The Web of Self-Doubt

Raw. Fettered. Burgeoning.

I’m trying to find the right words for what I am lately, but I’m coming up empty.

Yesterday, I cried while listening to Charlotte’s Web during the afternoon kid shuttle. The day before that I cried while listening to Charlott’es Web too. And the day before…

We take many short trips. A single movie can last us an entire week. This week the movie has moved in me.

Perhaps I’m just sensitive, but certain things have just gotten to me. The latest?

Wilbur tells Charlotte the Spider, “I don’t know if the things you write about me are really true!” Things like terrific and humble and some pig.

I think I heard my soul cry those words along with Wilbur.

“God, I’m not sure I can believe the things you have said about me!”

Good things – how God chose me or wanted me or loved me. How God still does.

Why is it so hard to believe the good things people tell us about ourselves? Why do we look down and shrug or give a non-committal ‘thank you’.

Or is it just me or the mentally ill or the overly stressed moms who wonder? Did something go wrong to make me this way or, God forbid, do I make myself this way?

I don’t know the answers to those questions or how to overcome any of it – the downtrodden selfie viewpoint, the self-doubt…

I think maybe, just maybe, listening when my heart squeezes to the sound of Charlotte’s Web might be a beginning. Perhaps the first step in healing anything is simply acknowledging there is pain.

Candidly,

Ash

 

Living in a Lonely World

I’ve talked about it here or there. I grew up going to a private school housed in the church that we attended every Sunday. I spent 6 days of the week in the same building and sometimes seven days during sports season. I didn’t think much of it. Everybody knew me and I knew everybody. When my mom was late to pick us up, it wasn’t really that troublesome. We could find a ride home or hang out in the building with whichever teacher was staying late.

It was a small world.

I’m not sure that is or was a bad thing really. There is something to be said for security and safety. As an adult, my husband and I have moved 8 times in 12 years. I would love to just STAY somewhere. One house, one yard. Instead, I spend 4 months procrastinating on hanging our pictures. Then, I hang them and we move 6-8 months later (12 months if I am lucky). Sometimes I wonder how much of a point there is in making a home when we move so often. Even my kids are reluctant to move again. I think if I told them we were staying in our less-than-ideal rental for the next five years – they would cheer!

But how much safety and security is too much or too long? I wonder.

The problem with my small world upbringing was that I didn’t know who I was outside of my small circle. When I left home, I floundered and, truthfully, I still flounder. I’m an expert flounder-er. But isn’t that somewhat natural? I mean, the term “coming-of-age story” exists for a reason, right?

Did growing up in a bubble really affect me as much as it feels like it affected me? I mean, we are all pretty subjective in the stories we tell ourselves. An outsider would hardly describe my life the way I would. I think that’s probably why biography and auto-biography are two very different things.

What if I told myself a different story? What would somebody write on my Wikipedia page?

“Small-town girl livin’ in a lonely world”?

Literally, those are the exact words that came to my mind. Oh lord, the soundtrack to my life features “Don’t Stop Believin'” by Journey. How poetic.

Actually, I think I’m okay with that story, that soundtrack. Really, we are all lonely at times or even most of the time. We are all searching – searchers. And maybe that is the best part of all…

We are not the only ones searching.

So don’t stop believing. (Yeah, I went there.)

 

Two Negative Thoughts I Want to Ditch

A friend of mine recently asked me, “If you could get rid of any negative thought, then which one would it be?” It was a question I haven’t thought about in years. I actually don’t believe we can control or eliminate thoughts. We can only acknowledge them and then choose whether to accept them or not.

Yet, it had my mind whirling. What would I choose to lose?

  1. Negative thoughts about my body.

I think this is the area that harms my well-being the most. I struggle to see truth in this area so when a negative thought comes, I have no idea what to do with it. Accept? Let go? No clue. Am I fat? Overweight? Clinically, yes. Does this thought help me? Not necessarily. In fact, it mostly overwhelms me. At the same time, if I never had a negative thought about my body, then would I even be interested in healthy change? I think not. Perhaps our negative thoughts are more of messages or arrows pointing us to areas of improvement. Regardless, this particular area confuses me and I don’t know the truth or the way forward most of the time. If I could avoid this particular pain (which I cannot), then I would (but I cannot).

2. Negative thoughts about my purpose in life.

Some days, things feel really meaningless. Yes, my baby does need his bum wiped. No, I do not feel it gives my life meaning. Yet, it is one of things I do most frequently and so in my head the negative thoughts come. What am I doing with my life? Am I really helping the world? How can I make a difference? Just today, these thoughts rendered me immobile and I lay in bed questioning the meaning of life, while listening to the activities of my household in the background. For hours I did this. For whatever reason, I can’t seem to get past these thought  – to choose – accept or let go? Oh, how I wish I could! But I cannot.

Those are the two things I would ditch (if I could), but, unfortunately, we can’t skip pain in life. We can’t skip negative thoughts and, as I said earlier, this is probably a good thing. Negative thoughts, like failure, are simply arrows to areas that need attention. Just as I’ve said about failure, we must meet negative thoughts with curiosity, not condemnation.

To My Body

Dear Body,

I will never forget the days after my second miscarriage. Swallowing emptiness, a piece of me was lost forever. Pain and fatigue occupied my sleep and my waking. You were speaking to me, but I did not want to hear you. You had let me down. All of me had wanted that baby, all of me except you. Why had you given up? Why had you failed me?

When miscarriages happen, people say stupid things. Things like “It’s better this way.” and “It just wasn’t meant to be.” My mother said, “Your body just wasn’t up to it.” I didn’t want to hear her and I didn’t want to hear you. All of my life, you had never talked back. Now, it seemed you were screaming – screaming and whispering all at once.

The message I felt and heard was all too clear. “You have never cared for me. Why should I care for you? Why would I willingly do anything for you?”

I didn’t know what to say so I slept. I cried. I raged. I slept again. I ate. I cried. I slept again.

We never came to terms, you and I. Life slowly ebbed into normalcy. New things, different things happened. Occupying things.

I was pregnant again and this time, you didn’t give up, for whatever reason. That’s when I knew you had not really let me down. You hadn’t failed me.

Miscarriages are the way of things. They happen. No one knows why.

Years have gone by now.  We never came to terms, you and I.

I wonder, is it time? Most of my life, I’ve trounced you around paying no attention to your messages. I was taught to be that way. I chose to stay that way.

What if you were always talking? What if I had listened?

No matter, now.

What do you say today, my unknown neighbor? What mystery do you hold?