I’ve been putting this post off because I didn’t want to talk about it. I don’t like admitting that I’m a broken person. In fact, up until last Saturday I would have told you that I was doing better, my self-esteem was strong, and I was proud of who I am.
Last Saturday we were invited to a birthday party for one of the Engineer’s friends. We decided to go and hoped for the best: after all, many of the children there would be special needs and maybe he would be ok. He wasn’t. That’s for another post – also one I’ve been putting off writing.
We arrived to a wonderful house – the grandparents’ – that instantly worried me. What are my kids going to destroy? We unloaded the kids and headed inside. There was a little gaggle of adults on the top level while the kids played downstairs.
I confess, I didn’t hear a word of the introductions despite shaking hands and smiling, because I was petrified that the Engineer was going to knock over the oh-so-very-expensive telescope that was the first thing he saw. He made a bee-line for it. Hands all over it, trying to figure out how it worked, while the concerned owner hovered and worried about my child destroying something.
Once that situation was under control, I looked around – really looked around – and got this horrible sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. You know, the kind you get when you know nothing is going to go right? Anxious, stressed, and fearful. The kind where, if it was my kid, I would be outside with him holding him and calming him down, praying that the storm would go on by.
But I’m an adult. I can do this. I can deal with my issues without acting like an idiot.
You see, this was a gathering of the beautiful people. Everyone was dressed perfectly in the “right” clothes, hair done, make-up on, lovely jewelery, and killer shoes. They were in shape and attractive – and I was not. I was nothing of any of that.
My hair wouldn’t do what I wanted at all and I had no time to fix it because we were running late. My clothes were clean, but that’s the best thing you could say about them. I was in mom uniform: jeans and a sweater. My shoes were just shoes, and I don’t have the “right” clothes. In fact, I barely have any clothes at all because every time I go shopping I can’t find anything that fits my short, oddly proportioned body. If it does fit, it’s either grandmother material or stripper apparel. I hate shopping. It’s incredibly depressing.
To be fair, these people weren’t mean or impolite: they were just who they were. And because a full half of them were special needs parents, I felt even worse about it. I felt like a slob. A failure. A stay-at-home mom incapable of looking beyond the window of her minivan. As the other parents chatted about their recent vacations I felt resentful and jealous: and promptly felt like a horrible person for feeling that way.
I managed to hold it together for 20 minutes of this acute torture until the Engineer started losing it. I kicked into mom mode and ignored everything else. Surviving the party was my only goal, and it took all of my focus and energy.
I haven’t been that glad for a day to end in a very long time.
I am self-conscious about the physical effects that illnesses and pregnancies have caused. I am about 25 pounds overweight, my face is blotchy, my hair is dull and lifeless, and I feel like a freak. Because I have thyroid issues it’s extremely difficult to lose weight. My autoimmune diseases have caused my system to attack skin pigments, leaving raw white patches on my face and body. It’s quite obvious thanks to my extreme freckles. The freckles it took my entire childhood to learn to embrace. My reactive airway disease triggers if I try to exercise. It’s really hard to work out when you can’t breathe. Just saying.
All in all, I hate myself – my betraying, horrible body that seems determined to destroy itself from the inside out.
Add imposter syndrome to that, and it’s a perfect storm. I am worthless, stupid, I don’t belong. Everyone will laugh at me if I say something wrong. I claim my child is gifted – they all think I’m clueless because clearly, a gifted child wouldn’t act like THAT. I’m a horrible parent: my children’s behavior is because I did this. I screwed up. I failed.
And I am crying as I write this.
It hurts to admit that I am so weak. That I can crumble in one day, after YEARS of trying so hard to overcome this. It didn’t matter that no one thought this stuff, that no one cared how I was dressed or looked. I cared. More than I should.
I want to crawl into a hole of hermit-hood and stay there.
But I can’t. My kids need me to be “normal.” They need me to be an example, to show them that facing your fears and problems head-on is the best way to overcome them. And I need me to be strong – to stop worrying about what other people think.
So, the next day, I picked up the pieces and tried to get over myself. Tried to remind myself of all the things I do like about me. Pointed out to that niggling little voice in my head that yes, I do belong. I am gifted, my kid is gifted. We don’t fit in a neat little box, so what? I’m trying to tell myself that it’s ok. That I’m ok.
I’m still trying.
Note: after multiple family members expressed concern over my mental well-being, I should add that this isn’t my normal state of mind. I struggle with these feelings, but they don’t control me or consume me. The whole point of my post was to be honest – to share my struggle. To show that even people who seem strong and certain can be dealing with this, and that you might not see it as a person looking in. I’m good, honestly!