Guest Blog by Alicia Mader – The Unleashed Mum
You know the famous “Aha!” moment that Oprah always referred to? That moment when the penny finally drops and you realise something you have always known, but it takes you forever to finally believe it or recognise it? Well recently I finally had one of those moments after years of self doubt and anxiety had plagued me. You see, like every other mother, father, daughter, son, wife, husband, heck any human on the face of the earth really, I used to have a tendency (and still do at times) to be really terrible to myself and relentlessly compare myself to other people, no matter how many times I read or heard about how good enough or lovable I was. I had a band of people telling me these things, yet until you reach a point in your life where YOU believe these things, then self doubt and anxiety will forever follow you, like it was in my case.
On an almost daily basis, I would relentlessly look for proof that I was a nobody, that I didn’t deserve to be successful or have a family and group of loyal, loving friends who thought I was amazeballs (yes I did just write amazeballs), that I wasn’t as good a mother to my kids as everyone else was to their kids, that I wasn’t as pretty or as thin as others or that I wasn’t worthy of living up to my full potential. The list could really go on and on.
Somewhere in amongst the daily grind of marriage, raising children, studying a tertiary degree and running a household, the pressure built up to boiling point, all self inflicted mind you, no one else’s doing except for me, and I forgot all the wonderful, unique , crazy, quirky things about me that everyone else in my life seemed to really like.
I would get lost in my own thoughts and allow my inner critic (she’s a bitch, honestly I wish she would piss of some days, but I know she’s there to help keep me grounded too), to completely tear apart my self-esteem until I hated myself so much that all I really wanted to do was binge on crappy reality TV, gorge on junk, and sleep. Man did I want to sleep!
Every day I would wake up with this desire to accomplish something, anything! But every day it felt like I accomplished nothing. I tried to spring clean the house from top to bottom. I wanted to redecorate the kids bedrooms and playroom, make their space more beautiful, but all those gorgeous photos on Pinterest look like something from a glossy magazine. Not mine. I try to study, write, create, cook, clean, wash, pay bills etc but these three little tiny humans would cry for all of my attention whenever I started something. Ugh. At the end of the day, I felt there was nothing to show for the last 8 hours of exhausting effort. Of doing what exactly? It made me constantly wonder: “Am I enough?”
But then something changed. I don’t even really know where the “Aha!” moment came from or what prompted it, but life just seemed to be getting easier, we were falling into an easy natural, daily rhythm and, yes of course there were still shitty days, but it really did feel like one day I woke up and saw the light, gave myself a mental crack in the head and said, “Hey, life’s not easy, but it isn’t meant to be either, so get your shit together and embrace your fabulousness” (I don’t even know if that’s a word, it just sounded good!). This wasn’t an easy thing to maintain as that vicious, obnoxious little inner critic would keep popping up and object to my newfound look on life, trying to burst my bubble, but most of the time now I can put her back in her spot.
A few key things I learnt, (but always subconsciously knew) were:
1. No one’s life is perfect, no matter how much they try to portray that it is. Everyone has shit to deal with and we all face the same problems at some stage in our life. The people who seem to “have it all” and who are usually the ones we compare ourselves to most, do not have it all. They are comparing themselves to someone else too and fighting with their own bitchy inner critics like the rest of us
2. Unless you are a convicted murderer or some other sort of psycho I am certain there is more that is likeable about you than there is to dislike. Start believing that and I promise you, your crappy inner thoughts will bugger off.
3. Where we have come from and how far we have travelled to get to this point is just as important as where we are going and how much further we have to go. For me, this is no longer dwelling on the fact that I have not yet finished my university degree, even after 6 years, but rather focusing on the fact that I have completed over 3/4 of my double degree. An achievement that I never really thought possible when first starting out at uni, and one that I am now finally comfortable in saying that I am very proud of.
4. You don’t need to be perfect at everything. This is something that it super hard for me to accept as I have always beat myself up if I didn’t achieve perfect results in everything I did. Rather than admit I have done well in something, if it is not perfect then my philosophy was that it was a waste of time. A ridiculous thought and one that has taken an extremely long time to overcome. Regardless whether we fail at something or not, should not take away from the fact that by simply attempting it and taking a chance, we have already succeeded. So next time you beat yourself up about not achieving a certain goal, give yourself a break and a little pat on the back for being brave enough to attempt it in the first place.
These lessons helped to me to suddenly see what my husband, my friends, my family had all been telling me all along. I was enough. I. Was. Enough! And without trying to sound up myself, it was a bloody good feeling.
I will still always naturally suffer from anxiety and it won’t be easy to always maintain this new lease on life, but I am getting better at it and I hope that it can rub off on my nearest and dearest.
I know it sounds ridiculously cliche – but the bottom line is that you really are enough just as you are. You don’t need to do anything at all. You are enough. I am enough. We are enough…