I don’t know if I know who I am without a reference point. I’m constantly comparing and evaluating every aspect of myself relative to someone or something or somewhen else. Comparison is the death of joy, and yet it continues as a touchstone in my life. I’d go even further to say that comparison is the death of compassion. When we compare ourselves to others (and of course we’re only ever comparing a part of us to a part of them) then we stop viewing them as people, only as goals to reach, enemies to beat, challenges to overcome.
Luckily – and I think this next statement is largely true – I’ve grown less likely to compare myself to other people. But I still need a self-reference point with which to compare myself. For instance, last night I was thinking that I am doing really well compared with this time last year. And I am, but I wonder if that’s unhealthy. Coz couldn’t I just pick the worst time of my life for any particular area of self on which I’m focused and say to self “well, at least I’m better than I was then“. Was it this picking and choosing of selfs to set in opposition to the current self that allowed me to continue with so many unhealthy behaviours for so long?
I could always find a depth of despair self, I could always look back to a suicidal self and then: Drinking too much? No matter! I’m still alive. Unhealthily fat? That’s okay, coz I’m still alive! Binging on junk-food /not starving self, Cranky with children /not cutting, Getting no exercise and wasting all my time /surviving.
Look, there is some truth there. There is something to be said for a “this is not the worst things could be attitude” in that it can allow you to accept a current self and maybe be a little bit gentle in changing that self. And I have, I have been gentle and slow in my changes.
But all the same I’m giving Michelle Obama grade side-eye to the voice inside me that is okaying away all the aspects of my life that aren’t good enough for me by dint of a false comparison.
But okay then, suppose I stop. Suppose I judge each morning’s self on its own merits. I’m not sure I know how to do that. Though, again, I guess that’s not a reason not to try.
It just feels weird and a bit like Sandra Bullock in Gravity. Disconnected and disoriented; I don’t even know which direction I’m heading when I take away my comparisons.
Side note: I am starting to get a bit obsessed with how often I’ve used the words “compare” and “comparison” throughout this morning’s blog.
On my own merits, this morning I feel very conscious of my belly. Is that on its own merits? I also know I’m comparing it back to earlier in the month when I was fractionally lighter weight-wise and a huge amount less water-retained. It helps me to think that others don’t actually notice those small fluctuations, they’re all in my own perception. And then I judge that a little. Because why should I be caring about others’ perceptions of me anyway? Why can’t it just be about what makes me happy in myself.
Because without the tool of the external gaze, or the internal Judgemental Crow, comparing to past selves and standing proxy for the external gaze – without those I am having a hard time ascertaining what actually makes me happy.
Is this a factor of being a woman in society? Every single piece of sub-conscious propaganda we’ve been fed since near-birth telling us that how we look matters more than who we are, and that who we are mostly matters in how it’s perceived, in how we treat others, not how we treat ourselves.
Or am I viewing everything through the imperfect lenses of cracked feminism these days.
As usual, I’m high on questions and low on answers.
I’ve been meditating in the evenings, or attempting to do so. I’m hoping it will be the breath-driven chute that slides me away to the promised land of awareness and change. I don’t really have a lot of faith in that. I keep feeling like I’m doing it wrong, like I’m just mostly falling asleep for 20 minutes each evening. All the same, I’m willing to put in some time to try and make it a habit for a while. It’s a pretty harmless experiment, with or without true belief behind it.