It’s fairly common, at least in the mental health blogging world, for people to self-criticize, especially if they they think they’ve made a mistake or failed to do something. I don’t tend to do that, and recently had a bit of an aha moment about how it came to be that I believe that it’s okay to mess up. I’m not quite sure what exactly prompted the aha, but I have been talking with Winter Dragonflies lately about the topic.
The aha is that my maternal grandma modelled this for me. She lived about an hour and a half away from the town where I grew up, and we went up to her place for the weekend about once a month throughout my childhood, so she was a major figure in my life.
Grandma has always had a great sense of humour. She considers herself to be goofy, and has never taken anything too seriously. Quirky/weird was interesting in her world, not bad. She was the anti-perfectionist; she was imperfect and she embraced that. She also embraced it in my brother and myself. She consistently demonstrated the value in being able to laugh at yourself.
She didn’t have the easiest time of things. She grew up on a farm in nowhereville, Saskatchewan, during the Great Depression. She married my grandpa, who treated her with great disdain, and then once my mom and uncle had ventured out into the adult world, she upped and left my grandpa without warning. Her next partner was an alcoholic who finally got sober around 10 years after they got together. So things weren’t easy, but but she got through with humour and always being able to see the ridiculous side of things.
While my grandma and I have always had a close relationship, I don’t think I’ve given all that much thought to how it shaped my development; I’ve tended to think more in terms of my home life in that respect. But being able to laugh at myself when I mess up is definitely something that came from her rather than from my parents.
In my non-depressed life, I had non-mentally ill friends, and there were a lot of things that just didn’t come up that I now see talked about regularly in the blogosphere. I’m pretty introspective to begin with, so it’s interesting to look back and think about influences that I hadn’t considered before. The blogging world has also shown me that a lot of childhood experiences that I had just considered to be normal were really anything but, and I’m grateful that I was able to have those experiences. It’s also made me more aware of how valuable it is to have someone(s) who can demonstrate adaptive ways of coping with the world.
Is there anything you had modelled to you in a positive way while you were a child?
The COVID-19/Mental Health Coping Toolkit page has a wide range of resources to support better mental health and wellbeing.