Sometimes I feel like crap, complete and utter crap.
Sometimes, I feel lonely, so lonely, that I wonder if, when my children grow up and leave me, I’ll be alone forever–the crazy cat lady, minus the cats.
Sometimes, I feel like the biggest failure in the history of failures, the epic underachiever, the cautionary tale of who not to become.
Sometimes, I feel so angry at my ex-husband for what he did to me and my family that I nearly simmer with repressed emotion: anger, rage, bitterness…the all too cliche’ stereotype of the wronged, “victim,” cheated on wife.
Sometimes, I feel not good enough in every single way–not pretty enough, not thin enough, not special enough, not anything enough…
Holy crap! Did she just admit all that?!
Yep, I sure did. Because that’s the truth. Sometimes, I feel all those things.
But most of the time, I don’t.
Most of the time, I don’t feel those things at all–but sometimes I do.
Most of the time I feel strong and confident. Most of the time, I am happy in my messed up little life. Most of the time I don’t feel lonely because I know I have family and friends who love and support me. Most of the time I know that I’m not a failure, but rather a survivor, and that failure isn’t a badge of defeat, but a chance to overcome. Most of the time, I can extend grace and forgiveness to me ex–despite the pain I sometimes still feel. And most of the time I know I’m enough–a work in progress–but enough. And in those moments, I feel beautiful, and strong, and confident.
But not always.
Sometimes, I just don’t.
And I don’t believe that makes me less. In fact, I think that makes me exactly normal, because I don’t think I’m alone.
I think even the strongest, and seemingly most confident, of us feel all those things at times–but we hide it. We pretend.
We think that strength is never feeling fear, never feeling doubt, and never, ever admitting failure.
So we pretend. Because, we can’t admit that sometimes we’re terrified, and sometimes we’re so insecure that we can’t believe the whole world doesn’t notice, and that sometimes, we feel like an absolute failure at absolutely everything.
But, we all feel all of those things…sometimes.
So let’s help each other out, and stop pretending.
It is time to stop hiding, to stop window-dressing our lives, and to stop competing with something that has never been nor ever will be.
It is time to start getting real with one another.
Which means, it’s time to get vulnerable.
There is nothing I admire more than vulnerability.
I think nothing is more misunderstood than vulnerability. So often, vulnerability is portrayed as weakness. Or an excess of emotion. Or as a liability.
I view vulnerability as the height of courage and strength.
Vulnerability means admitting that I have wounds. It means bearing my battle scars. It means giving a window into my private struggles, my moments of shame, and my weaknesses.
That is strength, not weakness. That is not a liability.
It takes great fortitude, a strong sense of self, and true bravery to lower the mask to our greatest failures and wounds. It leaves our most personal moments and struggles open to attack, to ridicule, and to judgement. That doesn’t sound like weakness to me.
I have very slowly been making my way through Brene’ Brown’s “Daring Greatly.” (Slowly, because it is filled with so much truth and food for thought.) One of her topics is shame and vulnerability. She talks about the “double bind” that we find ourselves in as women in modern society.
According to Brown and her extensive research, we, as women, feel that we are expected to be perfect, and to be it effortlessly. That we are supposed to be ourselves (well, unless you’re an introvert, then you’re supposed to pretend, because people prefer the outgoing, fun types). That we’re always supposed to be confident (no one likes insecurity), and that we’re supposed to walk this line between not being too emotional (because that is a lack of control), but not too detached either (what a cold-hearted bitch!). In sum, we’re supposed to be this perfectly balanced, confident (but not too confident because no-one likes the arrogant), version of ourselves (well, if, remember, we’re outgoing and fun) that is, of course, gorgeous, because how we look is really the defining standard of our worth…
And since none of us are all that all the time…
We believe we have to hide. Hide our struggles. Hide our weaknesses. Hide our insecurities. Hide our true selves.
And so we feel alone in these struggles. We feel ashamed of who we really know ourselves to be, believing that we should have it all together like her…or her…or her…
But no one has it all together. NO ONE.
And I, for one, have no interest in pretending.
I do not have it all together (in case you haven’t already figured that out).
Sometimes I lose my temper with my children. Sometimes, I choose to binge watch netflix and let the dirty dishes pile up in my kitchen sink. Sometimes, even when my makeup is freshly applied, and I’m all decked out in trendy fashion, I feel woefully short of our modern standard of beauty. Sometimes, despite two degrees and one of them being psychology, I have absolutely no idea how to handle my son. Sometimes, all I want to do is give in to cynicism, become a hermit, and not find the bloody bright-side. Screw the bright-side!
But that doesn’t make me a bad mother, a bad woman, or a bad human being.
It just makes me normal. No better and no worse than anybody else.
So how about giving me a break?
And giving yourself one too while you’re at it.
Let’s stop trying to impress, trying to pretend, and get down to the business of admitting that none of us have it all together all of the time.