty actively avoid admitting to depression, a depression that stems from my active self-hatred. I talk quite a bit about anxiety and write a fair bit about it, whether it's here on this blog or in texts to friends and family, but I steer clear of depression. I think depression feels more overwhelming, in fact, I'm tearing up as I write it now because I know it's true and it makes me feel pretty shitty.
Depression, for me, comes in the form of self-loathing. Now, that's another word that really gets me emotional. The littlest things can set off my deepest pits of self-hatred, like getting into a small argument with my husband about domestic duties. This is probably the hardest area for me, because I fear becoming a nagging housewife who never lets up on her husband. (Maybe I watch too many sitcoms. I think that's where I'm getting this unfair comparison. I keep hearing "Deborah!" in my head as I write this).
I fear this stereotype so much that I often times won't even ask my husband for help or tell him when something he does or a mess he made is bothering me. I just let this hate fester, this hate for the part of me that wants stuff cleaned up. I get this mindset that clean dishes don't matter and I shouldn't care about it because it's so trivial and I hate the part of myself that cares, so rather than confront the problem I just clean the mess myself. I think if it's not bothering him, then why should I let it bother me? I compare myself to my husband and think I should just be as carefree as he is. Maybe if I was I could stop hating myself. If I just didn't care about the stupid dishes I could sit down in peace.
(I would like to mention that my husband does do a lot of cleaning up around the house. Just like I know, logically, that I'm not the stereotypical sitcom wife, I also know that he is not the stereotypical messy and dopey sitcom husband).
I go through this self-loathing, domestic-duties, self-hate spiral of a thought process at least once a week. I try and remind myself that my husband and I are different people with different domestic expectations and neither of us are right or wrong, but I still can't seem to shake the idea that I'm wrong and I just need to knock it off. I just need to be a different person with a different brain.
I'm really tearing up now, because this next part is the root of all this self-loathing. I feel inadequate as a wife. Sometimes I don't think I love my husband unconditionally because I get so frustrated at stupid little messes around the house. I've gotten a lot better about this, I'll give myself that credit at least, but I used to clam up and do ye old passive aggressive maneuvers like slamming doors and being loud in the kitchen while I cleaned. I don't suppose I've forgiven myself for that. It's such petty behavior I can hardly believe I acted like that. I'm embarrassed. It feels kind of good, though, to admit to that past self, because I can really understand how far I've come knowing where I started. I'm about 85% more likely to open up a conversation about my frustrations now, rather than let them fester and burst out through slammed doors. And, actually, I haven't slammed a door since our first year of marriage.
The bigger issue of inadequacy is a very personal one. I've talked about it to death, really. I've even finally talked to my mom about the fact that I can't (right now) have penetrative sex. This is the biggest bubble to burst whenever I start feeling bad about myself. It turns into a total sob fest. I just think if I can't do that "wifely duty" (seriously, I'm stuck in the 1950s with that phrase, but I really do think about it like that), then I don't deserve to be upset about anything in our marriage, because I'm a failure of a wife. I can't do the one thing that supposedly makes every argument disintegrate into nothingness, so I should do every other "wifely duty" without resentment. (Again with the sitcoms, couples bursting into passionate lovemaking to forget an argument. Like that argument doesn't just resurface later).
Stupid unrealistic expectations on television.
It's not like my husband and I don't enjoy each other intimately. It's not like we can't do other sexy things, but we live in a society that sees penetrative sex as the true sex. The real deal. The thing that takes away your status as a virgin. I KNOW in my head, I know logically that that is all total stupid bunk. It's absolute cultural spew. I can't seem to shake it though. Just like, for the longest time, I couldn't shake all the negative messages I got about sex when I was younger. It doesn't matter to my emotions, my emotions grab at all that malarchy and decide to turn it into fact. Facts that remind me that I'm a failure. Facts that tell me to hate myself.
Due to the self-hate spiral, I've had a fair share of break downs throughout the course of our marriage, all of which built up to such a volcanic explosion because I wouldn't shut off that voice in my brain going "I hate myself I hate myself I hate myself." This happens less now, but if an argument does happen to unhinge then I just settle so easily back into that self-hatred mantra.
A few posts ago, I mentioned that I was getting a lot of joy out of saying a self-love mantra, and for a month I did! It brought me so much joy and confidence, but just like any other habit, it takes a long time to build self-love. When I stopped being so faithful to the self-love mantra, I started ignoring my feelings of sadness and inadequacy and burying them deeper, only to be met with them all again. Hello little seeds of hate, I recognize your existence. You want to tell me I suck and that I'm worthless. I know your plan.
Oh gosh, worthlessness has got me all teary, too. That's another big one for me. I suppose it's right in line with inadequacy, but it has less to do with my status as a woman and a wife and more to do with my existence as a human. This one gets me at work or while I'm writing or when I'm sitting around trying to enjoy myself but I feel like I should be DOING something. Just last night, I was enjoying watching some iDubbbz vidoes. I really like his Kickstarter Crap series and I only discovered them last week so there's a LOT to watch, but after awhile I started to get this sick feeling like I shouldn't watch anymore. I've watched enough. I'm such a worthless piece of crap watching all of these. What a waste of time.
Yea, those words didn't feel too good. I tried closing my eyes and changing my mindset. I'm just enjoying some downtime. I find these videos funny. I deserve to enjoy myself. The more I had to TRY to relax, the more anxiety built up and the worse I ultimately felt. I got anxiety from laying in bed watching videos! All because I don't feel very good about myself. I didn't think I deserved that time to watch the videos because I hadn't done much all day.
Yea, I measure my self-worth in what I do. A terrible, terrible measurement. I KNOW that logically, but my emotions have a different idea.
Self-hate really permeates all areas of life. While I'm in the shower, I'm just shaving my legs but I accidentally cut myself. Spiral of self-hate. It's a small spiral that doesn't last very long, but still, it's quite intrusive when I'm showering, a time that should be relaxing! Self-hate creeps up on me when I'm driving, when I'm cooking, when I'm talking on the phone, when I'm grocery shopping, when I'm at the doctor's office. It sneaks up on me in the middle of a social interaction or event, causing me to get all antsy and just want to go home. It attacks me on days when my hair won't lay nicely or I haven't done laundry in awhile and can't find anything decent to wear. Self-hate causes me to react with strong emotions to small hiccups in life. It's an intruder of the worst kind because it knows exactly when to intrude to have the worst impact.
Self-hate feeds feelings of depression and feelings of depression feed self-hate. When I start to think "what's the point? nothing matters," what I'm really thinking is "what's the point? I don't matter."
It's hard. It sucks really bad some days. I get these spiraling thoughts and all I have the energy to do is lay around. I don't know how to balance that. Should I give in to that feeling and let myself rest for a day or two, or should I power through and do stuff anyway? Most the time I find that laying around only makes me feel worse, but it's hard to find the motivation to do anything when I feel worthless.
I'm leaning on the side of power through and do stuff. A few weeks ago, I decided to start nipping my biggest culprit of self-hate, the inadequate wife thing, in the butt. I'm sick of ignoring that problem. I've been working on it since we got married almost three years ago now, and little has changed. So, I scheduled an appointment for pelvic floor physical therapy. I feel slightly frustrated that I didn't try something more sooner, but you know, even a year ago I probably couldn't have handled this intrusive therapy. So, there you go self-hate spiral, I'll stop you there.
This past week I've been feeling quite down. I've allowed some feelings of self-hate to take hold and I've been trying that whole laying around thing. Really, that's just another way to ignore my problems. I'm good at that. I like to ignore. So today, I decided to try something else. I did some creative writing for an hour this morning, in 3 twenty minute increments to combat my propensity toward distractions, and then I sat down to work out these vulnerable thoughts. My self-hate spiral would like to tell me I haven't done enough, but I'm going to stop it by saying an hour of writing yielded over 1,000 words. 1,000 + words that I'm proud of, and that I enjoyed writing. (But, hey, future self-hate, even 100 words would be better than no words). And, now that I'm at the end of this blog post, I'm not crying anymore and I'm feeling a whole lot better and more energized.
So, too bad for you self-hate spiral. Today, I'm unwinding you.
We probably all know somebody who is a self proclaimed perfectionist and takes everything way too seriously and shows everyone up at everything from mini golf to making dishes for potlucks. This person has to show everyone how perfect they are, yet come across all effortless. You know who I mean?
Well, actually, I don't personally know anyone like that, but it is the stereotype that comes to mind when I think perfectionist, and because this is my image of a perfectionist, I've never considered myself one. I don't care if I win or lose at mini golf and I only care about bringing palatable dishes to potlucks. Except, I'm having this horrifying memory of a potluck in college in which me and another girl were charged with bringing cookies. I just made some oatmeal cookies, but she brought these beautifully sculpted cookies shaped like leaves and covered with immaculate fondant. My cookies were, palatable, but I was horribly embarrassed and no one, of course, ate my cookies. I didn't even grab them on my way home, I just hoped that no one noticed I brought them in, then no one would know that such shameful cookies were mine!
That girl, with the gorgeous cookies, was probably a perfectionist. She was the type of person I held up as a standard of perfection, too, and I couldn't see myself on that same level, but recently I've been coming to realize that I am a perfectionist and the very thought that I think I'm not is very telling that I am. I tell myself I'm not a perfectionist because I never do anything perfect. Well, how very like a perfectionist to think that nothing they do is perfect!
I think there are two different types of perfectionists: those who try and try and try for perfection and wear themselves out and those that are so afraid of not being perfect that they don't even try at all. More often than not, I am the latter. And, that's pretty much how I approach all challenges in life, by ignoring them. It's a trait I've had ever since I was a child and one I've only recently started to begrudge and seek
The biggest area of my life that gets eaten up by perfectionism is social. This is the area where I go "wow, I really can't stand not being perfect." If I have a conversation with someone and I say something out of turn, or I say something embarrassing, or I say too much about myself, I gnaw on that forever afterwards. I think to myself how much more perfect the conversation could have gone. I think how I am so NOT perfect. If I get embarrassed by something, maybe I drop something in front of a lot of people or I make a joke that no one laughs at, I go on to blame myself and tell myself I'm stupid and why do I even bother and I'll just never try with people again! If I'm not what I deem to be perfect in my interactions with others, then I just think it's time to give up. Be the true hermit already. Hide away in my house cave and never return to the world.
There is one area where I don't have this social perfectionism. When I interact with my students who I tutor. I can do the most embarrassing things and be 100% myself and have kids make fun of me and still walk out of work feeling great. The thing about kids is, while they are curious and observant and honest, I don't think they are judging me, not like adults. When I interact with adults, I always wonder what they think about me, but with my students I don't have that worry. I figure either they like me or they don't, but at the end of the day I'm providing them with a warm, welcoming atmosphere to learn. I can sing to my students and be silly with my students and make lame jokes that they sigh at and not have one care in the world about it. I can even continue to be myself when I tutor and other adults are around, but if I'm interacting with just adults, I become like a plank of wood or something. (This is with the exception of really close friends, sometimes my family, and always my husband).
The other area that this perfectionism seeps into is my writing. Blog writing or short stories or poems don't suffer as much because they're short and more manageable, but when I'm working on long-form I turn toward the perfectionism that tells me to just give up because it will never be perfect anyway. An idea will form, I'll get super excited and start writing, then the idea will morph and veer of the perfect track I thought I had for it and I'll get discouraged, but I'll just keep writing with anxiety bursting out of my fingertips until I have such a big mess that it makes me even more anxious! I am working on this area constantly, though, because 1. I'm getting my Master's in Creative Writing so I kind of have to and 2. I believe that all the areas of perfectionism are related, so if I work on one then the other ones will see improvement. And 3. I truly want to be a writer, or at least a person who writes things, so I can't just run away from this challenge as easily as I've run away from others because it's tethered to my dream that I've invested my time and money in.
I may not be what I see as the stereotypical perfectionist, but my fear of NOT being perfect tells me that this is an area in which I need to grow. I don't believe perfectionists can really ever be happy; they might give off the illusion of happiness, like that girl who made the freaking beautiful cookies. She sure looked happy that night showing off her skills, but I wonder how many times she failed in the making of those cookies. I wonder how difficult it would have been for her to make cookies that did not meet her expectations of perfection. I would much rather be the type of person who is willing to try and fail, and then know when it's time to stop, then be paralyzed by my own fears of not being perfect.
I will continue to challenge myself in social interactions because I value having friends. I also value treating myself kindly, and beating myself up over an awkward social interaction with adults doesn't feel kind, and only pushes me further into my house cave. I will also continue to challenge myself with my writing because I value stories, and I value my dream.
May Favorites [minimal waste, beautifully aromatic soap, crunchy granola, bulk buy coffee, television shows both horrific and humorous]
I couldn't think of any favorites last month, but this month I have quite a few. Or, at least I think I do. Throughout May I kept thinking "oh, this is a favorite," but I never wrote any of it down so hopefully I can remember them all.
As always, all links are for your convenience only.
I've been slowly accumulating reusable household items so that I can produce less waste. I'm not edging toward a zero-waste life, but a minimal-waste life because there are a lot of disposable daily items that we use everyday and it's easy to make a few switches. A few years ago, I purchased a reusable coffee filter. This is an especially easy replacement, yet one that makes a big difference. Especially if you drink coffee every day like I do.
This month, I made another step toward minimal waste and purchased another everyday item, a safety razor, which has a couple of great benefits:
1. It's less ugly than a disposable razor. There's just something appealing about a sturdy, steel-made razor.
2. The blades last longer than those on disposable razors.
3. I only have to buy it once! I no longer have to add "razors" to my grocery list every month and a half. For me, this is especially great because I was so bad about buying new razors when I needed to, I would make my inefficient and dull razors last me long past the time you're supposed to. So, rather than buying new razors every month and a half as I said, it was more like every 3-5 months. Yikes. My skin did not appreciate that.
So, for me, the 4th benefit is a closer shave.
Along the lines of minimal waste, I also recently purchased some reusable produce bags. They're mesh bags with a drawstring and are very roomy for all the lemons! (I buy lots of lemons). I get produce every time I go to the grocery store and I get so annoyed having to use all those flimsy plastic bags. My use of the mesh produce bags is, honestly, more about being annoyed by the plastic bags than it is about minimal-waste, as I still use plastic bags to haul all my groceries home, but! I do feel better not having to just toss away all those little plastic bags. I reuse the big plastic bags as trash bags, so I feel a little less guilty with those.
As I've said, I'm not trying to be zero-waste. I admire that lifestyle, but in the modern world, it requires a great deal of sacrifice. In my opinion, it's key to find a balance that reduces dissonance, but doesn't require so much sacrifice that you no longer enjoy life.
Alright, onto other favorites.
I have been wanting to join a subscription box for a long time. There is just something wonderful about getting things in the mail, but receiving packages once a month is a bit much for me. So, Fortune Cookie Soap Box is perfect for me because there are only 4 boxes a year, one for each season. (There is an option for a monthly box if you want that). I signed up just as their Summer box came out, filled with samples from their collection "A Pirate's Life For Me." The products I received are: face oil, exfoliating body scrub, body cream, perfume oil, lip scrub, hand sanitizer, foot scrub, and bar of soap (in the shape of a fortune cookie). Everything had a bit of a tropical smell, but not the usual floral scent that comes with tropical scented body care items. Some of the "notes," as they say, are aged bourbon, tobacco, mandarin zest, and coconut. My favorite item from the box was the Aqua De Vida face oil. It was the one thing I wanted to purchase full size, but when I went to get it, it was already sold out! So, I must not be the only one who loved it.
Sometimes I feel bad about indulging in body care like this. I usually have instant buyer's remorse when I buy these kinds of things. I love stepping into Bath and Body Works, but it's also like instant anxiety if I see anything I want to buy. The Fortune Cookie Soap Box is a nice little treat because it comes so infrequently I don't have to pay a lot to enjoy it, and each item appears to be so carefully crafted that it really does feel quite special. This box is very much worth the price.
I've been buying Bear Naked cereal for several months, and I was so excited when I read about their Custom Granola. I made a custom creation pretty quickly after finding out about it, and it turned out to be DELICIOUS! The only down side for me was the site's UI wasn't very intuitive, so I missed all the usual granola ingredients like fruits and nuts. I made a coffee and bourbon flavored granola that had chocolate covered coffee beans in it. When I later saw I missed all the dried fruits and nuts I was worried that my granola would be too plain, but it turned out to be delicious, and it tastes amazing over some vanilla yogurt. I'm looking forward to making some more with all the delicious things.
Another thing I've been doing toward my goal of a minimal-waste lifestyle is purchasing more things from the bulk buy area of our local grocery store. We buy our groceries from Safeway, and they have a bulk buy area in the produce section, the coffee/tea aisle, and in the canned fruits section. So far, I've gotten coffee and walnuts from the bulk bin. Not only is this less wasteful because I can bring my own reusable bags, it's much cheaper. The bulk buy coffee at our Safeway is Boyer's brand, and it's delicious! It's also much more fresh because you pour it whole bean, then you can grind it right there in the store if you want. I think the price for this coffee is pretty comparable to the cheaper pre-packaged brands like Folger's or Maxwell's, but it's much less financially stressful getting nuts from the bulk buy because at our Safeway you can get a pound for $6 (that's for walnuts), whereas purchasing them pre-packaged is usually more like $8 for far less than a pound.
Netflix finally released the third season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt! As a person who is fascinated by cults and power-hungry religious fanatics, I really enjoy the backstory of this show. I don't always love the direction the present-day narrative goes, but this particular season was hilarious. I think I found it so funny because Kimmy goes to college in this season, and they went pretty heavy with the whole making fun of college students humor. I also really like it when the show gives insight into how Kimmy's psyche was affected by what happened to her (if you don't know, she was kidnapped by a man who tricked several women into believing it was the end of the world and he held them in a bunker, where he abused them). The show is honestly a little too light for me, given Kimmy's history I think they could have some darker themes (which they got into a bit more in Season 2), but in this new season they did return to that a little when Kimmy realizes that people can, and pretty much everyone does, Google each other so Kimmy can't keep her story secret. Though I would like to see darker themes, I enjoyed the humor more in this season than I have in any other seasons.
Speaking of dark themes, this next show is a bit of a love-hate relationship, but I've been watching (or mostly listening to, rather) Occult Crimes, which is also on Netflix. I say I'm listening to it because the production quality is quite low, so I don't much care to watch it. The narration is also pretty bad, truthfully, but the stories keep me listening. It's love-hate because it's not good for me as I'm already an anxious person. Hearing about horrific murders only makes my anxiety worse, but my curious mind makes it hard for me to stop listening! The other thing is, as I mentioned with Kimmy Schmidt, I find cult activity so fascinating. Now, the occult isn't necessarily the same thing as cult activity, but the people who get involved and become leaders of occult practices operate under the same power-hungry mindset as
Though I'm insatiably curious, I did recently have to turn off an episode that was about the Chicago Rippers. With most episodes, I'm able to calm myself through the idea that people get themselves involved in these occult rituals and put themselves in danger. It's not to say crime is the fault of the victim, but it makes the evil feel a little less random. However, the Chicago Rippers were quite random. It really freaked me out and made me feel like I have absolutely no control over steering clear from danger.
I ended up returning to the Chicago Rippers episode later because, like I said, my curious mind makes it hard for me to stop listening. It's really opened up the thoughts in my head about evil and whether people are just born evil, or if they become evil. I guess that's a variation on the nature-nurture debate, which I also enjoy ruminating over.
The last show I've been enjoying this month is an old one. My Name is Earl first aired back in early 2000 and I remember seeing trailers for it, but not being that interested. I decided to give it a try, and it's the exact kind of thing I need to counteract all the negative feelings I get from watching Occult Crimes. Although it's just a sitcom with 20-25 minute long episodes, it has also got me thinking about the nature of evil because Earl is battling with the idea of karma. Each episode involves him making up for something "bad" he did in his past to counteract karma. Each episode ends sentimentally, and yet, it's never sappy (my sappy threshold may be quite high, however). The last episode I watched revolved around Earl's relationship with his dad, and I'm not even ashamed to say I cried.
So, clearly, I've been enjoying quite a bit of television this month. I often feel bad for indulging in television, so I think it's good to remind myself that I get quite a lot of joy from it. I just remember being a lonely kid, bored at home, and practically zoning out on TV, so I worry about becoming that kid again when I watch too much TV. Just like every pleasure in life, though, it's about balance.
Okay, go forth, will you, and seek balance.