October 25, 2012 § Leave a comment
Today is a grey, rainy day. I’m overtired (stayed up way too late to be getting up at 5:15). I’m relatively directionless at work. There’s some unresolved drama surrounding the skids trip for Turkey Day. But I don’t feel chaotic or out of control or heavy with dread like I would normally feel. I might almost go so far as to say I feel buoyant inside.
As I’ve been walking this road of self-acceptance, it has become increasingly clear to me that how I feel about myself is equal parts generative and responsive. That is, I am responsible for feelings about myself, but those feelings are also a reaction to the things, people, feelings around me. I can’t control what other people put out there in the world but I can control what I invite to my doorstep.
It’s been a slow process, coming to this realization. I create(d) a lot of opportunity for unhealthy obstacles in my life. How can I expect to feel confident about who I am if I surround myself with things that make me feel bad about myself? I don’t mean that I shouldn’t seek out challenges, but I shouldn’t be spending my day looking at websites that makes me feel inadequate or like less of a person (looking at you, Pinterest). I shouldn’t be inviting commentary from others when I’m obviously not feeling receptive to “advice” (seriously, comments on facebook are never helpful, usable advice). I shouldn’t be staying in friendships out of obligation, rather than out of any feeling of, I don’t know, friendliness.
Over the last 6 months, not only have been working on generating positive feelings about myself and seeking out things that bring me joy, but I have also been slowly identifying and eliminating all these things that are sources of negativity for me. It hasn’t been easy. Some, like Pinterest, were simpler (bookmark–deleted!). But others, like that college friend whose life and beliefs have grown to become in complete opposition with mine…that one was much harder. It’s funny though, for as much as I agonized over the decisions, finally making the choice was like casting off a lead weight. All these things were pushing me to the ground, holding me there and forcing me to believe that I was not good enough. I wasn’t trying hard enough. I just wasn’t enough. Letting go of everything gave me some room to let all these good things in.
I’ve written about confusing personal growth with changing myself to meet others’ expectations. Part of learning the difference is deciding to eliminate the things and people in my life that only promote the latter. If I always have a million things always in my ear bringing me down, then when these bad things come along, it’s easy to start listening to those voices. By choosing to be comfortable with who I am, it’s like I’m filling all these balloons with good things, and I’m held up in the air no matter what other shit is going on.
You will find that it is necessary to let things go; simply for the reason that they are heavy.
October 1, 2012 § Leave a comment
I’m struggling with feeling Good Enough today.
I had a fantastic weekend, full of all those things that makes one feel like a happy, productive human being. I had this great post all composed in my head and then by the time I sat down to write it, everything fizzled down to a disappointing wet fart.
Sometimes I find life to be so hilariously inconsistent. What brings me joy one minute can make me feel so inadequate the next, even simultaneously. Just the stupid innocuous act of cleaning up and preparing the files on my harddrive for a backup left me feeling not only incredibly satisfied for having completed a long-avoided task, but also completely frustrated at things in the past that I couldn’t change. Sorting out the file of legal documents and incriminating screen shots and emails from years gone by just made me feel so helpless, powerless, stupid, even. And then, completely unrelated to that, my s-daughter was a bit of a brat to me on the phone. So when I get an email from a potential photography client, instead of feeling elated that things are finally happening for this whole freelance thing, I just sat there feeling not Good Enough, my mind swirling with all the reasons that this person might ultimately decide to reject me. And searching for solutions to the unanswered questions (where to do the shoot, looking for inspiration for poses) just filled me with even more self-deprication. Ugh, and let’s not even talk about how I’m supposed to be at 8 lbs down today and instead I’m only at 3.
I mean, shit, can I do anything right?
I know the answer is yes, that I do lots of things right and even when it’s not right, I’m doing my very best and that itself is good enough, but a lot of the time, it just doesn’t feel that way. I want to be the best damn accidental freelance photographer there ever was, with my bottom of the line Canon that every other mommy blogger owns. I want to effortlessly shed all the pounds that years of self-loathing help me piled on. I want my s-kids to see me as this beacon of light and love and not hurry to get me off the phone so they can put in their required time with their dad and get back to whatever it is that they were doing. So, okay, my expectations are a little unrealistic.
I know I need to give myself a break, to celebrate who I am and not who I am not. So, yes, I have the cheapest DSLR I could find, but I still take damn good pictures. Even when I just had my little point and shoot people liked what I was doing. And I haven’t lost all the weight as quickly as I have wanted, but in 4 weeks, I have made significant progress in changing old habits and making new. And as far as the s-kids go, well I can’t change what happens when they’re not with us and I can’t expect them to have maturity that some adults never muster up (ahem, their mom). But I can love them, I can not take it personal, I can have the maturity they can’t.
And on days when I want to beat up on myself for not having the grace be comfortable in my own skin, I can remind myself that everyone feels like that sometimes, and it is okay to feel vulnerable.
September 25, 2012 § Leave a comment
My therapist talks a lot about being authentic, being genuine and in the moment and not hiding who I am or what I feel. It’s about being able to be connected with people and being comfortable in my own skin. I want to be authentic. I want to know what it’s like to say what’s on my mind and be heard. Not in a “fuck you” kind of way, but in the way that I am just being me.
I get stuck on the part about not hiding who I am. I have been so many things for so many people throughout my life and nothing for myself that I’m not sure who exactly it is that I’m hiding. The very question, “who am I?” leaves me a bit dumbfounded. I get stuck thinking about all these things that I’m not and all these things that I want to be and I just end up feeling like whoever it is that I am is unrealized, as of yet.
How is it that I am not yet 30 and already having a midlife crisis?
I want to be this incredible, amazing woman who meets all these challenges with grace and dignity and never misses a step. But that’s unrealistic. Everyone misses a step here and there. And, you know, who says that being incredible and amazing means that I have to have check marks in all these unattainable boxes? (Cue obnoxious Selena Gomez song here) Maybe all the things that I do are already good enough to file my personhood in the incredible and amazing pile. And you know, maybe there are things that aren’t so incredible, but maybe that is good enough, too. I mean, that’s me, whoever I am, and if I can’t embrace me, then how can I expect anyone else to?
Learning to be comfortable with who I am, figuring out who I am, means that I need to make some changes. I need to value my opinions and my feelings and I need to make the hard decisions about people and choices that don’t mesh with that concept.
I’ve already started making some of those decisions and I want to write about it because, as scared as I was of what it might mean to let some friendships go or to take a stand or to do some risky things, it has felt SO GOOD.
September 23, 2012 § Leave a comment
It took me a long time to admit to myself that I was unhappy. Even now, it feels like a betrayal to my marriage and to all the hard work that AJ and I have put into our life together to even think the thought.
I mean, everything you learn growing up is that all you need to be happy is your Prince Charming and if you are not happy, then either there is something wrong with you or you found the wrong guy, yes?
How could I have been so lucky to have found my soulmate and yet just feel like life was turning out to be one giant shitburger? Those things did just not compute to me. Not for a long long long time. Saying that there is unhappiness in my life…well, that sounds like a giant admission of failure, doesn’t it?
Oh, to learn how to not be so hard on myself.
But here’s the thing. 6 months of therapy later, I think I am finally understanding that 4 years of legal, emotional, mental bullshit for subpar, marginal custody only to have it ripped away and the kids moved halfway across the country, 3 years of work on a Master’s degree only to discover I didn’t even want the damn thing, 6 months of unemployment (plus 3 for him, and going back to school as a result), 4 years of living in the most depressing part of the state, 3 months of living 200 miles apart…those are all incredible shitty shitty things and it is okay that I was unhappy about it. It’s okay that I lost myself. It’s okay that I tried my hardest and still came up short. It’s okay to say that I was not okay.
And, even more, it is okay that I am still recovering from everything. That AJ and I are still figuring out how to put the pieces back together. To rebuild our life from the ground up, to get to know ourselves as individuals and together as a couple, to start new and to take time.
I realize now that my efforts to write before now didn’t fail because I didn’t know how or what to write about, but that I couldn’t possibly begin to make sense of the chaos that was surrounding my everyday until I admitted that it was there.
I am healthier and happier and working every day to find myself again. I may not have been as graceful as I wanted to be, but that is okay, too. What matters is that I am still trying.
“Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.”
June 2, 2011 § Leave a comment
It’s late and it’s quiet and I’m feeling introspective (and mildly morose).
I remember back when I graduated from college and I applied for job after job and didn’t get much more than a “no thanks” from most people that I felt this same sort of free falling sensation. Like either I was going to smack my arm and get hurt on the way down or end up at the bottom of some pit, a pile of guts and broken bones, but there was no way to grab onto something to stop the fall. I was just falling, with no direction, and there was no way up or out.
I don’t really feel like that now, per say, except that I can’t see any light, anywhere, to guide me. I am just standing at the bottom of the pit, maybe, listening to my own voice echo off the walls, but there is no ladder, no where to grab ahold. I am just helpless, waiting for someone to lower a damn rope already.
I have faced every week for the last 3 weeks with blind optimism: “THIS week is it, I’ll get a call for an interview, I can feel it!” But…nothing. The only people who call me these days are bill collectors. And man, if that doesn’t contribute to the feeling of helplessness, I don’t know what does.
It is so SO painful to adjust to be living on less than HALF of what I was making before, and couldn’t come at a worse time. We have skyrocketing legal bills to pay and plane tickets to buy for the skids, and then, good LORD we have to somehow figure out how to feed and entertain them while we’re here, and how to get to all the family reunions scheduled along the way.
I need to either find God or win the lottery. Or both.
There’s not really much I can do about it but keep trying, keep selling things on Craigslist, and keep optimistic, which loosely translated, means to keep myself in a state of blissful denial.
I don’t know what exactly the silver lining is, except that I know we’ll come out of this having learned how to really save and stretch our dollars, I guess? And maybe, just maybe, come out of it with a fresh start, a better situation for our family.
God knows we need one.