Me, Myself, and I

Brokenness

I haven’t written much lately. My husband tends to feel like he’s letting himself down when he doesn’t write for a long time, but for me it’s kind of a relief. I have noticed that I tend to write when I’m sad. Or angry. Or when I just need to process things that I can’t wrap my mind around. If I’m not writing a lot, it’s a pretty good indication that I’m doing well. I’m happy. I’ve got stuff figured out. Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule…

I had surgery at the end of August and I was pretty dependent on J for most of my daily needs for quite a while. (That was horrible, by the way. I had no idea that I valued my independence so much!). But once I was on my own two feet again (albeit with some pain), I was much better.

And now here I am again, which means I need to figure some stuff out. Counselor says I need to cultivate a relationship with myself. I need to learn to love myself. Forgive myself. I don’t know how to do that. She also recommends I do some kind of art, because it’s a way to be creative and explore myself without the analytical stuff that comes out when I write. I don’t know how to do that either.

But I am learning to sew. And I bought glitter. That’s a start, right?

But what about liking myself and forgiving myself? What do I like about myself?

  • I’m very smart.
  • I’m great at communication.
  • I’m the best (job title) that (company name) has ever had. Their words, not mine.
  • I have moments when I’m really fun to be around.
  • I can make some people laugh.
  • I think I see a beauty in the world that others often miss.
  • I’m generous and kind.
  • I’m a great baker.
  • I’m creative.
  • I’m trustworthy.
  • I’m fiscally responsible.
  • I’m analytical (Yes, I like that about myself, but I certainly do have to keep myself in check in that regard.)
  • And what do I need to forgive myself for?

  • I’m not perfect.
  • I sometimes hurt the people I love.
  • I’m overweight.
  • I’m bad at keeping my home clean.
  • I’m not sure how to forgive God for His silence lately.
  • I’m not sure how to forgive God for allowing my mom to get sick.
  • I’m not beautiful.
  • I’m not as witty as I wish I was (…as I wish I were?)
  • I’m often lazy.
  • I frequently don’t do the things I “should” do.
  • Why does the bad stuff feel more potent than the good stuff? How can I choose to focus on the good things about myself, when they don’t feel as real or as important as the bad things?

    Identity Crisis

    Brokenness

    I finally went to see a counselor yesterday…for just me, not for my marriage.  I’ve been wanting to for, oh, several years.  Now that the first appointment is over, I find myself wondering why it was so hard to just GO.  I told myself that I couldn’t afford it.  Probably true, but at this point I’d rather go into debt than not see someone.  I need it that much.  I told myself that I didn’t know how to find the right person.  Also true, but what’s so inherently terrible about finding a couple of wrong therapists in the pursuit of finding the right one?

    All excuses.  I’m not sure whether my reticence was a result of laziness or fear.  I know that therapy (no matter what kind) is hard work, and maybe I just felt that I simply couldn’t add one more emotionally draining task to my load.  Hogwash, of course.  If my life is really so overwhelming that adding one more thing seems impossible, then that’s all the more reason to go to counseling.

    So, I met my new counselor for the first time yesterday, and I am astounded by how helpful it was.  I know that I have a long and painful road ahead of me, but already I have learned something about myself that explains a lot.  (I know that the left-brain/right-brain theory is very over-generalized and not really truly accurate, but for the purpose of this blog post, let’s just accept the concept to a certain degree, because it has brought such a clarity to what I perceive to be my essential problem.)  I am not whole.  I have become segmented.

    As a child, I used to pick up my pencil with my left hand (which is controlled by the right hemisphere of the brain), but my teachers trained me to be right handed.  I have always felt that I was right-brained, as well, because I am naturally a creative and intuitive sort of person.  I’m very in touch with my emotions.  Art was always my favorite subject in school, and not just because it was easier than, say, math.  I also sang a lot throughout my childhood and high school. Yep, right-brained.

    The problem?  The professional world is more suited to left-brained folks.  I am very adaptable.  In school, where logic and intellect are prized over creativity, I learned to focus on using the left side of my brain.  And since completing my education, in my professional career, I have essentially trained myself to be exclusively left-brained while at work.  …So much so that I effectively become someone entirely different when I’m in the office…  It’s still really me, but it’s a different side of me that is completely disconnected to the other parts of me.  Case in point, someone at work will ask me on a Friday what my plans are for the weekend and my mind goes a complete blank.  It’s like I put on competency like a garment for the 9 hours that I am in the office, and I cannot switch out of that mode even for a moment to remember what fun I might have planned.  I literally have to whip out my phone and look at my calendar to see what the heck I have going on.  Same thing looking back, too.  “What did you do this last weekend?”  Complete blank.

    I’m not a ditzy person.  On the contrary, while at work I am highly competent.  Very efficient.  It’s not rocket science or anything, but take a look at my blog posts and see my analytical tendency.  I don’t wish to seem arrogant, and I certainly don’t think I’m anything close to a genius, but I honestly think I have above-average intellect (and all the tests I’ve taken support that assumption).  That analytical way of thinking that I’m describing, though, is not my normal.  It’s my learned way of thinking.

    So, I come home after work and I am exhausted after spending all day functioning in a mode that is not my natural tendency, and I crash both mentally and emotionally.  Then my depression joins the party and become completely useless.

    Aside: My poor husband.  He catches a brief glimpse of me in my work mode and he almost doesn’t recognize me.  Then by the time I come home, I’ve transitioned out of my left-brained mode, and I’m just a lump of organic matter, not even able to make a decision about what I want for dinner.

    And here’s the point of the whole post: No wonder I feel so broken and disjointed.  No wonder I can’t even take a simple personality test because I can’t decide which “me” I’m evaluating.  No wonder I feel panic when I try to define my identity.

    So…  My homework from my counselor is to sketch.  Or paint.  And throughout the day at work, I’m to ask myself how I feel.  Weirdest homework ever, hey?

    I am excited that I finally have something concrete that I can point to and say, “yes, this is what my problem is…or part of it anyway.”  Granted, I am a different person than I was when I was a child.  Perhaps I have migrated for good over into the left side of my brain…but maybe if I spend some time immersed in those activities from my childhood that I used to love, maybe I’ll feel a little more connected to myself.

    I don’t know if any of this makes sense to anyone other than me, but …well, it doesn’t really matter.  It is enough that I understand.  And I am so thankful – so relieved – for the clarity and freedom I feel.

    100 Life Goals

    Goals

    J and I both love to read, and sometimes we’ll discuss the books we’re discovering.  Not long ago, J read a book called 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think by Laura Vanderkam.  Truth be told, I haven’t read it and I’m not sure if I’ll ever get around to it, but one thing J mentioned to me while he was reading it was that the author recommended writing a list of 100 dreams or goals.  I thought it was a great idea, so I decided to make my own list.

    And now, for your reading pleasure, my dreams (in no particular order):

    1. Take a picture of myself every day (for age progression purposes).
    2. Attend at least 2 roller derby bouts every season.
    3. Go someplace new once every other month.
    4. Feel confident in a bathing suit.
    5. Have a wardrobe I love.
    6. Read 5 nonfiction and 10 fiction books every year.
    7. Give a million dollars to charity during my lifetime.
    8. Become an activist who fights against human trafficking.
    9. See the pyramids.
    10. Buy lingerie in Paris.
    11. Tithe a full 10% to the general fund at church in addition to the other various good causes I support. 2013 and ongoing
    12. Do a humanitarian trip at least once a decade.
    13. Learn to sew beautiful clothing and crafts.
    14. Send anonymous gifts to people twice a year.
    15. Visit my ancestral roots in Germany.
    16. Learn to make my own cleaning/beauty products (for the sake of reducing my carbon footprint and household chemical consumption).
    17. Visit all 50 states.
    18. Pray at the Wailing Wall at least one more time. Bring J.
    19. Call Sister and Oma once a week.
    20. See college friend G again before I turn 35. 2014
    21. Take college friend M out to dinner before the end of 2013.
    22. Take a Caribbean cruise.
    23. Find my place in ministry.
    24. Create a comfortable and beautiful home that is neat, organized, and decorated.
    25. Become “mostly vegetarian.”  Seafood excluded.
    26. Invest in T’s life.  Become her confidante and outside support system.
    27. Become a prayer warrior.
    28. Buy roller skates and skate once a month.
    29. Learn to believe in true love again.
    30. See Oma at least one more time before she dies. 2014
    31. Write R & R (sponsored children) once every other month.
    32. Find a best friend in my region.
    33. Volunteer once a month. 2014 and ongoing
    34. Eat more pizza and sushi.
    35. See Eddie Izzard, Jim Gaffigan, and Brian Regan (again) [2014] live.
    36. Have $0 of debt.
    37. Win employee of the year.
    38. See a live theater production once a year.
    39. Keep a dream journal.
    40. Take a vacation with Sister.
    41. At least once in my life, leave a $100 bill for my restaurant meal at Christmas time.
    42. Get my picture taken with Johnny Depp.
    43. Watch a documentary once a month.
    44. Take belly dancing lessons.
    45. See Petra – the buildings carved into stone.
    46. Ride a camel.
    47. Choose and wear a signature scent.
    48. Take J on a surprise vacation.
    49. Save enough to retire comfortably at the age of 60.
    50. Own something from Tiffany’s.
    51. Take a ceramics and/or stained glass course.
    52. Learn Sign Language.
    53. Keep a daily “I’m Thankful For” journal.
    54. Win a trophy that I get to keep indefinitely (not the Iron Skee Ball trophy).
    55. Beat J at least once more time at one of our annual Iron Skee Ball competitions.
    56. Do the “27 Days of J” for J’s birthday one year.
    57. Finish a half-marathon.
    58. Learn to swing dance, stunts included.  Or salsa dancing.
    59. Stay up late and watch shooting stars in a cemetery (again).
    60. Watch the sunrise from somewhere where an ocean is to the east.
    61. See Ground Zero.
    62. Kiss J on the top of the Empire State Building.
    63. Look out the window from the top of the Columbia Tower.
    64. See the view from the top of the Smith Tower.
    65. Start celebrating “Treat Yourself” day annually.
    66. Skydive.
    67. Every presidential election, take off from work the day after the election so that I can stay up late to hear the results as they happen.  Have a celebratory or commiseration beverage when the results are announced.
    68. Take off from work and celebrate Cinco de July-o annually.
    69. Perform my civic duty and serve as a juror.
    70. Feed a giraffe.
    71. Hold a baby hedgehog.
    72. Decorate my house with 1000 white candles for a special date night.
    73. Stay at the Albuquerque Holiday Inn.
    74. Visit New Orleans.
    75. Get a dog.
    76. Make and use fabric napkins so that we don’t have to use paper towels.
    77. Figure out a convenient way to compost.
    78. Send a care package to a solder (again).
    79. Make a rag quilt.
    80. Attend a masquerade.
    81. Cuddle and play with the little ones at the “Hogar San Francisco de Asis” Center for Destitute and Sick Children in Lima, Peru.
    82. Accomplish or be part of something truly great.
    83. Help at a homeless soup kitchen.
    84. Buy a decent car entirely with $20 bills from my savings account – no financing.
    85. See the Northern (or Southern) lights one more time.
    86. See a phosphorescent red tide at night (again).
    87. Take a long-exposure photograph of the twirling night sky.
    88. Get a mattress that doesn’t give me back/headaches. 2013
    89. Save the equivalent of three month’s income in case of emergency.
    90. Acquire enough emergency supplies in my home to survive one week without outside help.
    91. Grow my hair long enough to donate (again). 2014
    92. Shake hands with a current or former American president.
    93. Get to know my brother better.
    94. Pet a penguin.
    95. Have a vow-renewal ceremony with friends for my 25th wedding anniversary.
    96. Look sexy in the Wonder Woman t-shirt in my closet.
    97. Go on a helicopter tour of a pretty place.
    98. Ride in a limousine.
    99. Go on a safari.
    100. Develop my vocabulary to include uncommon words (not to impress anyone, but rather simply for the sake of my love for the English language).

    I know it’s unreasonable to expect that I’ll accomplish all of these, but I’ll do as many as I can!

    If you’d like, shoot me a comment with some of your life goals.  I’d love to hear them.