Are you perfect?
I’m going to guess you aren’t. No offense meant, I actually love imperfect people. You’re human. You’re like me.
There’s so much rhetoric about perfection this time of year. Cook the perfect turkey, serve it on a perfectly decorated table, be on your best (read: perfect) behavior around your family and friends.
But what happens when you %$#@ up?
Last year, I royally fucked up.
November is an extra hard time for my family because it’s the anniversary of my brother dying, his favorite holiday/event of the year (no, not Thanksgiving, but our hometown’s rodeo – I know, I know, we are total hicks), his birthday, and then Thanksgiving – which is hard to celebrate because grief makes you really ungrateful.
Last year, we also had the shit show that was the 2016 elections in the USA (which had my sister and I fighting with our Trump supporting parents), and to top it all off, I had mono, strep throat, and an intestinal infection (because my body is an overachiever).
Looking back it can be easy to think “oh yeah, that was a crazy time, you totally deserve a break for what happened,” but in the moment it’s hard to not focus on your mistakes.
I was barely hanging on, so I did what I needed to do to survive, which included getting a prescription for medical cannabis. Pharmaceuticals had only exacerbated my anxiety, borderline, and PTSD, so my doctor and I tried cannabis and it was working really, really well for me.
Until I accidentally ate five times too much … right before going to a fancy restaurant with my family … where we were celebrating what would have been my brother’s 30th birthday.
To call that dinner a “shit show” would be an understatement. Apparently at one point I thought I was whispering to my sister but instead I was shouting “I AM NOT OKAY!” at her.
I kept trying to function normally and couldn’t. Every little action took all of my concentration. I ordered an arugula salad with shrimp (which I don’t even like) and took a good three minutes to get the shrimp into my mouth, to chew, and then to swallow.
When I was done, my little five-years-old niece patted my arm, smiled up at me and said, “Good job Aunt Lolo, you ate the shrimp!”
She didn’t know what was going on, but she could tell I was having a rough go of it. Instead of attacking me for barely functioning, my little niece was congratulating me for what I had been able to accomplish.
I didn’t eat much more than that shrimp. My mom had to help me walk out of the restaurant. I slept for 10 hours that night and woke up still high. I was completely ashamed of myself.
But then I remembered that shrimp and my little niece’s face when she congratulated me for eating it and I reminded myself of this: When my world was spinning out of control, I still managed to eat a shrimp.
Sometimes all we can do is eat a shrimp.
Since that day, my sister and I have used “I ate the shrimp!” as a way of congratulating ourselves for getting anything done on a rough day.
Made it from the bed to the sofa. Ate the shrimp!
Got through a whole dinner with your parents without a major fight. Ate the shrimp!
Checked one thing off your to-do list. Ate the shrimp!
Sometimes we’re so overwhelmed with all the things we want to do, that we forget to take a moment to celebrate and congratulate ourselves for the things we have done.
“I ate the shrimp!” is a way to congratulate yourself for doing something – anything really – when life is hard.
“I ate the shrimp!” allows you to be imperfect, to make mistakes, to screw up and make a mess of things. It allows you to be a human being worthy of praise, even in your darkest of days.
This holiday season, instead of trying to do everything, try instead to congratulate yourself for doing anything.
Because really, life is hard and sometimes simply eating a shrimp is cause for celebration.
With lots of love,
P.S. Need a little more help this holiday season? Check out my course Journal Through It: From “Oh $#@!” to “I’ve got this!” in 30 Days.