(Warning…this is a long and rambling post. If when you get to the end, you are still confused, don’t say I didn’t warn you. I also drop the F bomb several times. Don’t read if you are easily offended.)
Ever since my therapy appointment on Friday afternoon, I’ve been bouncing around the idea that I have low self-esteem and that I don’t feel very worthy. O.K. maybe that’s true. It probably is true. So, I’ve attempted to do my homework: every time I felt a negative, self-destroying thought, I’d combat it with a positive, look-how-awesome-I-am thought.
Case in point: yesterday at Maddie’s soccer game, I saw the cutest couple. They were about my age, had two kids, looked super hip, and seemed so in love. Instinctively, I felt envy. But don’t get me wrong, I didn’t feel that type of jealousy where you wish bad things to happen to the people (I reserve that feeling only for those that seem to have it way too good: like Steve Jobs, Oprah, and Tom Cruise…Oh, I’m kidding. I don’t even feel that for those people). No, rather I just kind of felt sad about my life, and internally I started saying things like: How did I get so far off track with my life? Why didn’t my life end up like theirs? Why can’t I find something that even resembles the family happiness they have?”
Then I caught myself. Uh oh, I thought. Bad thoughts. Negative thoughts. Time to bring out the combative good thoughts. So I did. I told myself how wonderful my life is. I said things like: you’re wonderful; you’re worthy of all that; you are amazing.
Dude. I felt so stupid. I felt like the SNL skit ‘Deep Thoughts with Jack Handey.’ I had to stop immediately.
Then, last night, I was reading the book, The Shack. The book is about this guy, Mack, who is middle-aged, happily married, has 5 kids, and is Christian. Anyway, something terrible happens to his youngest daughter and he basically goes to this shack in the middle of the Oregon wilderness and spends a weekend with God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.
Anyway, by the time I closed my eyes last night, I was about half way through. Mack was having breakfast with Jesus and God, and basically they were telling him the same stuff that most of us who have ever pondered religion–any religion–already know. It’s all about LOVE. Super simple in theory, so hard in practice (and I’m sure I’m being very reductive here, but again, I’m only half-way done).
Then I feel asleep. And had the weirdest, most real dream I’ve had in forever. And it lasted a good three hours because when I woke up to pee at 3:15 I was at the beginning of the dream and when Luke jumped on me to wake me up it was 6:30 and the same dream was still going.
So my dream: Basically it involved my therapist coming to my house (though I wasn’t in my real house) and discussing the idea of love and hate and how close they really are (an actual conversation we did have). Then he told me that I didn’t really hate my ex, Luke’s father, that instead I probably loved him, and that I should give it another chance with him. I told him I thought he was crazy, that he hadn’t been listening to me when I told him all about our relationship and how ill-matched we were. Blah, blah, blah, he says some more stuff, and then I’m in couple’s therapy with my ex. Who is raging mad at me and not into the doc’s suggestion. But the doctor convinces up to move in together in separate bedrooms and to just try to be civil to each other. Which we do. And then all of the sudden there’s this group therapy session with almost everyone I know, and they all have to say something they love about me because I’m the reason that the relationship with my ex didn’t work out–because I don’t know how to love because I don’t know how to accept love. So all these people are going around saying that they love this and they love that about me. And none of it is super profound, it’s just simple things like: I love your tomato plants (from my best friend Denise) or I love the way you make your class sit in a circle (from my teacher friend Joel).
And it’s all so surreal. Then the therapist tells my ex and I to go to the local nursery and buy tons of flowers,which we do, separately. Then we come home and have to plant them together and watch them grow as we grow together as well. And while nothing is perfect at the end, we are working on being happy together, and he get’s a big raise and buys me lip gloss from drug store because he finally figured out that I like the little things more than the big things…and then I wake up.
And think: WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT ALL ABOUT???
And in my early morning, still in bed fog, I remember back to the book I had been reading and the simple message of LOVE.
Cause slap me upside the head now if this dream is really about me fucking up my relationship with my ex.
I don’t think so.
But then maybe, I thought, I kind of did. Or maybe I do need to accept love. Or maybe I have to be more like Jesus and give love away to everyone (and I see myself hugging random strangers in this scenario and it kind of grosses me out). Or maybe start praying.
I was already exhausted by the time I actually stepped out of bed.
And I was already super cranky.
Cause why am I doing all this work to be in a state of constant confusion and self-doubt? Do other people feel this way? My sister doesn’t. She always says, “I’m not a deep thinker, and I’m just happy about life,” so why can’t I be like that?
Then I got even more angry because I do not think my life is bad at all. I think I’m a kick-ass mom. I think I’m good at my job. I think I can be pretty fun at times and sometimes even witty and funny. I’m a good story-teller. I have nice legs. I have great kids and awesome friends. I really like my house and my car.
I’M FUCKING GRATEFUL FOR SOMETHING EVERYDAY GODDAMMIT.
So why am I paying $60 a week to be confused and having confusing dreams and kicking myself around in the dirt and then feeling good about myself and then not and then thinking my parent’s really screwed up my childhood and then thinking it’s not their fault at all, and then, and then, and then…
I was just cranky all day.
We hiked up my favorite mountain and were greeted with socked in fog, my favorite conditions, and I was still cranky.
I came home and got to take a nap with Luke and relax and I was still cranky.
I finished grading a whole bunch of essays practically effortlessly and I was still cranky.
I met my sister and her family and some friends with the kids to see some music down at the plaza, and even with the good tunes and dancing kids, I was still cranky.
I’m about to climb into bed and read to Luke and I’m still cranky. But the thing is, I read a little Walt Whitman tonight and that made me feel okay with being cranky. In fact, I just kind of stumbled onto ‘Song of Myself’ without even meaning to.
I love this:
“I CELEBRATE myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.”
And I love this even more:
“Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)”
And this too:
“You will hardly know who I am or what I mean,
But I shall be good health to you nevertheless,
And filter and fibre your blood.
Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged,
Missing me one place search another,
I stop somewhere waiting for you.”
I’m still cranky, and confused, and feeling the need to give and get love, and pissy about my dream last night, but for now, I’m okay with all this and in fact, I’m even thankful for my mind’s disarray. I’m working on myself, I’m attempting to better myself…the good and the bad. It’s not easy, but I didn’t think it would be.
But I do feel like Walt Whitman’s ‘Song of Myself’ may have to be my new mantra. That seems doable.
At least for now.