I want them to look at my life and see, a hard-working mom. A caring wife. A community activist.
I want them to see my love for others. My devotion to living a life of meaning and kindness.
I want them to see someone who loves to laugh.
I want them to look at me and see someone worthy of everything she has been handed.
Someone who tries to enjoy it but also, someone who actively tries to pass some of it along.
But I am sometimes unsure if that’s what people truly see.
Because often, that’s not really who I am.
I am a mom who sometimes goes to the office only because I know it will pay my mortgage and mean someone else will watch my child long enough for me to drink a cup of tea before it goes cold.
I am a wife who isn’t always grateful or kind to my partner. I sometimes resent him.
I am a community activist who often finds it draining and overwhelming. I sometimes just want to give it all up and live in blissful ignorance.
I am someone who sometimes loathes. And sometimes the loathing of certain people or things overwhelms me and brings me to dark places.
I am someone who occasionally wants to cry for no good reason at all.
I am someone who isn’t worthy of even a quarter of the things life has handed to me and still, I often find myself asking for more. Asking life to give me even more things I do not deserve.
I am someone who likes to receive and sadly, someone who is constantly comparing and coveting.
That puzzle isn’t pretty. And I physically shutter when I think about others discovering it.
I don’t want people to see it. But is that who I am?
It isn’t. At least, not always. You see, these two sides of me are not constant. I ebb and flow between them. Sometimes, I remain in one longer but ultimately something snaps me back to the other. When I feel the less desirable qualities coming through, it is like I can see my puzzle change. I see the darkness and the ugly seep into the pretty picture I’ve portrayed.
So I spend considerable time and energy focusing on maintaining the “good” side of myself.
I try forcing myself to be a cheerful giver when my desires are to the contrary.
I try smiling when I want to cry.
I try selling myself as a wonder-parent when the one thing I’m actually wondering is how quickly bedtime will come.
I try not to long for more than I have. I try not to indulge in things I do not need.
At first, this forcing feels good. It feels like my puzzle looks brighter — prettier. That feedback encourages me to keeping forcing it. So I do.
But in time, the forcing starts to hurt. It creates this tangible pain inside of me. I can feel the pressure of it rise up within my chest. It boils. It threatens to bubble over.
It is not sustainable.
I think I’m starting to learn that the ebb and flow of life (even with the bad) beats a forced one.
I think I’m starting to learn that I can be both. My puzzle isn’t wholly beautiful nor is it wholly ugly.
My pieces may never even fit together and I’m starting to be okay with that in ways I have never been before. I catch myself reaching for pieces only to remember they are not for me. So I decide to stop.
Someone else can have that. Someone else can be that.
Maybe your puzzle is wonderful through and through.
Mine, like me, is comprised of messy, complicated things and emotions.
Mine, like me, is beautiful to some and less desirable to others.
Just like me, my puzzle is complicated. And I’m starting to be okay if the world sees that in me.