Girl Power! (less)
I'm still kicking myself for not speaking up. I was in a meeting last night and the topic was self worth. It was provoked by the questions, "how do you find self-worth? How do you get self-love?" I listened for almost an hour while people shared how they relied on friends, committed acts of service, evaluated their own decisions, and released self-inflicted pressures. I silently reviewed my own journey, searching for the transitions in my perceptions. Half-way through it came to me. I continued to think carefully, even prayerfully, to validate its credibility. It was affirmed many times over. I never spoke up and I wished I would have. Thankfully, I still have a forum in which to share:)
Any number of years ago, I would have described myself as confident. I wouldn't have let anyone take advantage of me, bully me, talk down to me, or make me feel inferior. I could stick up for myself, feel comfortable among a variety of people, hold my own in a conversation. But my self-concept was distorted. My understanding of everything and everyone, especially of myself, was corrupted by my alcoholism. It's only now, eight months later, that I'm beginning to have the clarity to see things much differently.
All those years, I walked around feeling guilty for my endless desire to drink. I was ashamed that I wanted it all the time, no matter where or what the circumstances. I was constantly judging my thoughts and decisions against other people. I always felt like I was in a vacuum, by myself, watching the world functioning "appropriately" around me.
Why didn't I act like THAT?
Why didn't I feel like THAT?
Why didn't I want to do THOSE things?
Why wasn't I like HER?
Why couldn't I try MORE?
Why didn't I think THAT?
What was WRONG with ME?
All of these evaluations, comparisons to others, circled back to one fundamental thing.
I felt like a failure as a mother. I didn't think I touched my kids enough, doted on them enough, comforted them enough. I was irritable and blamed my negative tone or unkind spirit on everyone else.
I felt like a failure as a wife. I didn't listen to Carl enough, acknowledge him enough, or take care of him enough. I kept my feelings bottled in until I blew up. I was empty and discontent.
I felt like a failure as a friend. I never remembered birthdays, answered calls or responded back to texts right away. I didn't put anyone's needs before mine. Only when I it was convenient for me, did I do something for others.
I felt like a failure as a professional. I didn't work hard enough, put in the extra time, attend enough development, or invest enough in those I led.
I felt like a failure as a believer. I didn't "do" my devotions well enough, I didn't journal, read spiritual books or listen to podcasts. I often got distracted during sermons or I'd forget to pray when I should.
For so many years, I tried to do things the way I thought I was supposed to do them. When they didn't turn out the way I thought they should, I felt like a failure. I was kept trying to feel like everyone else looked and I was failing. I was trying hard at everything and not succeeding at anything. I tried. I tried. I tried.
In July of last year, I stopped trying to stop my drinking and that was the beginning of no more trying. Once I realized I had a disease that was bigger than myself, once I accepted I had no control over it, I gave in. I had to in order to survive. I just gave it to God and said, "I can't TRY anymore."
Since then, I've learned to stop trying at everything in my life. I was always trying to fix, make, keep, create, convince or start something. I was the one navigating the course, directing the show, pulling the controls. It was stressful, noisy. And every single time, I failed.
Now, I don't try at anything. I just AM.
I get up every morning and ask God to direct my day. How can I serve Him? How I can show Him? What do I need to learn each day? By surrendering from the very beginning, the pressure is gone. I am free to enjoy what He puts in my path, the opportunities that are presented to me and the choices He gives me. I do what I know is right and ask Him when I don't. Because I am no longer trying, I can no longer fail. Now, I'm just doing and being what He says and wants. It's not up to me. He's in charge and it's such a relief, so comforting. More of my time is spent in success, contentment, and peace. I have less anxiety and more energy.
Not every day is perfect, as I've described here before. But I'm no longer hustling through the day trying to manipulate what's around me. I'm just waiting to be used and taught. That flexibility and vulnerability allows for more moments of real joy. I'm more content, patient and positive. And because I've experienced success, time and time again, my morale and confidence have grown.
I'm finally starting to love who I've become. It's not because of anything I've succeeded at doing, changing or finishing. I've simply surrendered to myself and asked God to take over. Accepting my powerLESSness is more empowering than anything I can ever accomplish alone. I'm calmer now, and it's quiet here. I'm can actually hear what He is teaching, and I'm loving who is learning.