Friday, July 9, 2010

One Size Fits All

As I've struggled on this journey to try and figure out where I am in this world, what my calling is and how to fulfill that calling through a balance of solitude and community, I've realized something. Our world seems to have a one size fits all mentality - especially about relationships. Women in particular it seems.

We all want to be like the mom who has the perfect house, the perfect kids, the perfect physical appearance...but what is she like down inside? Is she perfected by the perfectness? Perhaps she is. Some are I am sure but I would guess that the majority would have some sort of "what else" question in their hearts. As moms how many of us feel the need to do it perfect...To do what's popular even if it goes against our discernment...To do what everyone else is doing. Yet we try to teach our children the dangers of following the "in crowd".

I think that's where my struggle comes in. I am not a go with the crowd person. I can be opinionated even though I've learned to temper it. As a mom, I did things like extended nursing and cloth diapers in a crowd where it wasn't so mainstream. I was never really labeled a hippy but I often felt like my "mothering" didn't quite fit. And perhaps I put some of that not fitting in on myself but I know none of my friends were quite as excited about my newest cloth diaper or the fact that I finally night weaned at 16 months.

As a homemaker, my house is seldom spotless. It's picked up (usually) and certainly not filthy but there are crumbs on my floor and usually a few dishes in the sink until I load the dishwasher at night. Toys laying out usually doesn't stress me out until someone comes over. And on laundry day(s) there is usually laundry on the floor of my kitchen as I don't have a separate laundry room. I've even been known to put all my clothes on my dining room table as I wait for that perfect time to fold them. (By the way that perfect time NEVER comes. I need to just do it and get it out of the way.) I love going into some one's perfectly put together house. I feel at peace. But honestly I am at peace in my home - unless someone unexpectedly shows up. Then I'm not quite so okay being myself around others. I think that stems from trying to be the mom or homemaker the world thinks I should be (other moms and women especially). I put most of those expectations on myself, but where did I learn to do that?

As a friend I do think I am more go with the flow. This is where I am more purposeful to try to fit into the one size all option. Like a square peg in a round hole I try to perfect my personality to fit in with others. If they like going to play dates at a certain place I do it as well even though I HATE it rather than suggest we occasionally do something different. If they call me for lunch I will change my schedule to accommodate rather than suggest an alternative date unless it's something I cannot change. Lately I've realized I just don't like that one size all. I would rather go to the gym everyday and not miss a class to go somewhere for an hour in the hopes that I might really click with this person and have a sustainable friendship. I would want to go to lunch but would rather not give up a class that I love. I'd rather say - hey can we try Chick Fil A this week (since we went to McDonald's the last three?). I'd rather have friends who don't judge me by my messy home or scattered desk. I am actually quite put together and accomplished most days with my multi-tasking abilities. You just can't tell by the look of my desk or home even though that's something I desperately want to work on.

Why do I find the need to fit into a one size fits all society whether it be via parenting or friendships or Christian service or even my relationship with God? I am an individuals. Thus perhaps we should bridge that individuality through community but not lose that individuality. But in a desire to fit in we often do lose ourselves. And most of the time we aren't told to do something or not do something. We often put that on ourselves. Why why why? How can we stop this? How can we bridge this gap or actually forge a new road? To be honest I have no clue. Did you expect some glorious epiphany? I'm not the one with all the answers. I am looking for answers and I'd love some feedback.

I do think when you forge a new road it can be a lonely journey at times. Sometimes those closest to us don't understand. But lately I've already heard from women who feel similarly as me, so I don't feel quite so at odds with myself in this world. Their circumstances might be different but our feelings are similar.

Where do we go from here?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Not So Alone

I've had a lot of time to think today and have strongly realized how I am truly not alone. I feel the spirit of God with me most days in strong tangible ways. I have beautiful children that I spend most of my days with and to be honest even though I have hard moments with them most of my days with them aren't hard. Thus I am really not alone either physically or spiritually. For the most part if I really needed someone I could find someone. Knowing this doesn't erase those intense feelings of loneliness that seem to suffocate me at times or make me less envious of those that seem to have beautiful relationships outside their spouse and family. But it does help.

And the more I think about this the more I think that there are other women out there like me who, for whatever reason, don't click well with friends and wonder what's wrong with them and their relationships as well. I think it's far more common than most people realize. Women are mysterious creatures. We want the world to believe we have it all together when really we don't. We set ourselves up for failure from the start. We want to be the perfect wife, mother and homemaker. We want the world to think we have it together and don't need help, even when we're drowning and need help the most. I think some women have attained that balance of relationships and when to reach out for help without drowning others in the process (i.e. being too needy). But the more I think about this the more I think women are scared to reach out. We're scared to be real.

I remember something else Ty asked me on Monday. He said if all this were for one purpose what would it be? I said to help someone not be so alone in going through something painful. But in order to do that I must experience it. That's the not so glorious side of it.

I am a great motivator. I love to plan and encourage and educate and help others. And in those strengths I think I am reaching out to others to motivate and encourage and help me in return. But it's a silent outreach. By being motivating and encouraging I hope to be motivated and encouraged in return yet I never verbalize that. But sometimes you just need to tell people what you need. That's what I am going to work on this week.

In the last 24 hours I made a great advance towards this. I emailed two new friends a large portion of my "God Story" and I found that there are women out there who struggle the way I do and I am having lunch with someone with a similar struggle as mine next week.

I am very thankful God led me to blog so openly. It was so very hard to do at first but not only is it developing me spiritually it's helping me reach out when I really do not have the words to do so.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Being Alone

I sat in therapy yesterday emotionally spent. And of course I cried. I always do, even though I still don't want to even after 19 months of therapy. As I knew he would, Ty said - you know this is a safe place to cry, why are you trying not too? And I do know it's safe there. Of all places I can let go, I can let go there. I know Ty prays for me and he helps me in therapy through the Holy Spirit. I know it's safe. Yet it's still hard. Even though this process has been long and hard it's been healing, but I am somewhat tired of it all.

I talked about my loneliness and need for friendship and how I felt my friends were closing out of my life due to moves and other circumstances. I felt as if a part of me was back where I started in the friendship department. I do know a lot of people. I have a lot of social connections. But I have very few deep friendships and have found them hard to maintain especially when life changes and people move or our life circumstances change. I have often looked at other women and I perceive that their relationships with one another are easy to maintain but mine are not. Ty reminded me not to judge that. What I see on the outside is never everything. I am still slightly envious of the relationships I see others have with the same sex. I still feel somewhat alone in this area.

As we continued to discuss this we talked about how lonely I felt and then Ty led me through a visualization that really helped me differentiate between loneliness and being alone.

As I closed my eyes and found a safe spot to visualize and we continued through the exercise, I felt the presence of the holy spirit almost lay completely on me. It was heavy yet peaceful. In the past I may have fought it feeling as if I were suffocating but the heavy presence was healing. As I felt him laying upon me, I was reminded that it's okay to be alone.

Perhaps that is what I have been missing in my solitude journey. The realization that I will be okay if I do not develop those deep and lasting relationships. It might not be perfect or exactly what I want, but being alone isn't the same as being lonely. I just have to learn to be at peace in my solitude and realize ultimately I am never alone.

The presence of the holy spirit comforted me and while the exercise itself was short I walked away from this session realizing how sweet the presence of God truly is.

I am reminded of the scripture in Hebrews 11:1. "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen". I cannot see God but I felt him. He sustains me in this journey. I feel alone but my faith reminds me I am never truly alone.

It's okay to be alone...
In my "aloneness" I turn to God...
Through that submissive turn I see God, I submit to God, I am healed by God...

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Change

Anyone who knows me knows I am resistant to change. Even good change. It's borderline ridiculous at times. Most of the time change is good. We evolve, we grow, we move forward. Yet I still resist. I like routine and structure and knowing what's going to happen. I like having the same thing for breakfast, knowing what the girls and I are going to do that day and having weekend plans scheduled in advance. I am not very spontaneous and that coupled with change can be stressful for me.

For instance today seemed to punctuate the change in my life this year. This time last year I spent the 4th with my closest friends and their families, 2 of whom moved shortly there after and the other who is moving soon. It actually was a nice day but it was somewhat stressful. As I tried to be the good hostess and be helpful and fun I couldn't help but be a tad sad. It rained almost all day. The friends who were here last year weren't here this year except for one friend's husband who recently returned from Afghanistan. He is moving soon to reunite with his family and change bases. So today may be the last day we see him. I was very glad he was here, but being here did emphasis how different from last year it was.

By the end of the day, everyone else had said their goodbyes and a picture had been taken. I waited til the room cleared out and said my goodbye, got my hug and then unexpectedly he said very sweet words to me. He said he could see the changes in me - not just the obvious physical ones but the emotional as well. At that moment I was so incredibly thankful that someone took a moment to share that they had noticed. It wasn't a long drawn out thing - just an acknowledgement. I needed it. I've been so tired emotionally the past 6 weeks. It blessed me beyond measure.

He left and I stayed in the kitchen for a bit. I didn't want to cry. Ty would ask why not cry and to be honest I am tired of crying. I don't want to stuff it all in but I am tired of my emotions. And on top of that there were just too many people around and I just didn't want to deal with it. Now at 11 at night with the family asleep it's easier to give in and be sad and yes cry.

But if I am completely honest, I am tired of facing my emotions, feeling them and embracing them etc. In the end I will be thankful for the healing change they bring. Perhaps even tomorrow I will be thankful. But for right now I am tired. I am also tired of therapy and self-discovery and continually feeling as if I am trudging uphill in this battle towards spiritual and emotional healing and well being.

A part of me wants a hiatus from all this change. I want to curl up in my bed with a book, the remote control and my phone so I can text and play Words with Friends rather than drive to Lubbock tomorrow to see Ty. Earlier today I couldn't wait for tomorrow and now I dread going. But tomorrow is a new day so I will go to sleep tonight meditating on that thought and praying for God's best.

Side Note: I shared my story with one person (very edited but still)...And I emailed someone about scheduling a Sozo. That is positive change.

Leah's Other Blog

My "other" blog is more about day to day life with my husband and kids and rants and raves about a variety of subjects. Hope on over.

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