Beneath The Layers - February
This is a series that we started last month - in the spirit of vulnerability. It's on my heart to open this space up to more personal things, to keep it vulnerable and a place where you can come to feel validated. As women, and moms, we often times feel the same feelings, no matter how many kids you do or don't have, no matter where you live or what you do. But somehow, we all think we're alone, we think we're crazy for being crazy, and feel misunderstood. But guess what? Your crazy is actually totally relatable, while it might appear different on the outside, the heart of the matters are all the same. I hope you can find some inspiration, some hope and maybe even a few laughs knowing that we're all in this together. There's peace & unity in community.
Each month, I want to address a fear that I have, and a negative thought or self-talk that I engage with. What will follow those is an affirmation that I tell myself, something to combat those feelings, along with an action plan of how I intend to conquer those thoughts.
My hope in sharing these with you is to show you that you're not alone. It's easy to look at someone's life (or what you might think you know of it) and make judgments, assumptions and even paint a vivid picture. "She has it all together, she doesn't have struggles, her kids are perfect, her marriage is incredible, etc.." But guess what? We ALL struggle, and while many of our struggles can look different, they all feel. I want to live in a world where feelings are currency - where we can exchange feelings and invest in peoples hearts, invest in their feelings - not in their circumstances or image.
I fear that I'll be misinterpreted. I've always been confident - I don't struggle with common insecurities, I have always been a decision maker by nature and have had a "who cares what they think" mentality for as long as I can remember. I don't know why I am this way, perhaps because I was raised by a very strong woman, or maybe the fact that I was up against a lot of grief in my childhood and the anxiety and depression that infiltrated our home at a young age.
My uncle lived with us through cancer & sudden blindness (and ultimately death), my sister had debilitating anxiety that caused chaos and uncertainty in our daily routines (even getting to school was an exercise in patience) and my grandfather being traumatically burned (within months of my uncle losing his site) made the hospital feel more like home. There wasn't a lot of peace or rest, the uncertainty of death or trauma was always present. There was always a nurse in our home, a hospital bed in our guest room or a therapist nearby. I quickly learned the ropes of independence. This launched me into a headstrong mentality of "I will not be affected, influenced or slowed down by this".
We all walk through things as young people that play out in our futures, regardless of how much we try to hide from them. In any case, this is who I am as a result of all of these things (none of which I resent or would change). Because of this, I am often misinterpreted as brash, cold, or at times insensitive. The ice queen isn't an unfamiliar term in our house. I am aware that I come off this way, and strive to feel understood at times. I work on being more sensitive, approaching subjects with more grace & empathy and starting with a "positive thought" before laying it all out on the table (sugarcoating is clearly not my expertise).
I tell myself "just don't say anything at all", "why aren't you more compassionate?", or even "who makes you the judge?" I question whether I'm worth the confidence that I feel or if I am capable of being confident, compassionate and understood all in one? Guess what? When you start hearing that you're not empathetic, that you lack "soft skills", that you're the ice queen, you start to wear the crown. When we tell ourselves something, when we listen to the stories people write about us, we start to become them, to believe them. This is where identity and confidence end, where we start to subscribe to that insecurity.
I am created in God's picture. I have developed my confidence, my strong will and my abilities out of necessity, but have embraced them, embodied them and deserve them. I'm accomplished, decisive and strong. I am compassionate and caring, and I am capable of communicating that in my own way. I can learn to communicate in a currency that is understood, in a fashion that is familiar and comfortable for those around me. I will not let the feeling of being misunderstood stop me from feeling confident.
My biggest learning curve in our marriage has been born out of feeling misunderstood. It's forced me to learn how to communicate with someone who's so very different than myself. My goal is to continue to learn how to effectively communicate, while not burying myself in the process. It's OK to be strong, it's okay to be confident and decisive and it's even okay to be "not liked" at times - as long as I'm going about it in a way that is loving and true to myself. I don't ever want to lose my assertiveness, my strength or my convictions. I'm unapologetic about my true self, but want to be malleable in my approach, to be soft in my words and to be compassionate in my heart.
Let's remember that we're all in this together, that often the best support is someone who's going through it right there with you. I hope you'll share in the comments if you have other responses, fears, or vulnerabilities - sometimes talking about it is just enough to take that weight off our shoulders!