I realized I was going down a dark hole after I spent days obsessing over a stupid question I had blurted out at an inopportune moment. I was sure I had brought shame to myself and my family. I was certain I’d ruined lives and changed the course of history. While lost in this bizarre mental oblivion, I suddenly realized that the next day was a loved one’s birthday. Gulp.
At some point in life, I convinced myself that I must serve a penance for doing or saying stupid things. I must berate myself, even as I steep my brain in the cortisol this punishment releases. I couldn’t allow myself to enjoy food, entertainment, sleep, virtually anything, until I had sufficiently beaten myself up. I thought this self-flagellation would somehow “fix” things.
I can only guess that this act of martyring myself was supposed to prove I possess a loving, caring nature. But, in reality, it is just plain selfish. Not to mention, bad for my hippocampus.
While I waste precious time fretting, the people I care about are left hanging and abandoned. I’m not doing them any good by obsessing over my mistakes. Mistakes, I might add, that most people didn’t even notice. Nobody marked their calendars. No one demanded I lose sleep over it. It was all me.
I managed to salvage the birthday, and this near miss ended up giving me a gift. I finally realized I needed to get out of my head. It was time to think about others. To really think about others.
Let it go. Live in the moment. Breathe. I used to think those were lame platitudes that promote selfishness. Now I realize they are actually words to live by.
Now excuse me while I plan the next birthday party.