While it is traditional to declare resolutions at this time of year, I've decided that resolutions are too heavy and bring potentially too much negativity. The classic "I'm going to lose weight" brings with it the inevitable "OR?". The answer to which is almost equally inevitable "Or I'll feel bad about myself." Hardly seems productive. Aspirations seems so much better. So full of hope and potential. Aspirations set something to aim for while allowing that something short of that may also be good and worthy. They seem to declare a path more than an objective. Having said all this, I find that there is one last resolution that I must make that has been far too long in the waiting. I make it because failure on my part really would allow a negative to continue in my life.
Shortly before I turned 5 years old, in the upheaval that was my parent's divorce, a seed was sown. I was too young to understand all the words, but I clearly understood (or thought I did) what they meant. That they were sown by someone I later knew to be mentally ill. That they led me to a logical leap that was clearly not logical. That the maliciousness reflected more on the speaker than on me. All of these things I would come to recognize much, much later. But what was impressed upon my childish mind was that my very existence was a negative thing. That by breathing I had ruined the lives of everyone I loved. I still remember the look on her face when she dumped her load of venom on me and it still makes me shiver for the small child I was. I kept this episode secret for decades.
I can see, in hindsight, that this festering little seed, led to a chain of bad choices and self-loathing all through my younger self's life. I couldn't just be a good little girl. I had to try to be the best good little girl ever, just to justify my existence. And of course, anything bad that happened was, most likely, my fault or, at the very least, something I deserved. After all, what right had I to occupy space? And thus, I spent far too much time, effort and energy apologizing for living, in one way or another. And, in the instances when I genuinely fouled up, the effect was increased exponentially. Naturally, I couldn't expect much from anyone or anything because I was deeply unworthy. I should just be grateful for whatever small things came my way and shut up.
After a year of tough breaks and intense reflection, during which that smaller younger me has clamored for attention, I have decided that enough is too much already. Time to gouge out that moldy old seed and toss it onto the compost pile. Therefore, I resolve to never apologize for living, in any manner, ever again. I will ask for what I want/need/desire because I am entitled to those types of things just like anyone else. When I legitimately make mistakes, I will apologize; but I will not assume guilt that is not my own. When others seek to impose guilt that is not mine to take, they will be invited to remove themselves and have a nice life, separate from mine. I will not agree with any position (including my own) that includes an element of feeling bad about myself. And, when I inevitably slip back into the time worn path, I will gently remind myself that I don't do that any more and move on. Period. Full stop.
As for aspirations for the coming year, there are many. Some creative. Some productive. Some self nurturing. Some nurturing of others. All worthwhile.
May you who read this have whatever good things you most wish for in the coming year and always.
Teacher Voices: Kate Bartlett - This is a continuation of my series of interviews with former students who are now teachers. The interview on this page features Kate Bartlett, a teacher ...
2 days ago