This idea courtesy of my friend at BipolarSoujourner.wordpress.com, who commented on my suicide post with the gentle suggestion that I should consider reconsidering my growth metrics. Perfectionism is something I struggle with, and trying to recover perfectly is just a different manifestation of the same disease. So many instagram memes, right? Words of wisdom, eating disorders, exercise and diet for recovery, everybody defining their personal perfect #transformationtuesday. His point was that I should use a different measure of success.
I have previously characterized suicidality as defeat. There are some related ideas kind of knocking around the brain in relation to that. Mastery. Victory. Improvement. Growth. Hubris, badassery, employing explosives and salting the earth in the relentless pursuit of……..I have no idea. That one time my MIL asked me, “Aren’t you ever just content?”
Consider my namesake, Alexander Hamilton. Or, more to the point, Lin Manuel-Miranda’s characterization of Alexander Hamilton:
I am not throwing away my shot
He will never be satisfied
Man, the man is non-stop
How do you write like you’re running out of time?
Why do you write like tomorrow won’t arrive?
Isn’t this enough? Aren’t we enough?
why am I not satisfied, ever, with ANYTHING? in hamilton’s case, it at least made him more contributory. for me, it just makes me scattered. I have a perfectly good marriage, perfectly good sex, and i want a third. I have a perfectly good blood pressure, cholesterol, BMI and Hgb A1c, but I want the body. I have a perfectly good job, a perfectly good house, but again, not good enough. I could go on. A woman who has never been satisfied.
The contradiction is here, though. When I try to define my goals in a concrete and measurable way, I have no idea what I want. I can’t quantify, can’t find the end point or definition of ‘enough.’ The striving is the important thing. Let’s face it; I’m the kind of girl that if I win, I will just find a million reasons why it wasn’t a real win. Why it doesn’t count. Which, by definition, moves the goal line. Its a mirage.
BipolarSojourner says, “maybe it’s time to use a different measure.” well, duh. kind of. Because I came to that conclusion a year or so ago, but then got effortlessly distracted and fell back into my old damn habits because of…. a boyfriend. Sigh. Soooo…. I’m kind of back to square one. or square five-ish, maybe, cuz I’m sure as hell not as far down as i was three years ago. But have I won anything in the last year either? Or have I hit a mental health recovery plateau? (yes, I see I am using ‘perfect results’ as a measure, again….I see it. Shush.)
I’m not sure what to use instead, though. Laugh every day? Create every day? Do something that scares me every day? Read? Write? Play? Draw? What if I had a goal whose criteria are met just by virtue of my having done the thing, not by how perfectly i have done the thing?