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A Remembrance Day Love Letter To Self

The anxiety you are feeling about your boss’s email is because of how you were raised.

You were raised under the lunacy of perfectionism. This perfectionism was put upon you by your parents, bolstered by generations of Catholicism. You were taught that you had to be perfect – or at least “the best”, better than the others around you – in order to be loved or worthy. In many cases it was to avoid being punished as well, in this world, or even in the next. You went through this brainwashing for decades. And though you intellectually understand that perfection is impossible, emotionally you still struggle.

This bad programming won’t go away overnight. It may never totally go away. The psychopaths in your life were the embodiment of this imprisoning mindset. Your upbringing shaped you into something your parents could control, and something the church could have power over, as it did over your parents and the generations before them. You sought out the familiar, and ended up with more people and situations in your life under which you were subject to some form of control, mostly covert in nature. You still sought to please in situations in which measuring up was impossible. People with a desperate need for control, out of their own woundedness, found you as unconsciously as you found them. Though seemingly a match made in hell, their imbalances in function complemented yours and vice versa.

When you went out into the world, you unconsciously sought out what was familiar, because your internal sense of self was, in effect, crippled. Growing up, you weren’t really allowed to feel your emotions fully, or question authority except in your own head. While a degree of self doubt is healthy, as in a sense of humility that you do not have all the answers, and a realistic and loving sense of your own quirks and limitations, what you learned is that you had to erase your doubts and questions and live according to how you were told to live, without consideration for your own wants, talents and dreams. You were not taught that mistakes were a part of life, you were taught that mistakes were something totally in your power to avoid, and thus that making mistakes meant that YOU were a mistake, a failure, not good enough.

So when your boss called you out on an inadvertent mistake, you felt stupid. You felt like a failure. He was kind about it, but you reacted internally out of your woundedness. You took something out on yourself, punishing yourself in ways that he chose not to punish you. You treated yourself, in the way of your thoughts, as you had grown up being treated, with meanness, condescension, and guilt-tripping.

But this time there was a difference. You saw this happening within, and though you felt it hit you, you caught it quickly. You looked at the situation with new eyes, eyes that have been searching and reading and learning, especially these last four years, about the dysfunctional people and patterns in your life, and your own history of dysfunction. And then you wrote yourself this love letter, instead of stewing.

You identified the root of how you were feeling about the situation and spelled out the parallel with your history. You called out the problem as it arose, instead of later, in hindsight. This is something you’ve never done before today. Naming the problem is probably the biggest step to solving it. Now that you’ve done this once, you will do it again. This is a big deal, because this act of “defiance” against your past holds the keys to your future, to a brighter future. This isn’t perfection, which does not and can not actually exist, but it IS progress, which is a real thing. And a good thing.

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