Changing hearts and minds.

Email: amber@thewinterofmydiscontent.com

Loving Myself Series #1: Stronger Than She Looks

What is one thing you would change about yourself?

WordPress Daily Prompt 12/05/22

And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.

Haruki Murakami

Why do I have such a hard time loving myself? She asks, after a long absence. Well, well, well. If it isn’t me after all of these months, dropping in to say hello and ponder life’s tough questions. Human beans! You beautiful human beans, I’ve missed you so. Unfortunately, life got too tough and the blog had to go on the back burner. I haven’t been in the mood or the condition to write in a helpful way. Most of my social media accounts are on private right now and will probably stay that way for the foreseeable future, so even being an advocate has been more difficult.

I don’t know how to write about what has been happening in my life. I don’t even know if I want to, honestly. Just trust me when I say that it has been difficult. Scary. Sad. Uncertain. I’m trying to find my footing and this blog is an anchor for me. You are an anchor for me. Writing for this blog, connecting with all of you, and fighting to be heard and understood helped me heal once. It sewed up old wounds I didn’t even know I had. I’m hoping that can be the case again.

So, to get back in the swing of things, I decided that I would start participating in the WordPress prompt of the day, just to get my creative juices flowing again. Think of it as a “Getting to know Beans,” kind of series. I’ll get back to regularly scheduled programming eventually and I hope that you stick around long enough for that. I also hope that you find some value in my diatribes.

What Is One Thing You Would Change About Yourself?

self-love, self confidence, psychology
loving myself

What would I change about myself? Only one thing? I can think of 46,146,432,164 right off the top of my head. When I really think about it, though, there’s one thing that easily creeps to the top of the list. At first I thought perhaps I would make myself more brave. Or stronger. It even crossed my mind that I might ask for a different model brain. Maybe something of the neurotypical-variety. At the end of the day, I would be braver and stronger and better functioning if I loved myself more.

I know, I know. It’s something that can be worked on and I am working on it. It’s not as easy as loving someone else. And it’s certainly not as easy as just “choosing” to love yourself. Have you ever tried to make yourself love someone and you just weren’t feeling it, no matter what? It’s impossible. Same applies to self-love.

Often, it feels like I have a love/hate relationship with myself. I love younger Amber. Child Amber. Teen Amber. Young adult Amber. 30s Amber. I feel for them. I feel sad for what they don’t know. I love my capacity for empathy, my desperate need to be creative, and the astounding resilience that I’ve cultivated over the years. I love that, no matter how badly things go, I always find some kind of white-hot hope to grasp on to. I adore that I present myself in a relatable way. I love my intelligence and my talent.

At the end of the day, though, I don’t believe my own hype. There are things that I like about myself but, as a whole, I’m not really that much of a fan. I want to be (that’s progress, folks). I want to be proud of the woman that I am, the mother that I am, and the human that I am. But all I can see is my faults. All I can ever see is all the ways that I don’t add up. Even when it’s lies.

History has taught me that things don’t stay good for long so, no matter what is happening in my life, I’m always waiting on the other shoe to drop. Always waiting for the ground to be yanked out from under my feet. I’ve written about my fear of success before and I’m sure that I’ll do it again. The truth is, success was never what scared me. Maintaining success was always the fear. That I’d finally live up to all that potential that everyone was talking about and then not be able to keep up with the charade. Because the bottom always falls out.

Maybe it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. Maybe I make terrible decisions. Maybe I just have mortifyingly bad luck. No matter, I have craved stability, safety, understanding, and acceptance my entire life. All things I could have given to myself in abundance if I had loved myself more.

I was taught that my particular strengths were of no value, and some of negative value, in our society. They weren’t important or serious. My empathy made me gullible (it does, sometimes) and my curiosity made me flighty. My creativity, propensity to dream big, and reflective nature meant that I lived with my head in the clouds. My dad used to tell me that I looked at the world through rose-colored glasses and it was going to get me taken advantage of. Unfortunately, he wasn’t wrong.

It was drilled into my head at an early age that my particular weaknesses made me less valuable as a person. My room wasn’t spotless before school in the morning, I was less deserving of love. I was constantly running for an ever-moving goal post; nothing was ever quite good enough, even when I tried my hardest. None of my good qualities were ever of any interest and ALL of my faults were paraded around regularly.

On top of my individual experience, couple all of that with being neurodivergent and not knowing it. Telling me I “have potential, but…” is a huge trigger for me. Why? Well, because every time someone has ever said that to me, even when I was a kid, I knew they were right. I do have a lot of fucking potential. And they’re probably also correct in that if I’d only apply myself…quit talking…quit daydreaming…get there on time…pay attention…I’d probably go really far in life. And that stings.

From there, that idea just followed me. I skated by with mediocre grades in school. I was a cheerleader and, though I worked harder at memorizing cheers and dances than everyone else, I was mediocre at that too. I fell into a “career,” just by chance. I’m mediocre at that too. I’ve never truly gone after my dreams in life (and I had some doozies) because I was too busy being mediocre to be anything else. Mediocre was safe. You can’t disappoint people if they aren’t expecting much to begin with.

Except, I’m not mediocre. I was never mediocre. I am extraordinary. My entire life, I’ve been feeling the pull of something…more. Something meaningful. Impactful. Some reason that I’m here. I was given a gift in my ability to write and communicate, as a whole. The universe saw fit to make me good with words for a reason. I am deeply passionate and painfully creative. I have always dreamed the biggest version of the dream. No. Mediocre is not my bag.

I was fortunate that during a very delicate time in my life, I crossed paths with a group of amazing people who took care of me and loved me. The accepted who I was and did all that they could to understand and empathize with me. They saw me and it didn’t drive them away. For the first time, they saw my strengths as attributes and they didn’t really care all that much about my weaknesses. They loved me because of them and not in spite of them. I loved myself more because of them. But, like I said before, the bottom always falls out.

My path eventually took me to places that would nearly crush my spirit and that definitely moved the meter on how I feel about myself, not in a good way. My self-loathing has returned full-force. But there is hope. Because I believe that I do deserve to love myself. There is plenty to love. And I can always love myself as a work in progress. I don’t have to reach some pentacle of perfection before I can start to love who I am.

There are many voices in the “boardroom” in my head. The negative self-talk that sounds like my own, internal voice, but I know that it isn’t. Those ideas were put there by people who didn’t understand me. I don’t have to wait until the boardroom accepts me…I can start loving myself today. I wish that it were so easy.

Dream Girl

painting, girl, dream

As is well-documented on this blog, I am a prolific daydreamer. Most of the time, I’m daydreaming from my own perspective. In these daydreams, I am the ideal version of myself. She holds her head up high and she lives an authentic life. She is confident in who she is. She knows that some people will love her and some people won’t and she is okay with that. She’s funny and flirty and she always knows what to say. She’s mentally tough and soft, all at the same time; a perfect balance. She sets boundaries and she feels no guilt in enforcing them. She’s welcoming and kind, but she takes no shit.

She is happy. At some point along the line, she got her shit together. She got her brain under control and her in finances in order. She figured out the secret to be being the best. mom. ever. She worked hard to make her dreams come true and she’s living the life she’s always dreamed of. She is evolved and healed. She parents a child who is kind, understanding, confident, and well-adjusted. She put in the work and now she’s reaping the benefits. She is well-liked and respected. She gets involved with the community. She gives back. She’s a helper.

She loves herself. She accepts herself. She shows herself grace. She loves who she is because she knows herself. She knows her own heart and intentions. Other people’s opinions of her matter very little to her because she knows that, no matter what anyone thinks about her, it doesn’t change the truth. They can think what they want and she’s still going to sleep fine at night. She loves her scars and battle wounds. She loves the dark corners of her mind. She loves even the saddest parts; the ones that hurt the most. She loves her flaws and her shortcomings and her weaknesses. She loves her imperfectness.

This version of me is in here, somewhere. I can feel her stirring around, waiting for me to let her out. If I could change anything about myself, I would love myself more right now. I would have loved myself more as a child, alone and hoping for a miracle rescue. I would have loved myself more when I was a young adult, sad and ashamed and angry. I would have loved myself enough to set boundaries and not accept being treated badly. I would have loved myself enough to stand up for myself, to run at the red flags, and to not try to fit myself into boxes that weren’t made for me.

So, I keep working at it. I am committed to healing. I want to get better. I want to be healthy and organized. I want to start loving myself. Forgiveness and kindness are a must to start the process and I’m struggling with that part. Forgiving myself for not knowing better. Forgiving myself for tolerating way too much. Forgiving myself for choices I made to survive. Being kind to the person that I was than and that I am now. Allowing myself grace. Allowing myself to make mistakes and to learn from them. Allowing myself to not strive for perfection all of the time. Acknowledging the fact that I am worthy of my own love and understanding.

I’m striving to become my own dream girl.

In closing

instagram logo, social, social network

Long post, I know. I wasn’t expecting it to be quite so lengthy, but it’s been a while and I had a lot to say. With the end of the year upon us, I find myself thinking about growth, progress, and self-improvement. This year saw me take a wrecking ball to my life. It was a painful, uncomfortable, and soul-crushing, but it was my life. Now I have to start over. New life, new me…right? I have to figure out who I am now. What do I stand for? What is important to me? How will I get to where I want to be?

So, I’ll be starting the new year on a path of self-discovery, self-love, and getting healthy. My 2023 looks to be filled with the juggernaut task of starting to heal. I made so much progress after my diagnosis. I was feeling good, starting to love myself again. I started to dream again. I started to hope again. Then this year mowed over over me like a freight train and it feels like starting at square one. I’ve got this, though. I’m bent beyond recognition, but I am not yet broken. I live to fight another day!

I hope that you guys stick around for the prompt posts. They may not be my usual fare, but I hope that I can be insightful while also getting back into the swing of things.

I’m so glad to be back and I’m glad you came back too.

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Love and light. Keep fighting the good fight!

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