Granting yourself grace: Doing the best you can, as you can

I’m totally exhausted.

Every day this week, as I’ve been working toward this new way of eating, life has continued being what it is. Despite how much I need it to pause for a minute so I can get my bearings and make this transition, life goes on without any consideration to my needs.

The other people in my home are still themselves, God love them. Six of us are living in a tiny, two-bedroom, Section 8 apartment: Me, my 6-year-old, my 22-year-old daughter, her 22-year-old boyfriend, their 20 month old daughter, and their 8 month old son. My youngest daughter still needs me to figure out how to be the kind of mommy she needs instead of me trying to get her to be the way I feel I need her to be. The Bipolar II, the PTSD, the depression, and the fibromyalgia still factor into my emotional, mental, and physical capacities. The relational/financial enmeshement with my ex, the father of my youngest, is an almost daily source of stress. There are four days left to get the apartment ready for inspection.

Changing the way I eat, why I eat, how I eat, what I eat, and everything that goes with that, is like going to a new country, embedded in the culture and society without any preparation or guidance, only every obligation and aspect of your earlier life came with you and doesn’t give a crap the you have to learn a new language, new customs, and follow new rules.

I also have a mentality which has existed most of my life: If I can’t do it right, if I can’t get it right quickly, and if too many obstacles make getting it right quickly difficult, then I give up.

There. I said it. Out loud. For all the world to see.

I get easily overwhelmed and cave under an unrealistic, compulsive need to be in control and do things perfectly, according to my understanding of perfect.

Can you guess where I’m at in this cycle?

Here’s the thing, though. I absolutely cannot go that route this time.

That’s where grace comes in. What does it mean to “give grace?” The Free Dictionary offers several definitions. Two of them are what I’m talking about here:

grace (grās)
n.
4.b. Mercy; clemency.
6. A temporary immunity or exemption; a reprieve.

In other words, I need to be merciful to myself in my self-judgment. I need to free myself from my internalized obligation to “get it right.” I’m not even sure where that need came from, really. It’s just “out there,” in the world around us, right?

“Anything worth doing, is worth doing right.”

I wonder how many times I’ve heard that statement? It’s not really true, in a literal sense, though, is it? After all, I can’t possibly do this healthstyle change “right.” What’s right? The rules and guidelines that worked for others, in the context of their lives, circumstances, and resources. I’m not them. My life is not like theirs. No excuses, it’s just what is.

I can’t only focus on food, food prep, learning new recipes, spending two hours a day on grocery shopping trips via public transit. I still have to parent my child who experiences High Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder. I still have to pay attention to the Bipolar and PTSD triggers. I still have to do the work of trauma recovery. I have grandbabies who need a loving and open grandmother. I have adult children who are concerned about my overall wellbeing, and who get concerned when they see me start to obsess and get tunnel vision.

So, what do I do?

I accept that I have limits on my time, my energy, my resources, and my opportunities. I take note of the things that aren’t working and figure out what is keeping them from working, then brainstorm what the possible solutions are. I ask for help and provision when, where, and with whom it is safe and reasonable to do so. I forgive myself, instead of criticizing myself, for giving into the temptation of eating too much Southern Comfort Food while in a trauma recovery therapy group. I’m not going to hate myself for eating the homemade mac ‘n cheese, homemade potato salad, homemade greens with ham, and fried fish. Instead, I’m going to appreciate and be grateful that the community and relationship building that happened in an environment I’d previously felt very unsafe and uncomfortable in. I’m going to give myself credit for the efforts and changes I’m already making. I’ve eaten two, self-prepared meals, which, mostly, followed the eating plan.

I’ve learned, over time, that change is a process, not an event.* There’s a learning curve. There is a letting go of the way things were. New ways of thinking and doing have to be practiced. It’s a whole new way of being me . . . at a time when I have days, weeks, and months when I’m not even sure who I am.

So, I’ll do what I can. I’ll do it to the best of my ability, even when that ability is nearly nothing. I’ll give myself credit for the one time in however many, that I make the better choice.

For now, I think I’m going to take a nap before it’s time to start my day, since I’m dozing off at the computer. I’m going to give myself the grace to hit “publish” without all the grammar and spelling checked. Feel free to let me know about edits that need to be made. My brain and eyes are too tired.

Grace be with you.

 

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3 comments

  1. Saw you today. But then I read your latest catharsis and I SAW you. While nowhere have I found Grace to be inexpensive (I.e. past comes with me) I know that it exists and I know it starts with me choosing to claim it as is my privilege as a unique creation. I know, easier said than done…I so know. But you are writing; you do have worth and you are not alone. You choose alone but you do so in the company of witnesses to your grit.
    Until then.
    Dan

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dan,
      Thank you. Is it odd that I “hear” your “voice” as Tom Bodett’s when he promised, “We’ll leave the lights on for you? It’s a compassionate, soothing voice and a comforting message. That’s who you’ve been, and continue to be, for me: compassionate, soothing, and comforting. You’re a blessing in my life.

      Be well,
      Lillian

      Like

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