We all make mistakes. It’s part of human nature to do so. You might forget to close the freezer door or pass on some important information. You might make a typo in a document or get the wrong sandwich for your work colleague in the lunch run. Yes they can be annoying and you feel genuine remorse but generally they are easy to move on from and without any lasting damage. We realise logically and rationally that ‘hey it was just a mistake’.
Some mistakes however are habitual. They cause havoc in our personal and emotional lives shrouding us in guilt, self loathing and tinge our inner self with anger and despair. These repeated mistakes are thorns in our sides and before we realise what’s happened we’ve done it again and again and again but maybe it’s how we deal with them and move on that defines us. Reflective practice to work through and discover why we repeat certain mistakes and aim to change the behavioural patterns that we automatically defer to takes courage and the will to want to. Sounds easy doesn’t it. Writing it down it makes perfect sense but it’s not. It’s bloody difficult and unless you accept that it probably will get a whole lot worse before it gets better then the new road ahead will never be fully travelled by you.
Was drinking for me a mistake? The drinking certainly caused certain behaviours which resulted in mistakes that could and should have been avoidable. So what happens when mistakes are made that can be detrimental to my happiness and general wellbeing? When it affects those around me but I can’t blame alcohol anymore. When patterns of behaviour and reactions are repeated without thought or pause only resulting in unhappiness and unfulfillement. That all I am left with is me. All I have in all of this is me. All I can be in this repeated mistake is me. Me. A little word with a big world of doubt.
Learning to make decisions, create change and bloody well face the music can be terrifying on my own and when I say on my own I mean without a go to substance to “help” me deal with my mistakes. The mirror is well and truly held up and it’s difficult to take a proper look but unless I am willing to take my hands down, open my eyes and take in what is reflected the change in direction will never happen.
My daughter can be at times emotionally challenging as she navigates her own path through life. She can be demanding, even manipulative at times with a strong will and huge stubbornness. Along with that though is warmth, kindness, an abundant creativity and an emotional intelligence that takes my breath away. In her childlike innocence she has the knack of turning an upsetting and personally disappointing series of parenting mistakes into something positive.
Last night we locked horns. It wasn’t a very happy couple of hours with both parties unable to back down or give the other the required emotional space to recover. In a way habitual mistakes are almost a kind of addiction. In some weird subconscious way persistently repeating mistakes that cause pain feeds the need to keep telling myself the same story – that I’m not a good enough mother, daughter or friend, that I should feel guily, that I should fail, that I’m a bad person. It’s easier to continue to believe that at times because it’s what has been learnt, heard and expect. It’s easier to fall into the learnt behavioural pattern of mistake because it’s like a self fulfilling prophecy. So where is the kindness to myself in these moments? Where is the love I need to give myself? Where is the basic liking of myself? It’s there but in these moments of non substance addictive behavioural choices I can’t see that what I am is a human being; a complex collection of cells, imperfect in their make up but uniquely special in their capability to take my life wherever I want to.
The older I get the more cynical I’ve become but my children’s unconditional love has this unique way of showing me that I can learn to forgive my mistakes.
In the aftermath of our fight she brought me a gift.
A little yellow plastic suitcase from her toy collection.
She asked me to open it.
There I found 5 pencil top erasers that she had broken off and placed inside.
I asked her what they were for.
Her face glowingly expectant she replied,
‘to rub out all our mistakes Mummy’.