This is something with which I have always struggled. The OCD perfectionism part of my brain makes me strive to do everything as perfect as possible. Sounds like a responsible thing that isn’t too bad right? Wrong. I mean to a degree it is a good trait, but more often than not, it causes a crushing sense of dread that leads to anxiety and will even backfire with procrastination to avoid the task altogether. All this culminates from a fear of being judged, criticized, or rejected. I grew up with someone in my family with whom I could never seem to do a good enough job with anything I did. There was always a “…when you did this, if you had done it this way it would’ve turned out better”, and I think I can count on one hand how many times I was told “Good Job” by this person for my entire life. That breeds the intense subconscious need I have to think I have never done good enough and could have done better. It also means that criticism or rejection can almost break me entirely, and has made me stop doing things in the past, even though looking back now knowing the reasoning behind it, I should have stayed the course and buckled down because it was a good thing and better than I imagined. This leads to laughing at yourself. Laughing at myself is not an easy thing to do. I live in constant fear of doing something stupid in front of someone, and having that person laugh and remember it for a long time. To be brought up at a later date and re open that wound that was cut deep into my outer shell once again. So laughing at my mistakes is pretty hard. Sometimes I get irrationally upset at myself, other times I get depressed and my mind starts replaying all the things I have done in the past, even though I’m almost positive hardly anyone remembers. But I do, and the wounds still feel fresh. I have been getting better at it since my meds have been at the correct dosage. I find it easier to “feel” things again, like humor and happiness. I see that in things easier now. Which leads me to a funny story that happened to me this past Wednesday.
I have recently found out that I, as a 31-year-old male, have inherited my father, and his father’s Degenerative Disc Disease. Which is kind of normal degeneration of the discs in my spine, if I were in my 50’s. It also doesn’t really cause pain if it were to be happening in my 50’s, which in my 30’s is pretty rough. The discs get depressed and spurs form on the vertebrae of your spine that cause irritation in the discs, and even tears. That releases a protein which leads to inflammation and aggravates the major nerves that lead to the lower parts of your body. My entire lumbar region is affected, all the discs and vertabrae. So I get shots near my spine when I have flare ups, and have to go to physical therapy every Wednesday to learn new stretches and minor workouts to stretch and tone my core muscles to take some of the weight-bearing off of my lumbar region. This past Wednesday, I was having a particularly rough morning because our new Siberian Husky puppy found our Christmas tinsel and decided it was a great chew toy because it shreds into more chew toys(Her poop was fabulous by the way). I was about 10 minutes late and went straight to the cycle machine to start my 8 minute warmup. I was talking with my physical therapist about the crazy morning I was having. I told her about how I missed a step coming down the stairs and almost fell, just barely catching myself and feeling a sharp pain in the left side of my back when it happened. She winced and said I probably just used that muscle too fast and it not being strong enough yet to keep those discs aligned, but assured me that the workout would still be just the same with a little extra exercise mixed in for that part.
I did my small normal stretches and exercises for my hamstrings, stomach, and lumbar region. Then after that she threw the change up into the mix. I was to lay on my back, hips tilted and lower back flat against the table. Not to move my hips or back from the flat position, while she place big rubber exercise ball under my knees and legs. I was to slowly rotate my legs to the right and then back, then the same to the left to count as one, and do that twenty times. The first one I did to the right, Immediately cried out in pain as I started the rotation. It hurt but coming back to center was more of a good hurt. So were the rest the further I went along. After I’m done with any PT session, she always hooks an industrial sized tens unit to my lumbar area, and has me lay on an ice pack. Then turns the electrodes up until it is painful but still tolerable and comfortable. When we get the right intensity, she leaves it on and I stay there for 15 to 20 minutes. Easily the best feeling part of the session. I laid my head back on the pillow and before I knew it I was waking up to her saying I was done and asking if I had got a good nap which stopped me cold in my movements to get up. Have I mentioned I have horrible sleep apnea and snore like a lawn mower without my CPAP? I haven’t? Well I have sleep apnea that causes me to snore so loud I have been kicked awake, and sometime out of rooms, by people I have slept near without the use of a CPAP………Now you know why I stopped cold in my movements after hearing the echoing words of the physical therapist “Did you get a good good good good nap nap nap nap?” The physical therapy building is an open floor plan with the desk in the middle with no walls except for patient rooms being seen by the bone a joint doctor……and sound travels. Also, the staff is all female except for the doctor. Instead of being mortified though, I just hopped up and said “Yup!” and she laughed and said she does the same thing with the tens unit and ice when in pain (im betting she doesn’t sound like an airplane when breathing though). I told her thanks and started to walk off, and forgot my wallet, and keys on the chair. I had to return to get them before leaving. Normally this would have been Defcon 5 level psychiatric melt down for me, but that day I was ok with it. I told them bye, left, and when outside in my vehicle I checked in on Facebook and said that the physical therapist had kicked my butt today, and that I have sleep apnea, so I could only imagine the noises the staff heard and apologized for them. It wasn’t that bad, and was actually a pretty funny story to tell my wife, and co-workers about. The world didn’t end, I’ll still show up next Wednesday for another treatment, and I’ll try to stay awak……..that or bring my CPAP.
Learning to laugh at yourself is a must learn skill if you are going to learn to love yourself for who you are inside and out. Humor is a great bridge between the other emotions that need work too. It makes the transition to learning to cope with other problems easier and puts you in a great mood. So don’t get down on yourself for mistakes or embarrassing things. Embrace them, learn from them, laugh about them. It will make life a lot more manageable.
What are some things that have happened to you that would’ve usually made you embarrassed, but you actually laughed it off and can look back on and smile?