I think this blog post is coming from a few places. First and foremost, thanks to my recent readings of Gabrielle Bernstein's "Spirit Junkie" and my continued reading of "May Cause Miracles," I have been thinking a ton about my own childhood and starting to dig down deep into where many of my quirks and nuances came from.
I also had a very interesting conversation with my co-worker last week. She is the mother of two young children and she was talking to me about how fascinated she was when she realized how her children play house, vs. how her sister's children play house....I will leave you all in suspense for a bit on that one.
I have really been putting in a lot of quality time, thinking about my own fears, thoughts and basically the story I have created for myself. As I begin to examine all of this, the "story of my life," I begin to realize much of it has been created out of the fears and falsehoods that were repeated in my own head for years and years and years. Fears and falsehoods that created my own separate reality for me and framed my daily interactions and experiences. In fact, someone standing next to me would have probably walked away with a completely different story.
I know I am not unique in these feelings and I also know I am not unique in trying to shed some light on all of it, in hopes of learning more about myself as I continue to navigate through life. Growing up, I walked away with a few concepts that have unfortunately followed me in every area of my life. While they have branched off, sprouted new branches and even grown some leaves, when I trace it all back, it leads to these two lies I learned to believe from a very early age. I am not looking for confidence builders, I am not trying to whine about my life, I am honestly trying to do myself the biggest favor that I can and bust through them all in the hopes of shifting my own perspectives. With my daily mantras and reminders to myself, I am hoping that I will have my own mini miracle, shift my perspective and as scary as it is, not be so afraid and not be afraid to say to the world " I LOVE ME!"
So, the two biggest lies that have basically been woven into every nook and cranky of my life are:
1) I am not good enough
2) There is something wrong with me
Now, children be children, and lord only knows exactly the moment where these two lies became part of the story of my life, but they have woven themselves into everything. Into so much that is hard for me to even get through a blog or a conversation without them coming up somehow.
Let's start to dissect the first one, perhaps before I do any of this, I should put a big huge fat, I LOVE MY LIFE out there. I am incredibly happy, I am just one who feels like there is always work that can be done. There is always more to learn and more to work on and I am just one of those people who thrives off of growing and learning and for me, working on my fears and anxieties is super important. So, this is meant to be an empowering blog, not a "Poor Patty" blog. I also want to say, that I forgive and hold no fault of anyone. People say things to children all the time (more about that later) and never imagine how a few words, one time can have such an impact. It is just when words are spoken and a child latches on to them, it can become their life story, forever. So, no hard feelings here, just trying to make us all more aware of the impact we all have on each other and each other's stories--especially knowing we all have our own stories we have made up for ourselves.
So, let's get back to "I am not good enough." At some point as a child, I took this on as my own belief system. I am not sure if it was because I had a really difficult time when Katey was born (I have heard stories of my peeing on the floor), or if I was confused why my parents needed another girl baby, also born in August, or if was because I was picked-on a lot as a child. I know that I always felt like my dad really wanted a boy. I don't fault him for that and I forgive him for that, but I just kind of always felt that way. I was lucky in that I was raised to learn how to be tough and play sports and be a damn good ball player- if I do say so myself. None of this would have happened without my dad, but I also know that I never learned how to put on make-up, or paint my toes. I am sure that while I had no doubt that my father loved me, a part of me just knew that I would never "be good enough." It was impossible for me to be a boy and while I would help him build things and have no problem getting dirty and playing catch, I feel like somewhere, I just felt like as hard as I tried, I would just never be good enough (never be a boy).
I have no doubt this then branched off to my deep desire to have the approval of males in my life. Looking back at my childhood it makes me laugh. Why was I buying chocolate milk, Gushers and other types of candy for my male friends, all the time? Don't get me wrong, I loved them all dearly, but I certainly was not doing this for my female friends. Why did my male friends mean so much to me, again, not that I didn't love them dearly, but their feelings towards me and their "approval" of me was embarrassingly the most important thing to me. I was constantly feeling like I needed the men in my life to approve from me.
Another component of never feeling good enough was due to my being teased. The teasing started primarily due to my weight and then moved onto my clothes. I was definitely teased. I am certain that never really having a boyfriend, or liking guys that never liked me back, just kind of added to my story, and solidified this "truth" in stone.
I am certain that around 8th Grade, this belief was probably written in stone. As I walked through life every day, this resonates in the back of my mind. Perhaps I was fairly confident in many areas of my life, however, it still became impossible for me to believe that I was fully "good enough." I carried this through, always comparing myself to my friends--my sister especially. I would often put myself down before others could. I found a wonderful defense mechanism, that if I made fun of myself first, it didn't leave room for anyone else to. Major problem with this, was that I was putting MYSELF down. I was telling myself all these things about all these aspects of "Patty" that no one else ever even ended up picking on me for.
This then budded into my magical ability to create the worst scenario possible for everything. I would assume that things would go bad, in fear of being so disappointed, I figured it was easier to assume the worst. This leads to constantly living in the future, which does nothing but bring about anxiety and often causes me to completely forget about the present. You see, when you are living so much in the past or in the future, you are causing yourself nothing but frustration and anxiety, because the only thing you can impact is the present, and something you cannot even do that.
Today, I continue to feel like I am just not good enough. I have been working really hard to trace this back to its root, examine it all and work on forgiving myself for torturing myself and letting it all go. I am working really hard on remembering that I have made my own reality. And just as I have made it, I can shift my perspective and begin focusing on new things. The good I see in others, is the good that is in me, the darkness I see in others, in the darkness I see in me. I am trying to focus more more on all of this and just be grateful for the opportunity to examine it all, as difficult as it may be.
Now, back to my other lie that has helped to write to story of my life....There is something wrong with me. I honestly am not sure exactly where this one came. I am certain it could have sprouted off of the first one, when I realized I was not a boy, I was a girl. I was often told that doing so and so was "girlie" and obviously that wasn't a good thing. I have no doubt I also picked up my parents' own insecurities. My father, while so personable and funny, is also the first person to put himself down. My mother, would often do the same and she was completely insecure about the birthmark on her leg.
I have no doubt that growing up realizing I wasn't a boy, and that my parents found faults in themselves were at least where the idea entered my mind that there was something wrong with me as well. This became my excuse for why boys didn't like me, why I never got invited to parties, why I was never prom queen, became my excuse for everything. There was clearly something wrong with me. My internal fears were also projected externally. I was not only terrified of what was wrong with me, I was also terrified of what may be wrong with the world. Brought about in my fear of death and tension and conflict.
This branched off into night terrors, fears of something going wrong, and ultimately me dying. Fear of death was a huge one for me as a child, I know I have discussed it often. I was always afraid someone would kidnap me, my house would catch on fire, someone would stab me, the fears were just endless. My fear of something being wrong moved from "with me" to "with anything." Along with my huge fear of tension and conflict. I am super sensitive to tension so much so that I can walk into a room and know something is off. I also pick up on other people's energies really easily so if I feel anger, tension, conflict it throws me off and I just freeze. It is not a fun way for a child to live to be so fearful. Sweat dripping down my forehead in the summer, cries of wanting to be held, it is almost too much for me to bear, just thinking of it today.
As I got older, my focus really did become something must be wrong with me. It budded in my adult years into concerns about my health. It is always something. There is always something that may be wrong. I get a headache and I surely have a tumor, I live with IBS for many years, and I certainly have cancer. I exercise, my heart beats fast and I certainly have congestive heart failure like my grandmother. This has recently budded into I am not strong enough, as well. It just weaves and flows and infects so many aspects of my life.
When I break away all of these exhausting stories and all of these hurtful lies, it is amazing how much of my own tale, the tale I tell myself is based on fears I picked up. It is really sad when I think about how much time, energy and effort has been spent on "dealing" with all of this. I continue to work on releasing my fears and focusing on the new perspective and the new story I want to tell myself. It is a story based on love and forgiveness. Love of MYSELF and Love of everyone and forgiveness most importantly of MYSELF and others. It is all wrapped up in an immense amount of Gratitude, I am truly thankful for my life and grateful for the opportunity to examine all of this, as exhausting as it may be.
So, now that we have traced the two lies throughout my lifetime, back to my conversation with my co-worker and the entire point of this blog.
My co-worker, as I stated above, had mentioned how fascinated she was when she realized her children played house very differently from her sister's children. I went on to ask her what she meant. She said that when her children play how, the mommy and daddy both go off to work. When her sister's children play house, the daddy goes to work and the mommy stays home and tends to the children and does house work. As you may have guessed, in my co-workers house, both parents work, in her sister's house, only her husband works, she is a stay at home mom.
So, what is my point?? Their eyes are watching, us. Their eyes are watching all of us. Their eyes are watching what we do, what we say, how we react, how we interact, how we show frustration, love, gratefulness, how we treat the waiter, how we interact with our husband and wife. Whether or not we realize it, their eyes are watching us. Their eyes are watching how we handle disagreement, how we come to consensus, if we bully, how we deal with behavior we do not agree with. Their eyes are watching how we talk about others, and how we refer to others. They are picking up their basic life story through us. Whether you are their parent, their teachers, their godparents, aunts and uncles or friends. Their eyes are watching us.
I often say one of the reasons I am not sure about having children of my own is that I am just so nervous about "doing a good job." Having such an impact on a life, is just a huge responsibility. I often joke no one can be perfect. It is IMPOSSIBLE to know how your words, loving, supportive, or possibly constructive, could have one affect on child X and a totally different affect on child Y. While we are all ONE in the sense of all being created from star stuff, we are all very different individuals, with very different stories and very different sensitivities.
Teach your children well and treat your children well. I have no doubt this is the biggest duh statement ever, but do not think for one minute that your child does not carry what you say with them daily. Just like they will own the word "Shit" after the first time they hear you say it and realize they shouldn't, they will carry and pick-up on your own insecurities and frustrations.
Try and remember this the next time you complain about your gray hairs, your multiple freckles, your big butt, your huge stomach, your being fat. Remember this when you call yourself ugly, or refer to your friend as ugly or fat. Remember this when you call yourself stupid, or use slurs to refer to others. I understand there is a need to vent, I understand most of it will never stick with them, but please, for those areas that you beat yourself the most about, be gentle with yourself.
Think of what you would tell your son or daughter, or friend's son or daughter if they called themselves fat or stupid, or ugly. You would instantly pick them up, hug them and love them and encourage them. You would go over with them all of the wonderful things about them. You would remind them how loved them are, how wonderful they are. Next time you go to beat yourself up over your appearance, over how you don't think you are not good enough at x or y or if something is wrong with you, think of yourself as a small child. Try to treat yourself as you would a small child--your small child. Learn to love yourself. I think that self love is possibly the most important lesson anyone can teach a child, and possibly the hardest lesson for any adult to re-learn. We shouldn't be ashamed to love ourselves. We should treat ourselves more as we would those small children, because in many cases, we still are.
Their eyes are watching us, always, but we should try and see ourselves through their eyes more often. They love us, they love us more than anything. Try and remember how important it is for all children to love and respect themselves. Try and remember that you are helping to write their life story, every day.
And that's all she wrote...