I am not where I imagined I would be at this point in my life.
When this topic came up at dinner a while ago, my husband asked me to promise I would not host a self-pity party. I told him I would do no such thing because some lies just cannot be told. Even as I read my own words, I am a little stunned. Did I actually say that? Wow.
Perhaps the earliest drafts of this post were indeed a running list of self-perceived failures.
I am not as thin or as fit as I would like to be. I am not good at house-cleaning or maintaining organization.
I told myself it was OK to say those things because these are facts and the truth can always be told. I allowed myself a little bit of room to run.
Of course you’re not thinner – you didn’t exercise today.
Your house is messy because you’re lazy. Or maybe you’re overcommitted.
You’ve never been organized. You’re too distracted to be organized.
You set yourself up for failure by taking on too much. You don’t know how to prioritize.
Before I knew it, I had allowed that horse to take off on a gallop; a wellspring of self-doubt and self-criticism flowed freely.
I am not a good wife. I am not a good mother. I am not on top of things like my mother. I am not patient like my grandfather. The cat is sick so I must not be a good pet owner. I am not a good cook anymore. I am not on time for anything. I am not a famous writer. I am not ever going to be a famous writer. I’m not even a good writer. I am not making as much money as I want from my writing. I am not getting enough done every day. I am not making enough progress on my goals. I am not what people expect me to be. I am not what I expect me to be.
I am not good enough.
I am not enough.
I am not…
It’s amazing how quickly that mindset took hold. And for the next few many days I felt it affect every part of me.
I would like to tell you that I have been doing an intentional experiment to see how mindset and attitude affect the whole person, but that would be a lie. I could hit delete right now, never tell anyone a word of this, and write instead about how awesome everything is going right now, but that would also be a lie. I would like to tell you that I quickly and effectively pulled myself out of the muck and adjusted my attitude. Lie. I’ve been pretty damn miserable lately.
My husband is helpful in his completely rational and practical way. “Hon,” he’ll say. “You don’t have time for this line of thinking right now.” And that sets me off, even though I know he is completely right. Time and energy spent wallowing in self-criticism could be so much better spent otherwise.
I give him credit though, for always being the calm to my storm. That doesn’t mean I always see the light and actually become calm; but I do hear him and I do at least throw the thought into the back of my brain somewhere.
This particular funk of frustration has lasted quite a while. I’m not entirely certain that I’ve completely emerged on the other side just yet. Sometimes when you get yourself into a ripe bad mood, it feels strangely good to hang out there for a while.
But there is someone here who calls me Mom. And she hears every word I say.
It makes me sad to admit that my child has heard me say – out loud – so many negative things about myself lately. And every time I do, she disagrees. She puts her hand on my cheek, looks me straight in the eyes, and tells me in simple and direct words what I have always told her: You can… You do… You are…
She tells me I am a great mother – the best in the world. Her eagerness to read my words tells me she loves my writing and her empty plate tells me she loves my cooking. She tells me what I have told her countless times – keep working and you will get there. But instead of heeding my own advice, I kept saying it, but not doing it. And that was the problem.
The truth is I am the only one making these judgments about my value. I am the only one holding me back from reaching the goals I have set. I am the one who sets expectations about who I am or who I want to be. And I am the one who needs to remember to tell myself countless times that I can… I do… I am…
Because someone here calls me Mom. She calls me beautiful and wonderful. She calls me a great chef and a great writer. She calls me love. In her eyes, I am good enough. I am more than enough. I am still, in so many ways, everything she knows about the world and people and how to love…
The truth is I know she is right. I am a good wife and mother. I am a great cook. I am a writer, whether great or not. I am moving steadily on the path to my dreams. And so I will keep on working to be the best example of everything I can possibly be, and to be the best version of myself I can possibly be. It’s not an easy task. Some days life is tough – really tough. But I’m tougher.
I am good enough.
I am enough.
I am…a work in progress.
This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post. This week’s post is inspired by a combination of two prompts: “I am not…” and “They call me…”