Do you ever have a moment of clarity, where it becomes impossible to deny how incredibly hard you are on yourself?
I had that moment today, as I had a conversation with a treasured friend.
I mean, it’s not that it is any kind of secret. A neon, flashing sign did not fall before my eyes. No…I’ve known for some time that I am hard on myself. (Ummmm, like forever.)
Sometimes, though? It is easy to forget.
You see, being self-critical is my unconscious script. It is an easy, automatic, and conditioned part of who I am.
Everyday, we hear people, we read quotes, we see corny t-shirts…whatever…shouting at us to love ourselves. Self-care. Eat right. Drink enough water. Workout. Take a bubble bath. Get a haircut.
You know what I’m talking about.
And, being the pleaser person that I am, I shake my head and agree wholeheartedly, Yes! I need to do this! I *should* be nicer to myself!! I *should* practice more self-care! I *should* have more self-compassion!
As that dear friend would say…I start *shoulding* all over the place.
I hear these messages and I can only see what I’m not doing…how I am not being nice enough to myself–and I will give you one guess what I start doing with that…
…Get there yet?
You bet. I start beating myself up for not being kind enough.
What the F?
So, tonight, I got some perspective, and here is what I realized.
The last year was incredibly difficult for a giant myriad of reasons: (1) I started my first teaching job, in a district I had to commute to. This meant I added 40 minutes onto my day. (2) This new teaching job came with lots and lots of mom and wife guilt–I struggled with missing out on events. I struggled with not dropping off the kids. I struggled with feeling like I was no longer the “main” parent. (3) Did I mention I was a NEW teacher? First year teaching is absolutely no joke. It was hard. I got caught in in school politics. I let others make me feel bad. I felt sad at not finding a school “best” friend. I struggled with classroom management and feelings of failure. I struggled with student problems and difficult parents. Ya’ll, bottom line, I STRUGGLED.
(4) My marriage–remember all of that? So, in the first semester of my first year of teaching, I went and made up my mind that I was this strong, empowered woman who needed a different life. A man who could love me like I deserved to be loved. I was ready to up and leave my husband, with my kids in tow…until I wasn’t. Here’s the thing. I am a strong, empowered woman who wants to be loved the way I deserve to be loved. But, ultimately, that needs to start with me, not someone else. And, my husband wants to try, in ways I never thought he’d be willing to. (5) I made questionable choices. Plenty of them. I had to journey my way through a myriad of emotions, all the while splashing through the mucky water making it even more difficult to see my path through to the other side.
Ooooh. The self-hate and self-doubt that I felt this last year were pretty intense.
Don’t get me wrong, I had my strong moments. I had the moments where I truly believed in what I was doing and in myself. But, by the time the school year ended and summer began, I was utterly and totally exhausted.
Emotionally. Mentally. Physically. TIRED.
All summer, I have been fighting my way through that exhaustion, questioning my lack of motivation and feeling bad about myself. I’m too negative. I’m lazy. I’m a bad mom. I failed as a teacher last year. Yadda, Yadda, Yadda.
Tonight though, as I talked some of it out with my friend, I realized…IT WAS AN INCREDIBLY HARD YEAR!
Guess what that means? It means it is okay to feel tired. It is okay to feel negative about it sometimes. It is okay not to know what the hell TO feel sometimes!
School is starting in a week, and I feel my anxiety starting to ramp up. The fears are rolling in–Will I have a better year? Can I manage my class better? Does my principal believe in me…wait, why do I need that? I shouldn’t need that!! …Ugh. Will I be able to be involved with the kids enough? Will I be terrible as a working mother? Will my house be a disaster? Will my daughter think I neglect her and grow up to hate me and think I am a terrible mom the way I think of my own mother? …and my husband. Is it better? Why did I really stay? Was it because I was afraid of change? Is it okay to just let things be? Can he learn to be happy? Can we?
…and on and on the worries grow.
But, tonight, I allowed myself to take a breath and remember something. I am okay.
Though the last year was incredibly hard, I survived it. I might have survived it with lots of tears and been unable to get out of bed for a few days at the end of it…but I survived and I learned SO incredibly much from my mistakes.
And, compared to prior years, I was so much stronger in the face of my worries, my doubts, my failures, and my mistakes.
That. Is. HUGE.
I am critical, yes, but everyday, I want to be a better version of myself.
Some days, I come up short. And that can suck. But the last year has taught me one thing–it really doesn’t matter because, guess what? There is a new day coming, and I get to try all over again.
There is a new year coming, and I get to try all over again.
The slate may not be completely washed cleaned–by myself or by others–but my attitude is re-adjusted and I am ready to see where this new school year takes me.
I will cry. I will complain. I will feel down and up and anxious.
I know these things. I know me.
But, I will keep going, everyday. I will keep learning. And each day, each year, I will become even stronger.
I am a strong, confident woman. When I remember to be. This school year, I will try to remember much more often.
(Please remind me when I forget.)
Wow, this was really something. I relate to this so much (maybe not the being married part) but the self-critical, challenging year, yet persevering bit. Thanks for reminding me there is always a new day. Another chance to grow and become a stronger woman.
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