Sunday, April 17, 2011

Taking care of "Me" when there's little time for "Me"

Last week my husband was travelling to California. So from Friday night to the following Friday night, I was on my own with the kids. I knew it was going to be a tough one as we had many appointments and commitments to attend during the week, so I wanted to be organized as best as possible. I also knew from the onset that I would not have a lot of "Me" time at all during the week. And so from the get go I decided that I needed to have no expectations at all about how the week would unfold and to take it day by day. If I could get some Me time at some point, great. If not, I knew I'd be able to get it once Tyler was home.

The strategy that helped me the most, beside having no expectation, was prioritizing what would be important during the week and letting go of what wouldn't. It was about getting rid of external or internal pressure to do and  be everything in the world. I had three priorities: getting the kids to their various appointments/commitments, having fun times with them so this week would be easier for them and they wouldn't miss their dad too much, and trying to get one moment during the day when I would be alone so I could catch my breath, even if it was only for a minute. The rest: blogging, chores, phone calls, and even work, had to take a back seat for the week. Once I made the decision to prioritize, this week by myself didn't seem as overwhelming. And this strategy really, really helped. The kids were fabulous and I was relaxed  because I didn't have many expectations or "must-do" items. That being said, I tip my hat off to all single parents who do this job of child-rearing on their own day in and day out, because it really, really is tough. Being responsible for everything 24/7 leaves you no breaks at all. I'm sure you get used to it, but it doesn't take away the fact that it is a tough job.

Tyler came home mid-day Friday and since then I have enjoyed lots of "Me" moments. I especially went for a run this morning which was really tough but was all about making "Me" healthier and that makes me really, really happy.

Have you done anything special for your me lately?

Monday, April 4, 2011

"Me" in the Company of Friends/Women

I'd like to think that in the last year my confidence in "Me" has soared and strengthened to the point that I no longer doubt about my self-worth in relation to others. Some days that statement is true and I soak in the power of my newly affirmed love for everything that makes me "Me". But there are times when I realize how fragile my confidence in "Me" still is and how quickly long-held thoughts can create self-doubt and self-judgment which take no time at all to chip-away what is at the core of my "Me".

I recently got together with friends for an evening that I was very much looking forward to. In the weeks leading up to it, I got more and more excited as I hadn't seen some of these friends for a while and also because the occasion would give me the chance to do something that was all about "Me" the woman, not the mother. On the day of our get together, I remember telling myself not to have expectations and to just live in the moment in order to fully enjoy myself. My intentions were to simply be "Me".

Yet, soon after I walked through the door and hugged my friends, I started editing and judging everything I was doing. I wasn't really conscious of it at first, but a little while into the evening, I took notice of the internal chatter in my head. "Should I say this or will it be disliked?" "Am I being too loud and taking over conversation?" "If I do this, will this friend regret inviting me?" "oh no, this friend isn't looking at me at all and seems to be ignoring me. Maybe I've done something to upset her." And on, and on, and on the internal chatter went through most of the evening. As I listened to the chatter, I tried to reason with myself with thoughts such as "these are your friends Em. They invited you because they love you for who you are so there's no need to be worried about your actions." That didn't work so well, even though rationally I knew it was true. Then I got really mad at myself. I mean, how stupid and frustrating is it, that with all that I know now about self-worth and self-love, I still  find myself in these "mind-battle" situations in which I still seem to be so vulnerable to other people's opinion of me and striving for their love or more specifically the validation of my worth through their eyes? In the end, I spent a whole evening judging and doubting myself and all that I did because I so desperately wanted to be feel loved and appreciated by others. I also realized that if these people knew what was going on in my head, they'd definitely not love me at all because it's absolutely crazy to be like this! And the kicker is that all this was going on not in the company of perfect strangers, but in the company of friends! If that's not crazy then what is?

In the days that have gone by since this evening with friends, I have tried to comprehend why I am still so vulnerable and why my self-love is so fragile. I think I have come to understand a few things about this. The first thing is that I am a person who cares a lot about others. It is who I am and there are some things about being caring that are a great asset, and some that are not. Being a caring person helps me in my job and makes me a great mother and doula/childbirth educator. Caring about people's happiness always propels me to want to do the right things. But sometimes, caring too much for others can come to the detriment of my self. And that is where my issue is. The second thing I realize is that the reason I care so much about my friends' love for me is because these friends are amazing people that are really important in my life. I'm afraid that I will lose these friends and this is why I turned a whole evening of celebration into an evening of self-editing so I could make sure that I wouldn't do anything that would cost me my friends. I know, it sounds so pathetic when it's written like that. But this is where it makes sense. My third realization was that in the past, back in university days, I was back-stabbed a number of times by so-called friends. Women I had trusted and given unconditionally to, friends with whom I was being authentically "Me", who didn't hesitate to betray my trust and slam me for who I was. I realize that I still carry the hurt and the betrayal from these long-gone days into my new friendships in a way that makes me wonder if when my back is turned, the daggers fly. Yet the friends that I am lucky to have in my life now have never done anything to indicate that this would be the case at all. As I said, I feel fortunate to be friends with such awe-inspiring, kind and caring women who have always been there for me. Which is how I came to realize that this had nothing to do with them and all to do with "Me", my fragile, once-hurt, always worried, beautiful "Me".

It was really hard to write this post but the reason I wanted to do it is twofold. In the recent past, I have had experiences that make me realize how precious life is and how quickly things can change. Each day is a gift to be thoroughly enjoyed and made the most of, not squandered in self-doubt, complaints and worries. I am mad myself for wasting a special evening with mental clutter, rather than enjoy every moment as it was. I know I'm not alone in doing this. The other reason for writing this post is to acknowledge that self-confidence is a process that requires understanding and patience and to remind you that when you feel vulnerable to be gentle with your "Me". If your "Me" needs love, then think about what you can do to give it to yourself. It's nice to hear others say "You are amazing, fabulous, incredible" but those words will not resonate for as long as you don't believe them to be true deep within your self. And for as long as you don't believe those words to be true wholeheartedly, the sad part is that you'll always be looking to others to say them. I know I still have lots of work to do to fill up my tank with "Me" love, but I think it's realistic to expect it to be a two-step forward, one step back process. The setbacks help us realize and comprehend things in ways that we wouldn't have otherwise. So in a way, every setback becomes an opportunity for growth towards a strong, resilient and confident "Me".

It is a dreary, rainy day here today, not the kind of day that brings a smile to your face. So it's really important to do something very caring for your "Me" today. What will you do? I think I will curl up with a book and a cup of tea at some point today and remember to breathe and enjoy every moment of the day because I am very fortunate to play this game called life and I intend to live it fully, every day, the good ones and the bad ones, and never take it for granted.

I'm thinking of you and your family, Greg Hebert, and I am praying for a miracle.