The other week I was having one of those days. You know the ones. One where the morning starts out perfectly fine. You wake up refreshed, the sun is shining, you go out with friends or whatever, and then it hits you. The misery train.
So here I am out on a date with my boyfriend. It’s the first date we’ve been on in a while (things got messy and we’ve both been busy), and despite how quiet he was, he seemed to be having a really good time. I, on the other hand, was having trouble relaxing after taking the bus peaked my anxiety temporarily.
However, that’s another story. So we’re sitting there, having a great time (man, I love the way he looks at me), and then it comes time to go home. He’s got plans with our roommate that evening that I may or may not be invited to join, we’re both full, and it’s getting late in the evening. My phone’s dead so we can’t call a cab, the bus doesn’t come for another hour, and so we decide to walk home. He helps me carry my bags, we barely talk at all, and head back on a really pleasant walk.
Basically, my days been awesome, and I’m feeling good about things. Nice and positive.
And then it wasn’t.
In the time it took me to take exactly one step forward, something shifted. Nothing triggered it, there wasn’t a reason that could explain it away, but suddenly I felt completely miserable. When I say that, I mean that it felt like my insides were being torn out. Literally. Like someone took their blunt fingernails and started ripping the inside of my chest in two. I mean this emotionally, just to clear up that confusion there. But it was as though someone had died, or I had gone through some great heartache, because the absolute atrocity of what I felt was that awful.
I try not to look too miserable the rest of the way home. Like I said, it’s been messy recently and I didn’t want to bother my boyfriend with ANOTHER one of my crazy moods. So we got back, he kissed me, and I went upstairs and started sobbing. For absolutely no reason at all. Just because I felt like death.
My boyfriend, of course, has no idea this is going on, and goes off to have fun with his bro. Cool. I, however, decide to sit in my room and sulk. Here’s where I get to the actual point of all this:
A few weeks ago, that would have driven me into a panic attack. I would have absolutely freaked out. I would have gone from feeling terrible to believing that the world was going to end in a matter of seconds. Not only that, but I would be panicking about feeling sick, worrying that I was being too much of a problem for my boyfriend, worrying that we didn’t have a good relationship because he wasn’t saving me from this, and working myself into such a tizzy that I would probably end up throwing up again. Or at least come close.
But that night was different. I sat and sulked and felt like dying, sure, but I didn’t freak out. I knew that my boyfriend would never be able to do anything to make me feel better, and I didn’t feel any need for him to ‘save me’ from my own problems. I was able to recognize that my moodiness was simply a matter of my own brain working against me – not any fault of my own, not something that could just be solved or fixed – but rather, an unavoidable side effect of being me. It had nothing to do with who I am, nothing to do with the quality of my relationship, and absolutely nothing to do with anything much at all. In being able to recognize that, I didn’t freak out, didn’t panic, and even though I still felt awful, I actually had a really pleasant evening watching Netflix in bed.
Sometimes guys, it’s so easy to minimize our progress. I hear people doing this all the time. They say things like “yeah but I still have so far to go,” or “I guess, but it’s still really bad.” Instead of acknowledging how far they’ve come so far, they only stop to focus on how far they have yet to go.
Keeping clear goals in mind is a good thing. That’s not up for debate here. But focusing too much on what you haven’t yet accomplished instead of celebrating your victories, however small they seem, is a guaranteed way to bring nothing but more stress and anxiety into your life.
I could be super negative about that night:
- I didn’t get to do what I wanted to do
- My tasks didn’t get done
- I couldn’t hang out with my roommates downstairs
- I got too tired from crying
- I slipped into misery AGAIN after such a good week
- What the heck is wrong with me I’m so unstable and crazy
Or, I can celebrate the progress I have made so far:
- I took care of myself
- I didn’t have a panic attack
- I didn’t expect my boyfriend to fix me
The point is guys, is that progress is always valid. I don’t care how small you think your steps are, how much farther you think you need to go, or how caught up in your miseries you still are. You’re learning, you’re moving forward, and it’s time we stop focusing solely on our faults, and appreciate ourselves for the victories we’ve had. After all, every victory is another step forward, and a little bit closer to where you want to me.
So today, I have a challenge for you: take time out of your busy schedule to celebrate yourself a little bit. Make note of your victories, and acknowledge, appreciate, and love yourself for how far you’ve come.