It is like being a #1 draft choice in the NFL, and then not being able to make the starting team.

Wow, Hold, I could really relate to this. I've had some shake-ups lately at work, was expected to raise my work to a way different level, and have done a few years' growth in a few months. I didn't realize how tied up my self-worth was with how I was perceived at work. Thought I was immune to it. Anyhow, it led me to some introspection. You and I have talked about our superstar kids. I was like that, too, smartest in my class, and was in for a big shock when I got into the work world. Instead of being able to excel with just a reasonable amount of work on my part, like at school, I joined a world where I was *not* the best and brightest. I wasn't the #1 draft pick anymore. There were many others with more smarts and drive and time than I had. I wound up resigning my first job after graduation within a year, and taking jobs that paid less, so I could be the best and brightest again, compared to my peers. I've gone through that cycle a few more years, retraining, going to work somewhere challenging, and then feeling awful about falling short of my peers, so I went to something easier. But this job I'm at now, I was given 3 months to work at a way more challenging level than I signed on for, or I was going to be let go. I met the challenge, Hold, but I was also willing to accept and forgive myself if I fell short and was let go.

I also fell short in my marriage. I married a guy that I thought would be easy to please, but the bar was raised, and I beat myself up for falling so short in meeting these new expectations. I wasn't cut out for the IB in my marriage. But I found a place where I found that this is normal, that lots of folks don't thrive with too-high expectations. That there are solutions that have worked for others, so I could give them a shot, too. I learned about POJA, setting myself up for success instead of failure, by only agreeing to things that I was enthusastic about. And it was okay to ask myself if something was realistic for me before I agreed to it. I can forgive myself, Hold, and stop trying to hold myself to those expectations that were too much for me. I am at peace with accepting defeat. I'm not going to win them all.

What do you feel about self-forgiveness, Hold? I was at a step meeting about Step 8 last night, Made a list of people we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all. Some of us shared about making amends to ourselves, that our expectations of ourselves were unrealistic, and we were too hard on ourselves. If you think about your son, yes, the boy is brilliant, but if he's not the hard-charger at work, do you want him to beat himself up about that? Or be easy on himself, acknowledge that even the best and brightest may not be enthusiastic about being hard-charging all the time.

I'm not asking you to forgive yourself today, Hold. You mentioned a few times about how no one can convince you that you're not a failure. And I think you may be right, that no one can convince you in one day that you're not a failure. But along with our friends here, I'll keep throwing those rocks, because who knows when that day will come again when you will find the "willingness to be willing" to find and act on self-forgiveness.

And I don't believe it's all-or-nothing. I think there are ways today that you are kind to yourself, finding things that you are enthusiastic about doing.

Me 40, OD 18 and YD 13
Married 15 years, Divorced 10/2010