Saturday, March 2, 2013

Look in the mirror and what do I see? Nothing good. Why IS that?

I remember being in my early 20's and living in Nashville, TN with 3-4 beautiful other girls in a 3 story condo off of West End Ave.  We called ourselves Troop 208, because we were all "good girls" (like girl scouts, really) and we lived in #208, so it fit.  We were "on top of the world" learning how to be adults, working for a living and enjoying the process as we muddled our way into the great wide future ahead of us.  We were what would be considered "normal", happy and focused in our direction.  We believed we knew what we wanted and where we wanted to go.  But it wasn't quite least not for me.  I never felt like I had it figured out...and I never felt like I'd be good enough.  And I still struggle with that to this day.

It wouldn't be such a big deal, if I could simply focus on what is good, but I always seem to find the negative in a situation.  There was always the issue I should have thought through more, or handled differently, or even more superficially, I was not really pretty enough and was the "nice" one in the group, because I wasn't beautiful like my roommates and VERY awkward when it came to men I was interested in.  I had difficulty feeling good about who I was. I have a very distinct memory of living at Troop 208, looking in the mirror when getting ready for work one day and saying to myself, "Well, Andrea, you're just going to have to make it on personality."

Truth be told, I've never felt pretty enough, or skinny enough, smart enough, or sexy enough...even when it's possible I might have been.  The exception to this may have been my wedding day.  And THAT I can thank my husband, family and friends for .  The pictures were flattering and the memories so very sweet, so I have something to look back on and say, "There!  On that day, right there, I felt on top of the world and finally like I was who I always hoped to be!"  The fact that I couldn't remember if I shampooed and conditioned my hair in the shower, or just conditioned my hair twice on that day, is irrelevant. I had everything I wanted, a man who loved me unconditionally, and I felt loved and treasured for who I was.  So why did that feeling not last?  Well, that's a good question and one I've been trying to figure out ever since.  Once I found the right guy, all of those insecurities and confusion should have ended, right?  Well, not exactly.  And I can't say that any of it has to do with David.  He has always loved me unconditionally.  Which still boggles my mind.  Even after 20 years and a MUCH fuller figure, scars and wrinkles, he loves and treasures me.

The problem is, when I look in the mirror, I see the flaws.  All of them, at once, in technicolor. And I wonder, how could anyone want to be with someone like me?  I have a group of women friends in Austin that I don't hang out with nearly enough.  These women are empowering, loving and not one bit afraid to be who they are.  They live out loud, grab for their happiness and continue in their lives very purposefully in spite of the obstacles they run across.  They embrace their flaws in such a way that I can only be envious of how beautiful they are in spite of them and I wish...oh, how I wish, I could be as confident in myself as they are.  At least as confident as I think they are.  They may struggle as much as I do, but if they do, I don't see it.

So why is it so hard for me?  I could easily look to and blame society and the "perfection" that we hold up as the ultimate woman (which is truly unattainable by anyone).  I could blame the fact that I've gone through too much emotionally to be able to pay attention to my weight and fitness and aging needs over the years, but truthfully, when it comes down to it, I know that even if I were still as skinny as I once was, I would still not feel like I'm pretty enough. So it comes down to the fact that I need to learn to accept myself, and all of my physical flaws and not see them as something to constantly overcome, because there is no "perfect" attainment in this area.  It varies and everyone appreciates something different.  When I look in the mirror, I want to learn how to see the deep blue of my eyes that are twinkling with happiness about how my kids are doing, and not the wrinkles next to them that say I'm getting old.  That I am grateful that I can still go out and do things physically, even though I may not be the perfect size  (I'm limited because I'm no longer 20 as to what I can do without hurting myself).  That when I smile, I don't see the imperfect teeth I have, but the joy behind it that speaks to what I have in love from my family.  That when my husband sees me coming out of the shower, he smiles at me and doesn't think I'm too fat to find desirable.

Could I be in better shape physically?  Absolutely.  Should I let it or any other of my physical flaws get in the way of my happiness?  Absolutely NOT.  Is it so important that I be "perfect" that I can't appreciate life going on around me?  No, it's something I need to learn to let go of and appreciate who I am, as I am, knowing there is always room for improvement.  It shouldn't take away my joy.  That's what I'm working on these days.  How about you?  Do you struggle with letting go of these kinds of issues?  If so, share what you feel as well.  We're all human and we all spite of our faith.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Through The Pain

     We have to let God take us through things and let Him work in us so our mess becomes our message. Difficult things that we have endured in our past prepare us for God's blessings in our future. - Joyce Meyer

    When counseling the question of "How" is always in the discussion. How do I get to where I am going? How do I forgive people who have hurt me? How do I find the strength to deal with my problems?

     The answer is always to face whatever is blocking the way. Our culture is full of answers that help us avoid our pain. We can get drunk or high, we can immerse ourselves in work, we can dissapear into books or television. The most difficult the we can do is quietly search ourselves for an answer. Then take action that leads us towards our goal.

     There is no quick solution. The work ahead is hard but the rewards are amazing.

   So today take steps through your pain towards the goal. Imagine that you are happy and do things that will feed happiness. Identify those things that hold you back and one at a time let them go. None of us got into our mess quickly and we can't get out of it quickly.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

I Never Win

     She looked at me and said "FINE YOU WIN".

     While that might be technically true. I made the discussion so hard that it was impossible. I didn't feel like I won anything. I felt like a jerk. What I had been trying to say slipped away unnoticed. I wondered to myself what is winning?

     When I was younger it was simple, winning was being right. As I have gotten older and life has gone down paths I never imagined, I realized that I only had minimal control over my ship. Winning wasn't winning. Tears and anger had no place in my mind and heart. The big question "What is Winning?". It comes now in smaller things. A smile or hug or quiet walk. Holding hands and cuddles. Planning our future and observing the kids growing up.

     Forgiveness is winning. Forgiving myself for those mistakes, forgiving her for hurting me. In forgiveness there is peace. It doesn't come fast and strong, it grows slowly over time. We both have to try to accept the good changes and try to let go of the bad habits. I love my wife, so winning can only be about that love.

     The most amazing thing is I have the CHOICE. I choose what makes me feel like winning. Admittedly it has taken almost two decades to accept that my choices needed revamping. It is not too late. So for today I will try to win with love and kindness.

Friday, May 25, 2012

She smiled and I was lost

Andrea and I often pass each other walking through the house doing this thing or that. Every now and again she will return my smile with girlish grin somewhat shy. Those times I know that I have managed to stay in love these 19 years. Not just stay but grow. She is my all in all and I am complete. In that moment I have achieved every goal and become all that I ever wished to be.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

"Somebody I used to know"

     Everyone at my house has been enamored with the pop song "Somebody I used to know" by Gotye. The song very accurately portrays some of the angst a breakup causes. What this song did that amazed me was to include those intense feelings from both sides. As he bellows out his pain that she is part of his past she reacts to the control and anger she felt from him. 
  • Now and then I think of all the times you screwed me over
    Part of me believing it was always something that I'd done
    But I don't wanna live that way
    Reading into every word you say
    You said that you could let it go
    And I wouldn't catch you hung up on somebody that you used to know
      I don't know anyone who can not identify with some of the feelings in this song. I do know that when most people get to this point there is little left for them but to be "Somebody I used to know". What would it have taken for him to cherish her passion and spirit? What could she have done to help him be safe?
     One truth is that sometimes it is better just to move on and let it go.

     Another truth is that sometimes you can work together and move on together.

     We all have choices about who and what we want. Next time you see a couple, with gray hair and stooped backs walking together,  you can be sure at some point they felt this way. You don't get to be that cute old couple without putting in the time and effort. Any relationship can grow or die. It is up to those involved to decide.

Monday, April 16, 2012

I'm Fine But Not Really

     There is nothing more untrue in an interaction between partners than those pretty words "I'm fine". We all know that it is a not so subtle way to say I am really upset. Being "fine"is both a way to say, I don't want to talk and please help me. It's no wonder we are all so confused.
     Picture yourself as a 4 year old that has sucked in a deep breath and puffed out his chest. You are going to hold your breath until... what? What do I mean when my response to her asking what's wrong is to boldly declare "Nothing"? 
     We want to be understood, comforted, and made to feel worthwhile and safe. At the same time we are almost certain that they don't want to or just will not be there for us. It is the perfect avoidance. We can set up a situation where no one can win. If our partner tries to talk with us we can keep our distance and if they don't try to talk with us we can claim that they didn't care in the first place. 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Thoughts on "The Pit"

Remember when you were a kid and you found your favorite toy missing or stolen. There is a sinking feeling and panic following it. This is the beginning of the pit. That place we go to when we are afraid, panicked, lonely, angry, confused, and sad. It's like stepping in quicksand. Each of us have dark places and comforting places. Circumstances seem to push us in one direction or the other. Feelings of loss, pain, anger, confusion, abandonment, and alienation, etc. will pull us down into the darkness. Whereas, feelings of hope, joy, love, acceptance, understanding, and belonging will lift us up toward the light place. It is this tightrope we have walked our whole lives. 

We are like circus performers a hundred feet up flying through the air and performing amazing feats. Yet at every new turn there is the possibility that we will fall. When we fall do we disappoint the crowd?  Do we let down our team? Did perhaps, the team let us down? Did we get pushed or jump? Is there a net?