A Begrudged Visit with Success and Acceptance

Earlier in the week I wrote an article about the rejection and failure in my life and how that is paired with feelings of being overwhelmed by artistic impulses.   But at the end of the article, I promised to follow it up with an analysis of the acceptance and success I am experiencing.  Funny how that last article just rolled out of me, naturally, the way we writer’s like for a piece to roll out of us.  Effortlessly.  This follow-up, however, is the last thing I want to do right now.  It’s been on my to-do list this weekend and is literally the last one I have left to address.  I’ve either checked off or begun every other item on the list.

Maybe it’s hard to write about feeling accepted and being successful when, deep down, I really don’t feel like I am truly either of those things.  Perhaps when I’m finished writing about it, I’ll have a greater sense of acceptance and success.  One can hope.

Acceptance: 

I suppose these days I feel more accepted than I ever have in my life, except for maybe various periods of time during my childhood.  There are friends.  Actual girl friends with whom I text frequently and visit regularly.  None of them seem to find me highly offensive nor do they seem to get their feathers ruffled easily when I’m not as socially appropriate as I mean to be.  My husband has proclaimed that I’m allowed to wear my hair however I want and he no longer cares what I pierce.  Still not sure if the key here is that he no longer cares or that he is trying to stretch himself into a more accepting person.

There was a time in my life when I didn’t crave the acceptance of others as much as I do now.  You’d think that, in my (late) thirties, I’d be moving away from such a craving but, unfortunately for me, that’s not the case.  I still couldn’t care less what society or people think of me.  But folks who matter to me?  Individuals I respect, care about, value, and love?  I really want them to accept me for who I am.  Now that I don’t have a mother in my life, it’s that much more important to me that my friends and immediate family accept me.  Above all, I want to be viewed as good.  Kind, worthy, righteous, smart, funny, generous, compassionate, thoughtful and talented.  Those are the words I want others to use when they speak of me.  What I fear is that they are more likely to describe me as weird, quirky, bitchy, unstable, crazy, emotional, histrionic, hypochondriac, neurotic, inflexible, and insecure.  I suppose the truth is that the first list is just as true as the second list.  It’s just that, so often, it appears that the people I’ve chosen to have in my life only see the qualities on the second list.  And perhaps some of the problem is that the qualities in the second list are so LOUD that they cannot hear me being kind because it’s drowned out by my neuroses.

The more I accept myself and try to turn the volume down on some of my less attractive qualities, the more others will accept me.  It’s just logical.  While I’m working on that, I have a core group of amazing girls (and a couple awesome dudes) who’s patience, kindness, love and, yes, acceptance help get me through the day.  I know I am loved and that’s pretty amazing.

Success:

It’s a little easier to see the success in my life, luckily.

Just making it through each homeschool year is a success, in my opinion.  Because homeschooling is HARD WORK.  Like way harder than I ever thought it could be.  So every day that I don’t throw in the towel, say, “Screw this”, and sign them all up for school is a major accomplishment, since there are days when I’m so very tempted to do it.

My house is clean and tidy.  Almost always.  And for a homeschool family of five this is no small feat.

The homeschool co-op I started is still operating.  I mean, no thanks to me.  But I was smart enough to partner with a reliable person who took over the leadership when I couldn’t handle it, emotionally, anymore.

I’ve not been fired from most of the volunteer jobs I’ve had in the recent months.

For ten months I’ve exercised regularly, only skipping an occasional day or two during certain health issues, and taking a full week off to let my poison ivy clear up.  Taking up a new habit like working out at such a late age wasn’t easy but now I couldn’t give it up if I tried.

I finished the Summer Reading Program.  This is huge for me since I’m not much of a reader.

I’ve learned drawing and needle felting and walked out on a limb to purchase makeup.  Forcing myself out of my comfort zone so that I can learn new things is such a wonderful step forward for me.

In March, I braved a meeting of a local writer’s group and I’ve been going as often as I can since.  As a result, I’ve participated in a local storytelling show twice this year.  The last piece I read was especially well-received and I was quite proud of it.

All of the little things that have been on the to-do list are being checked off.  Except for a couple of kitchen items that I’ve had to skip because of kitchen repairs.  They will get done though.  I have faith in myself (to not rest until it’s all done… at which point I’ll make another list).

There now, I was able to come up with quite a few examples of acceptance and success in my life.  I feel a bit more confident after forcing myself to do so as well.

The main thing I feel like I have missing from the success list is performance related.  I never did try an open mic night for comedy.  And I feel pretty terrible about that.  It’s the one thing that I’ve been meaning to do that I flaked out on.  So maybe it’s time for me to just do it.

My friend Caroline asked me how I would define success.  This exercise indicates that I’d define it by accomplishing all of the things I listed… and then also trying comedy.  At least once.  I guess what I need to do is figure out what it is that is keeping me from doing it and address those things.

This has been helpful.

Why are you still reading?

A 4 am visit with rejection and failure

Every once in a while, I go through this phase where I feel really terrible about myself.  It’s usually following one specific event but right now, I can’t exactly pinpoint one particular circumstance that has put me in this place.  I do know, however, one thing that’s been bothering me a lot lately is my lack of blogging.  So I figured I may as well satisfy my need to mark that item of my list of “Things I Should Be Doing but Haven’t Been” that stares me in the face, endlessly.  And here we are.

Perhaps it might be helpful for me to take stock of the many things that are affecting my poor self-esteem.

Rejection- As always, I’m facing the excruciating pain of rejection.  Let’s see, yet again, I believed I had found a new friend, hit it off with someone, only to have the conversation/contact dwindle away into near nothingness.  Offers to volunteer my services in a position as teacher that was originally handed to me and now, seemingly, taken from me, go ignored.  Translation:  we don’t want you as a teacher.  As a result of these two situations, I’m plagued with thoughts of being unworthy, a bad potential friend, and, worst of all, thoughts that I’m actually a terrible teacher and if that’s the case, am I totally screwing up this homeschool thing?

Which brings me to…

Failure- So many examples of failure in my life right now.  At least, they are examples of what I perceive as failure.  I fail as a mother when I can’t remember how to show sympathy over a boo boo (they are happening so often my head is spinning) and, instead, I say things like, “Hey, I thought I told you the injuries need to stop!”  I fail as a mother when a five-year-old has been SCREAMING in my face (literally) for a full ten minutes and I watch, in horror, as my hand pops his cheek, followed by an apology for my lack of self-control. I fail when I step on the scales and learn that I’ve gained back three of the twelve pounds I lost in the past ten months and I struggle to make the changes I need to make in order to drop the extra pounds again. I fail when I must convince the husband that we have to spend money we really don’t have in order to send the youngest to school one day a week so that I can even come close to homeschooling the older two, successfully.  Other mothers pull it off without ever sending the little ones away, why can’t I?  I fail as a wife in so many ways it’s pointless to try and list them. I failed as a leader when I couldn’t just get over the abuse I suffered and the carelessness and selfishness with which I had to deal when I was in charge of the homeschool co-op I started.  I fail as a friend when I am so tongue-tied and nervous while I’m visiting with people that I forget to ask them about what’s going on in their lives and, following said visit, I realize my mistake but figure it’s too late to call or text my questions of interest because if I did, I’d look ridiculous.  And then I worry that I’ll have to add that person to the list of people who dump me.  Which leads me to the thought that maybe it was my poor social skills that made the other people dump me in the first place.  I am a failure at web design because I can’t build the website that the church needs and even though web design is neither something I am interested in doing nor is it something I am trained in, I still feel like a failure simply because it was asked of me.

I should be able to do anything that is asked of me, right?

On Mother’s Day, something inside my washing machine burst open, releasing at least thirty gallons of water into my laundry room, kitchen, and pantry.  Six weeks later, when the repairs were finally begun, I was told, last minute, that my children and I’d be moving into a hotel room.  There we stayed for ten full days.  I was off my diet, off my routine, and I wasn’t able to do the things I normally do in order to relax, center myself, and feel… normal.  Additionally, I was battling a pretty terrible case of poison ivy.

Ever since that ten day forced vacation from routine and normalcy, I’ve been off.  I’ve felt discombobulated.  And it’s been hard for me to return to something resembling how things were before we moved out, temporarily.  The experience has illustrated what I’ve always said… the slightest disruption can totally throw me off. Vacations to destinations have this same effect, but those are planned well in advance and I’m able to make sure that I have things like my regular food, exercise, and sleep schedules maintained.  So in that regard, this situation was very different, and much harder, than a regular vacation.  Even though I was only ten minutes from my house.

Months ago I started another one of Julia Cameron’s artist recovery books.  I got a couple of weeks into it, was so overwhelmed with ideas for writing that I put the book away, stopped my morning pages, and accepted that if I wanted to exercise, I’d have to sacrifice daily writing.  Because, as a homeschool mom of three kids who are always on the go, I didn’t have time for both morning pages and a daily workout.  Now, the writing has stopped.  Sure, I’ve spit out a few short pieces which I’ve taken to my writer’s group over the past few months.  I’ve even received some very positive feedback about my writing and read two of the pieces at a local storytelling event.  I submitted two of the pieces for an anthology my writer’s group is publishing this fall.  But that ongoing, constant, daily practice of writing and having to wade through many ideas… that’s gone again.

And when that goes, I start to panic.

It’s the beginning of the school year.  So much (all) of my free time has been devoted to gathering supplies, creating lesson plans, purchasing new lunch boxes.  I have three registered students for the first time.  And this means doubling my work load.  I look around at my homeschooling peers.  I would never blame any of them if they weren’t spitting out well-composed essays and hilarious chapters every few weeks.  Yet somehow, I am expected to get this homeschool thing right while also publishing my first book.

Frequently I tell myself that there will be plenty of time for writing when this chapter of my life is over.  But there is that part of me that says, “You don’t know that for sure.”

As if my need to be writing wasn’t bad enough, I’ve added even more art forms to my never-ending list of “Things I Should Be Doing but Haven’t Been”.  That’s right.  I like to needle felt now.  And I’ve taken up drawing.  I have a sketch book.  And micron pens.  One piece I did was so well received on Facebook that someone said they’d like to buy a print of it.  What is that?  When did I become an artist?  And how on earth am I supposed to fit that in around everything else I’m either doing or want to do?

Being an artist can be overwhelming.  And time consuming. 

Most people take up art because they are bored and looking for a new hobby.  PLEASE, brain, enough already.  I don’t have time for you and your silly notions right now.

Well. I feel as if I’ve gotten out all of the thoughts that have been collecting in my brain.  Technically this should have been my morning pages.  But I figured what the heck?  I’ve not been blogging and, as always, I’m happy to share my crazy ideas if there is a chance that they might help someone else.

But rest assured, there is a follow-up to this post coming soon.  One where I write about the Acceptance and the Successes in my life… to kinda balance out the sludge in this post.

If you made it this far, I’d like to say thank you.  But instead I’ll just say, “Hey!  Stop reading this crap and go do something constructive.  Like watch an episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.”  Which is what I’m about to do.