Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Never Good Enough

I am trying to find the balance between working too much and not working enough. Between continuing to recover from pregnancy/birth and being lazy. Between enjoying snuggles with my son and being too lazy to do anything besides lay on the couch with him. No matter where I fall on the spectrum I struggle with feelings of "not enough."

When Sister and I talk about our low self-esteem, we always talk about my father. He was horrible about comparing us. Sister was the "pretty one" but would "be so much prettier if she just dressed like a lady." I was the "smart one" but could "do better if I just tried harder." Growing up I was in the gifted and talented programs. There were typically 15 or so children in the classes. I was usually ranked 13th or so. I couldn't take pleasure for having made it to the G&T class or honors class. Rather I beat myself up for not being higher-ranked. In college, I took all my pre-req classes on an honors level and chose a difficult major. Instead of being pleased with my A/B average, I was upset for not graduating in the top 10 percent. I did graduate near the top of my law class. But it wasn't enough - I was upset that I didn't get offered a job with a big-tiered firm. My father pointed out all these things.
I've been reflecting lately on where this low self-esteem may have come from. I want to be sure I do not inadvertently pass it on to my children. My daughter has started making comments about how "she can't be Hannah Montana because she's not blond" and other innocent comments. But I want her to know she can be anything she wants.
Then I opened my email and the lightbulb went off. Sister and I chatted on the phone the other day and she asked if I'd email some new pictures of Baby. I said "sure" and so when I figured out my new camera, I did just that. I took three with the new camera and sent them to Mom and Sister - one of Baby, one of Daughter and one of Husband holding Baby.
I got a return email - Loved the pictures....need to see more...Would've been nice to see one of Mama, too.
My first thought - is anything ever good enough for you? My emails are too short - not enough details - missing something - whatever. All of a sudden I could hear comments she has made in the past. All sorts of comments like this. For instance, when I mentioned going to a breastfeeding group she said, "well I would have thought it would be more for first time moms." Which made me question whether I should go, instead of just enjoying myself and going. If I dare to complain, she diminishes my complaints as being frivolous. It's been like that for years.
Now I need to get beyond this. And figure out how to convince my daughter that she can be anything she wants.......well maybe not Hannah Montanna - I'm not into all that show business hype!


Kahless said...

300g/10½oz plain flour, sieved pinch of salt
175g/6oz unrefined brown sugar
200g/7oz unsalted butter, cubed at room temperature
Knob of butter for greasing

450g/1lb apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1cm/½in piece
50g/2oz unrefined brown sugar
1 tbsp plain flour
1 pinch of ground cinnamon

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
2. Place the flour and sugar in a large bowl and mix well. Taking a few cubes of butter at a time rub into the flour mixture. Keep rubbing until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
2. Place the fruit in a large bowl and sprinkle over the sugar, flour and cinnamon. Stir well being careful not to break up the fruit.
3. Butter a 24cm/9in ovenproof dish. Spoon the fruit mixture into the bottom, then sprinkle the crumble mixture on top.
4. Bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes until the crumble is browned and the fruit mixture bubbling.
5. Serve with thick cream or custard.

Kahless said...

I think you are great!

Oh and reading this I can hear my father saying that i am "the best of a bad bunch"

lawyerchik said...

Good for you in thinking about how to help your daughter recognize her worth as she grows up!

I know something of what you're talking about..... My mom would alternate back and forth between "you kids are so wonderful - you can do anything you want!" to "you're just like your father! -- Lazy, lazy, lazy!" or calling me my cousin's name (to imply that I was acting like a selfish, self-centered b****).

To this day, the only thing my mother remembers about my childhood - in fact, I found out recently, almost anyone remembers - is that I could out-think her from infancy. My sister was the pretty one - the nice one, the sweet one - while I was the smart one and the troublemaker.

Best way I can think of to get past it? It's not about you; it's about them. If someone says (or implies) something about you, ask yourself if it is true. If it is, use that as an opportunity to learn and grow. If it isn't, toss it like dirty bathwater.

Enjoy the moments with your children while you can, Enola! There is nothing "lazy" about doing that! The time will come soon enough when you will have to go back to work, and then you will wish you had the time back.....

Anonymous said...

Fairness, overcorrection, second-guessing... yeah, I'm in there, too. Whatever I'm doing or thinking, there's probably something wrong about it or I could do or think it better. I can feel guilty about anything.

May God help us both out of that maze and into all his truth.

16 blessings'mom said...

I sometimes wish we could just turn off our minds, those thoughts that say everyone else does it better, that I am lazy, I am selfish, no one really likes me. I should work less, more.... I have to battle against all these thoughts, too. My rule: if it isn't hopeful and encouraging, it is not from God. God does want us to see our sin, but with Him there is always hope. All those thoughts that want to discourage and drag down, I need to just say no. Not even entertain them. It is written in the bible that our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against powers and principalities....spirits. God will give help and wisdom, when we ask. As I see it, we are all in the same boat here as human beings, and seeing that we need God and each other is a really good thing. Romans chap8 verse 28: God causes all things to work together for the good for those who are called according to His purpose. Give your life to Him, believe this verse, and take up the battle. With God on your side, you can find peace and rest.

David said...

I have been reading your blog for well over a year now but had only commented once before. I don't know if this information may be triggering or not but I thought I should at least put a warning in. After nine years of marriage I told my wife about being abused as a child. As you had mentioned on previous posts, it is easy to think what happened to me was not that bad. I think I may have been wrong about that. As I have read your story I see characteristics in myself that I thought were just quirks but they have to much in common with what other people are experiencing. I had never sought out any help because I did not think I needed it. I did something that upset my wife very much. I realized a pattern that went back to when I was abused. She asked some questions about it and I answered them but now she is very distant and hurt. If it were not for the things you had posted I would be clueless about all that is happening to me. I have had so many emotions in the past five days I don't know how to deal with it. Usually I feel nothing and I had been o.k. with that. Now I feel myself starting to go numb again and it is a huge sense of loss. I feel like I was given a brief chance to see what it was like to be human and now it is going away. Don't stop writing.
I'm sure there are others who need to see an example and know we are not alone.

Labyrinth said...

Sounds just something my own mother would say. Would have said. Did say. Thanks for the post..... enjoy your new baby, your daughter... and know that that you're doing great!

Labyrinth said...

David, if you come back and read this, please know you are not alone. Please try not to go back to the numb place. I hope you'll be able to find a good therapist who can help you through all the pain you're going through. Painful as it is, it's a good thing that you told your wife.

You are not alone, David. Thank you for your post.

Angel said...

Good for you for realizing that nothing you can do will ever be good enough for them!

Comparisons usually don't end up in any good for anyone. You are an individual and deserve to be treated as such, as does your sister.

Enjoy the baby stage while you can--that isn't lazy at all. It's bonding and is natural. Children grow up so quickly you should be allowed to enjoy this. Dr. Angel says so, lol. ;)

Enola said...

I'm glad you commented. If you've been reading long enough then you know that both my husband and I both sought counseling. I needed help dealing with the abuse. He needed help dealing with me dealing with the abuse - and to deal with the changes it brought. We also had some joint sessions. They were invaluable.

Please know you are not alone. The numb place is a safe place for awhile. But living outside of numb is so much better. I'd invite you to give it a try. Find a support group - online you will find many blogs that you can relate too. Comment, email, whatever to get feedback. Start a blog of your own if you are so inclined. Then open up to people in real life - counselor, clergy, friends family. The healing is worth it.

Thanks for commenting. Hope to "see" you around again.

DM said...

David, It took alot of humility and guts to go from "lurker" to posting a comment about something so vulnerable. All of us need other people from time to time to help us get our bearings...I echo what the other people said and encourage both you and your wife to find some solid godly counsel. Both my wife and I have needed to seek input individually and as I couple from time to time. BTW if you ever do start a blog...come back here and let us know.

Rising Rainbow said...

enola, you can tell you daughter all kinds of things, but what she is going to learn from the most is what she sees you do. If you are constantly berating yourself, that's what she is going to emulate. If you want her to have good self esteem you need to learn how to do that for yourself.