Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Not Pictured

I confess, I take a lot of pictures of a lot of things.  And in the digital age, why not?  It's free after all and you can delete the ones you don't want later.  So that's what I do.  It's like a visual diary of my days. Except it never works out quite that way.  Because things are never as beautiful as they are with the naked eye.  And because in a diary you record the most intimate details of your life.  But, pictures are the opposite.  

The more real and pure the moment is, 
 the less likely I am to ruin it by taking a photo.

Which leaves me with a bunch of obscure photos that aren't truly representational of my life.  Not that they are intentionally inaccurate.  But, they are misleading because my photos are void of certain aspects of my life, mostly, my friends and my kids.  As I have mentioned here before, my kids don't  let me take many photos of them, let alone make them public on social media.  Also, I will rarely interrupt something, like a dinner with friends to take a photo.  And while I try to document the unsightly,  with photos of me first thing in the morning without make-up on or pictures of squat potties.  I do try to keep things presentable, pretty-ish (so people want to look at them on instagram) and try to preserve some decorum.   

Because of these things, I still sometimes feel like a fraud.  

Because I have more people that only know me soley through social media now.   And I like to keep things as real as possible, without embarrassing my family or friends.  Although I 've found that it's virtually impossible where my kids are concerned.  I still try to take great care to protect my family, while presenting myself as the flawed person I am, not the person I want you to see me as.   In order to own my mistakes, awkwardness and inner dork.  To promote self acceptance through my photos and my words.   But, I  realize I'm probably bullshitting myself.  And that none of this even matters.  Because as much as society says that images complement words, the truth is 

... images trump words.  
Every time.

This is the crux of my love/hate relationship with the digital age.  

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Internal Conflicts vs. External Conflicts

I was feeling good about myself when I stepped on the dog scale at the vet just for fun.  Because I thought I knew what the display would reveal.  But, I didn't.  I was 10 pounds heavier than I thought.  And even though I knew it was mostly muscle.  And, who's kidding, those cheeseburgers.  Not to mention the fries. Still,  I was shocked.   It was, after all, a 30 lb weight gain from when I was in Morocco.  Where I was much too unhealthy mentally and much too thin physically.   At a time when I was so unhappy internally, I got the most compliments from women on how good I looked externally.  And it was really conflicting.

Then a weird thing happened.

With a lot of hard work from the inside out, I began revealing my true imperfect self to the world through my writing and dance.  And opening up gave me confidence.  I actually like myself now.  Even those 30 extra pounds of me.  Maybe I even like those most of all.  Because that's where my strength comes from.  And I've even got some reserves in my thighs now.  Not that I don't screw up and get off track.  Because I do, all the time.  But,  I know that if I get myself off track I can get my ass back on track.  That while I can't control the external conflicts,  I can control how I internalize them.   

And that's the difference.   

I'm not gonna lie, it's not easy to plod along and stay grounded.  Especially in a world that rewards the salacious flash in the pan.   I've failed far more than I've succeeded.   And I still long to be perfect with perfectly long legs.   And my skin is still thin.  I still want to be everything to everybody.  I still want you to like me.  But, I'm not conflicted about it anymore.  I'm far more concerned that I like me.  Where I'm at.  Right now.  And I don't think that it's my problem if you don't, anymore.  Because...

I like me, so you don't have to.  
You're welcome. 


Monday, September 28, 2015

Last Minute Panic

I didn't see it coming.  A last minute pole dance recital.  For which I was totally unprepared.  I don't know how to choreograph.  I never freestyle to a song.  I'm not good at transitions.  And I'm painfully timid and performing in front of real live people terrifies me.  Like swimming in shark infested waters kinda terrifying.  So obviously, I had to do it.  As part of my self imposed exposure therapy program.

Why do I do this to myself?

Because I want to be more than the awkward wallflower girl who watches life from the sidelines.   I want to do the things I love without being overcome by a paralyzing fear of being watched doing them.  And exposing my myriad of imperfections in the process.  

So without further ado, here's me exposing myself...
Not like that though.
You know what I mean.

I've firmly decided, I'll like me later,  the next time I perform this and do it perfectly.  

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Spoiled Brat

Every family has one.  And they're usually the youngest child.  The spoiled brat.  I can say that because I was the youngest spoiled brat of my family.   We get too much, too early and we don't appreciate it.  But in our defense, we don't know better.  We were simply born into this sense of self entitlement.  And if we didn't have it, we wouldn't get any attention at all.  Because there's too many people in line for attention before us.  We have to fight to stand out.  

In theory, it all makes sense.  

But, now that I'm the mother of my very own spoiled brat, it's really just super annoying.  She constantly wants me to watch her do handstands, even though I've seen her do them about a million times.  She's always cracking jokes that are so subtle, but yet extraordinarily witty and dry as hell.  They could almost go unnoticed, but they never do.  Because she's calculated, intelligent and has brilliant comedic timing.   And because of these things she, more than any other of my kids, wields a lot of power.  

Because tyrants are extremely capable.  

They are capable of driving you completely insane.  They use guilt and manipulation because nothing is ever good enough.  So, when we announced our big upcoming travel plans to the kids, she was the first to react.  "Why aren't we going to New Zealand?"   That brazen ingrate was going straight for the jugular.  Because I'm also a spoiled brat, New Zealand was at the top of my travel list, though I never told her that.  She just knew.  


I was more than irate.  "They are $2600 a piece.  Then multiply that number by 6.  And that's why we're not going to New Zealand!"   The nerve!  And that's precisely when I decided that the best way to celebrate our last child leaving the house about ten years from now will be a trip for 2 to New Zealand.  Since I'm a spoiled brat too.  Because I'm also calculating.  And I'm calculating it's going to be a lot cheaper this way.   

Monday, September 21, 2015

Stay In School

If there is one subject in school that translates to every facet of your life it's English.  Or Language Arts or whatever the cool kids are calling it these days.  Not that I'm biased as a writer or anything.  And not that I have a degree that has anything to do with English.  And not that I'm even particularly good at writing.  Definitely not grammar.  Or writing in complete sentences.  Or spelling.  But never mind that, my point is that communication is important.

Stay in school kids.

I may have given this very lecture to my own kids. But, I have no such argument for algebra.  I have never once used algebra, which was a total waste of time and brought down my GPA significantly, not to mention my self esteem.  No, the only math that's essential for everyone to learn is calculating percentages.  For tipping and taxes.  Not to mention recipes.  Put that in schools.  I'd call it Everyday Math.  And there would be a lot of field trips involved.  Going out to lunch, getting haircuts, checking into hotels, river rafting, going to bars and strip clubs.  (Those last two are for educational/tipping calculation purposes only.)    Cause learning who to tip and how to tip would also be included in the mandatory core class. 

How important is this to American culture? 

I think Usher said it best.  "If you dance on a pole, it don't make you a hoe."  Which just may prove my point.  BECAUSE POLE DOES NOT RHYME WITH HOE.  And just because you bleep out "hoe" for radio airplay, we all know exactly what you're saying.  We're American.  We may not be the most literate country in the world, but we know how to read between the lines just fine.  In fact, I think we invented it.  And furthermore, the fact that women can make more stripping than they can with a master's degree is horrifying.  I know this because if I swapped my profession (writing) with my hobby (pole dance) I could actually earn a living.  

And you've just been skool'd by Usher

I think his meaning really comes through in that song. Especially when it's overplayed on every radio station.  Inundating our youth with it's cautionary tale.  Sex sells, substance doesn't.  I offer up E. L. James as further proof of this fact.  The message is clear, stay in school, the world needs you to change it.  

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Recovering Perfectionist

It was about 5 years ago that a therapist diagnosed me with perfectionism.  Which seemed ludicrous to me being someone so completely and entirely imperfect.   I wasn't even anywhere close to perfect.  And I was consumed with trying to cover my numerous imperfections so no one would discover my intricate myriad of flaws because they'd deem me unlikeable.  And forget about lovable.  Which, as it turns out, just may be the clinical definition of perfectionism.

My name is Marie and I'm a recovering perfectionist.

I'll further confess that it's been at least 10 seconds since the last time I berated myself over doing something seemingly small and insignificantly inexact.  It's been about 10 minutes since I deleted a tweet from Twitter because it had a typo.  And this morning I took about 50 photos of my dog to get just the perfect shot to post to instagram and then I still had to filter it because it wasn't good enough.  And it's been a couple hours since my oldest daughter helped my youngest daughter with her math.  Something I would have done if I was the perfect mom. And could do 5th grade math.  But, alas, I am  not, nor am I smarter than a 5th grader.  That's how stupid I am.  And so begins my extensive list of imperfections providing boundless reasons to berate myself.

Because I still obsess about perfection.  

I still won't start a project if I don't think I can be really, really successful at it.  Which is why I don't commit to many things.  But,  if I do start something new, I will allow it to define me while I work my ass off to finish it.  Like it's the only thing in my life that matters.  And when I finish it, I won't feel accomplished.  Not for a second.  In fact, I'll retroactively nitpick about how I could have done it both better and faster.  And won't take even a second to feel accomplished.  I'll feel empty.  That's when  I'll simply move on to the next thing.   And there's always a 'next thing'.   Because what I have done is never as important as all the other things I haven't.  Nothing I ever do is good enough for me.  This is how I sabotage myself.  Over and over.  Because the only thing I fear more than failure is success.  So I can never win.  

How can I even call myself a recovering perfectionist?    

Because there is one huge thing that's changed over for me over the last 5 years.  Though I still constantly struggle with accepting my imperfections and trying to curb my obsession with fixing them and  I probably always will,  writing is my therapy now.  And because of it,  I don't feel unlovable anymore.  And that's all that really matters.  Unless there's a typo or grammatical error in this post.  Then that's all that really matters...

Monday, September 14, 2015

The Cumulative Effect

When you're a new mother, you think it's not going to happen to you.  No, you're the exception.  You're going to be the perfect mom.  Playing guitar and singing Joni Mitchell songs to lull your baby to sleep.  You're going to snuggle up with them when they watch Disney movies, instead of using it as a babysitter so you can read a book.  But, more likely to go on facebook.   And you're definitely going to be completely rational and eternally patient every time your kid cries, whines, complains, throws a temper tantrum and act like completely and utterly irrational child.  Except, no you're not.

Because you are not the exception.  

Simply put, where there are children at play, there are laws of science at play.  So let me blind you with a little science.  When women become mothers there is a drop in progesterone, estrogen and thyroid levels that occur.  They make you both euphoric and depressed and anxious.  In addition, the thyroid ensures that you will clean your child's plate after they have picked through it no matter how gross and repulsive it is.  It's not your fault you're a crazy person.  It's hormonal.   It's science people!   

And it doesn't get better, in fact, it gets worse. 

 Because the thing that no one tells you about motherhood is the cumulative effect.  Anytime your little bundle of joy makes a misstep in life, your brain will go through the extensive catalog of every past incidence that it has occurred.  The older they are, the greater the frequency, the more pissed off you are at that bouncing baby bundle of woe.  And that's precisely when you go from 0 to 60.  That kid doesn't even have a chance to defend his or her actions.  There is no defense.  Because in your mind you've already had the trial, convicted and sentenced them.  

This is The Cumulative Effect.  

There is absolutely nothing you can do to stop it from happening.  Nothing.  It's terminal.  It's such a horrific affliction, that no one talks about it.  It's not even listed in the DSM-V.  It's also a government cover-up.  Because if women knew about it, many would choose not to have children.  And thus, there would be no one to pay taxes and keep social security afloat and the whole system would collapse.  So, go ahead, sacrifice yourself and your sanity to have kids.  Your family and your country  need you!


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