Do you ever have that feeling that never quite reach where you want to be?
For me, that feeling a fact of life. It was prompted this morning by a practical consideration. I’ve recently started a new job, but have not seen a full size paycheck yet. Andrea and I have a detailed financial plan to get us ( eventually ) out of debt and into a secure life. But in the meantime, I have $8.95 in the bank. When I realized that I had miscalculated, and incorrectly anticipated when the IRS was going to hit my account for hundreds of dollars that I pay every month, I upbraided myself. How could I be so blind? I have failed once again!
In truth, I haven’t failed, though it certainly felt like it. I do have a plan. But you see, I’ve always had dreams, I’ve always had plans, and those rarely came fully to fruition.
See, I’ve been thinking about self perception lately. Accurate understanding of self. What is that? Is it something real people have? You know, those grown up people who have it together. Not 44 year old who are trying to rebuild their lives.
When I look back at my history, I see a life of always reaching a little too far and falling short. Even as early as high school, I often had great intentions. I would start something, but never quite finish it. I’ve told the story more than once in my writing, about how after a cheating scandal at my high school, I initiated a process of significant change in our school, which resulted in the sort-of disbanding of the student government at the time. As I’ve written before however, the act of stepping forward and changing things means you have responsibility for those things. I wasn’t (then or now) prepared to deal with the follow on consequences of my actions.
In the army, I was a good soldier. Never quite excellent… but good. Later, as an activist, I founded the National Gulf War Resource Center in Washington DC. With a few other veterans, I got in the organization off the ground. I was the first executive director, because I was willing to take the risk to get it started. But when the organization achieved enough funding to really accomplish something, it was others (friends of mine) who carried that forward all the way to the finish line.
I see much the same throughout my history. I ran Veterans for Common Sense in the early 2000s, and never quite achieved enough funding to be truly successful. I was an early self-publisher (by today’s standards anyway) with my first self published book coming out in 2001, and I was among the very first self-published authors with books on Amazon, prior to the introduction of Kindle Direct Publishing. I watched as Just Remember to Breathe achieved success wildly beyond my dreams, but falling short of my peers at the time. Other authors whose books achieved success at the same time, seemed to go on and find literary agents and lucrative publishing deals, While my career lagged behind.
When I was still married, I never felt that I was quite good enough as a husband, or as a father. Nowadays, I’m trying to run my business, work full time, be a father and stepfather, a partner, and in all those endeavors I never quite reach the goals I seek.
Really it’s fascinating, because I have a clear vision, but I often miss the boat. I can’t help but wonder, if I’m the only person who feels this way. I know I’m not. Rationally, I know that many people feel this way.
I’m thinking about this a lot lately, because Andrea and I have been very slowly going through an exercise of deciding what our mission is. As my therapist has pointed out more than once, couples end up on her couch all the time, And when she asks the question, what was your plan? They almost never have an answer. All because they did not have a plan, a shared mission; they both operated out of assumptions of what they wanted and the other one wanted and invariably those assumptions were wrong.
So a big part of our future together, is coming up with a plan. It’s coming up with a shared mission. Both of us truly value bringing joy into other peoples lives. We have talked about wanting to foster children, or adopt more. After all, adopting my now 14-year-old daughter was the best thing I’ve ever done.
It is important to me that I do these things well. I don’t want to think about being a good partner ( and hopefully future husband), I want to be a good partner. I don’t want to fall short of my goals of getting out of debt, for recovery from addiction, for successfully rebuilding my life. Those cannot be half measures.
So that is my story. I suspect, that on some levels, my misperception of self has been the actual cause of problems in my life. Self sabotage, or insufficient confidence, or that deep interior belief that I’m just never good enough. Maybe my goals for the future, needs to include learning to love myself.