The other day my husband and I went for a date in town to celebrate my third sobriety anniversary. We went shopping and got lunch at the Taco Bell that just opened in town. It was truly a wonderful day that we spent laughing together and enjoying each others’ company before we both headed back to work after the holiday.

We took the metro to get home. We sat at the very back and I took a time-lapse video until we arrived at our stop. As I had been taking the video and was in a hurry to get off the train before the doors closed, I didn’t double check my bags before I got off the train. I walked down the platform and as the train pulled off, I freaked out. I had left my shopping bag on the train.

It was my Amanda Palmer Ampersand bag that I purchased at her solo concert, and it contained the random items we’d bought that day, like supplements, dry shampoo, and a gift for one of Si’s colleagues. I mean it sucked to lose it, but it was nothing irreplaceable.

I called and reported it to the lost property office, and they said they’d call me if it was turned in.

To a regular person, that might have been enough. I’d handled it and done the best I could. To me, it was an excuse to hate myself. When I got home, I cried. That seems melodramatic. I wasn’t crying because my bag was lost, but because I felt like a fucking idiot for losing it. Immediately, I was berating myself for being unreliable. My anxiety soared into high gear as I used all the coping techniques I’ve ever learned in an effort to not ruin the amazing day we had before then.

I texted a few friends and my sponsor. I did some work. I sat down to watch a movie and sat in a ball on the end of the couch taking deep breaths. I would get up and walk around and say aloud that I believed in the goodness of people and positive thinking and I someone was going to turn my bag in.

All the while, I was calling myself an idiot in my head. I’m supposed to be the reliable, organized one. I’m the one who holds onto things so they don’t get lost. I have a place for everything and I always know where everything is. Well, almost always. No one is perfect, and my friends were all trying to remind me of that.

The thing is, I actually thought I was getting better in terms of how mean I am to myself. I’ve been working on adjusting my expectations for an entire year. Apparently, I haven’t made the amount of growth I thought I had.

Truthfully, I don’t think my constant desire to improve and be my absolute best is a bad thing. It’s driven me to start a business, redesign my website, complete all my step work, and countless other things. I actually quite like that quality in myself. However, taken to the extreme, it becomes a soul-crippling barrage of internalized hatred. Clearly, I need to do more work on that.

I got a call a couple hours later. The woman I’d spoken to was very helpful and sweet and let me know that the driver had found my bag when he took over the shift and I could come to reception and pick it up. I immediately headed out to get it as I couldn’t relax at all until it was back in my possession. I was completely fixated.

This story is relatively inconsequential, especially given the fact that it has a happy ending. But I’ve learned something new about myself, and that means I have an opportunity to make some changes.

There was no reason for me to hate myself for simply forgetting a bag, but it sent me into a tailspin. Mental health is a tricky thing, and my journey to full recovery is difficult, but it’s something I’m grateful to have the opportunity to improve. Hopefully this won’t happen again, but if it does, I’ll try to treat myself with a bit more love.