I was the problem

While I was stripping beds and gathering laundry today, in my very own house, I was thinking about where I was a year ago today. Not just physically, but mentally.

Deep down within myself.

It seems so odd, and distant, already. Almost dream like. The person that I was back then is almost someone I didn’t know, and never thought I would meet. But that person was very real. She was very scared, very defeated and very hurt. She was spinning her wheels in place, trying to find traction to prove she could keep moving forward, but she had no idea how to get out of the ditch she was in, and could not figure out how she got there in the first place. Her world had fallen apart, the wheels had come off of the wagon, and with it her self-esteem and her sense of self. She doubted everything. She didn’t trust herself, her instincts or her memory of the life she had before.

It was time to regroup, rewire and reclaim her self.

I had written at the beginning of 2016 that this would be my “Year of Yes”. I was so determined to move forward, bravely and forcefully, that I had to give it a name. And I had to blog about it – I made sure to let everyone that I knew know what my intentions were for 2016, so I could be held accountable. Not really a new year’s resolution, I assured myself, but a journey to self improvement.

I would push back against this force and I would be victorious!

It makes me sad now to read the desperation written into that blog entry. The way I wanted everyone to know that I could do this, I was stronger than anyone thought, and I would come out of it with few injuries and only a better version of myself.

Desperately wanting to ‘fix’ what was ‘wrong’ with me. Desperately wanting validation.

I took up sewing (thanks to a Groupon), decided to challenge myself to read 25 books in one year on Goodreads (even though I could barely finish a magazine article at the time), decided it was my life’s goal to take ballroom dance lessons, and agreed to the challenge to wear make-up everyday for thirty days to see if it changed my life.¬†All with the mantra, “this is my year of yes!”

And I had to let the world know…or it wouldn’t count.

Looking back at it now, I panicked, plain and simple. I was borderline manic in my determination to recreate myself, to find out who I truly was and to become the best version of myself, if I am honest. And at the heart of it, without realizing it was there, was the idea that I was obviously not good enough.

If I was good enough, all of this would not be happening to me.

If I was good enough, my marriage would have been successful and we would have grown old together, happily. If I was good enough, he would have loved me unconditionally and treated me with love and respect. If I was good enough, I would have felt it in my heart and known it in my bones, and so would everyone else.

But I wasn’t. So, I had to fix it.

That’s what I do.

I look at a problem from all angles, I try to understand it almost clinically, and then I research for solutions. I take my research very seriously¬†too, to the point that I will read every book, every blog, every magazine article and talk to all of my friends (and some of my family) to find the solution to my problem. It’s never easy, and it’s always a process, but the process is what keeps me going. The process is necessary. I need to understand the problem, to dissect it, before I can fix it.

But, in this case, I was the problem.

That was so clear to me. I was the problem. If only I was more fun, more interesting, more outgoing. Prettier, younger, smarter, more positive. This isn’t a new theme in my life, that voice of doubt has been playing in my head almost since I can remember, and maybe that’s exactly the problem. I have been listening to that voice in my head for so long that I tend to find – no, seek out – people who agree with it.

It’s so much easier that way. And comfortable. And so familiar.

Over the past year, I’ve come to realize that this is what I have been doing all along. I have been self-sabotaging, trying to live up to other people’s expectations and desires, in the hopes of feeling fulfilled…and enough.

But something has changed this past year, something coming from deep inside.

I have come to the conclusion that I am indeed enough, at least for me. Honestly, most of the time, I am more than enough. I can even be too much, if you’re not the right person, in the right moment. And I’m good with that.

I’ve cut ties with the people who have made me feel less than over the years, with ideas that have made me unhappy, and with expectations that only limit who I am.

I don’t need a “year of yes” to prove it.

It has taken the better part of a year, with all of it’s ups and downs and sharp turns, to take a long hard look at myself under a magnifying lens, and to forgive myself for doubting who I am all along. I have had to push through, with gritted teeth and white knuckled grip sometimes, to make it to the other side of this crazy mess – all the while trying to protect my kids, my family and sometimes my sanity. But in the end, I’ve done it and I keep on improving on it. I’ve proven that I am strong enough, smart enough, pretty enough. I am learning to accept and appreciate myself in ways that I never imagined because I was alway made to believe that I shouldn’t. I’ve finally opened up the door, and let in my true self.

And she’s pretty freaking awesome.

 

 

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Good enough

Recently, at my son’s birthday party, a friend announced somewhat proudly that this is her summer of being the “good enough mom”. We laughed, and agreed that sometimes that’s all you can expect and it’s okay, hoping that it’s a passing phase that only lasts a week or two. But I don’t think it’s a passing phase for me.

At least not for a week or two.

I’ve realized lately that this isn’t too far off from where I am currently. I have become the “good enough mom” this year, not just this summer. I know that I was never the “perfect mom” or even the “most organized mom” previously. But I was the “laid back mom”, the “fun mom”, the “thoughtful mom” and sometimes the “cool mom” and usually I felt that I put my best effort into whatever role each and every time.

That feeling has deserted me. My best effort isn’t what it used to be.

It’s been a rough year, with many changes and challenges, I know. I’ve been told to be kind to myself, give myself a break, my kids will understand and life will get better and more “normal” eventually. But I have to say, I’ve been looking at the last six months and wondering what happened to the mom that I used to be. Where is she?

Our oldest son turned 18 this year, and for the last few years I have been collecting ideas of how to celebrate and commemorate this milestone of my first born. I’ve seen other mother’s efforts and projects thanks to Pinterest and Facebook: a lifetime scrapbook from birth to today, a video montage of eighteen years, themed birthday parties with decorations that would give prom a run for it’s money and even a specialized cake designed to look like his project car (thanks Cake Boss) But in the end, it was prom weekend and I hosted pre and post prom at our home, including staying up until 8am. Prom night was on his actual birthday. I had great intentions of making it a big surprise party since all of his closest friends would be at our house, complete with balloons, streamers, a special cake, a photo booth and an unveiling of his amazing gift.

None of that happened.

It was like a whirlwind of activity, and so little of it had to do with his birthday. He didn’t seem to mind, but I did. I wanted it to be special. I wanted it to be memorable. I did decorate a bit, and added party hats and horns for the kids to enjoy, but there wasn’t any singing or a cake or an unveiling of an amazing gift (come to think of it, I honestly can’t remember what we got him for his birthday while I sit here and write this)

I wish that I could say that this was the only instance when I dropped the ball, but it seems to be more of a habit than a misstep these days.

Our youngest went to camp for a week and I barely packed what he needed, forgetting the sunscreen and the bug spray, let alone putting together a care package or writing letters to be delivered throughout the week like I did last year. He was visibly disappointed when I picked him up a week later, and I was disappointed in myself.

This is not the mom that I am.

I know that in the end my boys will forgive me, and hopefully forget this period of “bad, forgetful, average mom” behavior, but I can’t help but feel like a cloud is fogging up my brain and I am moving through a haze of indifference somedays. Some days I am just glad to get out of bed, have food in the house to feed my family, and the cats, and know that we made it through another day alive. Laundry will still be there, the house will get cleaned eventually, fun stuff will still be there to do another time, and I will get back to the real me. The real mom that I am.

But for now, it’s good enough.