What’s. Your. Damage.

Yeah, I’m looking at you!  I’m warning you up front…I am feisty today.  Read at your own risk!

I’ve heard from a couple people this week that they’re bummed out.  Feeling like bad parents, bad spouses, bad friends, etc.  In a rut.  I had a friend I’ve known since I was a kid apologize for being too raunchy recently.  Ummm…the day this kid stops being raunchy is the day hell freezes over, and the day that I’ll find him less funny, entertaining, genuine, and himself.  He’s been telling me dirty stories since we were 12…why on earth would I want him to stop now?!  What the?  Another told me she was just feeling sad.  Which makes me sad.  So it begs the question…why the eff are we all so hard on ourselves?!  What’s our damage?!!

Let me tell you about ruts.  I know a little something about them.  And this, my dear friends, is where I start to divulge bits of my history that are less than flattering.  Brace yourselves…I’m actually talking to myself…brace yourself sister.  Deep breath.

In my mid-twenties I had a couple less than awesome experiences that tossed me into a serious rut.  I got fat.  I’m not exaggerating like a whiny girl…I’m talking 100 lbs heavier than I had been…the kind of weight gain that forces you to shop in new stores.  I don’t know if you’ve met depression…I have…and I can’t say I’m much of a fan.  Anyway I spent several years overweight and unhappy.  I did a lot of self reflection at the time and do you know what it came down to???  I figured out that I was ashamed of things that had happened, and while I had forgiven the other parties involved, I hadn’t done the one thing that would have made the biggest difference.  I never forgave myself.  What?!  Really?!  Once I figured it out and forgave myself it was like the fog lifted and I could get my life back to normal again.  But I wasted years of my life because I couldn’t give myself a break.

Fast forward several years.  When my husband and I realized that we were getting pretty serious we slowly introduced me to the little girls.  I was suddenly a part of an instant family.  No nine months to prepare, no going through the baby years to really get to know the girls personalities, no prep whatsoever.  Now, I’m aware that no parent feels prepared to rear children.  But it was as if I instantly had toddlers in a world where everyone else KNEW what they were doing as parents.  And I felt totally and completely ill equipped.  When I picked them up from daycare I felt like the women working thought I was the worst psuedo-parent ever.  When I brought them to the doctor I felt like I shouldn’t even be allowed to be there.  When I disciplined them I felt like the worst person in the world.  I felt out of place everywhere we went because I didn’t feel like I had any right to be a parent.  Many years later, there are still days that I feel this way, even though I feel confident in my abilities and in my relationships with my little girls.

Then there was the role of second wife.  Ugh.  In the beginning I spent a lot of time wondering/worrying about how our relationship measured up to his past marriage.  That can drive a person CRAZY.  I felt like his family and friends were comparing me to his ex-wife and secretly wishing she was still around.  Then I felt this enormous pressure to assure them all that I wasn’t going to hurt him.

In essence I felt as if I’d been dropped into someone else’s world, leaving mine behind, and I did not feel like I was the right person for the job.  I felt like a bad wife, a “fake” Mom, and it started to seep into my work and friendships.  I felt like a horrible friend who didn’t have her shit together enough to be good to my friends.  I felt like I sucked at my job and was constantly worrying about how the higher-ups felt I was doing.

Can someone please explain to me how having internal debates about my worth as a wife, Mom, friend, and employee does me any good?  I can convince myself of just about anything (apparently I’ve recently convinced myself that I am an able enough writer to start a blog…how preposterous!) but sometimes it seems easier to convince myself that I am a miserable failure.

I am quick to defend and forgive the behaviors of my friends, of my husband, of even public figures, and yet it is SO easy for me to be hard on myself for ridiculously small things.

Usually I wake up one day and remember just who I am.  I am C. M. Effing. O.  And damnit, I am GOOD at my job.  And let’s get real…I am a wicked awesome wife.  And I really do think I might be a GREAT Mom(?).  And once I remember that, things feel good again, and I realize how silly I’ve been to be so unforgiving of myself.

So I guess what I’m saying is…

TODAY:  What if I stop being so hard on myself?  What if I remind myself how great I’m doing more often?


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