Alright people, let’s lighten things up around here. The single most unloving thing I do to myself is to DENY who I really am. In spite of the fact that I know this is a bad idea, I consistently spend a lot of time, effort and sometimes a lot of money, trying to convince people I don’t even really like that I’m someone other than the sarcastic, snarky, opinionated, socially inept person I really am.
For example, there is the fact that I really really want to help out needy desperate people this Christmas, but I want to help them by doing as little ACTUAL work as possible. Yeah, I’m sorry, but it’s like 16 days until Christmas and I haven’t even put up a tree yet! Last year, we waited so long that the only tree left was some half dead pathetic sap of pine at H.E.B. So there it is. What do you think I feel like when I pick up my kids from playdates where the houses have been grandly decorated since Thanksgiving weekend? Their mothers (the friend’s mothers) might as well open the front door wearing perfectly pressed dresses with pin curls and aprons, holding freshly baked cookies in their hands. I want to slap them. Seriously, I have thought about slapping some of them…just because I kind of think it would feel good.
This time of year is BUSY! I have two kids, a husband who is a full-time college student, we own 3 small businesses and we’re in the mix of trying to get a non-profit up and going. I love my crazy life…I wouldn’t have it any other way, but when my 7-year-old asked me last night which gifts (in her whole life) had come specifically from Santa, I just threw up my hands and walked out of the room after offering a few meek examples that were found faulty on the basis that they had actually been given by either myself, my husband or the grandparents. Major parenting fail! Call it my last minute push for ‘Mother of the Year’ award, but I can’t even remember what time I’m supposed to pick them up from school, much less 7 YEARS of gifts from Santa…not going to happen.
I once heard a woman share in the rooms that her first addiction was your approval. What can I say, I relate. The defect in my character, that I somehow think that what you think of me matters (or is any of my business) is one that I have become really willing to let go of over several years. Interestingly, in order to begin to have it removed, I’ve had to look at how critical and judgemental of others I am. What it comes down to is this: I walk around with this twisted idea that there’s some hierarchy of value on this planet. I’m always looking for my place, because I just want to fit somewhere. I’ve spent my whole life practically trying to find a space to squeeze myself into so that I could disappear. But sobriety (and also I think time, and getting older) has given me the perspective that there’s no reason to fit in, or squeeze in somewhere, if I can let go of my attachment to your opinion of me. It’s also teaching me what the real meaning of being a person among people, a worker among workers, a member among members is. It’s about humility. Here’s what it looks like in my life this week:
Dear Homeroom Mother of 1st Grade (who shall remain nameless),
I regret that I CANNOT bake the six-dozen homemade sugar cookies required for the class party in two days. I can buy a .99 cent can of processed icing at the store to decorate the cookies with, though I’m sure it will be full of food coloring and preservatives and potentially life-threatening traces of wheat and nuts. Please inform me if we (as a class) are willing to risk Meadow’s life by challenging her gluten allergies. If so, I will happily provide said icing upon your request.
I also CANNOT be responsible for creating the class calendar each month. I’m just going to be honest here. I really hate doing that kind of task. The going back and forth from website to website tracking down the dates, confirming them, reconfirming them (you know damn well they change every five minutes) …I just can’t do it. If I agree to it, I’ll be sitting at my computer every month at midnight the day before the calendar is due. I’ll be cursing the calendar, the school, the children and myself. I’ll be miserable, and chances are that I will make my children miserable and my husband miserable each time I work on the freaking calendar (because I have to be nice to you and the teacher!) so really, my deepest apologies, but it’s just better if I don’t do the calendar. I WOULD be willing to come in once a week and help the children with their reading.
Lastly, I so appreciate the fact that the 1st grade teachers have decided that what they want for Christmas is for all of us parents to pony up our meager resources and contribute to another family in need. It’s almost like we’re tripping all over each other just to see who can be the MOST generous! While I am certainly no stranger to the warm fuzzy feelings that come from seasonal giving, I sort of feel that a minimum contribution of $40 is…well, like the rest of Lakeway, pompous and overbearing. I will send a $10 gift card to Michaels, a fruitcake for the teacher and let’s just call it a wrap at that, okay?
Get to the real 🙂 Regardless of how you think it makes you look. I got a lot happier when I stopped doing a bunch of things I didn’t want to do for a bunch of people who I didn’t even really care about. This leaves me a lot more time to invest in the things and people who matter to me.
The most important relationship you can have in sobriety, is the one you have with yourself. It’s knowing what you want and are capable of. Because when we take an honest inventory, we can stop pretending the store is full of all kinds of assets that AREN’T THERE. And then, we can find out who we really are. And there is no self-love without an honest look in the mirror.