“It is what I was born for – to look, to listen, to lose myself inside this soft world – to instruct myself over and over...” – Mary Oliver
I argue that 'this world' is anything but soft, but, I love this quote. Observation, instruction, learning, it is part of who I am. Through this divorce I have looked hard at my life, listened to the words of people echoing around me and learned some tough lessons.
I know rejection on a deeper level and I thought I knew rejection well. I have learned that sometimes no matter how hard you pray, cry, try, it's not enough to change a bad situation or put things back the way you want them. I've learned that I have less grit than I expected and fold under pressure like origami paper… over and over again... much to my chagrin. I've learned that I have a greater support network than I imagined and that they are here for me when I can't figure out how to do life one day longer. I've learned that both lavender vodka and ice cream can do wonders for escaping pain for a moment but that really... “pain only hurts” (that's a quote from Scott Jurek's Eat and Run) and that if you feel the pain and push through it, you know how to do it better next time and you CAN do it better next time!
Next time is upon me.
The end has come. Fourteen years of “us” is over. I honestly expected “us” to last forever, but it didn't. I couldn't fix it. I've spent the last eight months reeling and unsure. And here I am.
There's a story about a great king with a deathly ill child. This king beseeched God with all that was in him to save the child. He didn't eat or bathe. He offered sacrifices and pleaded on behalf of the child's life but in the end, God did not answer his prayers...
The baby died.
The story is from the Bible, the king was David, and though I am no ruling authority I completely identify with King David. I begged and pleaded and sacrificed and the marriage died. It's dead. It's over. What was will never, ever be again.
The world I knew was destroyed, by my sins, by his sins, by God's will, fate, life... However it came to pass, the fact is... my world burned to the ground! Life as I knew it is dead... gone... burned up! There was weeping, there was gnashing of teeth and now there is a whole new world in front of me. The promise of God is that He makes all things new. Whether I expected it like this or not, He made my life new. I am a new person. I have a new perspective.
I'm not “his woman” anymore. I am my own woman. My boys are practically grown men, as are their sisters (who have mothers of their own but have allowed me space in their life). I've never had this much experience or knowledge in my life. I don't know too much but I know enough to bury the baby and start living the rest of my life with deliberate intention and wild abandon!
I am going to look, to listen and to lose myself inside this world and instruct myself over and over. For me that means I'm starting to date. I've cleared it with my dad, my kids and those I respect the most in this world… and Jesus and me got this figured out.
I've listened to comments which have ranged from “It's about time!” and “You deserve it!” to “You're not ready yet.” and “You just got divorced!” I respect each comment and concern more than I can say and have taken it all into consideration. Here's the thing... I agree with them all and have therefore decided to date my way, which, I admit, isn't conventional but neither am I so why would I do dating normal?
The way I figure it, LORD willing, I only have a limited time to date so I might as well glean as much knowledge as I can from the experience and regret nothing. For years now I have been telling my girls, and the girls I worked with at the Tech Center to be strong in their character. They are meant to compliment a man but not to be completed by one. I told them to be sure of who they were, to have at least 5 things they liked to do by themselves without anyone else, or at least without a boy. (I also told them to marry for love but date the rich guys but that was a little tongue-in-cheek, so yeah… :P) I told them to reserve their body for the one it belonged to, not to give it up freely or under pressure. I told them a good man will wait and understand and respect them for saving themselves for the one they belonged to.
Now, incredibly, I am here, like them, anticipating my lifetime companion… only for me it's round three and this time it's either third time is a charm or three strikes I'm out. I will do this mate thing exactly one more time EVER then, for good or for bad, I'm done! There's an old addict quote, “I got another relapse in me but I don't know if I have another recovery in me.” That's where I'm at. I have exactly one more hope for a lifetime companion. Yeah, it's fatalistic but … it's me, that's how I roll!
The point is, the severity of the issue at hand necessitates my utmost discretion so #1) why wait? And #2) Why hurry? Yep, chaos and irony! I've taken lessons from the muse and have embraced chaos and irony as part of who I am.
He has a woman, he has found his everlasting. I am happy for him but I'm not there yet. I'm just dating. I am analyzing the data. I am taking my time. I am not going to get serious any time soon. I have a “yes” policy to anyone who has the courage to respectfully approach me and doesn't give me the creeps. Considering the fact that I'm socially awkward and go exactly four places; home, work, church and the gym I've decided to set-up an online profile. I've heard enough positive experiences to believe it is a feasible option. I have some pretty specific rules of engagement and most guys won't get me or be interested in a bookish, Jesus-freaky, gym-rat so I figure I'll be able to gather a good sampling over the next 18 months of the men that I share common interests with. With the exception of the MAJOR characteristic I'm looking for, I have a control sample and all will be held to that standard… and maybe he'll come around, or maybe he's just a good guy that all others will be compared to. Either way I want to learn what the norms are, I want to see standard characteristics and standard deviations and I want to make an informed decision based on data, time and, most importantly, God's leading.
Every man is his own story and I love stories so I'm excited to date and get to know guys... something I have been restricted from for my ENTIRE adult life. That realization was mind-blowing to me... for my entire adult life I have avoided men… because I belonged to someone. It never bothered me but, now that I'm here, I see that there are so many good guys out there! Listening to men talk, looking into their eyes without shame or fear of repercussion is like new life. I get to hear a new story every time I talk to someone new. I admit that my body is anxious to get this dating thing over with and move on to the mating part but my heart, soul, mind and spirit understand there is more… so much more to know about a man. And I will know him first.
I eagerly await HIM. LORD willing, he will know I'm HER and will get it right with God and make me his. Until then I will enjoy the good, pure, fun, fitness-minded, godly company of good men and know that he's on his way to me… or is waiting for me to figure myself out. Until then, I wait patiently and I follow my chaotic path and save myself for him. So yeah… I'm dating, it's weird but I'm here and I'm going to do it right, without compromise for once in my life, make my Father in heaven proud and make the man I belong to for the rest of my life proud as well!
In the last three weeks I've had as many people ask me what has brought about the change in my shape/dedication to fitness/motivation and the quick “funny” answer is always, “Well … I don't want to be single forever, so I want to look good.” It's a joke, mostly. I mean there's truth in the statement but it's not my motivation.
My real motivation has been simmering inside me for my whole life. But I'll save that one for last because there are actually several reasons behind my recent hyper-focus on fitness.
Reason #1: Survival
It was apparent when I got left like useless trash on the curb that this rejection, if I let it, would wreck me. I was devastated and knew I could quite possibly fall apart and lose all of the years clean I have and all the hard work the Good LORD and I have put into redeeming my life from the pit I once called home. I was ready to throw things, break things, use things to get relief from the feeling of once again being that person no one wanted. I was ready to lose my reputation, my dream that was starting to take shape, my kids, my self respect, everything.
See for me I can't curl up and die ('cept for that one Thursday, that day I was ready… but I'm still here aren't I?). I'm not made to be still. I've got more energy than I know what to do with and though I tend toward depression my depression isn't “stop functioning depression,” it's a “mindless-doing” kind of depression. I'm like one of those little wind-up cars that gets squirrely all around the room bumping into things but never quite gets anywhere. I lack the ability to make decisions and am aimless and that combination usually leads to… well, not good choices.
I couldn't write much, I couldn't focus on my volunteer obligations or really even do much with my kids but I was all wired up. I knew I had to do something with my energy, or it was going to make me self-destruct. So... I sent it to CrosSport and the loop! If I didn't know what to do at lunch, I knew there was a WOD waiting for me. If I couldn't stomach being home alone all those hours after I got off work, I knew I could go to the gym and take some time and see friendly faces while I worked off the energy. I knew it was a better alternative than other choices I could make. I made it my energy outlet. Not to look good enough to get him back, I knew he was gone after May 22nd, not to look good enough to get someone else… simply to keep my energy focused in a positive direction.
Reason #2: The Leaving didn't matter there
This one is a little more selfish and maybe mean and that's why I actually haven't shared it until now, except with one person. CrosSport and the loop were and still are all mine. He never had a part of my life in either place which meant the rejection couldn't hurt me there. I am no less a person at the gym than I ever was. I'm not missing a piece of me there, my history on the loop and at CrosSport is only mine. It didn't have to change because he left. I didn't have to figure out how to walk in and show my face there the way I did at other places “we” went together. The gym was all mine. It was like a blankie… that smelled like sweat and sounded like rock 'n roll. The gym is safe, the loop is steady. I like security and I liked knowing they didn't change like everything else had to.
Reason #3: I'm doing it to see what my body is capable of
This one is even MORE selfish. I'm doing it for me! I grew up in a herd of fit, active boys, and with a dad who coached wrestlers. Our Gramma liked to keep us busy. “Many hands make light work” you know! As the ONLY girl I was always weaker, slower and never the one that got asked to do laborious stuff. I was … what's the word oh yeah… the reject of the group! Yep, that was me. So, I never pushed myself, because I knew I couldn't hold a candle to them no matter how hard I tried. I never knew what strength was inside me. And then I made myself go to the gym instead of go off on a downward spiral and the by-product was strength and ability like I'd never known. I have always liked to move but I realized I was good at it. More than that I have embraced what a gift my body is and how precious and this time in my life is. There are many with health and physical limitations who cannot ever do what I do at the gym. I have a co-worker, and friend who is wheelchair bound, she doesn't let it get her down but it is a limitation. I don't have that restriction to my movements, why not celebrate it? And for that matter, I might as well celebrate now because I know I can't flip a #4 tire when I'm 100... if the LORD allows me to even be here that long. Right now, in this moment in my brief, fleeting life, I am fit, I am strong and I am better every day than I was the day before. I don't compete with the other ladies at the gym who are far out of my league. I don't compare myself to those I might be stronger or faster than. It's me, it's my demons, it's myself I challenge and I am better than. I want to know what I'm made of, capable of. I know I'm in the best shape of my life.
I wish I could have realized I'm made to move before this time in my life, but I'm here now, and I know, despite the resiliency, that I'm still healing. I know I'm a little in survival mode yet and I know I need the safety of the gym and predictability of the loop but it's turning more into a lifestyle choice than a survival tactic, and I love the health and wellness lifestyle. It suits me.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I've turned into a gym rat.
What a week! What a weekend. I'm glad my big plan for the blog this time was the cover reveal because I'm not sure if I could have found time for anything else! I have to share a funny story about the model that we used for Justin really quick. When cover designer, and best selling author Shari Ryan (http://sharijryan.com) was coming up with the cover art my friend, co-worker, and beta reader, Laurie and I both chose different poses of this guy for Justin. I guess there's something about him that fits the "Justin" profile in our heads. Let me know what you think when you get your hands on the story, you only have 29 days of anxious waiting left!
Originally published 9.8.14
I promise this won't become a blog on writing and the business of writing but I've had several people ask (and promised Nick I would post this today) so I wanted to share my journey.
First of all thanks to everyone who has asked, I'm honored, but I don't know much; I encourage you to check out the following links if you're serious about writing or self-publishing because these people know what they're doing. Fair warning, the guys at the “Self Publishing Podcast” are crass so if you don't want to hear the f-bomb dropped each show and innuendos about male appendages... don't go there. With that said, they have a respectable marketing and publishing strategy and several shows that may be well worth the listen.
http://www.thecreativepenn.com/ → This is Joanna Penn's site, LOTS of great info here for self-publishing.
http://www.norulesjustwrite.com/ → CJ Lyons is awesome (haven't personally explored this site like Joanna's but I've heard her interviews and she's pretty inspirational)
http://selfpublishingpodcast.com/podcasts/ → Johnny, Sean and Dave (like I know them well enough to call them by first names, but that's what they go by on the show)
http://rockingselfpublishing.com/ → Simon's interviews are probably my favorite because he's good at keeping on task and for ADD me that's just what I need.
Follow those links to great tips on, not only, how to write but how to self-publish.
Another fair warning... this will be long, if you don't want to read all the little bits about me... skip to the very bottom of this post and that's where the part about how I got my publisher, Booktrope, is. The top and bottom of this post are all you need to read if you're looking for writing/publishing information. If you want to know more about my journey read the whole thing. I'll try to keep it entertaining and witty so you don't fall asleep. Here's my story ... :)
It begins with a love of reading. I don't think I would care about writing if I didn't love to read. My parents divorced when I was very young and I had a tough life as a kid. Books were my rescue. My parents made plenty of mistakes but they both modeled one thing exceptionally well; they LOVED to read. I would consider both of my parents voracious readers to this day. Whether I was visiting my mom or being tucked in by my dad I can go back as far into my mind as possible and remember each of them reading to me. I learned about magical worlds like Narnia, thanks to C.S. Lewis and my mom's reading of them. My dad read strange and comical stories, like “The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy” series from Douglas Adams and Eoin Colfer and tried not to die laughing in the process. Reading was fun, it was special, it was safe, and safety for me was much needed back then. Books were safe, so I learned to love them.
The first book I remember reading by myself was a Little Golden Book about firefighters. I can't remember the name of it but I asked my dad and step-mom to read it to me over and over until I had it memorized. They pointed to the words and I learned to associate words with their letter combinations. I don't know if you can call it “reading” but I recognized basic words from that book in other books well before I started school. The best thing about books was that they took me away. When a book was being read the world stood still and a new one came into existence. Books were magic!
I noticed something else; when people read they didn't talk, they didn't get distracted, they focused on the words, the stories, the information. And there were words for everything and they had purpose and were respected and made things happen. I learned that best when I attempted a letter about a very serious subject. I'm not sure how old I was but I was dissatisfied with my home life and wanted to run away. I figured it would be rude to leave without notice so I put it in words. I suspect that I wasn't even in second grade at the time and there was a word I needed help spelling, so, I took it to my dad. Of course you can imagine that a letter about wanting to run away didn't go over too well. My dad helped me spell the word but then also talked to me about why I wanted to run away. We worked things out and I decided to stay but I learned something that day… Words were powerful!
I grew a little and started making up my own stories. They weren't for school work, nor to convey important information like running away, they were simply for pleasure and escape and entertainment. The first story was about an army brat in Vietnam who became a POW. I was in sixth or seventh grade and somehow a boy named Jason found out about it. He was my first real audience, maybe my first real muse. All of a sudden I didn't write just because there was a story in my head but because there was someone waiting to know what happened next. There was never anything between us but that story. I wrote pages or chapters feverishly and passed them off during class for him to read. He returned the spiral notebook to me when he was done reading and I wrote him more. I loved pulling the ideas out of my head and putting them on paper but even more than that... I loved having an audience. Someone cared about something I did. He was interested, not in me, but in the world I invented and that was good enough. Every time he returned it to me it was like affirmation that I was listened to and I was wanted for something. And every time he gave it back, I wanted to entertain him with more. Eventually, I wrote myself into a corner... it was my first book, what did I know about pacing and plotting and planning? Sadly, the magic faded and it was over but I loved him for reading. Thinking back I don't know why he read the story, or if he read it. I can't remember him praising or critiquing it either. All I remember is Jason willing to take my words and make them a part of himself. Words gave me purpose.
And then life got in the way. High school, addictions, boyfriends, parties, babies, special needs, getting saved, straightening up, growing up, becoming an adult, a wife, a mom a woman. I got stupid and forgot to care about anything but getting high. Then I found Jesus and got busy trying to redeem my past, prove I was better, and be everything everyone wanted me to be. I forgot how to dream big. Years passed between the story I wrote for Jason and the next time inspiration hit me. During the interim I still wrote: journal entries, prayers, letters of encouragement... and discouragement that got me into quite a lot of trouble but I still wrote. It was part of me I was just too busy to realize how much a part.
Then one day inspiration struck again. My hubs rented a chick flick to score points... boy did it work! It was “PS I Love You” with Hilary Swank, Gerard Butler and Kathy Bates and it moved me. It stirred up feelings inside me and it thrilled me and, as any good storyteller might do, I tried to work out the kinks in the story, not that there were many. It was such a emotional story that I didn't want to let it go. The only way I knew how to keep it alive was reinvent it. And so “Letting Go” was born. It was the first novel idea I ever really had. It is good, with a twist at the end that grabs you unexpectedly and shakes you up the way “The Sixth Sense” did. It is about 1/3 of the way written, I need an experience I have yet to achieve before I can finish it.
Around that time I shared my life story and excitement about writing with my friend Joy, who will always be precious to me because she encouraged me to write my own story. She wanted to know how I had arrived at the place I was in life. Since I was stuck on “Letting Go” I decided to give her the story of my life. Again, I had an audience. I fictionalized it and worked on it for nine months before the first, and only draft, was finished. During that time some of the worst experiences that have ever happened to me and to our family occurred. We lost beloved pets due to unforeseen events, one dog died in my arms. We lost foster children, one of which we've never seen again. We questioned the very fabric of our marriage, our family and our faith. Through it all I kept writing until, at last, the fictional story of my life was in words. Then I was ready to pass it off the way I had with Jason before.
It was horrible. My words, my story, my very being was held to the fire and I was burned up. Apparently who I was in my past, what I did, and how I was saved is something the world never needs to know. For reasons I can't share those words, those 200+ pages that I wrote through some of the most tragic times of my life, were destroyed. My story will never see light of day but the work was done and I will always love Joy for her encouragement to write it out. In the end I did what so many want to do but never get around to, I wrote a book. It was a story I knew well but it was out of my head and on paper from start to finish. I was a writer and I had written!
The very act of disciplining myself to write the story for her, day in and day out no matter what I was facing, no matter how early I had to get up to make the time to write, no matter what... the act of making myself write until it was finished made me a writer. The fact that the words are gone is of little consequence, doing it made me believe I could do it again. I could tell stories that were capable of getting highly charged emotional responses. I was a writer, a storyteller and a dreamer once again.
Suddenly my mind flooded with ideas and stories that I had to get out. What I realized is others in my family dreamed lofty dreams of writing too but they had never done what I had done, they never finished. I finished! That is the trick, that's the best and only advice I have. Write until the story is finished. I never finished the POW book, I never finished “Letting Go.” I finished my book (which I named Eggshells before I destroyed it) and it was the one that changed everything. Words have power but finished stories change the world (or at least they changed my world).
From that moment on I spent my free time dreaming up story ideas. I have dozens of ideas but for me the trick is not to write them all but to write one well and only one until it is finished. Wouldn't you know it, the first book I decided to write is one of the most complicated stories ideas I have. It is a series based off of my obsession with the number eleven, dejavu, sex and religion. I wrote it until the first book was done and then things changed for me again.
I was prepared to continue on the series but I started working with high-risk youth at the Wenatchee Valley Tech Center and November was coming up. I'm pretty sure almost every writer knows what's so special about November... it's NANOWRIMO, National Novel Writing Month. The challenge is to tell a story of 50,000 words in the 30 days of the month. For me the added challenge is to tell a complete story. I had done a half NANOWRIMO the year before. That book, “Scandalous Affair” is one of the steamiest stories I have written. I knew I could do it but I wanted to use the challenge to show the students how to collaborate and recruited them to give me ideas for the story. I wanted to show them how to plan and plot for writing assignments. I wanted to teach them to press on even when things seem so big they're as much as impossible. Most of all I wanted to give them a voice, I wanted to change the world for them, to let them know people would hear of struggles like the kinds they face. You can't imagine the pain and abuse some of those kids dealt with on a daily basis. I knew I couldn't use their unique stories, or mine, but I could create a world where the struggles would be similar. I wanted them to have power, I used my words to give them a voice. They inspired me and I wrote for them and together we created “Waiting on Justin.” I had an idea to try and publish it but wanted to get back to my “Eleven” series first so I sort of left the story alone, like “Letting Go” only at least “Waiting on Justin” was finished.
A few months later I had an opportunity to take a job making a considerable amount of money more than my job with the students. It broke my heart to leave them, but I did it. I felt terrible, it felt wrong and I still carry so much guilt about leaving them for more money. I am blessed that many of them still love me and visit me or at least stay in touch via FaceBook and InstaGram. I am honored to call a select few friends, and quite a few “adopted” children. There is one that I will love forever because, like Jason and Joy, he encouraged me, inspired me and asked me the question that changed the entire direction of my life. You see I loved working with the kids, I loved making a difference in their lives, letting them know they mattered and they were loved. I loved being irreplaceable in their minds, because I know many of them will always remember me... but it wasn't enough. My family needed the money we had bills we couldn't cover and things slipping through the cracks and the new job was an opportunity of a lifetime for my family. I was torn between the love and responsibility I felt for my own and the love I had for the students. My family won out, money won out, but the students knew I felt guilty. I apologized for leaving and this blue-eyed kid looked me straight in the eye and asked me what I wanted to do... not what my family wanted, not what the students wanted... what did I want to do? As any person with ADD would do I said the first thing that popped into my head. I said what I was “supposed” to say, I told him I wanted to stay but I had to leave to help support my family. But the question haunted me, “What do you want to do?” I couldn't shake it because I lied to him. I lied to everyone. I didn't want to be with the kids, I didn't want the money either. I wanted to write. I was a writer ... I needed to write.
If you're looking for the end here it is:
Once I answered the question truthfully everything changed. I still dreamed big dreams and made comments about “someday” being a published author but I also put a plan in action. I did things to make the dream come true. I researched querying for agents, figuring out what slush piles were and why I never wanted my MS (manuscript) to land at the bottom of one. I wrote query letters for “The Eleven Lives of Evelynne” and made a strategic decision after enough rejections to switch my focus to getting “Waiting on Justin” published. There were several reasons, the first being it can be a 'stand-alone' book meaning the reader can read it and be done with the story and feel satisfied. There are no cliff hangers but it can be serialized. I figured it would be easier to get one book picked up than a series (several of the rejection letters from agents helped me make that decision btw). I finished my first “edited” draft of “Waiting on Justin” earlier this year and prepared to write the query letter for it. About that time the “Write on the River” Conference was being held in Wenatchee (http://writeontheriver.org/). (I HIGHLY recommend anyone interested in becoming a writer attend conferences they are awesome!) I had little hope of getting picked up by an agent and upon hearing about the profits coming out of the self-publishing market I figured I would try my hand at self-publishing so I signed up for as many classes on self-publishing as I could, but because they had agents and a publisher there I signed up for interviews as well.
It felt right in my heart and in my soul. I had focus, I knew what I wanted to do with the rest of my life and I felt certain God wanted me to use the talents He put in me. I live in constant fear of sounding or acting crazy so I was afraid to tell too many people that I “felt” like something was going to come from the conference, but I really, truly felt like something was going to happen. I told a co-worker that I felt pregnant with my idea to write for a long time but now it was like I was in labor. I looked at every “sign” every thing that happened that seemed like it could be a supernatural clue that something big was going to happen but I told myself to be realistic too. God helps those who are doing something so I determined to do something. I would go to the conference, learn what I needed to learn and self-publish. That was my focus the day of the conference. I was nervous about the interviews with the agent and Booktrope, the publisher but I didn't let it get to me too much. I did my interview with the agent and I could tell he was somewhat interested in my writing. Then came the interview with Booktrope. I shared the basic idea for “Waiting on Justin” and the story behind it. She liked it and gave me an email to contact. I did and followed the Booktrope steps and by the end of July was signed into a contract for both “Waiting on Justin” and “The Eleven Lives of Evelynne” with the idea that they would be happy to entertain my other work in the future as well.
That's it... that's all I got. I can't tell you how it is to work with an old school publisher or agent because I have no agent and Booktrope is a hybrid publisher which means they allow authors to have a significantly larger amount of say in the publishing of their work than the bigger legend publishing houses. I can't even speak much to what it's like to work with a hybrid publisher like Booktrope (http://booktrope.com) because I'm at the beginning of the process with my first book and “Waiting on Justin” is still in its editing phase while the graphic artist, Shari Ryan, (http://www.authorneeds.com or http://sharijryan.com) is working on the cover design. What I can say is my book manager, Heather Huffman, is awesome, she is a writer herself so she understands the process from both the business and writing side, and keeps me on a good schedule, which I need. Check her out if you're so inclined: http://www.heatherhuffman.net
Hope that helped you out or at least pointed you in the direction you want to go. I'll end with this... it's my favorite writer quote even though I don't know who it came from...
A writer writes
If you want to be a writer,
I think, if I remember correctly, I was watching Oprah when I first heard and fell in love with the ironic phrase: “You are too much, you are not enough”
I may have it wrong but I think she was building an all girls school in Africa and had to interview and choose a small number of girls from a sea of hopefuls that applied, each one desperate for the opportunity. One of the young girls tried so hard and in the end she asked... “Am I good enough?” I still hear her sweet, rich, accented voice ask it. I was only a girl myself and I knew just what she meant. Am I good enough? ...to be accepted, to be loved, to be trusted, valued, worth your time and space?
It resounded with Oprah as well, she shared her internal struggle with being good enough and maybe that was the first time I didn't feel alone in feeling that way.
“You are too much, you are not enough”
This is the story of my life, who I am is too much for a lot of people, who I am is not enough for a lot of people. I guess it's because my personality, my energy level, my ADHD and my emotional needs are over the top. I've known I was too much and not enough since I was young. I think big thoughts, feel big feelings and apparently that's wrong, or that's how I perceived it, still perceive it. I've been called melodramatic, a drama queen, mentally unstable, intimidating, too much to handle, too full of myself, overly emotional and so on. The words, and the wounds they left, have stuck. Yes, I have these big feelings and dreams inside me and I'm afraid to let them out because I don't want to be that girl, or now that I'm older, that woman. I don't want to be the center of attention, I don't want to be the loud mouth at the party, I don't want to be the one that always has the problem, or the one who cries at everything or has something to say to everyone. I want to “be normal,” I want to blend in, to just be one of the ladies. I would love to have my thoughts and feelings empathized with, respected, dare I say, I would like to be seen as inspirational. I want to be good enough but I don't want to be too much, but I feel so often like I am too much.
At the same exact time I feel like I'm not enough, never enough. If only I had more energy to get the things done a “good” wife, mom, employee, entrepreneur is supposed to do; then I'd be good enough. If only I could harness my passionate emotions for the plight of the destitute and starving in developing countries, then I'd be good enough to make a difference. If only I was more outspoken or conservative then I'd be Christian enough. But I'm never enough, I fall short, I'm tired at the end of an eight to ten hour work day where I've tried my best to get it all done and failed to complete my tasks. I know I'll have just as much to do the next day and I won't get it all done and I'll have to answer for why I didn't do it all. My day doesn't end there. There's still so much. A “good” woman goes home to to cook dinner, to clean her house, to tell her children and a husband (if she's good enough to have them) that she loves them. And, most importantly, a “good” woman never, ever loses her control or composure... ever! Extra good women also find time to take care of their health and body and care for the poor and needy, they make their own clothes, reduce, reuse, recycle and are studying for their doctorate too and they do it all with a smile on their face.
That's not me, I am too much, I am not enough! I try my best and no matter how hard I try it's never enough. I forget appointments, I lose my cool, I can go a month without talking to my parents and I don't practice the tenants of my faith daily. I usually cry for no good reason at least once a week, and I snap and say something stupid that I shouldn't have just as often. I over book myself and freak out when it all won't fit. I can't get it all done at work, I can't get it all done at home, I can't even do it all to take care of myself. I fail! There's too much and not enough of me.
Alanis Morissette's song, “Perfect,” sums it all up. “We'll love you, just the way your are... if you're perfect.”
The thing that gets me and makes me feel extra bad is that despite my insecurities about being too much and not enough I kind of like who I am, even some of the things others find offensive, and I'm more embarrassed to admit that than I am to admit how miserably I fail at life. It hasn't always been that way, I spent a lot of years self-loathing, self-doubting, self-deprecating, I still beat myself when I'm too much and let my emotions get the best of me. I will push and demand more of myself when I think I'm not enough for my boss, my family and my body. But, finally after years of uncertainty, I have made peace with my God and I kind of know that I have a place in this world too. I am loved, I am wanted... or at least I am “put up with” and that is enough for me, it has to be because I am doing my best.
I don't know, maybe I am different than every other woman on the planet, maybe no one else feels like she's too much but never enough, but I suspect I'm not alone. I think maybe it's common. I think it needs to come out. I hope my characters will let you know you're not alone. I hope my words will not only entertain you but also encourage you. Even though they're made up stories, I hope the tales I tell remind you of this: It's OK to be too much, and not enough...you'll still be loved. You are good enough just as you are! You do matter!
Am I the only one that feels this way? Would you read or share books about young women with internal struggles like this?
Next week I'll recap my "too much and not enough" photo journey through June, it'll wow ya... or make you roll your eyes.
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