Today was Not A Good Day.
The seeds for today not being A Good Day were sown last night, just after 6pm. That’s when the first thing went wrong. This morning, we were up and had left the house before 7.30. By 9.00am, the second thing had gone wrong. Things kept going wrong until 9.41am. By 10am, seven things had gone wrong – including the first thing that went wrong last night. By 10.13am, we thought we were back on track. Then something else went wrong. This is Thing Number Eight. It was too much.
I couldn’t. I repeated that about 14 or 15 times ‘I can’t! I can’t! I can’t!’
Tears. Sobbing. Overwhelm.
The kindness of strangers.
The unexpected kindness of strangers.
The compassion of those who chose not to look the other way.
The unexpected compassion of strangers who chose to help.
The ninth thing went wrong. The ninth thing going right had been contingent on at least the eighth thing going right.
I was upset that the ninth thing went wrong. I knew I’d let my eldest daughter down because the ninth thing went wrong. But nobody died. We were all safe.
Later, the day (sort of) got back on track. I reflected on The Bad Day and realised that it had, actually, been a Good Bad Day: It took eight things before I felt overwhelmed. Eight. A year ago, one of those things would have overwhelmed me. A year ago, one of those thing would have incapacitated me. A year ago, I would still – twelve hours later – not have recovered. Today, it took less than an hour.
Today, I listened to what the voice in my head was saying. As I cried in the car after dropping my girls to school, I heard it. It said ‘I feel like a failure. I hate feeling like a failure.’ For the first time ever, it was saying ‘I feel like a failure’ and not ‘I am a failure.’
For all that they are real and valid, feelings are feelings; feelings aren’t facts. I was able to hear that I was acknowledging how I felt, rather than telling myself an absolute. This is progress.
A year ago, I’d have spun down a spiral that is hugely difficult to spin back up. In fact, I’ve never spun back up – I’ve only ever managed to crawl back up; slowly, on my hands and knees. Today, I was able to talk myself back from the first step on the spiral.
I felt dispirited, I felt like I had not won Wednesday, I felt frustrated, I felt powerless, I felt I had let my kids down. But I also felt like I could recover.
And I did.
Small victories, but victories none the less – and I have learned to celebrate my wins where I find them. Or where they find me.
Several things went wrong for me today – but they didn’t defeat me, the way they would have a few months ago. I’m learning. I’m learning self-compassion. I’m learning that sometimes, things just happen, and they’re not my fault. I’m learning that I don’t have to beat myself up when life doesn’t go according to plan. That’s what made today a Good Bad Day.