Before anything else,
Thank you so much for your words of support and sympathy and encouragement and confidence. I can’t explain how, but please know they are so so so helpful and I read each and every one more than once and I want to hug each and every one of you, I really do.
I’ve talked before about rhyming events– little things that pop up everywhere that shouldn’t be connected but they are. Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of things about inner monologues, the way we treat ourselves, the lies we tell ourselves.
In January, I decided to take on a lie I’ve been telling myself since middle school– I’m not a math person. As I have grown older and more comfortable in my own skin and with my own brain, I’ve started to wonder if maybe I’m kind of a math person. Or at the very least, maybe I’m not really that bad at math. So I did the only logical thing I could think of and enrolled in Pre-Calculus I. Sure, it had been 13 years since I’d sat in a math class but whatever– if I was going to do this, I was going to freaking do this and all I had to do was pass.
Next Thursday is the last day of class and my final is on May 4. I’ve had three tests so far and my lowest grade was a 90 while my highest grade was a 100. I do the homework (most of it) and have done every single extra credit assignment. In other words, it looks like I have an A average. In Pre-Calculus. Not a math person? Um… about that…
This experience is rattling me– in good ways and in anxious ways. Because as exciting as it is to understand that there is this whole new world slowly opening itself up to me, it’s sort of frustrating to know I’m the one that slammed the damn thing shut in the first place.
And then, I can’t help but wonder– What else am I lying to myself about and why?
I hate crying. Do I really? I cry for so many things and I get mad when I do but why? Maybe I don’t hate crying. Crying can feel really good. Quite honestly, there are many times where I am craving a good wracking sob. So maybe what I hate is that I love to cry. But why? I get mad at my kids when they cry too and I honestly can’t explain it. Why? What’s the harm in crying? If I can’t explain it for myself, why am I projecting this onto the kids too? Why does it get me so angry?
I’m tough as nails. Not really. I’m actually pretty thin-skinned. I hate criticism. I hate feeling as if I’ve hurt anyone or let anyone done. I am freaking mushy you guys. I love hugs and kisses and silly signs of affection. I adore love songs– the good old ones that are full of this innocent sentimentality that just doesn’t exist in modern culture. Apparently I somehow equated being tough as nails with resiliency. Am I resilient? Oh heck yes. Tough? Um, no.
I’m not good at being a mom. Why does this even come into my brain? I’m not Perfect Mommy because that doesn’t exist. The fact is, I am constantly thinking about my children. I am constantly considering what is good for them and what can be better. I try and be in the moment as much as possible, keeping my expectations in line with what is reasonable for each child. I do things to put small smiles on their faces. I hurt when they hurt. I discipline them when they’ve done something wrong. I am a good mom because that’s what good moms do.
“I can’t take care of myself and my three kids.”
Sound familiar? This one’s fresh in my brain and the fact is– it’s just not true. Yes I can and yes I will. Do I have a plan in place? Not yet, not really. But the bottom line is that I don’t have any choice in the matter. We have to get through. We have to survive and we have to thrive and we have to do it together. We are the family unit when push comes to shove. More proof contrary to my popular belief that I’m not a good mom. Yes I am, because the fact is I have been the one who has done the majority of the providing and supporting of my children for years now. And the fact is I will continue to do so for many, many years until my death if I need to.
Confronting our inner lies is a weird experience. It’s especially confusing when we understand we are in fact dealing with something that is not true and yet we continue to cling to it, seeking supportive evidence. Some lies are easier to break than others. For me, the math one was surprisingly easy to break– at least temporarily. I still have moments of frustration when I don’t get a mathematical concept right away. I immediately begin to doubt myself but then again, I have something concrete to look at that shuts me up– my grades. Not all of life’s lies are that tangible.
I honestly don’t know that we can erase all inner lies from our inner lives. If we could, I would expect we would be Perfect and that doesn’t exist. But I do believe it’s important to wrestle with as many of them as possible because they really are problematic. And if we can’t eliminate, can we at least slow down the flow?
Honestly, think about it. How many times in an hour do we proclaim ourselves “stupid” or “an idiot” or just plain “dumb”? How many times do we “Duh” ourselves? And why? What the heck does it do for us? Does it make the mistake we made go away? Does it teach us a lesson? Does it help us move on?
No. It’s just an automatic response as ingrained in our social mannerisms as “How are you?”. And while it may seem harmless because it is automatic, that doesn’t fly and we know it. Some times, we are most dangerous on auto-pilot– to others and yes, to ourselves too.
I cannot tell you how many times I have completely berated myself about my looks. You probably have an idea considering my De-Frumpiness Project and as I move through the project, that is changing too and it’s also helping me confront that other lie– “I’m not pretty.” How many of us have some version of this? How many of us will concede something like, “Well I’m not hideous, I mean I’m kinda cute I think, but I’m not hot or anything.” I know I’m not alone on that one because I’ve heard the very thing out of the mouths of others– not just myself.
I think these are the lies that are the hardest, if not impossible to banish from our inner monologues– the subjective ones. Unfortunately most things in life are subjective. So why do I seem to default to the negative view on things regarding myself? How do we change that?
I don’t know, which is why I’m here. The only thing I can think of is raising awareness. If we are to become more aware of the thoughts that are swimming in our heads and begin to question their purpose, maybe we can make a dent in breaking them down. I like to think of them as cancer thoughts. They don’t really belong there but there they are and they can accumulate at remarkable speeds causing damage across several levels. And perhaps the self-examination process is the equivalent of a mental chemotherapy.
It is exhausting to self-examine isn’t it? It can even make you sick as you peel away at so many layers that have accumulated over time and that may even have thickened because we didn’t take care of ourselves very well emotionally.
It’s hard to step back and realize a lot of this damage is our own doing. The flip side, of course, is that just as we caused the majority of the damage, with a little assistance from others, we can repair the damage, with a little assistance from others. Or at least, that’s what I’m choosing to believe.
Doubt is not something that is going to help me in any way during the next few months. As a matter of fact, doubt is not something that is going to help me at all in this lifetime.
But right now, I’m in a Critical state and I need to get myself in line with a positive attitude. I need to get rid of things that obscure my vision because I need to see as many options as possible. I need to summon up skills I have readily relied on my entire life and nourish new ones (or newly discovered ones).
The bottom line is, I really want that which is best for me, all of me. And I am really ready to work at that– to cut through all of my own tangled webs and get to the core of things, strengthen it, and move along.
In other words, I am ready to