The Winter Coat
I moved to Berlin on August 2018, at the end of the summer.
I was blessed to see the season change and experienced, maybe for the first time in my life, how the leaves change color and detach from the trees, leaving them naked and exposed.
I can't say the desert nights can't be a freezing cold experience, but I can surely say that the German cold lasts far longer than a Beer-Shava cold. I moved here with two old coats and knew I would need to upgrade to something warmer soon. Well, that soon lasted four winters, and only today, in the footsteps of my fifth Berlin winter, I got a new one.
I would have thought getting a new coat would be an emotionally simple task, but I soon discovered it could (and will) send me down the rabbit hole of self-criticism and shame.
Yes, I was also surprised by the outcome, and I believe that is the reason I'm writing about it.
Mysterious are the ways of the self-hate mechanism.
I've been trying on coats every winter, never finding one that I truly like. I also can't say the one I bought today is a perfect pick, but I think that was what enlightened the whole shit self-talk or brought it to a boil.
When I'm trying on coats, I have in mind two old coats of mine, that I sadly gave away. Unfortunately, I don't think they would have done the job of protecting me when it's minus degrees outside. They were elegant and in colors of my liking, and that's something I can't seem to find in recent years.
And here I am, getting another coat that feels like I wrapped myself in a thick winter blanket - comfy but far from the elegant pic I have in my head. And before you give me tips for slimmer-looking coats - I don't wear down coats (feathers), and the wool coats at the second-hand stores I tried out so far didn't fit (leave out the fact that I live with two cats and wool is a fur magnet).
Buying another puffy coat led me, slowly but surely, to feeling like a complete failure. "Sounds ridiculous," says your conscious mind? I agree. But the subconscious has its special and elusive ways.
Getting a coat that fits ok, and does the job, but is not my dream coat, might not be the worst thing ever, but it shocked the mountain and led to an official avalanche.
Without noticing, my mind was connecting this experience to all other areas in my life where I settle for less or for the OK version of what I truly want.
- I gradually started disliking my closet even more and viciously criticizing myself for looking so neglected.
- I was putting myself down for not creating more art (that happens a lot).
- The voices of inadequacy and not-enoughness got louder as the hours passed.
- And finally, I started doubting whether I should date again. After all, I'm such a messed up mess and I must stay single until I sort my shit out 100%.
(the list is longer, but I think you got the point)
My solution to this fantastic train of thought? Netflix and food.
Nothing like a distraction to try and get away from all the inner shit talk.
But it doesn't solve anything - I still felt shitty inside, and things can still come up between bites or episodes :)
And then I saw a message from a woman I hardly know. She is a member of a support group I'm a part of for the last year plus. She asked if I'm available for a call.
My first reaction was to ignore the message - My coping mechanism likes to stay alone and simmer in poo.
But, in one split second, I decided to do something different; I pressed the tiny phone icon and gave M a call. And that talk was the best thing ever! We shared our frustrations, shame, and hope with each other, and since we both have similar coping mechanisms, we understood each other on levels that others will never understand. We didn't need much small talk before cutting to the bitter root of things, and it was beautiful; It was such a great relief to speak freely about our thoughts, feelings, and behavior!
It's very different to have such talks with people who won't face their shtiks+auto-responses and are actively doing something about them. They might have empathy but not a deep understanding that allows deep exchange and mutual help.
'M,' who is new to the group, did something that I, who has been in the group for over a year, never did; she reached out in real-time. Maybe the hardest thing that exists.
'M' strongly inspired me, and I hope here courage will give me the courage to act the same the next I roll down that steep slope.
Thank you M and EDA for supporting my recovery journey!
*Note to self; Return the OK coat and get the one you truly want.