My last post has raised some quite strong responses, both here and in my email inbox. Some of them made me feel quite guilty for having written it. Every one of the responses that weighed on my mind pointed out the same one thing: I have much to be grateful for and little to complain of. And they are absolutely right, so perhaps I ought to keep my focus more firmly on that and stop my whinging.
Except that no one really manages to do that all the time — as much as any of us might genuinely try to count our blessings and focus on the positive most of the time, we all have moments when we fail in that. We all have days where life gets on top of us, where we look back at our mistakes and berate ourselves. There is no one who can say honestly that they have never regretted.
I struggle with a lot of regrets. It is something I carry with me every day — and have for years — and something I’d dearly love to rid myself of. But doing that is not as easy as just simply stopping regretting, or telling myself to focus on the positive. It’s something I have to work through slowly, one (difficult or good) day at a time — and this blog is part of that. That’s why it’s called “Potential and Expectations” — it’s what the whole thing is about. And I am pretty honest in what I write: the good moments, the bad moments, and the ugly moments are all here.
Everyone has ugly moments — everyone — and the things that cause them are as much a part of a person’s life as the things that cause the moments of joy. To ignore those ugly moments, to brush them under the carpet, is to ignore what has caused them — and to ignore what has caused them is to never be able to see those issues settled and to be doomed to repeat them. I have this same problem with my mother: she and I have had issues for years, but she refuses to talk about it — avoids it like the plague — and so we never work through our problems and repeat the same mistakes over and over. I don’t want to do that in my own life, so I would rather recognise my negative thoughts right alongside with my positive thoughts and, in that way, deal with them.
It may look like whinging to a lot of people — I know that. But there is a difference between whinging and struggling: whinging wallows, struggling tries to overcome. I am trying to overcome, though it is not easy. I have a mother who built up enormous expectations for me, and a father who taught me to accept no failures whatsoever (key phrases from my childhood: “There is never any excuse” and “Don’t try your best, do it.”). I know I have a lot to be thankful for — and I am — and that I have achieved good things in my life, but there were also other things I wanted to achieve, and they niggle under my skin like a nettle-sting. I am not blaming the world for my failings — I am blaming myself.
I do need to let this go and focus on my many blessings instead, but in order to do that, I have to be able to recognise the ugly moments, and to think — and speak – freely about them here, so I can get to the other side and, I hope, finally, one day let them go.