(And yes I do feel kind of lame for starting a blog entry off with that kind of title,)
I realized right at exactly 7pm that tonight was NAMI Connection. Starting at 7pm.
One of the biggest gifts I somehow got in exchange for enduring the hospital last fall is a shocking (for me) ability/willingness to be late and show up anyway. This is so, so, so, SO hard for me. It always has been. My mom used to tell us that you were late anytime you weren’t at least fifteen minutes early. And being late was totally unacceptable, always.
So I developed this pattern, all throughout my life, of not going at all if I was even a little bit late. This fed really well into the depressive guilt cycle: I am going to be late to class, so I won’t go. I didn’t go to class yesterday, so I can’t go today. I haven’t gone in two days, I can never go again. I keep not going to class, I had better drop out. I haven’t been enrolled in two academic terms, I’m never going to graduate. I never graduated, so I can only work horrible jobs. I’m going to be late to my horrible job, mostly because I hate my entire life at this point… therefore, I won’t go in at all today. And so on.
By the way, this is a very OCDish thing to do. It makes double extra no sense whatsoever. If you find yourself in this kind of thought pattern, do whatever it takes to break out. Please.
Anyway. For almost all of my life - till age 30, basically - this is how I did things. Being late was a personal failing roughly on the same scale as knocking over a liquor store. Being late was a 100% iron-clad excuse for not going to something - an excellent self-sabotage technique if there ever was one!
But at the hospital program, they tried to challenge this a lot. One guy was much more controlling than I am, and they actually gave him the homework assignment of being late on purpose. I think they didn’t give me that one because I begged them not to and flat-out said I wouldn’t be able to do it.
And while I was there, I had a desperately hard struggle with the being late thing; I was depressed, it was so hard to get up and go places, but I had to be on time. I even got into a car accident (ran up over a curb and killed my tire and some other car parts I can’t remember) because I was freaking out over being late to the program one morning! Meanwhile, we did a lot of other good stuff with the inner critic and the CBTish exercises and so forth.
And after I was out, I found that being late wasn’t as stressful for me as it had been in the past. Which is to say, I still hate it. It still makes me really nervous, and I still castigate myself way too much, and it’s likely that I’ll be thinking about how I was late today for like a month. Maybe two or three months.
BUT I CAN SOMETIMES MAKE MYSELF GO ANYWAY NOW. Especially when it’s a mental health kind of place, where they kind of expect you to be a little flaky. I wasn’t even the last person to arrive at this particular support group meeting!
It’s a little teeny tiny bit of progress that I was reminded of today, so yay.
(I also managed to do OK despite forgetting my tangle toy. I wish I had brought it, but I didn’t start biting myself or anything really bad, so.)