On Monday, I handed a draft of my thesis to my bosses. This marked the beginning of a period of limbo: a few weeks of sort-of holiday, where I haven’t much work that I can do so can largely have a break until the final surge to finishing begins. Good stuff – or so I thought.
On Tuesday, I woke up in a foul mood. I had the mean reds, good & proper. Negative thoughts – the really destructive, insidious, soul-destroying kind – overwhelmed the good mood that is now my usual mental state. My day transpired to be quite jolly & my mood picked up, but that underlying malaise – the self-doubt & self-hatred, loathing & repulsion – stubbornly refused to shift.
I know why it is, why this day that should be pleasant & enjoyable was sabotaged by the inner workings of my mind: great expectations. I had, against my better judgement, allowed a dream vision of this day to form in my mind: I’d get up & have a leisurely morning, maybe completing a few essential chores; later in the day, I’d go to my nephew’s tea party & then out with friends, generally wafting around looking & feeling fabulous.
Reality, of course, rarely lives up to the dreams that we conjure up, especially when we are plagued by human frailities that diminish our own sense of worth & value. The mental space vacated by handing over my thesis had overnight been filled by a whole host of other concerns & desires, all of which conspired to make me feel un-worthy of a lovely, relaxed day. I felt undeserving of happiness & holidays, adding to the expectations of the day by piling on expectations of myself: I should be losing weight; getting fitter; looking for a job; attending to my neglected hands & feet; making some cards & gifts; visiting people; repairing my housedress; sorting my Amazon listings; cleaning; visiting friends; replying to emails; sitting in the garden & reading.
And so the list went on. It’s the modern day curse of the ‘superwoman’: I feel, & pressure myself, that I should be able to do everything & do everything perfectly. I cut myself no slack for having just completed a major deadline, just having been in hospital, or indeed just being human. At the same time, from deep inside come questions about my ability to do any of these things: you are fat, ugly, stupid & generally rubbish being the overall tone of such inner dialogue.
Today I feel better. The inner voices have subsided somewhat, although they haven’t gone completely. I’m still feel paralysed, unable to anything because (a) I don’t know what to do first & (b) I doubt my ability to do any of it properly. I have even been debating whether to simply delete all this rather than posting it: this is boring, no-one will want to read it; why do you think you can write & that anyone will care about what you have to say; stop navel-gazing, you over-indulgent & conceited fool. But I shall post it. And then I will do something. Even if it’s only to roll over & go back to sleep. Although sleep probably wouldn’t help. It would only add to the list of great expectations, as I’d expect to sleep & then miraculously wake up to discover that I suddenly felt better about everything.