Two days ago, I dropped my steam iron, and since the floors here are cement under the carpet or linoleum, the distance from the ironing board to the floor was enough to finish it off. Not only did the plastic post holding the soleplate to the body of the iron snap, but the thermostat also broke, rendering it a one-temperature iron, and that temperature was "too high." Since I do a fair amount of sewing, for which a decent iron is a necessity if one wishes results professional in appearance, yesterday I walked in the glorious warm sunshine, to purchase a new one at the chain store a few blocks away.
Later in the afternoon, when he returned home, I was laughing as I described for Robert my shopping experience. None of the irons were on display, and I'm not about to buy an iron I haven't hefted for weight and ease of use, so I rather nervously ignored the sign instructing customers to NOT OPEN THE BOXES and when I found a likely model, squatted down on the floor with my prize, and hauled it out of the box. Because of my willingness to do this, I discovered that the iron I was leaning towards getting, had a "shot of steam" button located at the front underside of the handle, right where it would irritate and annoy my hand during sustained use. After half an hour of disregarding that notice, taking irons out of their boxes, examining them, and putting them back, I found an iron I liked, and debating the price with myself for a while, finally decided to buy the blessed thing so I could return home and begin work on the winter coat I'm making for myself.
Some of you may be wondering how the title of this post has any bearing upon the content. It occurred to me that because of Al-Anon, any annoyance or frustration I felt about breaking an iron of which I was rather fond, lasted less than a minute. I had the initial sensation of "Oh, blast!" but that was quickly replaced with shrugging shoulders, and an acceptance of the loss. One cannot un-ring a bell.
Before program, I'd have chastised myself mercilessly for catching my foot in the cord and pulling the iron onto the floor. I'd have spend hours berating myself for not storing the cord at the back of the ironing board instead of at the front, and I'd have been intensely frustrated about having been the cause of the destruction of a favourite item.
No more. When I consider the myriad past hours of my life spent bashing myself for my real and imagined inadequacies and faults, I feel for that woman I once was, who lived with minimal self-esteem, and crushing burden of perfectionism, regret and anger. Obsession was entwined with my lack of self-acceptance, and the belief that somehow, some way, I should be able to go through life without screwing things up all the time.
What an amazing sense of release and serenity, has come with the knowledge that we are all continually making mistakes, and that most of us have an impossible standard for ourselves. I'm grateful for my sponsors, who have sat in loving communion with me, as I struggled and squirmed against the realisation that what I'd once blamed upon outside forces, or other people, was in fact evidence of my own human frailty.
That's all, merely evidence of my human frailties.
I wasn't, and am not, a monster of any sort, I'm only human, and cannot do what isn't humanly possible. I can't be perfect, so why try? Why lash myself when I fall short of perfection, as I am bound to do?
When I got off my own back, I discovered that I can be loving and accepting of the human frailties of my fellow travellers, in Al-Anon and outside of it. When mistakes are made, and a friend, family member or sponsee is rushing to blame, reproach and castigate themselves, I try to find the most loving way possible to remind them that we may be imperfect, but we are not flawed.
Mistakes can be an invitation for hours of depressed obsession and fixating upon what we most dislike about ourselves, or they can be a learning experience - what can I take from this to help me in future?
Be kind and loving to yourself, whether you've had an excellent easy day, or a difficult and frustrating one. You deserve to be loved, because you are an amazing gift. Try to remember that, next time the temptation to obsess about what you are not, arises.
Letting go of obsessing, and accepting myself as I am just exactly this moment, not as I might be were I to work hard at self-improvement for another 15 years, gives me the freedom to enjoy today.