Being Ruled by Lies and Fear.

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Keeping my 4 and 2-year-old at home was a decision I made, largely based on this idyllic image in my head of me and my daughters spending all these lovely days together, and then their going off to school as these confident, smart little girls, totally prepared (thanks to all that studying our ABC’s and 123’s at home with Mom). Add together a wild 4-year-old, a totally sweet but nutty toddler, the general stresses of gradually setting up a new life in a new place doing new jobs, financial insecurity, and a Mom (that’s me!) who sets totally unrealistic expectations for this experience= Mess, chaos, and meltdowns galore (many of which are mine). Welcome to my life 🙂

With a heavy cloud of self-doubt and frustration hanging over me, wading through a sea of Pre-K prep, Brain Quest books, and flash cards, anxiously planning out lesson’s and time with my kids, something dawned on me; This is not fun.

Life is not always fun and that’s ok. But learning, something that many of our kids go about naturally and joyfully….in this house, it’s become painful. Yikes. Stuck somewhere between sight words and numbers, I sat there thinking; Why did I want to keep the girls home again? Why am I trying to do everything? Why am I consistently shirking off my husbands advice to get help? Immediately a list of well-rehearsed answers strung through my mind…..they’ll go to school soon….spend time with them now….good foundations….connectedness with your kids….blah blah blah….and then as if that dark cloud that’d been lingering over my head sprung a lightning bolt, I saw it; I saw the truth; All these reasons I have for being the way I am now and making the decisions I have, they’re not untrue; but they are also not the whole truth. In part, they are a shield; One I’ve been wielding, feigning a noble cause, when on the flip side of these truths, there is another real and dark motive; FEAR. As if my metaphorical cloud began to pour, I suddenly saw that my perfectionism, my dedication to make my 4-year-old sit the fuck down and focus, for what it is. It’s not about protection or preparation. I am not functioning from the fear that my daughter is lacking. I am being driven from the fear that I am lacking. I sat there feeling foolish. Silly. Guilty. Here I am pressing feelings of lack and anxiety onto my perfectly fine kids. This my friends is one of many ways we pass our burdens onto our children.

“I am stupid.” “I am silly.” “I’m incompetent.” “I do not have the capacity.”

These are variations of lies I learned young and have carried with me into my adult life. We all have lies about who we think we are, and many of us go about our lives terrified of discovering their truth. 

This post is not about parenting or kids. It is not in any way meant as a commentary on homeschooling or using educational stuff with our kids. It’s about the lies we let dictate our lives. It’s about the way these lies and our fear of their truth creep into every facet of our beings. It’s about seeing them for what they are….lies, and then choosing a new way. My kids don’t need my lessons. And they certainly don’t need the energy of self-doubt that I’ve been drudging around here. They need my love and my attention. As do I, I suppose. 

When you look as your life, does it reflect who you really want to be? Your job, your attitudes, your politics, your habits, your hobbies, your relationships…in what ways do you struggle with not allowing your fears to dominate your life?

 

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Take the first exit off of “Sane-and-OK highway” and you’ll be in “Ruts-ville” in no time.

Recently on a breakfast outing with G (my husband), over what I consider to be the city’s best chicken and waffles, I expressed that I was feeling a bit in a rut (hence the copious amounts of butter, syrup, coffee, fried chicken and waffles…). This statement got a whole conversation started on our “ruts,” what gets us there, why and how it happens, and how (if possible) to avoid them, or maybe more realistic, pull ourselves out when we find ourselves stuck.

I feel like we can generally point it out when we’re there; what I’m more interested in is the road that leads to “ruts-ville.” Cheesy, I know. In a long diatribe with the intent to track my rut-road (this really displayed my husband’s amazing attention-span) I suddenly saw it; I saw where that road began.

It’s one thing, one moment where you’re feeling a little sensitive, a little self-conscious, a little self-doubt, but instead of feeling it and then focusing on all the reasons to feel strong, self-confident, and assurance, we dive into that fear and begin a wild, swerving race down the road to “ruts-ville.” Ok, let me explain…

Currently there are various happenings in my life that are not entirely in my control. For all you other control-freaks out there, you know how challenging that can be. I’m waiting for a response from a literary agent whom I would Love Love LOVE to work with. I’m on the cusp of beginning to teach yoga in a new city, a new studio, as a new teacher. In short, these are two of many going-ons that have the possibility to flare up my insecurities. Days go by and I haven’t heard from Agent Lady. The conclusion I jump to? My poem-formed query was a stupid idea, I’m a lousy writer, and really just an all-around twat. In my yoga practice, the conclusions and fears I hover over are similarly bleak. I fall out of a pose, forget what’s next, you name it= you can’t teach. You’re a clumsy cow, who would see you as a teacher? Ugh, joke! Seriously, mean inner conversations happening here. Take these obvious visceral things and mix them with the intricacies of moving with kids, setting up a new life, and really just all the ins-and-outs of daily life…it’s a concoction for a serious detour off of “Sane-and-OK Highway” right on down to “Ruts-ville.”

The nugget of wisdom that made me want to share this is the reality that it all starts in a moment. I miss my alarm? Yep, that could do it. I’m late getting my kids to school? Yep. No emails from Agent Lady yet? Yep yep yep. My pants fit just as tight as yesterday meaning that yoga doesn’t work and I’m just an eternal cow? Yep.

It’s not about the moment that brings up that insecurity. It’s about what we do when that feeling arises. It’s about making the choice to focus on the empowering aspect of any given moment rather than the aspects that bring us down, the moments that we make mean all these other irrelevant things (I’m stupid, lazy, not enough…etc).

We then become hyperaware of any moment, interaction, feeling that might solidify our fears that whatever scary conclusion we’ve come to about ourselves is true. Example- I slept through the alarm. So we’re late for everything. I’m so lazy, pathetic. Ugh, the other moms won’t be late. You are incompetent. You’ll never accomplish anything you want. And then when someone beeps in traffic, I assume it’s at me. A look from a stranger…yep see? Every moment then supports what I fear to be true. And voila! Momma is in “Ruts-ville.” Anyone else do this? I know you do.

 

The trick, I suppose, is to catch the moments where your self-doubt is triggered. Feel it. But then, instead of following that feeling and ending up with some disempowering message that you’ll go on to seek proof of (and find of course), choose not to follow it, but instead, to let it go. Instead of focusing on what’s not happening, on being late or behind, or feeling out of shape, feeling that your work may be rejected; Instead focus on what good IS happening right in this moment. So you’re late? Don’t rush, vow to come up with a system to help you be on time, pat yourself on the back for caring, and let it go. Feeling behind or out of shape? You are where you are today. Can you find something you love about where you are? Fear that your work will be rejected? Can you instead focus on the joy of doing work you love and putting it out there? Can you congratulate yourself for being brave enough to share what you create?

Choosing to uphold the perspective and belief that “I am enough” again and again, I believe, is “the secret” to keeping-going on down that “Sane-and-OK Highway.” There is, of course, a necessity to be realistic and to see ourselves with enough clarity to be aware of what ways and habits don’t serve us. But to use that knowledge to beat yourself down helps no one and certainly does not set you up for more successes.

Do you catch yourself when your insecurities rise?

Do you feel when you’re beginning to lose control, beginning that wild ride down to “Ruts-ville”?

What do you do to bring yourself back? To keep yourself moving along the “Sane-and-Ok Highway” as smoothly as you can? I’d love to hear.

 

In other news, I’m posting Chapter 1 of Strawberry Moon tomorrow. 1 chapter a week. Whooo! Stay tuned.