F (ORGIVE) YOU (RSELF)

I was talking to my close friend Marge recently about everything that has happened, all the progresses I made, all the road that is still ahead, the things that I want to accomplish now and the aim for the both of us to be healthy and fit for a special photoshoot in 2019 (yes, bitch, you and I are so fucking doing this). Anyway, the conversation at some point focussed on a very interesting point that left me meditating about it for quite a bit (and, as you can see, I’m still thinking about it):

Why it is so easy to forget everyone else in the whole world, including those who hurt us, but not ourselves?

Why we are so hard, harsh, strict, and cruel with us, but we are more than happy to come up with any justification whatsoever for anyone else to lightener up whatever they did (to us, to themselves)? Why it is so, so easy to point the finger straight at us, and keep those “it’s absolutely my fucking fault” feelings held close to our hearts, but we struggle to say “no, actually, it is also your fucking fault mate”? Why we cannot rationally assess what happened, mourn what has to be mourned, come to terms with the feelings that are left and then let go of them, a bit like flushing the toilet and there you go, all the bad stuff is now down the drains?

I was the master of always blaming only myself. Even with my latest relationship: it was my fault I loved him too much; it was my fault I was too generous; it was my fault I invited him to live with me in the hope he’d love me more and more; it was my fault I desperately wanted to believe in something that was not there, and maybe if I listened to my friends, maybe, I would have opened my eyes sooner and spared myself a massive chunk of pain; it was my fault I held on to him like he was the most precious thing in the world; oh, I could go on and on and on for hours. Same for everything else: it was my fault I had post-natal depression, I should have known from my previous mental history that it was a serious threat and not just “something you read on those scary books for first-time mums”; it was my fault I ended up being a single mum, because I should have realised quite soon who my ex-husband was and all his problems, instead I not only married him but I also brought a child into this world; it was my fault I had mental problems, it was my fault I ended up at the hospital with a severe allergy reaction to hair dye, it was my fault, my fault, MY FUCKING FAULT.

True, I am partially to blame for the things above, and all the things that happened in my life so far because well, I was alive, conscious, breathing, thinking, deciding, doing. But all of the blame? I don’t think so. Part of the blame sits in other people’s side, or in things that I couldn’t have controlled or predicted, and if I’m more than happy to forgive them like nothing ever happened, I owe the same treatment to myself, right?

Not quite.

blog2Whatever happened, we just hold on those negative feelings; we torture ourselves day in, day out. We let the blame on ourselves fester our lives like a lingering, horrible smell that you cannot get rid of, no matter how much you keep your windows open (ending up freezing to death) or how much air freshener you spray (so much that you created your very own ozone hole). We let the pain infest our wellbeing, and we hold on so tight to this rotting corpse of what happened that we cannot see a way out of our own personally crafted hell. Why? Why we behave like this?

Hear this: you won’t be an asshole of epic proportions, an egoistic maniac, a twat, a horrible person if you are kind to yourself and admit “actually, it is not ONLY my fault here”. You are not excusing yourself from your fair share of responsibility: you are just not being responsible for everyone else’s. Martyrdom won’t make you a saint: you won’t gain more friends, more popularity, more medals, you name it, only because you bear the pain of the world in your heart saying, “IT IS ALL MY FAULT”. It took me ages, ageeeees to see this (and therapy, lots of it).
For fuck sake.

Of course, with my ex I made a lot of mistakes. A LOT. But.
blog1BUT, but he was not in good faith. He used me, abused me, he tricked me into believing he loved me just as much as I did, he used my feelings against myself, he gaslighted me to hide his flaws, his insecurities, his problem, so that I could only be focusing (till the brink of mental unit recovery) into mines and not on his. He took me for granted, he hurt me for his amusement, he took advantage of myself, my belongings, my feelings and when I was not of any use anymore, he dumped me like a bag of garbage in the bin, washed his hands and off he went.
So yeah, I may have been stupid, I may have been whatever I have been, but my heart was pure, my feelings were true, I was kind, I was real, and honest, and there is just so much you can do when someone so manipulative and with hidden agendas step in your life ready to cause havoc for their own benefit. So yeah, fuck you, twat, here is your fucking (massive) share of blame, now rot in hell away from me thank you very fucking much. I forgive myself. I don’t forgive him, no, I just won’t give a shit about him, because as Nelson Mandela said, “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies”. I got no time for this.

Of course, it was partly my fault for everything that happened to me so far. But always, 100%, all my fault? No. Would that make me an asshole for thinking this way? So be it. I rather be a happy asshole than an unhappy, tortured, and depressed saint. Thinking “ooooh, it was all my fault, I brought this to myself, I will never be able to forgive myself for what happened” will only leave you where you are, hurting. I know because I’ve always been that person. Life went on and I was still there, sat in a corner, crying and shouting “WHY I AM LIKE THIS ALL THE TIME”. Well, the answer was “because I decided to be like this, to not let the fucking go of all these feelings, of all this pain, instead of embracing better things”.
It is a massive shift in mindset. It requires being honest with ourselves, I mean REALLY honest, not just “I feel like I have to feel like this or else people would think bad of me” honest.
Mind you, I’m not saying we should just wash our hands of our responsibilities, of our faults, because that would be absolutely wrong (and you’d be a total asshole). Just see what happened for what it was, forgive and forget.

Yes, sometimes there are things that are solely only our own fault, like when Thursday I ended up overeating till oblivion at the Indian restaurant and then praying for a quick death whilst suffering the most horrendous aftermath, or in general not being up and running with my accountancy degree because I haven’t been arsed to open a book so far, or having my face covered in spots because I was too lazy to take my makeup off and fuck you Silvia, what a moron! And you know what? We can’t be perfect and super diligent all the time. Sometimes we do stupid things. Everyone does. No point in banging our heads on the wall (not too much anyway): these are things that we did, for good or worse, and if we analyse them, we would be able to find positive lessons for the future (hopefully, though I know that, provided with another amazing Indian buffet, fuck you, I’d be swimming in curry with not a single regret WHATSOFUCKINGEVER).
What I am saying is, it would be good to rationally assess what happened, not just rush to grab all the blame that exists and then torture ourselves, marinating in the negative past forever: it is not a race, there are no prizes to be won, the only outcome is inflicting ourselves with more pain than what we should inflict. Once you assess the true share of blame, learn the lessons to be learned and then let it go for good. Forgive yourself, promise to do better, DO better and move on.

An example that is just happening as I am writing. Today, a lovely (ok, it is grey and raining here, so not lovely at all) Saturday morning, instead being a lazy mess, instead of spending it buried under 60 kg of blankets and duvets, sipping my espresso and watching Netflix, I had to wake up at 7am, and I’m sitting on my sofa, writing this (which makes what I’m about to say a little bit nicer), whilst an amazing British Gas Engineer is installing my brand new, 3k in 10 years of my life instalments, super cool boiler. The old (ok, ancient) one, died this summer once, fed up with its tremendous noise, I turned it off. Least I knew, at that time, that I turned it off for fucking good.
Yes, it is, for the vast majority of it, my fault: I never bothered servicing it.
Fuck it, I knew when I bought the house that my boiler was as old as to be in a museum, but I decided against taking the hit then. I then never bothered enquiring about a new one, and maybe changing it last year, or the year before. I just didn’t want to care.
And guess what, my care-free behaviour came back to bite my arse. So here I am, freezing my ass, longing for a hot bath and a Caribbean climate in my house.

Is it truly all my fault though? No. Fuck me, no. I had other expenses in these three years and half I’ve been living here that were more pressing and urgent. I took my chances, I decided to bet on the boiler to keep me going for as long as possible, and boy, my good old friend did a magnificent job. In addition, I had a useless ex-husband who was too busy doing his very best to leave us on the breadline, creditors at my door thanks to him, and I had to choose on whether to prioritise food on the table or which bill in scary long arrears try to clear first; on top of this, I had childcare to organise, my mental health to deal with, a lot of shit to take care of, and the boiler was the least of my thoughts. I took one last roll of dices this summer, but my boiler told me to fuck off. Fair enough. I’m not blameless, but I won’t torture myself. It happened, I’m dealing with it now, I have my punishment in the form of ten years instalment repayments, fuck it. I had a good moan, but I will also have a very long, extra luxurious bath.

Another example? It is all my fault I don’t have the gym body of my dreams? Not all, but 95% yes. I have been too lazy, too silly, too careless, too focussed on hating myself, on telling me “you cannot do it”, “you are not good at all”, “your body is shit anyway”, etc. than to actually do something about it, like, well, going to the gym and exercise, follow a proper, healthy diet, listen to a personal trainer’s instructions etc. Now, I can choose to keep blaming myself forever, especially when I see my results now and I think “why the fuck didn’t I do this sooner”, or I could just forgive myself and use the energy to squat some more, instead of blaming me some more. Guess which my choice is: JLo, I’m coming to get you.

Hey, in the category of “stuff I like to blame myself”, let’s not forget: sometimes shit happens, and it is a fact of life. You can try and make plans, you can give it a go and predict it, but hey, sometimes there is nothing you can do about it. You can either face it, deal with what happened and put it behind your back, or you can cry in a corner with your problems getting bigger and bigger. And bigger. It just happens! Don’t beat the shit out of you for it, it is what it is, as painful and annoying as it is.

blog3Besides, let’s think about it for a second: why others should get a free blame pass anyway? Why can’t we just dump their shit in their garden, rather than cluttering ours? We are not less important. Our feelings, ourselves, are just as in need of recognition and care as theirs. You are not doing yourself a favour by being harsh and not forgiving yourself, and you are not doing THEM a favour either. You cannot control other people, you cannot make them do things, or feel the feelings you want them to feel, but you can decide to not lift their fair share of weight in the shit that happened, if that is the case. You can happily let their blame go, because holding a grudge is just more pain for you, and you can also let your blame go as well, because you can tell someone to fuck off for good, but you don’t have the same luxury with your very own self.

I’m not saying it is easy, it is actually hard as fuck, but believe me, all this pain is just not worth it. It won’t serve you, it won’t teach you, it won’t make you a better person: it will just hurt you. As hard as it may sound, you are worth more than living in a constant hell. If you like to visualise stuff, imagine yourself writing down the list of things you want to forgive yourself about, imagine setting fire to that list, watch it burn and then let it go. Forever. Done, FINITO. You can also physically burn a real list (provided you go in a safe place, because you don’t want firefighters storming in your house) if you want to make the experience more realistic. It is up to you to find your way, so long as you start practicing kindness to yourself a bit more.

The only way to heal is by forgiving; sometimes, we have to forgive others and let them go. Sometimes, we have to forgive ourselves, and until we do so, we will never truly heal.

BREATHE IN STRENGTH, BREATHE OUT BULLSHIT

I must admit, I have never truly appreciated the power of meditation till after my ex broke up with me. Before that, it was just an exercise I used to do (when I was arsed enough to do it). I used to sit, spend 5 minutes or so trying to clear my head, get bored to death, decide I was done for the day, tick the box of “I did it”, the end.

One day, the shitstorm happened. Meditating quickly became the only resource I had to preserve my sanity. My brain was in overdrive with all the negative emotions, my heart was bleeding, my body was in pain, I was in the eye of the storm and hell was breaking lose. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t think straight, I was exhausted. I needed a mental break. I clinged to this practice like my life depended on it and I never abandoned it since.

Let me set the record straight: meditating is HARD. It is one of those things that everyone brags about doing, it is so hipster it hurts. Everyone will try and shove it down your throath:
Be more mindful!
Mindfulness is the secret of success!
Meditate or die!
And so on. So, you think “yeah, why not, lemme give it a go”. You google “how do I start meditating” and you find a mammoth amount of all these coaches and teachers that explains what to do, making it look so damn easy: sit there, breathe, clear your mind, see your thoughts as clouds passing by, imagine this, imagine that, visualise stuff, add a mantra or two and job done!

YEAH RIGHT.

Believe me, it is so fucking hard. Do not believe who says it is a piece of cake. REAL meditation requires training, dedication, and an unbelievable level of discipline. You must practice it over and over and over again, every day, and you won’t get the benefits of this practice till you master the art of it. Proper meditation means that you have total power and control over your body and your brain. If you have an overactive mind like mine, where you just cannot stop thinking and overthinking, meditation won’t come naturally to you.

It will be a struggle.

Couple of minutes after you sit down and get into it, you’ll realise that everything is actively conspiring against you to make you fail. The more you’ll try to clear your mind, the worse your chain of thoughts will become. If your brain will not succeed into making you give up, your body will work against you and you will start becoming restless. You’ll feel the urge to scratch a sudden itch on your foot or your head, a song will pop up on your mind and you won’t be able to make it stop, then you’ll be thirsty, or your throat will feel dry, you’ll feel too cold, or too hot, your clothes will be too tight, or too loose, then you’ll need to scratch yourself again; if you are in the lotus pose (I beg you, from the bottom of my hearth, do not attempt to do it or meditate in that pose unless you have few months of yoga under your belt), pain will drive you to the brink of madness and then you’ll think “mmmm maybe I should move a bit so I can feel comfier…that’s it… so… what was I thinking about anyway?” and you will give up shortly afterwards. Oh, did I mention that you’ll feel like it was a very stupid idea and a waste of time? Yeah, that will happen too.

However.

Don’t surrender. Please, don’t. If you stick to your guns and impose yourself to keep going, I promise you, meditating will be the best thing you’ve ever done for yourself. It took me a while, but now I consider it a pampering session for the brain. My days are less stressful, less emotional, less chaotic and I am much more relaxed that what I used to be. I try to do it first thing in the morning and right before I go to sleep.

namaste
Namaste! Ole’!

My morning meditation gets me all geared up for the day: I go through a list of my tasks, I visualise them in front of me and I’ll prepare myself mentally to face them. It really helps if you struggle with anxiety like me. Then I add few positive affirmations: these acts like an injection of power and strength. I know, it seems totally dumb telling yourself stuff like:
“you are strong”
“you are fierce”
“you are beautiful”
“you are full of love, and energy, and power, and you can accomplish everything”
“there is nothing that you won’t be able to face”
I swear though, it works. BUT! You really must BELIEVE that those affirmations are true for them to work. Just saying them for the sake of “there, I said them, ok?” with a “this is just bullshit” attitude it’s a no-no.

STOP IT: I know what you are thinking right now. It is something along the lines of “yeah right, because I’m going to sit there, telling all this shit to myself, right? How embarrassing is that? Only losers would do it.” How do I know it? Because I thought exactly like that too. I was “better than this bunch of crap”. Until I ended up with my arse on the floor, desperate to try anything to feel better.

I gave it an honest, humble go. I didn’t have anything to lose. I chose to believe. I chose to re-wire my brain with positive messages. It is SO.DAMN.HARD. But. It works wonders. The more you do it, the more it gets easier, and at some point, you’ll realise that you won’t need to force yourself into believing those affirmations: you will own them, and saying them will become a “reminder” game to keep you in the positive loop.

To think what you want to think is to think the truth, regardless of appearances
Wallace Wattles, The Science of Getting Rich

My bedtime meditation is my decluttering, release-all-the-stress session. This is the moment where I let go of everything that happened during the day. If there are lessons to be learned, I will acknowledge them. If something pissed me off, I will analyse it, I will take any positive thing (if any) and then I will let it go. If something made me happy, I will cling on the beautiful feeling I experienced. I will say another round of affirmations, then it’s sleep time, goodbye world, see you tomorrow.

I am, by no means, an expert on meditation, so what you just read is nothing more than my ritual; of course, I invite you to try it and do the same, but you may find out that you’ll need to tweak a thing or two (or everything!) to make it work for you. And that’s the beauty of meditation: once you learn “the basics” and you get the hang of how it works, you’ll make it work for you, there is no right or wrong, good or bad: whichever way you’ll do it, so long as you’ll do it and you’ll do it seriously, you’ll experience the benefits of the practice.
If you are a total beginner, I suggest to start with some guided meditation. Having someone talking you through the process it’s incredibly helpful: it takes away the stress and anxiety of “I don’t know how this shit works, what do I do now. Am I doing good? Am I doing anything meaningful?”. Plus, it makes it easy to learn how to focus and how to deal with all the thoughts that will run around your head, since you basically have to follow the lead and do as told. I still use guided meditation, especially when I’m tired, or sick, and I need to be dragged into my subconscious because I don’t have the strength to do it by myself.

For your meditation resources, Google is your friend, and in Amazon (or any other shop, virtual or physical) you can find books, CDs etc… and then, you got YouTube. Speaking of that, I want to close this post with a bang and share with you the BEST meditation ever. Marge, my close friend and partner in crime, found it and shared it with me. Disclaimer: it is rude, so if you get easily shocked by swearing, maybe don’t click on the following link…

An Honest Meditation

We listened to it so many times that now we know the words by heart, and to thank her I bought her (and myself) the book version. We love it! I even got the app! The best bit? If one of us is feeling a bit low, or is having quite the day at the office, the other one will start reciting this meditation… and we’ll be laughing our assess off till tears.

“..and as you slowly open your eyes, greet the world and everything in it with a new, beautiful breath… of fuck that!”
Jason Headley, F*ck That, An Honest Meditation