Moments of success are precious. They don’t always come along with great regularity, so when they do they’re worth noting down and sticking in the ‘bank’ for later.
My non-scale victories page (link) serves just this purpose for me and I look at it from time to time when I’m low.
That way when things seem dark you have evidence that your worst fears are nonsense. You can say (out loud if needed) ‘I’ve come a long way – and despite how I feel today I’m a good person that good things happen to because I try hard.’
This is sometimes difficult to achieve but I’m getting better at this as the months and years pass since the start of my journey.
As evidence mounts to contradict a view that’s been in the back of my mind for many years (that ultimately I’ve been a failure and my life hasn’t amounted to much in the grand scheme of things) I’m finding that the moments where my chin hits the floor happen less and less.
They still occur from time to time – but that’s how I deal with them.
However the waking mind is one thing – because (depending on how disciplined you are) you can control that with rational and practical structures such as the one above.
With practice you can bend your negative self perception to your will and see the warning signs of depression and negativity arriving.
When you do they can be addressed before you get into an ‘I’m crap’ downward spiral.
Once you learn how to – YOU set the tone.
Something that’s difficult to control though is what happens in dreams – and this is where the buried fears we all keep locked away tend to leak out.
Without warning I can wake up after a dream where I’ve caved in to all the negativity that’s followed me around for decades and I’m convinced I’m a piece of crap again.
Often it takes me the whole day (sometimes longer) to recover from dreams like that because they tug at loose threads you can’t always see – but that are suddenly real and raw.
You’re frustratingly sabotaged by a subconscious mind that’s almost completely out of your control and it can be vicious in its self condemnation.
I’ve suffered from recurring dreams for years – and thankfully one by one the worst ones have fallen by the wayside.
I used to dream that I could run like the wind – then realise it was a lie and look down and see how fat I was, suddenly slow to a crawl and become immobile.
At times I’d dream of suffocation and drowning – that I was fighting for life – then wake up to realise my that my sleep apnea was stopping me breathing because I’d turned over – and that I was and I was in genuine danger.
My imagination also continually painted me in public without clothes (usually trousers and pants missing) and I had to try and walk home naked when I was too fat to move.
These dreams were (pun intended) a nightmare.
But they were not the worst ones.
The absolute worst were when my ex girlfriend visited.
If I’m honest I never came to terms with how the relationship ended and those who know me well understand how deeply this affected me.
She appears regularly in my sleeping life and without warning.
The dreams often start off pleasantly because I’m transported back to myself as a younger man and I’m once again in love.
I feel secure and like there’s an unbreakable bond between us that’s as much a part of me as my own limbs.
In that moment it seems like there’s nothing we can’t accomplish together and I’m a hundred feel tall when I hold her hand.
Then she notices my weight.
Then the recriminations start about how I can’t find it within myself to change for her – and although I’m often let off the hook (she was pretty kind usually) I’m left feeling like I don’t measure up and that ultimately I’ll never be to her what she is to me.
I’ll never be what she wants.
Then I wake up and have to face the realisation that even the happy part of the dream is a fallacy.
I’m confronted with the reality that she’s gone – and the security and happiness associated with her love and companionship exits with the fading memory of a face I’ll probably never see again.
I’m alone in bed, sometimes tearful – but always feeling isolated.
Just now though I awoke with a jolt – and I was laughing. I had a smile on my face because the narrative in my dream had radically shifted.
It started the same – she was with me and we were happy – but THEN things changed.
She’d taken my hand, looked into my eyes and said ‘I’m so proud of what you’ve achieved. You’ve really done it.‘
I hugged her and drew her close before the dream ended and I woke up.
Instead of feeling the way I usually do after she’s been a participant in my sleep I now feel energised.
Something has changed.
Deep down something is different!
Tonight – when I woke up I felt a weight lift that I’ve carried for years.
I think I know why this happened – because someone I’d only just met looked me in the eye and asked me recently ‘do you feel like a success?‘
The question was an uncomfortable one because normally I try to brush things like that off – but the situation was hard to escape.
I surprised myself when I began to reply because my bottom lip trembled and my voice started break slightly.
I replied, swallowing.
‘Yes I do.’
‘It’s taken a lot of hard work and effort to get to where I am.’
‘I AM proud.’
I don’t remember my exact words but around that point I stopped talking and marshalled myself so that I wouldn’t cry.
I’d said it out loud though and realised that it’s not something I’ve ever had to confront or respond to in quite the way that she asked me.
Having to admit that I’m happy with my own success was something of a surprisingly life affirming moment and it clearly had a profound impact because it’s now entered my dreams.
Boy do I hope it stays there internet because waking up feeling as good as I do right at this moment in time is flipping awesome.
Yay for waking up happy!