June 14, 2013
I'm reading a really great book right now called The Barefoot Sisters Southbound. What I am loving so much about this book is the "I can do this" feeling I get from reading it.
Instead of all the usual apprehension that accompanies me as we prepare for our hike, I am excited and enthused about this adventure.
In the book, the sisters mention meeting a family on their southbound thru-hike in the summer/fall of 2000. Knowing it was a bit of long shot, that was 13 years ago after all, I did a google search for this family.
I didn't find any leads (I sound like a detective) about this family of seven who thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail long before I had ever heard about the trail. What I found instead was us. And we haven't done anything but announce our plans!
That was a little disconcerting. Then, for some crazy reason I googled our kids.
And it was all down hill from there.
I have regular bouts of anxiety-inducing insecurity. This particular wave caught me mostly unaware (these attacks usually coincide with the waning days of my monthly cycle). I had recorded an audio interview early in the week and this experience was both exciting and nerve-wracking. Maybe I felt extra-vulnerable from that?
And I know I've been feeling pretty vulnerable since publishing our plans to thru-hike (gulp, now it's official).
Whatever the reason, insecurity came knocking on my door this week. Again.
I've always struggled with insecurities of some kind or another. Early on, I thought it was just me. I've since learned this is a human affliction so I'm probably in good company here since my readership is decidedly human.
My insecurities run the gamut, any given "insecurity attack" might include feelings of inadequancy about mothering, homeschooling, marriage, writing, blogging, working, adventuring or cooking; to name the first few ideas that come to mind.
This particular bout was a nasty mothering/blogging mix. "What have I done?" was basically the gist of it. Have I messed up my kids for life by blogging about our family and sharing my heart so freely? I have blogged their childhoods. What kind of mother am I?
I'm not going to discuss this mommy blogging issue; the writing and sharing of family life. That's not the point of the post.
And it sucks. I hate being in that place of doubt, worry, fear, and scarity. It's hard on me and it's difficult for my family.
I remember, or rather Damien reminds me (I have a selective memory), of my insecurities as a mother of young children, the questions that plagued me, "am I doing this right? sleep, discipline, diet, etc?". Wait a second - these are still the same things I question now, but add video games to the mix!
Then it was homeschooling. I still struggle with this one from time to time, though not so much. Throw in some marriage insecurities every once in a while, especially in our early adventuring and major moving, the common question being, "am I the right partner for Damien?"
And of course the biggie from the last couple years, my recurring nemesis, my insecurities as a blogger and writer. Comparing writing, stats (stopped looking at those this winter and haven't peaked since), comments - you name it I've compared it.
More recently, this winter and spring I've felt insecure about my lack of ability to "produce" anything this year - no ebooks, ecourses (this one I really wanted to do), or re-working old posts into something "marketable". This particular insecurity has kicked my butt this spring. All kinds of self-doubt and questioning around that.
John O'Donohue, from Anam Cara
One of the traps in dealing with an insecurity is to make yourself feel better by elevating yourself over so-and-so (there it is again, comparing). I'm a better mother than..., better wife than..., better blogger than..., better homeschooler than....
This response is not helpful, it's destructive. I'm ashamed to admit I've responded this way in the past to my insecurities.
I still struggle with insecurity but at least now I don't lift myself from a funk by mentally pushing others down.
One of the things I really gained this winter from my battle with SAD was deeper compassion. (Oh, yes, SAD is another struggle of mine and my general insecurities are heightened during this time of emotional low. How lovely is that? Not lovely at all, I tell you.)
I need more of this in my life. By nature, I'm not a highly empathic person. I'm a detail-orientated, "let's get things done" kind of person. There's time for feelings when the work is done. (Yes, this makes me laugh too.)
Dealing with an emotionally draining struggle of my own has given me so much more compassion for people's hurts and foibles. I think this is one of the gifts or life lessons I've gained from my low points; I am learning compassion, not just on a head level but in my heart.
Yesterday morning I went to the river with my kids, and instead of exercising out my angst (which helps), I let the sound and beauty of the rushing water soothe my insecurity-weary soul. I let being with my kids minister to my spirit.
And instead of dwelling on all the ways I've messed up my children by writing about them and our family (the latest cause for insecurity), and instead of questioning where I've gone wrong to bring this fretting upon myself, I dwelt on this truth instead:
Not I'm a bad mom, therefore I struggle. I'm a bad blogger, therefore I struggle. I'm a bad wife, therefore I struggle.
Simply, I am human. Therefore I struggle. Good, bad, ugly, gifted, wise, beautiful, etc... has nothing to do with it.
This is the compassion part. The realization that we all struggle.
And I don't get to, in this world at least, rise above struggle by living a perfect life and making perfect choices. Perhaps I thought as a young woman that I could construct my world in such a way to eliminate the struggle.
Perhaps by making good choices we can reduce our struggles. Perhaps. But eliminate them? No.
Some people are uncomfortable with that idea. Shouldn't we be able to yoga our way out of struggle? Pray our way out? Scripture verse our way out? Delegate our way out? "Trust in Jesus" our way out? Shelter our way out? Self care our way out? Build a supportive community our way out?
I have to fight my way through struggle, each and every time. My "fight" actually looks a lot like time in prayer, scripture, nature, and supportive relationships. It also looks like cleaning the house (a clean house makes me feel better and "in control"), internet fasting, reading good stories, napping in the afternoon, talking to good friends on Skype, lots of cuddles with my kids, and heart-to-heart talks with my husband (these are not always cuddly by the way because my best friend loves me unconditionally but also holds me accountable).
But just like building a healthy body (for which there is no guarantee either), there are no quick fixs. There are practices and disciplines, not easy solutions.
Each go at this, each bout with insecurity, feels messy and dirty, like the clay being I am.
You've probably noticed by now that this is not a three step post on how to overcome insecurity. Nearly every time I step out of the ring, after a bout with joy-sucking insecurity, I am equipped with a new tool or strategy.
I've had many times where I thought, "I should write a post about this. I think I may be moving beyond this struggle, finally". I think I even have an outline somewhere in my files overcoming insecurity or something like that. Ha!
I'm going to be kind to myself here (compassion, remember?) and not laugh out loud, too hard, at my naivety, at times, in dealing with this. I may never be able to write about a complete victory over this struggle, even after I've been in the ring many times.
I am human, therefore I struggle seems to be the best advice I can give. That, and I am human, therefore I have compassion. Compassion for myself and compassion for you.
Somewhat unrelated, but not really, to listen to that interview I recorded earlier this week, tune in at The Sociable Homeschooler with Vivienne McNeny
This was a very fun interview, once I got over my nerves. (Now I can understand Brienne's race day jitters. There again, compassion.) A veteran homeschooling mom, who has raised and graduated four kids (who are now successful, independent adults) Vivienne is a fascinating person. I wanted to interview her!
Vivienne has interviewed some really cool people for her radio program. Moms, dads, homeschoolers, homeschool grads, writers, thinkers, doers. I think her show is refreshing in that it's so diverse in its content, with homeschooling as the common thread. This is nice change from my usual roster of homeschool mommy bloggers who are still in the thick of it.
Vivienne is British (married to a Texan and having lived in Texas for her children's growing years), has a wicked sense of humor, is a straight shooter, and is super encouraging and friendly.
The interview is also available on Vivienne's blog and if you click here it will download directly to your computer. I'll probably be mentioning it again since Vivienne and I talked for longer than the show length and I think I'm returning to the program in the future.
Feeling as I do, still tender from my insecurities this week, I'm pretty sure I won't be listening. Too nerve wracking! And if you have more time (maybe downloads for summer driving?) listen to her other recorded podcasts. There's some great stuff there.
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