***I interrupt this Lenten blogging hiatus to bring you words as I participate in Momastery’s Messy Beautiful Warriors Project. This beautiful idea shares blog posts from women striving to make the most out of our messy, beautiful lives. Take some time to read the hearts of participants. You’ll realize we’re not so different after all.***
Sisters. I have a question for you:
Why do we spend so many hours comparing ourselves?
She has more money than I do.
She has a bigger house than I do.
She has better hair than I do.
She has nicer clothes than I do.
She has a flatter stomach than I do.
At some point in my life I’ve thought all of the above. Now with four decades behind me, I will proudly say I’ve let these petty self-judgements flitter away.
To celebrate the paperback release of “Carry On Warrior”, a book filled with stories of her messy, beautiful life, Glennon Melton asked bloggers to share vulnerabilities in their own messy, beautiful lives.
No problem, I thought when asked to submit a post. I’m as transparent as a bay window. Everyone who comes into my life spots my messy and I never hesitate to call out where I find beauty.
However, if I’m going to share total honesty in this post, the truth I find when I dive down deep to my core, there still lives shame; one last standard in which I compare myself to other women.
I do too much but it’s not enough.
I hear what you’re saying now. “Hoooold on, Andee. You don’t really do all that much. In fact, I do way more than you and I never even complain about it!”
Or at least that’s what I imagine you’re saying.
Before I met my husband, my days were filled from dawn until midnight. So much to do in a day, let alone a lifetime. I was unfamiliar with the term “present in the moment”. In fact, the first time I heard this phrase I assumed it was some new-age fad passing through. I’m more of a “future in the moment” type of girl. Whatever I’m doing presently, my mind is on what comes next.
If you’ve been a reader of this blog, you know my once pages long to-do list came to a screeching halt when I was 24 years old. In the fall of that year, I suffered a stroke. There were no more lists to complete, no more events to handle, no more errands to run. Doctors appointments and the TV Guide dictated my agenda.
Fast forward to today – almost 20 years since my paralyzing illness. Looking at me, you’d never know I once spent a great deal of time with only the left half of a functioning anatomy.
But I know.
I am reminded every time my right side tells me, “You’ve done too much.”
My brain continually disagrees with the rest of my body. All of my cerebral matter shouts, “Do more, ya’ sissy! See that woman over there? She works, has 4 kids, is the room mother in each kids’ classroom, and volunteers at a homeless shelter. What the hell is wrong with you? You only have 2 kids and no job. Get crackin’!” (My brain sounds like a barking Camp Pendleton sergeant.)
So I push through and I obey my thought pattern commanding “do more”, which leads to tiredness and weakness.
Which leads to irritability.
Which leads to stress.
Which leads to depression.
Which leads to kids needing a mama and husband needing a wife, but the only one around to fill that role is in bed with the covers pulled over her head.
That’s not beautiful. It’s just messy.
Sisters, can we make a deal with each other?
Can we let go of the self-criticism arising from our own insecurities? I’ll try not to place my to-do list side by side with yours and you don’t have to envy my flat stomach. (And by “flat” I mean “soft and pillow-like”.)
If we learn to dismiss the self-judgement,
the unreal expectations,
imagine how much easier it will be to appreciate the beauty in our “messy-beautiful”.
And if we lean on each other during these times of self doubt, we’ll honor our messy-beautiful together.
This essay and I are part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project — To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE! And to learn about the New York Times Bestselling Memoir Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, just released in paperback, CLICK HERE!