This holiday season has been a learning curve for me as I try and leave the past behind and build new memories. Sitting in my living room on Christmas morning I had to force myself to open that first present, for many years I have avoided gift opening till late in the day. This has mainly been down to a fear of repercussions, a fear that anything good comes at a price and a price that usually involves hurt and pain. Of course that’s me living today in the past, allowing the fear of my childhood to impact upon the present and not really looking logically at events.
I planned this year to open a gift as soon as I woke up, my psychologist and I had discussed how I could make this christmas different from the past and opening gifts early was a part of this. It didn’t quite go as planned, but I did start opening gifts within an hour of waking up. I decided opening one gift an hour seemed safe and sensible, this may sound odd but it was progress for me. In the hour between opening gifts I was able to reassure myself nothing bad was happening and remind myself that the present day is so different from the past which haunts me.
As time progressed during the day I began feeling brave enough to open more gifts more frequently, so instead of one every hour it was soon two or three in one go. Parts of me soon realised that nothing bad was happening and these gifts came without a cost. That meant so much to me and to my alters; the other parts of me.
I had also planned to try hard at not expecting perfectionism, I grew up desperately believing that I wasn’t good enough and if only I could be, then people would stop hurting me. So today I live in this fear that I’m not good enough, or things need to be perfect in order for them to be safe. We live in a society however were little is ever perfect and piling on pressure to be something I’m not wasn’t helping me. This year my mantra for christmas was to be it’s ok as long as it’s good enough, and good enough meant less than perfect.
Being under less pressure didn’t feel different at first but maybe that was because I put myself under lots of pressure even when I felt like I’m not doing. I really had to work hard at learning to let go of this fear from the past, but it’s not so easy to do so. I made a decision early on in the day that trying to be everything wasn’t going to work, and I needed to give time to all of me. I stayed home whilst my family attended church and used the time to communicate internally with the other parts of me, it helped greatly.
It also allowed me to realise I just needed to focus on being me, whoever that was and ensuring me and my guests had something edible to eat. Cooking isn’t my best skill especially under pressure and yet we managed with help to make a christmas meal everyone enjoyed, even if I did leave something in the microwave. Yes I needed help and in years gone by that would have felt like a failure, but not anymore.
I spent the day being me, whichever me was out and in control of this body we share, yes I am a person who has a past, a past that haunts me but that will not define me. So I enjoyed my gifts especially those aimed at my little alters, so with sticker books galore and a new dress on my Ted it felt right. I realise gifts no longer come at a price, with unspoken expectations attached and that no matter what life was like in the past, it isn’t like that now.
Whenever I started to feel doubt or worry, whenever anxieties rose I knew I needed to remind myself that it was ok. You see what matters now isn’t the past it’s the future I create for me and my family, it’s laughing when things go wrong, accepting there is no such word as should and it’s accepting being good enough is ok.
Yes my christmas it wasn’t perfect but looking back now I realise good enough was far better than perfect, I enjoyed the day far more. I valued the time spent with my family and I cherished the moments we spent opening gifts with one another, we appreciated just being together as a family. I wasn’t stressing so much or panicked, I didn’t fear making mistakes nor was I frightened which meant I wasn’t focused on hibernating as I have in previous years.
The rest of this holiday season my focus is on being myself, not trying to be something I’m not, it’s about accepting who I am. Giving time to myself and my alters, learning to laugh and relax, to enjoy time with those I love and attempting at least to not keep looking back to my past. Most of all I’m hoping that I can build on the experience of Christmas Day in the coming days and year ahead, learning more and more that it’s ok to not be perfect, instead it’s far more helpful to simply be good enough.
Copyright DID Dispatches 2014