Me before my appointment. I really wanted to stay in the car wrapped in my seatbelt. 

After months of deliberation and worrying that insurance wouldn’t cover it and then knowing that it would but still being flaky I finally sat down and found a therapist.

For those of you familiar with my story you know that I have stayed sober for the most part on my own. I haven’t been to AA, I don’t have a therapist or a support group besides my blog community, which feels very real and reliable but as we all know isn’t the same as a real look in the eye and a real hug. I decided that to go the big further I want to go I needed some in person help. Professional help. Not a friend who might sugar coat the hard truths, or whom I might be too embarrassed to tell about all the sex stuff weighing on me, but a therapist. Someone with training and experience in how to navigate with stuff I’m dealing with.

Then I waited for months. I waited and waffled and struggled and read loads of self help and memoir and my daily Rolf Gates and Judith Lasater and wrote and then didn’t write and kept it together and fell apart. Over and over I got the message that I needed someone else, and over and over I made excuses. I spent the better part of last year gearing up to be able to tell someone else my biggest secrets and fears and also my big dreams and plans. Someone who could help me get used to the idea that I am a lovely sexual being and that’s nothing to be ashamed about, someone to help me loosen my often strict and rigid standards for myself.

A few weeks ago I started my morning pages again, and meditating every morning. Without excuse or failure I have remained committed to these practices and that built me up enough to do the actual work of finding a therapist. Sometimes things happen so fast!

I started looking at the approved list on my insurance website. I couldn’t tell much, and got impatient but kept going. I had to give myself a stern talking to when I wanted to just say fuck it and spend the nonexistent money to go to my former recovery group leader. I looked some more, I got more frustrated. I called one woman on the list who sounded promising and nothing- no answer, no machine.

So I stopped looking and wrote an email to my old recovery group leader asking for help with recommendations. I was honest and said I didn’t know what to do. I was just about to hit send when my phone rang and it was her- the therapist I’d called and gotten no answer! She was charming and funny and I felt an instant kinship with her. I made an appointment with her and deleted my email to the other.

There’s something funny about going to meet and talk to someone for the first time who knows your big stuff. That before she meets me she knows I’m kinda fucked up. And by fucked up I mean you know you aren’t quite there- the place where you’re mostly balanced and safe in the world. I’m here- still out kind of lost and looking for more of the map and some help. That there are things that have happened that I can’t shake out and resolve because I don’t really understand them. There are things I haven’t looked at realistically because it hurts too much to do so, and also it hurts too much to let them go.

One of the things I’m trying to let go of is my stale idea of what doing my best means. The problem comes from me expecting everyone else to be upholding themselves to my always high standards and judgements. As in: be perfect at all times my way. Be perfect in my own random proper white knuckle-y way that then meant the house was in order but I was drunk on the back porch and a hungover wreck a few days a week. Now as in I’m keeping it together in all the ways you can see. Trying too hard on the things that are easy distractions and not the content of the actual growth and tasks that needs to happen for me to become more settled and at ease.

I’m reading “Rising Strong” by BrenΓ© Brown and it’s making me think every day. There’s a part about people being their best that came along right when I was really starting to question why I think it’s my job to determine whether someone is doing things up to my standards. At home this looks like me coming home from work at night and huffing about dishes I wouldn’t have left in the sink or a towel left on the bathroom floor. At work it looks like me just doing more work faster instead of my fair share. In all of this I build resentment and judgement until I’m a superior miserable mess. Fuck that.

She’s asked an interesting question: “Do you think other people are doing their best?” Do you? At first my answer was a firm “NO!” I thought more about it and tried thinking that no matter what, at all times everyone is doing the best they can at that moment. That to meet people where they are you have to meet them where they are, not where you think they should be.

Since I started thinking about this best thing I have been thinking about it particularly when I go running. It goes like this: I start to run, my body is cold. I am slow. At that time, my best is small- just that I’m out there, feet plodding one in front of the other. That is my at-that-moment-best. Is it stupendous? Remarkable? Impressive? No, it’s pretty regular and totally boring and normally not qualified as “best”. Here’s the thing: best does not have to be Everest. Sometimes it’s just getting out the damn door.

Here’s the other thing: what if what I think is totally crappy and awful is your best? Who do I think I am? Someone out there is thinking my best is crappy and awful too. I could only breast feed both my boys for about six months before I gave up. I was drinking at the time and falling apart and that was my best. That I wasn’t drinking every day and  I was trying to pump before I did drink was my best. My boobies wouldn’t fill, I couldn’t stop drinking, I struggled and struggled, my children were hungry. Me giving up and feeding them formula was my best. Someone out there is horrified by that, and someone else thinks I really tried. Everyone’s best is different.

Being the best person I want to be makes me the happiest when I am honest about what I am capable of at the time. Best doesn’t have to be the dirty word it’s made out to be. Best doesn’t mean I run frantically all over my life, it means I listen to it and hear it. Best means I honor myself by minding my own expectations and extend myself some compassion and understanding when my best is being a banshee when people won’t put on their shoes. It’s sharing that compassion and understanding with others too. It also means not being afraid of it, not being scared of failing or falling. It means pushing myself when I want to stay comfortable, hearing when I really need to stop.

The thing I really love is the thought that everyone can be the best. That there is not only one best, but many of them: that I can say “I am the best at running in the woods!” and you can say “I am the best at running in the woods!” and it’s all true. Being the best isn’t selfish or only. It’s not trophies for everyone, it’s the inner knowledge that even if I’m not on stage with a prize I know what’s up.

Rock your day. πŸ™‚