The Power of Not Pretending

This morning I found myself thinking about how there is a weird tension between who I want to be and who I actually am. I want to be a strong, confident woman who knows what she wants and goes after it. Someone who fights her battles single-handedly and shows no sign of weakness. Someone who is respected for her strength. 

When I sit back and analyse a bit, I’m not sure that’s really who I am. 

I love to read adventure stories and romances, and usually, the female lead is strong, sassy, bold. She soars through the story with gracefulness and wit. And sometimes I think about the story and think, what would I do if I was in that situation? If this was my story? And half the time, I have to admit that I would never be in this story because a lot of these stories have to do with poor decisions, hasty or angry actions that didn’t have a lot of forethought. I am a think-first person. I am slow to speak and I like all my decisions to be well-thought out. Not very sexy, but it has saved me a lot of heartache and headache. 

These heroines always stand up for themselves. I usually freeze up in the moment. And it isn’t till I walk away from a situation that my brain sorts out, Hey, they did not do what they promised they were going to do, or what I needed them to do. Now I’m going to have to go back and insist on things being done differently. Case in point: I have been trying to retrieve medical records for my foster child and after four different phone calls, finally spoke to a doctor who said, No, you need to do this and this and this first or we’re not going to give that to you. And later, I told my husband about the conversation and he said, It’s your right to have the medical records. They can’t do that to you, just demand that they give you the medical records. And it was a light bulb moment, of Well Duh, why didn’t I just stand my ground?? But I didn’t because there was a doctor talking to me and saying No and I felt obligated to jump through the hoops they were setting up for me. Understandable, but not heroic. 

I am not who I wish I was. 

But maybe that’s not a bad thing. 

I think about that verse from 1 Corinthians 13:11:

 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 

Maybe part of growing up, maturing, is realizing that these role models, tropes, caricatures of womanhood that our culture feeds us are not all that they’re cracked up to be. 

Perfection. Any movie, magazine, or heroic book, tells us that women have to be perfect. And that translates to looking beautiful at all times, never bending under pressure, never settling for less, never being mediocre in anything. Social media tells us that our houses should always be clean, our children well-dressed, and the food we prepare should be organic and represent all the food groups. We should gently parent our children with grace and humor. We should keep our bodies in perfect shape and make sure we are still trying to be attractive for our spouses. And while we are at it, we should also be civic minded, fight for the underdog, and volunteer in the community whenever possible. 

When I sat down to write this it was with a feeling of never being enough. But as I think through all this I think that I have discovered one Superhero quality in myself that is worth being happy about. It’s the power of Not Pretending. 

I’m not going to pretend that I’m perfect. I can accept that I’m not as bold and strong as I wish I was. I acknowledge that my parenting is flawed. I can admit that sometimes I’m a great wife, and sometimes I’m really not. I know that I’ve got some good points, and I’ve got some bad ones and I have to fight daily to keep myself from just dwelling on my bad points. But there is a lot of freedom in just being who you are. And realizing that God has made you this way, for a purpose. And maybe just relaxing into that. Releasing the tension that says, I should be more, I should be better, and instead saying this is who I am, God loves me, and it is good. 

Fat Fridays: A Day Late

Good morning. I am late. I contemplated skipping and just waiting a week, but it seems more appropriate to write a day late. 

Yesterday my “Give a Damn” broke. It does that every once in a while. I’ve had a hard week. Last Saturday we drove twenty-four hours straight with nine children in the car, driving through the night, to get home from our vacation. My husband did most of the driving but I did Pennsylvania, from 2am to 6am and I did a four hour stretch of Virginia. The kids were amazing. The biggest problem was the three youngest being TOO cheerful and rambunctious as they played in the row right behind our seats. It was while we were driving that my mom called and let me know that she and my dad were sick with covid and headed to the ER. And then this week has been the uncertainty of how my dad was going to pull through. And unpacking. And doing all the Back-To-School shopping, and trying to help my mom long-distance as she recovered at home, and catching up all the errands that stack up when you’ve been gone for a while. 

I started off the week healthy. Went grocery shopping and stocked up on fresh veggies and fruit. And then, on Tuesday I went to the dentist to have my last appointment to get a crown on my tooth. And then the dentist had an “oops” moment and my tooth got messed up and they ended up having to pull the tooth. And then my jaw got infected and I’ve been in pain all week and couldn’t eat all the fresh veggies cause my mouth hurt. 

Anyway. This Friday I shut down. I tried. I made an effort. I put on exercise clothes. I tried to tackle the giant list of things that needed to be done, but my brain wouldn’t focus. I would decide, Ok, I’m going to go take a walk. Then I would think, well, maybe I should get the kids settled doing this activity first. Or maybe I should go run those errands first. Or maybe we should clean the house first. And I completely froze. Didn’t know what to do. I finally left the house, ran the errands, and then sat in a chair all day, playing word games in an attempt to not have to think about my life. 

I did not exercise. I did not eat vegetables. I did not accomplish much. And I didn’t care. 

So, here we are, the next day. I’m feeling a little more rested. And I’m not feeling guilty. I’m not superwoman. This is something I have to tell myself often. I actually can’t do everything (though in my last Friday post, I did feel like I could!). And sometimes my body and brain just need to check out for a while. And it’s ok. Today is a new day. I’ll try again to make good choices for food. I’ll try to get moving again. The important thing is to keep trying. 

Fat Fridays: Confessions

Confession.

I am addicted to food. Not in the good way that everyone is, where you need food to keep you alive. No, I have a dependency on food to help me feel better when I’m stressed, or angry, or fidgety, or worried, or bored. I do not use food to keep me alive. I use food to alter my mood. In fact, the foods that I choose to alter my mood are slowly killing me. And I know this. And then life gets really stressful and I reach for the junk, the sugar and highly processed foods because, for a couple minutes, they make me feel better.

 

Confession.

 

I am not superwoman. I read all these accounts of men and women who have struggled with weight for years, and then one day, they just decide to stop. They exert their willpower and inner strength and somehow manage to completely alter their course in life. I keep thinking that I can be one of those people. I will exert my amazing will power. I will summon up my inner strength. I will take amazing Before and After pictures and wow the world with my amazing feat of weight loss. Look at me, I’m so amazing….Except that, I’m not. Amazing. The longest I’ve been able to exert my will power is about 9 months and then I give in to the old cravings and the old lifestyle and I’m back to square one. 

 

Confession.

 

I am not really smart and wise when it comes to health and nutrition. I keep thinking that I will just do enough research, read enough books, and then, Voila! I will know exactly what I should and shouldn’t eat. When I should and shouldn’t eat. What supplements I should take every day. I’ll figure out the exact perfect exercise plan and system. I’m smart. I just need to do a little research. In fact, I actually am as gullible as the next person, just as susceptible to the current trends as everyone else. I have read and heard so many different diets and health plans that my head is literally spinning. I have NO idea who is right. Keto, low-carb, vegan, calorie counting, low-fat, carb counting, portion control. Who knows? Gentle walking, brisk walking, interval training, yoga, pilates, weight lifting, all of the above. Who knows? 

 

Confession.

 

I am at the end of myself. I need to change. My weight keeps getting worse. My health is getting worse. My quality of life is getting worse. I do not want to stay in this place. And I don’t know how to get out of this place. I am thoroughly stuck. 

 

Conclusion.

 

I just went and read through the 12 Steps for AA. I don’t think I knew how wrapped up in God those steps are. 

 

  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. 
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him. 4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. 
  4. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. 
  5. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. 
  6. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings. 
  7. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all. 
  8. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. 
  9. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it. 
  10. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out. 
  11. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs. 

 

Copyright  1952, 1953, 1981 by Alcoholics Anonymous Publishing (now known as Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc.) All rights reserved. Rev. 8/16 

 

I think what I need is a meeting for food addicts. Do they exist? If they don’t, they should.