Loving me isn’t easy…

So…for dinner tonight we had our traditional Irish meal of freshly baked Irish soda bread, Corned beef with cabbage and potatoes and cherry cheesecake (because the one of the young leprechauns asked for it).
We aren’t Irish at all (I don’t think) but the preschool teacher inside of me will always enjoy these themed days.
Also, I should correct this to say “for dinner, I prepared” rather than “for dinner we had”.
We are a family of differing dietary preferences.  Stella enjoyed Irish soda bread with vegan chicken nuggets and cabbage (and made her own butterbeer floats for dessert). John had beef with potatoes and cheese on top, and of course bread…and I enjoyed a nibble of each.   He will probably have no problem finishing the cheesecake by himself…Stella won’t eat things containing gelatin (did you know it is made of animal bone marrow?) and it’s not on my diet…but it was fun to make.
I almost did not make this meal; the days of green eggs and ham are over and I know all about everyone’s individual needs.  Also, everytime we are around a holiday that was once celebrated as a family tradition (before divorce days), it’s a challenge for me to still celebrate.  It’s all about making a new normal, letting go of the old and building the new.  It’s hard work.
This season feels like it’s one of transition, and I must constantly tell myself to just hang in there.  Typing that out doesn’t even seem accurate.  Life, it’s all about transition and change but these days, it just feels very in my face.  I’m facing some old demons and really being given the opportunity to see who and what I am.  Simultaneously, there are new adventures and a bundle of fun.  I wonder if this is how my teenagers so often feel.
At the end of this month, my current work position will end and a new one will begin in April.  That seems like a good flow.  April is my favorite month, a time of new beginnings symbolically in now, in reality too.  My internship is getting busier and I really can’t believe that I will soon be a ‘real’ therapist.  It kind of freaks me out and I just pray that I continue to trust I’m equipped for this and step all the way into my gifts.  This part…it’s not about me.  It’s about so much more.  I can’t even express right now how grateful I am to be at this part of the journey.  My kiddos…I am catching on.  They really love each other but love looks different with teen siblings!
While this is all commencing, I am working on being the best me I can be.  I have a plethora of negative cognitions that I am trying to understand and reframe.  Why?  Because what once served to protect and serve me is now a futile energy force.  An example…
Recently, one of my dear sisters commented on how my body was so much smaller.  I immediately ‘phhhh’ed’ her and let her know I hated how slow my progress was.  She asked how much weight I had lost.  I told her I didn’t know bc  I was choosing to stay away from the scale, because it had way too much power over me.  (I keep intending to take measurements but haven’t done that yet.)  You know,  “I’ve looked at many before after photos of people who had lost weight and worked out…their scale said the same number but their bodies were completely different.”   She got exactly what I was saying….I don’t know if it’s a girl thing or a sister thing or whatever, but it’s nice to be ‘gotten’.
I didn’t (at that point) have a clue what my weight was.  I hadn’t weighed on a scale in six weeks.  What I did know…my jeans fall off of me without a belt; I’ve worked out every day for nearly 3 weeks; my energy is steady throughout the day and my skin looks good (except for a few breakouts).  That should’ve been sufficient, yes?
Nope.
I got right on that scale as soon as I got home from my sister’s house.  Guess what?  The flipping number is .07 more than it was the last time I weighed.  Guess what else?  This number sent my brain into tailspin mode. You see, it’s not just a number on the scale to me.  It’s a loud voice screaming inside my head that I will never be ‘hot’, it doesn’t matter, I should continue to seek out men who aren’t best for me because girls like me settle, etc, etc.  Ugly fucking thoughts that erased every positive thing I have noticed in the moments (hours) I spent going down that path.
It has taken me two days to begin to get into a better mode of thinking about myself.  There is so much negativity tied in a bundle for me around body image.  I am so thankful that I have strong legs, a healthy heart, a never ending ability to think and learn and so much more.  I hate that I get wrapped up in superficial shit, but I’m human, and I do.
It was not until Stella (my 14 year old daughter) was in the bedroom and she overheard me talking to myself in the mirror.  I don’t know my exact words but I know they were defeating and probably included the use of F-A-T.  She zipped into my closet and stood there with her hand on her hip; “Mom!  What do you think you are teaching me is important right now?”  There was no squirming away from the discomfort of her question.
How can I tell my children how very important self-love is and at the same time, demonstrate self-hatred at any level? I can’t, and it sucks.  Either I say what I mean and mean what I say or I don’t.
I’ve got work to do. It’s part of the transition. Maybe transformation is a better word. I don’t want to carry negativity forward.
Digging deep and learning what all of this is really about matters. There is certainly a part of me that feels more comfortable holding on to my image of a very pure, very good girl, and that girl is always wearing a mask.  Part of her mask is a cushy body.  There is another part of me that is very much enjoying my femininity, my sexuality and womanhood.  For some reason, I have it set up in my mind that she must look very different than me.  “She” must be in supreme shape in order to be worthy of those things.
I am trying to consolidate (still) that I can be very pure hearted, very good hearted, very God loving AND very authentic, womanly, sexy AND enjoy every minute of who she is.
I dream of a love story that I’ve yet to experience…it’s the one where I love myself deeply so that I can love others better.  People say loving me is easy…I am trying to find that truth for myself.
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Mosaic Masterpiece

This post doesn’t want to happen.  This post is resisting moving from head to heart in every way.  This post knows it contains some deep potential for growth.  Hands on the keyboard, my fingers tap out whatever is inside of me, initially unedited.  I am assured that this is a post that must be written.  It is difficult to know where to begin when one is spinning in a multitude of directions.  Gut, heart and brain are in the midst of great conflict and soul keeps saying, “keep going, keep going, keep going”.  The internal struggle isn’t new. What’s new, is is being able to grasp that not being exactly where I want to be is okay, I just am where I am.  Honestly, sometimes that pisses me off, but that’s all part of being where I’m supposed to be too.

A memory that I had written one year ago today popped up on my Facebook timeline.  No accidents, God’s timing deserves a mic drop, again.

“There is an adventurous 19 year old girl inside of me that really just wants to come out and play.  There is also a 45 year old wounded but wise grown up in me who speaks a tiny bit louder that that frivolous 19 year old girl.  There is always that “good girl” mentality deep in my heart, even when I am trying to drown her out.  Honestly, she’s a little ‘over-concerned’ with image.  The thing is, they’ve all been struggling and arguing and have finally decided that they can meet in the middle and explore life.  I wonder what this is going to look like?”

A year later…what does it look like? Here’s what I’ve come to learn in the past year about Sarah, the woman.  She delights in being playful, yet she craves deep connection and reverent solitude too.  She still has wounds, old and new.  The martini glass looking patch over the hole in her heart is something that makes her acutely familiar with the healing process.  She knows that sealing some old wounds with healthy protection is the best way to heal.  She sometimes forgets that this is a very rare situation, because generally, the best path to healing is to stay open, yielding and aware rather than placing a seal over a wound.  Besides, although she can’t see that martini glass patch without special examination, she still knows it is there.   She is strong, and she is fragile.

She has pieces of every experience of every age inside of her…from birth to right now, a 46 year old woman.  She is a mosaic.  She spends a good amount of time trying to figure out how all of those pieces fit together to create the masterpiece God made her to be. (This would suggest she still has trouble believing that she already is God’s masterpiece).  She still goes to that good girl mentality in an instant, especially when she is afraid she has hurt another.  She finds herself slowly transitioning more to who she was made to be and in the midst of that, she fights to separate from living as some other human created her to be.  This is one of the most difficult things she has ever done, for in separating, she could be a wound inflictor.  In her heart, she struggles to believe that she can’t hurt the dead.  She only enjoys joyful magic these days, not black magic thinking…which is exactly what that is.  When she deals with this, an image of a five year old blond girl, feeling ashamed of what she did to offend (but not sure what that was) pops into her heart.  It’s such a helpless feeling that overcomes her.  So, she is likely to try and please even those who are not worthy of her heart.  Danger zone.

She is emotionally aware of others, sometimes too much so.  She still idealizes, sometimes seeing what she wants to see rather than what is reality.  Then, when she is disappointed, it’s because she trusts she will never be good enough to have the deepest desires of her heart.  She is learning that life really does begin out of her comfort zone and that she firmly resists anyone who tries to put her in a box.  That’s a funny thing to figure out when she still wants to please.  Anais Nin once said, “I take pleasure in my transformations.  I look quiet and consistent, but few know how many women there are in me.”  Heart affirmation.

She is building her prayer life and learning to trust God fully with her heart.  This is a process in every way.  She often asks herself how she will trust the right man with her heart if she won’t trust God with her heart.  She doesn’t know the answer; she does recognize the significance of this question.  Her prayers are very different, her tears flow freely and her laughter is genuine and without apology.  Seeking God’s heart and strengthening her faith are constant forgings; and part of this is searching deeply for her own grown-up understanding of God and the Bible.  She has come a long way from believing that God was a big guy in the sky waiting to strike her down for any minor offense, with a long way to go still.  She is learning to seek Him as Father and friend.  She has many people who have come into her lives with polar opposite thoughts on God.  She listens, she prays, and she seeks intimacy with Him above anyone’s opinion.  The conversations grow her, and hopefully grows them but in the end, she knows she wants to honor what is between she and God above all else.

She is raising her kiddos and absorbing hard truths.  As caller number two pointed out, those kiddos are pretty much raised and she can’t go back and change what she may have broken.  She can only do better with what she knows.  She loves them fiercely and wants to be enough, and she often feels insufficient to do this job without their father in the house.  This is tough.  She enjoys (usually) dating and is wary of how any man would impact the lives of her children.  She also knows that coming from a beautifully blended family that the good possibilities are beyond her imagination, she reminds herself that her fairytale dream is not going to happen, ever.  She wonders how she can reframe her fairytale.  Speaking of dating, she investigates her gravitations in this area with fierce curiosity.  She notices that if there were a scale with a man on each end and one in the middle, she drifts toward the middle.

Man on the left talks about men who are Godly leaders are but doesn’t live that way, the only place he is giving is in bed, is manipulative, super smart in a ‘take note of everything so I can use it against her’ way, selfish, temperamental, impulsive, bad boy imaged, gas lights, lashes out, lies, is not faithful, treats her less than and is still yummy smelling and gives great kisses and hugs.  She knows he is not good for her in any way, but this tells herself this must be how love really is.  After all, it is volatile just like her grandparents were.  There’s no inbetween, its either on or off but she holds all the power to heal him, to heal them.  This makes her feel validated and important.  She has someone or something to save.  She is someone else with this man.  She is wild and passionate in the beginning and then she is broken.

The  man in the middle….he smells fabulous, usually hot, gives great kisses and hugs, sweet, gentle, kind of smart but not really a deep conversationalist, wants to be pursued, drops bread crumbs but just not ready or not wanting to be with her…does want her as a back up just in case.  Whew!  She wants him badly, he is likely not going to happen but she spends way too much time fawning over him and feeling a false sense of relief every time he calls or texts.  She knows he is unavailable, either emotionally, spiritually or in some manner and she chooses to believe that he is ‘good enough’ because she never will be fully worthy of man on the right.  This man gets her very best, she pulls out all the stops to keep him engaged.  She works harder for his attention than he ever will for hers.

Man on the right is strikingly handsome to her, good, kind, tender, wise, compassionate, loving, funny, Godly. smells delicious, gives great hugs and kisses and wants her best; even above his own.  He is intelligent, witty, and has big hands that are gentle.  He is trustworthy, holds her heart in his hands with care and has eyes only for her.   Their souls know each other, he is beyond what she has dreamed.  He might even be special enough to meet her family, friends and fur babies.  She considers him fondly and worries that he is too good to be real. All at once, she is afraid and she is intrigued.  She is cautious and inquisitive about the extraordinary pull she feels toward him.  She does not know how to recieve or whether to trust his kindness, so with every fiber of her being she focuses on the present moment and not on the what if’s.  A new kind of hard.

In each of these scenarios, she is torn.  She doesn’t know who to trust and ultimately, it’s herself that she doesn’t trust.  She knows.  She is working hard to trust.  She is trying hard to own her story while believing that she is worthy of the best God could bring.  She likes to refer to the hard things in life being much like a bear hunt, “can’t go over it, can’t go under it…guess you gotta go through it.”    She has a beautiful imagination and in her relationships can use this to create unreal scenarios or to destroy something before it happens.  She has a protective reason for this.  Control prevents chaos and for someone who grew up with emotional chaos, creating safety in this manner is the logical, albeit not always healthy, thing to do.

She is definitely  work in progress, in every area.  This is okay.  She shares openly many of her thoughts, but there are still many secrets inside of her.  They aren’t intentional secrets, but precious things that she doesn’t want to give away to the world for their dissection and judgement.  Some things are meant to be precious gifts from God in her own heart. She doesn’t want to risk those things being torn apart because they are part of what pieces her together.

There she is…one year later.  Lots of life to live, tons of growing to do and more contentment than she remembers feeling in forever.

“I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.  Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.  This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles.” – Psalm 34:4-6