alexander hamilton and me

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?

 

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One thought on “alexander hamilton and me

  1. bipolarsojourner says:

    how about looking the other way.

    sure, you’re no alexander hamilton, whose had great thoughts, wrote great words, framed our constitution, influenced a young country, continues to influence our country more than two centuries later, influenced countries of world who used his thoughts and ideas to frame their constitution. holy shit, what a person.

    i can accept i’m not another alexander hamilton, even though i want to be. let’s face it, he was a once in a century person. sure, i wish i was a once in a century guy, but not even my grandiose and perfectionistic mind lets me do that.

    that’s where looking the other way comes in.

    how many lives have you touched today? this week? month? year? lifetime? at an emotional level? how many times have your words been just the words that needed to be heard? to challenge in just the right way? to reassure? to comfort? to validate? to sooth? words to touch someone’s heart? opened someone’s eyes? changed someone’s ways? turned someone around? walk someone away from the ragged edge? been accepting of someone else’s support?

    sure you’re no alexander hamilton, but by looking the other way. perhaps you are more than the great alexander hamilton. that’s quite a list of accomplishments!

    i’m as bad as the next person when it comes to measuring. i did better than him, did worse than her. the comparison game is bound to be hurtful, at least sometimes. how about letting your accomplishments be absolute, stand on their own, and not comparative. “i made someone smile,” vs. “jill made more people smile than me.”

    you have quite the pile. admire it. celebrate it. choose to not look at the pile over there, but look the other way. be satisfied with the accomplishment right beside you, no matter how large or small. in the end, by looking at your pile and not the ones all around you, you can learn to be far more gentle with yourself.

    (another novel. sorry. 😉

    Like

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