I have never been one to journal. I love to talk and could talk anyone's ear off about me and my life. Up until I became a mother, I considered myself to be someone that had a good memory; therefore, I didn't need to write every thing down. Oh, how I was wrong! Recently, as I have been creating scrapbooks from my past, I realized that I don't remember as much as I once thought I would. Plus, I have highly selective memory as a means of survival. My childhood was not horrible compared to many people I know (I teach high school in an urban area . . . some of my students come to me with much bigger problems than I've ever experienced). Still my childhood "problems" made me (good or bad) who I am today. So, it is important for me to explore these memories in my journal. And now that I have begun the process of rediscovering "me" - I realize that my past is a part of why I have "let myself go"! WOW! All of that was discovered without paying big bucks to some shrink . . . I think I am making some progress here!
Two realizations tonight:
#1) I have always wanted to be the opposite of my mother. Many of the reason why have always been visable to me on the surface, no college education, smoker, three divorces, seemed to regret too many decisions, etc. She was never someone that was very made-up or dressy, but I do know of times that she was not true to her marriage and, to me, undervalued her family by some of her choices. So, now that I am in a wonderful marriage and have wonderful children, have I let myself go to avoid doing some of the things she did - even though I am a different person and have created a happy and stable life for myself?
#2) Have I not gone as far as I could professionally b/c I don't want to become my stepmom? She was very freaky and overbearing when I lived with her, my dad, and my stepsister during high school. Some how, she got a great job with Texaco (even though she had no additional schooling and little experience) and let it go to her head. She came home and bossed us around, held me accountable for my stepsister's chores, and treated my dad (and me) like shit. The years that were supposed to be some of the best of my life at home, became some of my darkest memories. She made me feel like less of a person and I still hate her for that.
The following is from Oprah's website and is here as a reference and guide for me. I will be journaling my reaction to each of these points in future posts. Here we go, why women let themself go:
1) Women aren't on their own list of priorities. After taking care of everyone else, they are always putting themselves last on the list, and often have very little left to give. There are many women who aren't living—they are just existing. This is a form of self-abuse. Women often wear their exhaustion as a badge of honor. The more you do for your loved ones, the more acceptable it becomes to "let yourself go." Women believe it's okay to become a "sacrificial lamb" within their own families. This is a lie that we allow ourselves to buy into, but we need to wake up! The challenge for women is that they must re-language what it means to be a wife and mother. Being a good wife and mother means that if you don't take care of yourself, in the long run you are ultimately harming all the other people you love in your life. You won't be the only one who takes the hit.
2) Fear of Competition. Media and society frequently tell women we need to portray ourselves as "together" and be able to perform any task thrown our way. But when women look at the reality of how overwhelmed they feel in their own lives, they begin to feel like they are not good or worthy enough. Women often see other women who look like they are "doing it all"—and then when they compare themselves, they become overwhelmed and feel inadequate. It's not easy to face feelings of inadequacy so women usually end up avoiding them. But women need to know you can't show up in your own life if you are on the run. They tell themselves they are too tired and burdened to compete with others so they don't believe they have the power to change anything. Then they "drop out" of the game—they give up and let themselves go.
3) Unresolved anger contributes to letting go. Sometimes women "drop out" because they don't know how to send a verbal message that says, "Get off my back." They have unresolved feelings of anger or rage toward someone or about something so they "let themselves go" to express that. When women give up on themselves, they are often sending messages of anger and it could be because of something traumatic that happened in the past or because of unhappiness in a current relationship…like with a parent, husband, or child.
4) We let fear take over. Women become paralyzed in their lives and let themselves go because of an underlying fear. A fear of rejection, a fear to accept how they really feel about themselves, a fear of facing the idea that they aren't enough, a fear of accepting how others may feel about them. They let the fear take over and let other people determine their own self worth. The internal barometer that gauges, guides and directs your life as an empowered woman—that makes you know you are enough and okay—is broken and needs to be fixed.