Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Another year older

So last week I turned 37 years old.  I can hardly believe I am that old.  I still feel like I am 25, just trying to figure life and myself out.  This past year has had a lot of changes and I have had to reevaluate who I am and how I feel worthwhile without an outside job to go to.  And how I feel as a mother. Being home full time these last 6 months has been rewarding and wonderful on one hand and tedious and monotonous on the other.  I am not meant to be a permanent stay at home mom, at least not full time.  I don't have the patience for it.  I need to have somewhere to go that is just my own.  And, financially, I also have to find something.  I have been looking for months to no avail.  I am nearing the end of my state UI benefits and face trying to get Federal extended UI benefits to keep a roof over our heads.  I should be able to, but I really need a job as soon as possible.

I am slowly realizing what I need to make me happy and I am working toward that goal.  It is hard not to apologize for it or to put my needs last.  It has been my way almost all my life.  I feel like I have to apologize for who I am, what I want and what makes me happy.  I think that is part of being a woman.  We feel like who and what we are aren't ever good enough.  That, by making others happy, somehow we'll make ourselves happy.  What I am realizing, through therapy and just life experience, that that doesn't work.  I have to do what makes me happy and, if I am happy, I will have more to give to my family.

This is all well and good to say, but hard as hell to live on a daily basis.  Due to my extensive downtime lately, I seem to be addicted to Facebook.  Bad idea, I know.  By reading and seeing other people's seemingly perfect and fun-filled lives, I can't help but compare mine to others and find it lacking.  That is my Achilles heel - trying to measure up to the Joneses.  But what I keep reminding myself is that those people that live on Facebook, Twitter etc. and post all the spectacular things going on and pictures of the great places they have been are just as insecure as I am and maybe more so.  In trying to make themselves feel better about their lives, they share the 5% of their life that is happy, fun and wonderful.  The other 95% is hidden behind closed doors, never to be shared or seen.  I read another blog about this this last week and it was so good and right on.  Social networking sites aren't real life - they are soap operas and sitcoms of lives that show only those beautiful moments, not the tedious, the mundane, the painful, the embarassing.  Online, you can appear to be all the things you wish you were in your really real life.  I want to live my life off line and find happiness in just being me.  It's a work in progress...

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Greatest Love of All

Yes, the title does refer to the Whitney Houston classic.  It seemed appropriate given my topic.  And my love of 80's music.

I have been seeing a therapist for almost 4 months now and had lots of opportunity to talk about what is wrong with me.  I started seeing her due to job issues and general uncertainty about my work future.  Then, I was fired from that job for no good reason and I had to start doing some real soul searching.

What I discovered is that I have been struggling with certain things almost my whole life.  And that I was tired of these things controlling me and how I lived my life.

I have always put others before myself, almost always to my detriment.  The reason is is that I think everyone surrounding me is better than me, worth more than me.  I have always suffered from self esteem issues though I really couldn't tell you why.  I never felt right or comfortable in my own skin.  I have never really stood up for myself because I was afraid of repercussions or that people would have a bad opinion of me.  I always judged my self worth by what others thought of me and I still do.  Which is a pretty painful place to be.  To never feel cool enough or important enough to matter to anyone.  Social situations were and are terrifying to me.  So I avoid them as much as I can.  I assume that I am the most boring person there so I don't speak and the stress eats me alive.  I have a never ending soundtrack in my head, telling me that I am stupid, why did I say that, etc etc ad nauseum.

My therapist asked me to list some of the qualities I liked best about myself.  I couldn't think of one.  Silence filled the room as I struggled to think of anything.  I threw out a few trite things but couldn't believe that I couldn't think of one thing.

That's what I have struggled with since I started elementary school.  I have always had friends, boyfriends even.  But inside, this was eating me alive.  I met my husband and he treats me like a queen and thinks I am special and tells me so.  But I don't believe it.  This hurts him, thinking he isn't making me happy.  But it is me, all my negative thoughts rolling around in my head.

I had my daughter and I realized that I never want her to feel the way I have felt almost all my life.  Like I am less than.  I want her to believe she is the most precious and wonderful girl in the world, to feel she is worthwhile and can attain anything her heart desires.  So I knew I had to fix myself, to model the self confidence I want my Madeline to have.

I am 36 years old and finally trying to love myself, just as I am.  I am tired of letting people's opinions and treatment of me dictate how I feel about myself.  So the hard work has begun.  I feel like I am moving forward, slowly but surely.

As to why I have been so brutally honest about what I am going through and working on?  All of us have things that cripple us, don't allow us to live the life we could be living.  We only get one go around is my feeling and why not try to make it as wonderful as we can.  Some things happen in life that throw us for a loop, but there are plenty of things we have control over, things we can change in ourselves.  I should have worked on this years ago but I never did.  But I am doing it now.  We all have the power to make ourselves a little happier and I finally realized that I was tired of living half a life.

I know this was pretty self help booky and all, but it is something I wanted to get off my chest.  After carrying all this crap around for decades, I decided to dump it and live the rest of my life differently.  Whitney was right - learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Silver Lining

It has been FOREVER since I have done a blog.  Many new things in my life, namely my baby girl, Madeline.  I also was terminated from my paralegal position earlier this month.  Besides the lack of money flowing in, that has been a total blessing in disguise.

After having Madeline and recovering from the ravages of pregnancy and a c section on my body,  I was pretty drained.  I also was a very awkward new mom.  Maybe some moms just take to it like a duck to water, but I didn't.  My husband was great, took care of M like a pro and was instantly in love with this little baby.  I, on the other hand, being the mom, felt like all eyes were on me, waiting to see how I would do.  The pressure was a little overwhelming, trying to be this mom that I didn't feel like at first.  People were judging my skills as a mother, which is about the worst thing you can do to a new mom already shaky on her parenting prowess.  Then, my maternity leave flew by and I had to go back to work.  The stress and drain of being back at a position I hated started affecting me and my relationship with my daughter.  The only time I saw her was to feed her at night and put her to bed.  And in my head, I was thinking, "Please go to sleep so I can have a few hours to myself before going to bed so I can return to my hated job."  And then feeling guilty about it.  I thought about approaching my employers with a flex schedule, but they are not family men themselves and didn't seem to see that this was a hard transition.  I got to the point where I was tired of being stressed, drained and put down so I sought out a counselor.  After one session, I felt better.  I started standing up for myself at work.  And then I was terminated after two sessions with my therapist.  The excuse I was given was they were going in a new direction.  What that really means is that I didn't kiss their butts and go to Christmas parties etc.  I was devastated about not holding up my part of the bargain, the making the money, keeping our family fed.  But I was also relieved too.  Relieved to get out of the rut I was in, the profession I hated.

Which brings me to the first part of my blessing.  I get to hang out, every day, with my daughter.  I have built a relationship with her, feeling confident in my ability to care for her.  I take her for walks, I read to her, we play outside.  My former employers have given me a most precious gift - they have given me the gift of time.  Time to enjoy my daughter, free of stress and worries about issues at work.

My second blessing is forcing me to find a new career path.  I could have stayed at a decent paying job that I hated indefinitely to keep a roof over our head and pay the bills.  Now, I have the chance to explore something else, something I might enjoy, something that will allow me to have precious time with my baby girl.  I am still seeing my therapist, trying to find my way.  Therapy has been a great help to me, improving my life and making me more content and excited about the future.

My last blessing has been reconnecting me to our store, Rock the Cradle.  We are planning a complete redesign and adding classes and starting a kids' dance party at a local bar.  I now have the time and energy to try and make our store more successful.

The saying is true:  when one door closes, another one opens.  I feel like I have been given a second chance, a chance to do things differently, to live the way I want to.  In being fired, I finally found myself.