Is it really possible to live without judging yourself? I am truly hoping so. I realize there are layers to my experience when I feel like I've screwed up: 1) I acknowledge that I haven't been fully present and have acted in a way I don't like; 2) I beat myself up for it; 3) I let my mind run rampant--"geez, how could you be so stupid"; 4) I apologize, but think there's no way the other person is not judging me and cataloging my flaws. I've been sifting through this and realize there's no way I would judge someone else as harshly as myself, and also realize that what I do is make something small about ten times larger than it needs to be.
I keep trying to develop my courage to be imperfect...to recognize that I screw up, and that it's okay, because, really, who doesn't? But, and there's a big "but" here, it's a challenge. It's easy with people who've known and loved me for years--and I've surrounded myself with these people all year. It's more difficult to let new friends see all of who I am. I finally built up a little armor this year, and now that I need to let some of it down, this requires a whole new negotiation. I have counted myself hugely lucky to have been spending time with someone who I feel totally free to be myself with, but realized recently that this applied only when I didn't feel I had said or done the "wrong" thing. This level of vulnerability is much different than being fully transparent in front of people who've seen through me many times.
I think, though, that it's not a matter of being afraid of being imperfect (I'm pretty clear on who I am and I kinda like me), it's not trusting that new people I engage with are who they say they are, or that they accept me exactly as I am. I need to remember to put this baggage down. I like to think I'm a pretty good judge of character, but, as history will attest, this doesn't always extend to the men I let in my life. Maybe part of growing up is realizing that I have grown in this area too, and that people I allowed in my life in the past are most certainly not people I would engage with now...Still, this takes some doing for me.
As I continue to unpack these ideas, I am not sure why I find it necessary to qualify so many things. I like to eat junk food sometimes. I like to have a glass of wine (or two) on occasion. I like to lounge about my house and do nothing when I feel like it. I don't mind if my house gets messy sometimes. Why not just accept that this is who I am and not worry? I am rewiring the tape that plays in my head, and realizing that most of it is not even my tape--it's as if I've adopted, through osmosis, the ideas of another that were handed to me way too often in the past decade ("You're not _____ enough. Shouldn't you be _____?") I don't think these messages deserve any more power.
So...solution? Explanation and communication--and reminding myself that I'm not an asshole, but sometimes screw up when I'm not paying attention. A friend recently reminded me that I should assume positive intentions, and I realize I have to hope that this assumption is extended to me as well. It's funny, I apply these presuppositions to perfect strangers--people who cut me off in traffic or don't see me while I'm riding my bike, but I don't always have the same perspective when dealing with relationships that feel more vulnerable. More work to do. Wouldn't it be so cool if there was an endpoint to the work? That every new situation didn't come with its own new learning? :) Nope.