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Where Do I LOOK??

Jaimie Malphrus

I have this massive problem. Like, it really really weighs on me.

I can never decide if I want to look at the sky or the landscape. It’s even worse if I’m near water. The dilemma is almost unbearable.

This is the quintessential “first world problem.”

Here’s the deal: I’m terrified I’ll miss something.

A shooting star. A dolphin. A cute bug. A beautiful human. Anything.

I used to be really annoyed by this, but hear me out. This is from my fear of missing out, right? Because I KNOW something beautiful will happen. It will. The world is beautiful and exciting and I LOVE it.

It makes for a slightly stressful nature watching experience… which I’m pretty sure is the exact opposite of how it’s supposed to feel.

But it’s EXCITING. If I can get a little dopamine hit from seeing the perfect cloud? Hell yes, right? Dopamine can be hard to come by!

Or maybe it’s not, but I have ADHD… so dopamine is a big deal to me, I’ve learned. I digress.

So… how do I choose? Adderall.

I’m just kidding. The answer is I don’t. I’ve spent my life looking for the beauty around me. Just because someone can choose where to stare doesn’t mean that they’re enjoying it more than me. Maybe it’s the opposite. How often do people think about what to look at when their eyes have some spare time? How often do you? Water or sky?

The answer is always going to be both.

I am an extreme human. Clearly. Not in the “I go mountain biking off cliffs kind of way.” But in the “I feel things verryyyyy deeply” kind of way. I can be absurdly passionate about the tiniest things.

I used to be really embarrassed about that. Growing up, I was a crier. An anxious child. Panic attacks. Asthma. Hyperaware of my body and feelings. And I’m not a pretty crier. I get red and splotchy… there is no hiding it. The snot starts pouring out of my face if I THINK about crying. Soooo, no pretending it’s not happening. And people noticing? It would embarrass the HELL out of me. Which only makes me redder and splotchier and weepier.

This was from like age 4 to… 33. Fine, 34. I’m 34.

I’m still not able to fully hide it. I am better at staving it off, though. As an adult, I can now hold off until I’m alone for a good, solid cry. You know, the grownup way. The splotchiness isn’t an issue usually, thank god. In the past, people would see me start to get red and get genuinely concerned. “Are you ok?! Are you allergic to something?!! What’s wrong? Do you need water?!”

No, ma’am. I need a xanax. I’ll dry swallow it. Can you provide that? No. Then I need you to chill.

SO NOW I’m irrationally emotional and you’re making me irrationally angry and there’s no coming back. I’m a splotchy, soggy, too ripe tomato of a human.

Even with this marvelous trait, I’ve become almost radically accepting of myself the past year. Self awareness can really suck. But, you can’t unsee it. Once it’s there, it’s there. It’s almost humiliating to be able to see yourself and your, what David liked to call, “areas of opportunity” from the outside.

You either have to deal with it or accept you have the emotional regulation of a toddler.

Being someone that works with toddlers, I can’t have that. Toddlers are the best. But also the absolute worst.

Now, I have a therapist. Myra. A psychiatrist. Kathleen. They’re great.

Myra loves to give me worksheets and information on cognitive distortions and coping tools. She also keeps me on track when I start to lose my train of thought or when I’m being too hard on myself.

Everything stems from that, I’ve learned.

As a child, your family, if you’re lucky, does everything they can to give you a life better than theirs. They help you grow and learn and adapt with all the tools they have at their disposal.

But what if they are lacking in tools, too? They’re only human. It’s inevitable.

I’m definitely not saying my parents did a “bad job,” they didn’t, but it's safe to say they never had therapy. They didn’t have handouts on cognitive distortions. They didn’t get the opportunity to process their own childhood trauma. The generational trauma every family carries around with them.

When I say, I’m too hard on myself (or Myra says it), it means I learned as a very small child to be delightful and fun and lighthearted and smart and well-behaved… or at least funny when I wasn’t well-behaved. Don’t rock the boat. We have other family members for that. Make good grades, be well-liked, take care of yourself. So that’s exactly what I did.

Now, in my current life, I catch myself not understanding what it means to “give myself grace.”

Grace. Something I give to others freely. Something my chosen family and my birth family give freely. Something that I feel I don’t deserve. I HOPE I do, but in my heart of hearts I know I can do better. Be better.

Talk about a mindset shift, right? Why don’t you deserve the same compassion that you regularly give to others? That you know you would give to someone in your exact situation?

Why do we torture ourselves like this? To reach our full “potential” and make our lives miserable and fake and unfulfilling because we feel like we’re “supposed to.” I mean, childhood, obviously... I say half joking. But then you see it. And what you can see, you can address. Thank you, Myra!

I find myself talking myself up.

Giving myself grace for not doing the laundry. Life is hard and laundry sucks.

Giving myself grace for needing alone time. It’s ok to be overwhelmed and focusing on yourself. The right people understand.

Giving myself grace for saying the wrong thing. Everyone is an idiot sometimes.

You’re tired, it’s ok your dresser is covered in cups.

AND it’s ok to not know where to look when there is a magical view. Look everywhere.


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