I've had a major breakthrough over the past couple of days and needing to get it into ink. I've been journaling, but the inner wisdom has been coming at me too fast and furious to quite capture as yet... I have a feeling it's not quite through, but will put a wee post on to capture this moment.
For as long as I can remember, I've felt I should be something different than what I am. While I don't fault my parents for their parenting, and feel incredibly blessed to be raised in the loving way that I was, I know that the combination of my personality and the parents I chose resulted in this feeling of yearning to be other. I won't go into that, because it's neither here nor there (though is worth me noting to myself in an attempt to not repeat the process with my own babes) at this point in my life -- it's behind me and what I can change is my here and now attitude, not where I've come from.
And it's also worth noting, for my own sake, that because I am, by personality, a sponge to the world around me (are we all? i'm not sure) the culture in which I grew up as also played a large role in my shaping (duh! but bear with me, i'm going somewhere with this). Also, for as long as I can remember, I have been exceedingly uncomfortable with put-downs, gossip, and people being made fun of just for sport. This fact may also seem redundant (who among us is comfortable with any of that now, of course!) but this goes back to my earliest memories and I have never been one to join in on this sport even when I was in the catty-girl stage of grades 6 through 9. I have always felt it my duty to speak up in these situations and this has caused me a great deal of confrontation over the years. I don't include discussing a mutual friend with another mutual friend, as long as everything I say I would be happy to say TO that friend, and as long as the conversation is respectful to all parties... I see our negativities as simply the other half of our completeness and don't attempt to see ONLY THE GOOD in people, because I find this harmful in itself (which feels like another post altogether, but in essence, I feel that when we try to ignore the shadows of ourselves and our friends we start to become uncomfortable with that other half of ourselves and thus begins a negative spiral downwards of hoping nobody ever notices any of that in ourselves -- when it's just THE OTHER HALF of our beautiful selves! more on that, perhaps, at a later time).
But back to how our culture has shaped me. I believe that every time I heard someone judging someone else, I internalized that judgment against myself (and I actually believe that we all do this to some extent). I wasn't aware I was doing this, but the image of myself that I felt I should live up to became so perfect (thin, beautiful, sporty, smart, kind, good at everything, etc.) and so complicated that I could no longer decipher JUST what it was I felt I should be. This led to a feeling of frustration and deep-seated anger at not BEing able to hold it all together in the perfect way I held in my mind...
I went through a long stage of thinking that if I just visualized myself as the being I really wanted to be, then I could perhaps manifest this alter ego. After all, I had gotten quite good at manifesting all other manner of lovely things and people into my life, why not a new and more perfect ME?
Only, of course, I didn't quite see it that way.
But the other night at my NVC empathy circle, the wise sage in the group stopped me when I was speaking to correct my "yes, I should..." into a "yes, I could..." I glossed over it at the time, but it stuck with me. She simply said "I really try hard not to should on myself" and in her English accent the should came out as shit in the most beautiful eloquent graceful way.
It took about 24 hours and an honest, poignant, loving email from my seaJay before it all came together for me. I had written to SeaJay that my vision of my life simply didn't match my reality and was causing me deep anger and frustration. I wrote pages and pages, but that simple statement was the one she cut and paste and sent back to me. And so with the shoulding on myself ringing through my mind and that statement sent back to me, I got it.
My vision is not my reality. Period.
My reality is my reality. I am who I am. It is what it is. My relationship is what it is. My mothering is what it is. And that's all that matters.
I am me. I am not always beautiful or fit or clear-headed or patient or loving or kind or a good writer or a great cook or environmentally friendly or tidy or clean or gentle or healthy or considerate or a good friend or a wonderful mother or a loving wife. Sometimes I am. Sometimes I'm not. This is what I've always told my children. When Annika says to me "I'm so kind to Pedar, aren't I mumma?" I say "Yes, love! Sometimes you are and sometimes you're not. and I love you when you are and I still love you when you're not."
And so I am extending this love to myself so that I can heal my life. And in so doing I will be able to REALLY MEAN it when I say it to my children. Because anything we cannot give to ourselves, we cannot possibly give to anyone else.
And so last night in the darkness I reached over to my husband and told him firmly yet gently that I had decided to let myself go! There was a big silence while I smiled in the night at his confusion. Then I explained that I'm actually picking my REAL self up, but letting all the other selves who I've been struggling to be, GO. I am no longer going to try to be anyone but who I am. I am no longer going to should on myself and I asked for his help to remind me of this when things begin to get stinky again... as I'm sure they will.
And so today I've just been me. Not striving to be better. Not striving to be more. Just BEing me. When I'm impatient I don't should on myself. I simply state the obvious "goodness, Annika! Mummy is feeling really impatient right now!" and then I realize that I have an unmet need that I can choose to fill in any manner of ways. And I find a way to meet it. And tonight I will give myself a hug and a kiss and go to sleep instead of laying there wishing I could've been all the other mummies that I used to know I was supposed to be...
Hmmm. It hasn't all come out just the way it's fitting together in my mushy mind, so I'll think on it some more. But it feels good to be clear in some small but important ways.
So for now, join me: clear your own air. Accept who you are at your deepest level, remember "the most important thing" and stop shoulding on yourself...