So… after yesterday’s little melt-down… and – with much-appreciated support from friends and tribe’sters… today – I am squashing bugs and dealing with demons.

The thing about change is that it’s a journey and a process.

It’s not a “destination”.  Nobody has “arrived”.

We all have our layers and our issues and our undealt-with shit that we’re working through.  There is never a time when any of us can stop and say:  “I’ve done it!  I am now completely issue-free!  I’ve dealt with all my demons and addictions!  I’ve arrived!”.

One of my returning, recurring issues / struggles is an old habit that has shadowed me for most of my life.  And, as the saying goes, “old habits die hard”.

I have a couple of old habits (that I’ve been struggling to eliminate for some time now)… and it’s interesting – because they seem to work together – like a little roach tribe of sorts.  And they’re nasty, hard-to-kill roaches.  They keep returning – again and again!!

There’s a quote by Cari Corbett-Owen that goes something like this:

“A changing habit is seldom a one-step-wonder.  Rather, a series of repeated stumblings in which we learn to catch ourselves progressively earlier every time”

Indeedy.

The old habits I’ve been trying to eliminate… (and yes – as you could see by yesterday’s post – they’re still around) are these 3 things:

  1. People-pleasing
  2. Expectations (placed upon my life by others – but especially those I’ve placed upon my own life)
  3. Fear of Conflict

All 3 of these old habits work together as a unit (probably why it’s so difficult to get rid of one at a time!  It’s almost like all 3 need to be eliminated at once!).

Here’s how they work:

PEOPLE PLEASING

The-Disease-to-Please comes in all kinds of ominous, soul-destroying forms… but for me – it’s my desire to be liked.  I don’t want people to hate me.  I don’t want people to say nasty things to (or about) me.  I want to… be liked!

So – because of this, I do all sorts of shoot-myself-in-the-foot things, like:

  • I say YES all the time (even when I want to say “no”).  And – as a result – I stretch myself way too thin and end up letting people down.  I never intended to let them down – and they wouldn’t be let down in the first place – if I had just had the courage to say:  “No, I can’t do that” – or even “No, I don’t want to do that”.  And – of course – when I DO let people down, I’m then consumed with guilt… which is then followed by some kind of self-flagellation.
  • I try to be “nice”.  I water myself down, bite my tongue, wear my “nice” mask – and morph into a sweet, insipid NOT ME person!  I am not “nice!”.  I am opinionated and potty-mouthed!  I have burp-contests with my kids.  I swear and rant when I’m stuck behind a slow driver.  I drop cocktail meatballs down my cleavage at red-carpet events.  I write (and sing) ranty songs about anarchy and suburbia!  I get the uncontrollable giggles at sombre events (like government speeches and funerals)… I could go on…

EXPECTATIONS

I have written a blog post about expectations – and I talk about them (and think about them) a lot.  Shakespeare said that expectations are the root of all heartache… and I concur.

Expectations also come in all sorts of soul-destroying forms.  The kind of expectations that I struggle with most – are those that I’ve placed upon my own life.

Deep down inside – a small piece of my mindset (that just won’t fucking die!!)… has bought into this idea of all these things I’m “supposed to” be… and “ought to” be… and “ought-to” do… and “should” behave like… and so on…

It’s like I have this weird Stepford Wife living in my head… sternly reprimanding me for being Hat.  She tells me how irresponsible I’m being.   She tells me that I’m not “enough”… not-a-good-enough-mother… not-a-good-enough-wife… not-a-good-enough-friend… (and on and on).  She goes on and on about all the things I “ought to” be… and “ought to” do… and “ought to” look like…

I ought to (she says) be more respectable, responsible, practical, disciplined, organised, lady-like, well-behaved, good-housewife, sensible, diligent, neat, measured…. (on and on and on she goes)…

… and, of course, I definitely shouldn’t say “fuck”…

… and I definitely shouldn’t share ranty songs, draw rude things or pull zap signs at billboards.

FEAR OF CONFLICT

I am a peace-loving person.  I utterly loathe conflict and will do pretty much anything in my power to avoid it (even if it means shooting myself squarely in the foot).

It’s hard to understand why I have such a visceral reaction to conflict.  Possibly because I’m an INFP – Idealist (and types like me are renowned for their hatred of conflict).  Or possibly because there was a lot of conflict (one parent aggressive – the other passive) in our home while growing up.

But mostly – I think I hate conflict because it…

drains the life out of me.

And – so – (again) – I do all sorts shoot-myself-in-the-foot things to avoid conflict of all kinds:

  • I put on my people-pleasing “nice” mask.
  • I say “yes” when I want to say “no”.
  • I don’t stand up for myself when people behave in rude, arsehole-like ways.
  • If somebody accuses me of something – my first reaction is to go inside my head and say: “Maybe they’re right about me!  Maybe I am awful!”
  • I try my best not to piss people off (and water down my Hat’ness in all sorts of ways – worrying that things I say / do / create might offend people – and thus – cause conflict).
  • I try to make-nice with my accusers… allowing free access to people to poo on my dreams or ridicule my ideas in whichever way they choose.
  • I edit myself (all the time!).
  • I tell myself:  “Just keep the peace, keep the peace!” – even if somebody is saying really hurtful things to me.
  • I add endless disclaimers and justifications and explanations… to my art, songs, blog posts and opinions.

See how all of these work together like a 3-headed-Monster-Roach??

SO…. suffice to say… I have spent much of today tackling that old-habit 3-headed-Roach-Monster.  I’ve spent most of the day surrounded by art supplies… and I have created a “ME” Manifesto – something I can use (every day!!!) to REMIND myself of who I am.  And what’s truly important to me.

I’m using it as AMMO…

So next time nasty Stepford-Wife-of-Expectation whispers her criticisms in my ear and demands that I don the “Mask-of-Fakery”… I shall consult the ME-Manifesto… and remind myself of what’s true and real and ME’ish and Hatty….

And I shall say:  “Fuck you, stupid Stepford Wife!  I am not those things!  I don’t want to be those things.  I don’t want to jump through all those ridiculous hoops.  I’m me… I’m Hat.  It’s taken me years to remember and embrace my HAT’ness – and I’m not going to let your pre-programmed poo lead me astray from who I truly am!”

Here’s the first few pages of my ME-MANIFESTO:

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And there you have it…

What was intended as a short, quick post – inevitably became a long-winded ramble.  Maybe I should also make peace with that.  That I write long posts….

Hat-huggery to all… !

PS:  And if you decide to also make a YOU-Manifesto… share it with me, pretty-please!