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. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PYPgMXHekh8