The baby and the bathwater

When I started working on this post we were approaching a very special time of year: resolution time.  There’s something about the end of one calendar year and the beginning of another that makes us feel like we have an opportunity at a fresh start.  Cracking open a new calendar or day planner, with it’s perfectly designed, fresh, clean pages, is as magical as putting the first footstep in perfect, peaceful, crisp, fresh snow.  The possibilities seem endless.

I’ve always been a big fan of new beginnings.  Well… maybe “fan” is not quite the right word.  I have taken advantage of the concept a number of times in my life, but as it turns out, my decisions have been driven by distortions (this might not be a shocking revelation for some of you).  The distorted perfectionist in me doesn’t believe “fixing” things is possible.  It’s either right, or it’s wrong.  It’s either perfect, or it’s not.  The only way to move on from unforgivable, unforgettable mistakes is a clean break and a fresh start.   Beginnings follow endings.

A good example of this distortion is the way things ended with my former best friend.  The relationship had become pretty toxic for me and I was at a point in my recovery that I needed to stand up for myself.  But rather than trying to improve the situation, communicate my needs, and believe the toxicity could be resolved, I decided a clean break was needed.  I loved her like a sister and regret that we will probably never see or hear from each other again, but unfortunately there was no middle ground for me at this time in my life and the baby went out with the bathwater.

Melody, this is an example of "throwing the baby out with the bathwater"

Another more drastic example of my obsession with clean breaks was my decision to leave home at 16 and move to another country/continent 4000 miles away.  I couldn’t deal with the way things were going and in lieu of my ability to go back to age 5 and grow up making better  different choices, I felt a fresh start was the only way.  So, I moved to a new place, surrounded by new people, where I thought my old choices wouldn’t haunt me.

Of course the problem with this method is that the process doesn’t include figuring out HOW to make better choices, or live a happier life.  So I basically ended up in a new place, around new people, with endless possibilities, living the same *miserable* life.  Turns out, walking running away and starting over in a new place is the easy part.  Letting go of the distortions that make me unhappy… well here I still am, a dozen years later, trying to crack that nut.

As years in review go, 2013 was a tough one for me.  I struggled for a lot of reasons–emotionally, physically, professionally, financially–it’s true what they say: when it rains it pours.  At some point in the year I had become obsessed with figuring out how to get away.  Physically.  From this place.  Because, in spite of my past experience, I still figured my problems wouldn’t/couldn’t follow me to a new geography.

Fortunately, my plans were shot down by *the powers that be* and since distracting myself from my problems by moving again was not going to be an option, I had to finally face them head on.  I finally had to accept that if I keep running away from my mistakes and disappointments, history is going to keep repeating itself.  I can’t keep starting over from scratch.  I need to push through the discomfort, learn how to resolve my issues/thoughts/feelings, and move forward.

Two months ago, that sounded good in theory, but I just couldn’t seem to put that theory into practice.  Actually, scratch that.  It was a good theory, but it didn’t SOUND good… to ME.  I couldn’t see the progress I had already made, the relationships I had developed, the foundation I had already built that would have to be started over.  But in the absence of a backup plan, I kept showing up for the process.  I kept listening.  I kept learning.  I don’t know at what point the awareness materialized in my brain, but I “gradually, then suddenly” realized that there is nothing wrong with the baby, the bathwater just needed changing.

five martinis later, she tried to recall that rule about the babies and the bathwater

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