So, I lasted until the end of February.
Up until then, I'd been really focused on the three "goals" of the Year of Enough, which are:
- I've had enough - I want to contribute to positive change in our world.
- I have enough - I need to learn to be mindful with how I spend my money and in my consumption of things.
- I am enough - I don't need stuff, or accomplishments, more money, or less weight, to be a worthy, lovable, person.
I really focused on my goals. I volunteered my time with the Canadian Cross-Border Legal Coalition, and hung out at the airport providing pro bono advice to people affected by Trump's Muslim ban. I went to marches. I joined the Conservative political party just so I could have a say in their leadership contest and help thwart racist politicians like Kellie Leitch becoming their leader and potentially Trump 2.0. I realized how tired I was from shows and started saying no to auditions, something I haven't done since 2010 because I've been so terrified of being forgotten or losing my right to identify as an artist. I went on a lovely holiday to Maui and resisted the urge to shop. I felt like I was really living my goals.
But then, the "stuff" started to creep back in. The Ban disappeared, without me even consciously knowing it had disappeared. It's taken me forever to write about this, because I'm still not really sure why it happened, but it became important to me to say that the Ban has, for the past several months, been a failure.
I had a big life change in the beginning of February when I changed jobs. I went from an office where I didn't feel understood or appreciated, where there was little socializing, to my dream job, in terms of the work, people and culture. My job went from being a place that I went for 7.5 hours a day to being the centre of my life, in a very positive way. I suddenly felt more supported and happy in my professional life than I ever had before. I'd found my "forever" job.
You'd think being so happy would make it easier to stick to my goals, but it hasn't made it easier. Every day I have wonderful people tell me that I'm OK. That I'm more than OK, I'm pretty great, and a valued member of the team. I feel like I belong. I feel accepted. So suddenly the need to change hasn't seemed so urgent. Maybe that's a positive. It probably is. But it's also caused me to get lazy with my goals.
That initial feeling of joy and belonging is how the Stuff first happened: I shopped in celebration. I was happy, joyful, even, in my new role, and shopping is a way that I celebrate. So, that seemed OK by me. Treating myself to a new outfit to celebrate a new beginning felt fine. I was liked, so I liked myself, so I deserved the Stuff. The reasons for the Stuff had changed: it was less about making myself feel better about myself, my life, or the world, and more to treat myself, show myself "love", to reflect the love and acceptance I was feeling in my life.
But the Stuff has started creeping in not just for positive, encouraging reasons. It's a convoluted explanation, but stay with me.
While this career move has been a joyous one, it's created some change in my life that has caused some stress that I think I'm only really starting to process. IMPORTANT IMPORTANT NOTE: This stress is almost entirely self-inflicted. It's not that my new bosses are suddenly insisting on certain things that are stressing me out. They have high but reasonable expectations, and don't ask me to do anything that they don't do themselves. And more than that, they genuinely care about me and my well being. It's just that I, as usual, want to throw myself in and do a good job, make them happy, and go above and beyond, so everything feels very high stakes, very do-or-die. As a result, there are changes that I have made to meet expectations - my own, or perceived expectations, which are maybe not the healthiest choices for me.
For instance, I used to work from home quite a bit (and least one day a week, since 2011), and go home for lunch every day. Being able to go home for a healthy lunch but also do a little meal prep for a healthy dinner, and maybe tidy up around my house (as tidiness and order are a big part of my mental wellness), was great. Working from home one day a week allowed me to throw on loads of laundry while I worked on my laptop. At my new job, I'm in the office full time, 5 days a week. While my most recent previous gig was usually finished by 4:30 or 5 at the latest, I'm staying much later at work now, and working through lunch, which is quite a common practice in my new office. So the time I had every day to do some of the mundane things I need to do to help me feel calm and healthy, is gone. It is really only a small increase in working hours, but its impact currently feels huge. I'm often working through the hours I would normally go to my TRX gym, for instance. Or, something will happen at work and I'll stick around and miss the class I reserved. As it's a small gym, you get charged if you miss a class you reserved, so rather than getting charged for classes I wasn't making, I just...stopped reserving. After a busy day surrounded by people in our open plan office, this introvert is often exhausted, and the thought of going home to meal plan and cook Whole30 meals is the last thing I want to do, so I go home and eat what's easy. It also means that weeknight socializing is almost impossible for me, because I'm just too tired. Weekends feel more for sleep and recovering from the business of my week than going out, or putting my house in order. Suddenly a lot of the healthy habits I've been working on for the past few years, in terms of doing the things I know I need to do in order to feel love for myself, seem very far away.
To say that I am aware of the fact that I am not seeing friends as much, that my training regime has been thrown off, that my house isn't as tidy as I need, that I don't have as much time or energy to meal plan, is an understatement. I carry around this awful feeling of failure about it, while at the same time still feeling the joy, satisfaction and excitement that I do about my job. The conflict between those two feelings is so, so uncomfortable. And rather than deal with it, because the effort seems overwhelming and I am still concentrating all of my energy on my new job, I need to medicate it, numb the discomfort. I medicate with...the Stuff. Shopping once again is the replacement for the workout. It's a reassurance that I'm OK, even if I know I don't feel OK.
So, that's not the greatest thing. And like I say - it's self-inflicted. Which makes it actually feel worse, because there's nothing a perfectionist-in-recovery hates more than knowing that the not-so-great situation they find themselves in is entirely their own fault. That they fucked up. Because then you PUNISH YOURSELF MORE.
That's why writing about what I've failed at and how it's made me feel is important for me, although it's excruciating. I need to say I failed and not have the world collapse. So. yeah. I failed at the Shopping Ban. In order for me to not fail at Goal #3 ("I Am Enough"), I have to be OK with having failed at the Shopping Ban. I have to be OK with admitting my failure, picking myself back up, dusting myself off, and trying again. Half of the year has gone by, but that means I have half of the year to centre, re-focus, and try to do better. My goals haven't changed. But my attitude needs an adjustment.