What Kind of Life Are You Living?

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My therapist will be closing his practice where I live by the end of this year. I’ve been his client for almost 10 years and worked my way through a few things. I’ve noticed that in the past year my resilience has increased; as has my ability to talk myself through anxiety and fear. Sometimes.

It seems like these are significant changes. I told my counselor at my last visit, I feel like I’m on the verge of learning how to fully accept myself. One thing that seems to be really helping is group therapy.

My therapist has been telling me for years I’m going to find my people, my tribe, and everything will be okay. I’ve been so frustrated about not having anyone I can fully be myself with for such a long time. In fact, I don’t know if I have ever had that.

But since joining group last December, I’m starting to see a tiny sliver of light that it could be happening.

Is this the REAL life?

Group therapy is helping me to understand I can make mistakes — even really big ones — and still be able to love myself, and to deserve love. It sounds like a no-brainer but, be honest, how often do you share your mistakes? And with how many people?

That’s the part that makes us go underground with our bullshit, I think. That belief, that fear of being judged, being compared to our cultural standards and failing miserably.

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Now, for the first time ever, I can kind of see all of me. And I can see that I *need* to be all of me to genuinely find the love I deserve. Being imperfect doesn’t make me unworthy.

I told my shrink this reminds me of the movie 8 Mile. If you don’t know, this is a movie based on the life of Eminem, aka Marshall Mathers, and how he got started as a rapper.

In the movie, Eminem’s character — Jimmy “B Rabbit” Smith, Jr. — competes against other rappers, making up lyrics to ridicule each other. Whoever is better at humiliating the other guy wins. Near the end, at the “big event,” Jimmy decides to preempt his opponent’s potential insults against him, basically making fun of himself. That left his opponent with nothing to say and Jimmy won. Genius.

I know we all learn how we’re “supposed” to be. Sadly, we also learn to compare ourselves to each other and judge each other for our imperfections. This makes us feel superior. It does not, however, make us better. It does nothing to help us love ourselves and others.

I want to be able to own all of me, to be all of me. I’m that person who cannot get promoted after 4 years in the same role. And I’m the person who is struggling hard in their marriage. I don’t have many friends. I almost never exercise anymore. And a whole long list of other stuff like that.

Sometimes, I act like an asshole. I have yelled at my kids, flipped people off in traffic, lied to my husband. These are the facts.

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I need people in my life who accept me, mistakes and all, without judging me. And I will do the same for them.

This is real life. Not the SAHMs in the carpool line. Not the husbands who gush performative compliments about their wives on Facebook. Not your co-worker who gives you back-handed compliments. Not your ex-BFF who promises to always support you, until they don’t. Not the people who never take off their game face.

I want real life. Not-real-life is exhausting and it hurts waytoofuckingmuch. Real life is the only life I’m willing to live.

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