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This is me sharing my broken space.
And also my work.
Today, I broke. I really thought I knew better than to be back in this place. I’ve done so much time and put in so much work and money into my self-improvement and healing. I’ve been consistent with therapy, I’ve read books, I’ve done my own healing, I’ve done ancestral healing, I’ve joined groups, I’ve used spritzes, I’ve worn crystals, I read my horoscope and I’ve pulled tarot cards. I have done this all in the name of eluding the shitty part of myself that tells me I am worthless. And, I’ve made a lot of progress, but I still haven’t fully done it. Being back here, in this broken space, this space where some tiny voice tells me my family is better off without me, it feels like I failed and I’ll never get “there”, wherever there might be. All I know is it is not here, not where I feel so alone, so unseen, so misunderstood, so horrific, so monstrous.
Today, I saw my daughter look down in shame in the face of my dysregulation and fear. It wasn’t her shame, it was mine. Today, my husband told me to take a break and I just couldn’t get there. Where was there to go? What is there even to do on a break? Isn’t this what I needed? A break? Yes, all I wanted was a break. That was what I was going for and didn’t get. And, today it was given and I didn’t know how to take it. I just walked up and down the hallway, looking for something, who knows what. Maybe I was looking for my self-worth.
FINE. A break. Do a workout. Take a shower. Cry. Eat a sandwich. Have some tea. Is this my first sip of liquid today? Jeesh. Cry again. Text a friend. Text another. Good, someone else knows I am not ok. Hope and pray someone feels my sadness and spontaneously sends a decaf coffee. At least I would know they were thinking of me. Is that all I want? A thought and prayer? No.
I want validation: I am a good friend. I am a hard-working, good enough mom. I am a thoughtful wife and person. I am in recovery from perfectionism, but it is sticky. I am not perfect but I am still loveable. I am still worth being around.
Even if any of my friends were to tell me these exact words, they wouldn’t be my map out of this broken space.
Last week I went too far with giving. I kind of knew it was going to go too far, but I didn’t stop it. I couldn’t stop it. There was this tiny part of me that wanted to do more and more for other people, including my own kids, so I could feel better about myself. Some part of myself wanted to redeem myself for all the times I was shitty. Not just the shitty thing I did last week, but every single shitty thing I have ever done. All the way back to the cries I cried as an infant that I know drove my mother to her broken space too, all in the name of me seeking comfort and nutrition.
We are all that infant and we are all that mother. We just want to be held and we just want space. We just need the basics to survive and we just need a minute to ourselves.
And even with that knowing, here I am in the back in my broken space. I believe that the people you have known the longest on this planet show you opportunities for your deepest healings. I visit my opportunities here in this broken space. These are the messages I feel are reflected back to me just by existing in proximity to those I came into this world with:
“Beth, you don’t know what you are doing. You don’t know what is best for you. You always make the wrong choice. You are angry and you hurt people because you experience anger. You are too loud. You are out of control. You need to be controlled, and medicated. Because no one acts this way unless they need different or more medication. You are not to be trusted, you don’t deserve to be trusted. And if you need space, that is just too much, need we remind you that you don’t know what is best for you. You, being you, is too much, it is unacceptable and in addition to that, it is hurtful.”
This is that space. That broken space. The one where these sayings echo into an empty chamber in my brain, bouncing off the sides the same way that images reflect off the endlessness of oppositional mirrors.
Back to my break: Finally, therapy. A reminder: just because you have a thought doesn’t make it true. Give your-self some compassion, Beth.
Right. I remember all those times that I heard the word self-compassion and no matter what I told myself, it felt like it wouldn't stick. But, today, I’ll take that self-compassion and run with it. This time, I just hear the word self-compassion and it opens a door in that echo chamber in my brain to let all those untrue thoughts go. Who is going to give me that validation I need right now in this broken space? Me. And here is how it sounds.
Dear Beth. Hey girl, rough day, huh? You REALLY wanted to get some things done. Even though astrology told you otherwise, you were looking forward to it. And plans fell through. That stinks. You sacrificed a lot last week and only wanted a little but even that couldn’t happen. It’s ok to be sad and annoyed and feel overwhelmed. It’s also ok to take a break and not know what to do. It is ok to even visit that broken space. I see you, though. You are wanting openness, and time and creativity. You want connection and you want to be seen. You had all those old mean thoughts. Know what? Your therapist is right. Just because you have a thought, doesn’t make it true. Can we find your truth?
Here is what I know about you. That Lizzo song speaks to you because there is truth in it for you. “Broken but damn, you’re still perfect.” It doesn’t mean you are broken. It means that you know your broken space. You don’t hang there, but under pressure or a really hard hard week (maybe even after a week with no childcare) you go for a little visit. Despite that, you know how to send up flares to ask for help. And one of those flares will ping a feeling or saying that lets you out. You get faster and faster each time with your departure from this broken space. You know yourself, you know your feelings and your needs. You have trouble keeping your giving boundary in check but, you are learning more and more each day and experimenting to feel comfortable in your wording. You are ok.
Can we hug? You are so damn worth it. (Hold on a second, let’s really feel this hug for a few more seconds). Yeah, you know what, you did have a really freaking awesome week last week, you put supports in place and you even enjoyed your time even though it was hard. You were there for your kids not just physically but also emotionally not because you had to be but because you value that. Yeah, you were late to pick up your kid from that birthday party, but you got in touch with someone. Even though she didn’t notice, you owned your mistake and apologized. You value that too. You are true to yourself, Beth.
Despite all the busyness, you got some alone time too, thanks to your supportive partner. It wasn’t enough and you know what? That’s also ok. That doesn’t make you selfish. It just makes you human. You know what makes you feel good right now and helps you relax. So, just enjoy crocheting that hat. You’re almost to the pom pom.
This is my version of self-compassion. This is me really letting it sink in. I don’t just take a breath. I sit. I feel it. I write it out. Had someone else said these things to me, it would not stick. It would slide right off the side. But, me saying it to me, and suddenly, I remember… I’m not living here in this broken space. I am not stuck. I am just visiting. It’s a familiar place, that’s why I am here. But, I am not staying. I might remember those thoughts of unworthiness, they are familiar, but that doesn’t make them true.
Here I am on the cusp of putting myself out into the universe with a new career as a “life coach”, and I am experiencing the familiarity of my broken space. Shouldn’t I know or be better? What happened to leading by example?
Well, let me share this. I am not afraid to be a “broken-but-damn-you’re-still-perfect” (thanks Lizzo!) life-coach. I am not going to put myself out there in this new profession as if to say I have all the answers including yours. I don’t. I share my experiences and I am authentic because I am human and I value connection. I am like 80% there (wherever there is…) most of the time. But I am not always. I am a recovering perfectionist and yet, I trust I am already perfect. You don’t have to follow me, or do as I say. I do not have your answers. But, I have done the work to find an abundance of mine and I can hold space for you to find yours.
YES! You understood correctly. I have a coaching practice. If you are interested in learning more about me and my self-love coaching offering, please visit my website www.bethharmon.com. And, in case you need to hear it today: you are so loved and completely capable of loving yourself. As a self-love coach, I’m here to hold space for you to reconnect with that inner harmony.
By the way, I’m so glad you made it all the way here. It gives me all the sparkly-twinkly-light feels.
Space to Enjoy is my real-life reflection and self-healing publication that has migrated from Medium over to Substack in May 2023. If you know someone else who might resonate with Space to Enjoy, please share!