Self-Doubt

I recently wrote a post with the question of whether or not I am a toxic person.

Logically, I know that I am trying to be the best person I can be even though it doesn’t always show. What I didn’t know is that my self-doubt would increase tremendously since I lost the friend that forced me to confront this question. I didn’t realize how much it would affect me. I can understand it and realize that it happened and there’s not much I can do what happened in the past but I didn’t realize that it would follow me for months.

It’s not the first time I’ve been through a loss of some sort. It’s happened before and crushed everything I knew about myself. I remember feeling like I disappeared for a while. I had to really work hard to find myself. I went through therapy and really worked on myself and I became someone I liked and respected. After I entered my 30s, I thought I knew who I was. I had read enough books and really took a look at my life. I found things and people I loved and believed that I had settled into who I was supposed to be. I had accomplished some pretty cool things that I was proud of and moved forward.

There’s been a lot of changes since that point. It’s been almost 8 years since I turned 30. And somehow, I’m back in the middle of a bunch of questions. I have constantly been meeting new people through my kids’ schools and classes and through the dance classes we teach. And through it all, I thought I knew myself and had accepted the fact that not everyone would be my best friend. That was okay. I knew who my tribe was. I knew the strength of the bonds I had formed.

But now, I’m questioning the basic core of myself. Am I someone that people want to be around? Am I someone that my kids like? Am I someone that I can respect?

I have fallen back into the trap of questioning myself after every social engagement. I worry that I said the wrong thing or did something that offended someone. The logical grown-up in me knows that whatever happens happens and it’s okay as long as I tried my best to be a good person but the emotional anxiety in me has risen up immensely.

Do I have to go through the same work again to be comfortable with myself? How do I learn to trust myself again? What if no one ever likes me? (Oh man, that thought makes me feel like a teenager again.) How do I know that this won’t happen with other people?How do I know if I’m disappointing or hurting someone else enough that they will decide to stop being my friend as well?

How do I manage this self-doubt?

 

The Exhausting Reality of Children

I woke up this morning like I wake up every morning: ready to go, planning the things we would do through the day, excited to try to make my (and our) day a good one.

Then it happened.

“Mooooom, carry me!!!”

“Moooom, she’s playing with my car!”

Mooooom, I need you!”

This all took place within the first 15 minutes of coming downstairs. The conflicting yells for me and for me to give the kids breakfast always hit me hard because it’s not humanly possible to make breakfast in the kitchen if I’m sitting next to the kids at the dining table!!”

But make them understand that. Make them understand that I only have 2 arms and hands and not 8. I do frequently joke to my older child that I could do everything she asks for in the minute she asks if I was an octopus.

This means though that this great, exciting, fun-filled day we were going to have is over as my mood goes south by the end of breakfast time. Then, I’m playing catch up all day to feel like I actually have control of something, anything.

I know these are 2 little humans with their set of needs and wants and incapable of completely regulating their emotional well-being. I know they depend on me for a lot of things (although I do try to make them as independent for certain tasks as quickly as I can). But all of this knowledge disappears when I end up arguing with them over which shirt they want to wear or which plate they get to use.

Oh my gosh, it is exhausting. It’s mentally draining. It’s emotionally draining. And even though I have now been a parent for over 5 years, I have no idea on how to thrive. I’m surviving sure. I will never be a Pinterest mom and I have long accepted that. But I’d like to be better. I’d like to at least be a Berenstein Bear Mom.

I’m not, though. Unfortunately, I get rude and sarcastic and mean. My goodwill melts away into impatience. My requests become orders. Honestly, I’m just trying to get through the day.

Is it possible? Is it possible to not be so exhausted by these little humans?

Or is it just reality?

The Boy Who Wears Bows

We are in a new time in our lives. When I was growing up, the ideas of what boys wear and what girls wear were pretty established.

Now, if you were growing up like me, it was okay to be a tomboy. You could wear boys’ clothing and play sports and video games and it was no big deal. But if you were a boy, the same gender neutrality wasn’t the case.

I have a son and a daughter. My son is the baby so he follows his sister everywhere. She is a tomboy in princess’s clothing. She wears dresses, does her hair, and puts on a necklace and then goes to climb mountains and play baseball. There is no separation of what is acceptable for her to do or wear from any other child.

My son likes to do the same thing his sister does plus a few things she didn’t do. He loves cars and trains and trucks in a way she was never into. And he will participate in all of it with a bow on his head. He sees his sister wear bows and asks for them as well. Because we have never established something was a “girl thing” or a “boy thing”, we put the bow on and let him rock it.

It definitely raises interest especially in our South Asian circles. We have heard “that’s for girls” a few times. But really is it? Or is it just something that we have established as a “girl thing” in society? If boys were given a fair chance to express themselves, would they themselves have immersed in the bow culture?

The next question that arises is what happens when my son wants to wear something else his sister wears. What about princess dresses or necklaces or bangles?

What do we do when we have let the kids live in a gender neutral zone where they can be free to do or wear whatever they want? Is it better to follow society’s gender norms at least for now so we can protect our son from the chance of being bullied until he can understand how to protect himself? Would we follow the same rules of parental protection as we would with climbing structures and riding bikes? Would we do whatever we could to protect them in the real world until the real world catches up with the way we think?

As parents, what is the correct path? I don’t know if there is one. I think we are in a new territory where children have the freedom to become who they really are, who they are truly comfortable with. I want to be able to be there for my children for whatever choices they make. I want to be there for them to fall back on and to be their shield when they need it. My parents did that for me when I was breaking society’s norms and I don’t want to be any less for my kids.

It may turn out that our son doesn’t care for “girl things” as he gets older. It may turn out that he loves them.

It may turn out that he may go on to drive monster trucks with a multitude of bows in his hair.

Say Yes

I have trouble saying yes to things. Last week, my husband suggested that I go get a massage while our kids were napping. My neck and shoulder had been hurting and I could feel knots everywhere. I couldn’t resolve the pain even with the help of medicine and rest. I was causing more pain in my hands by trying to massage out the knots myself. The next logical step was, of course, for me to get a professional to try to help get the knots out.

My first reaction was to say no. My first reaction to every suggestion is instinctively to say no.

Why is this? Why do I feel like I can’t say yes to anything? I don’t know if this is a part of my personality or if it’s something I’ve picked up as a mom. I wonder if a part of me thinks I don’t deserve what I’m being offered. I feel like I have to sacrifice what I want or something good for me in order for me to be a good person.

Is this something that we, as women, do? Do we turn down things automatically before we even think about whether we would want to do them or not? Why is that? Do we feel like we aren’t deserving of every opportunity that comes our way?

I also wonder if it could be the fear of something different or new. Does the idea of stepping outside our daily scheduled box make us feel uncomfortable? Am I going to start questioning myself when something that scares me meets with head on with an opportunity? What would convince to say yes?

A little while ago, I read Shonda Rhimes’s book “Year of Yes”. She found herself receiving all sorts of opportunities because she didn’t turn down the requests she usually did. She is one of the most successful women in the entertainment industry and still, she automatically said no to things that forced her outside of her comfort zone. It changed some aspects of her life.

I know that getting a massage isn’t exactly facing a big fear for me but leaving my kids seems to be. I overthink every time I make plans away from them. I don’t exactly why this is but I’m glad that I can at least acknowledge it and hopefully, I can say yes to a few more opportunities that come my way. I want to be able to face my fears and see what saying the word “yes” will do for me.

High Anxiety

Anxiety. It’s one of the most normal and most difficult things to deal with. It can mess with your mind and really affect your overall well-being.

According to the dictionary, anxiety is “a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.”

I don’t think I recognized how much anxiety I experienced when I was younger. And it got worse as I got older. I’d sit with all of these negative thoughts in my head without a way to move past them.

It’s not just me either. My sisters and I frequently discuss the anxiety we feel on a daily basis. We discuss what is triggering it and how to deal with it. I believe as we get older, we are more aware of the consequences of our actions and the uncertainty that surrounds making the choices we do.

I find that the best way for me to deal with it immediately is to breathe. I need to get rid of the butterflies and nervousness that is sitting in my stomach. Then, I write. I write about what I’m feeling until it’s out of me. Finding a solution sometimes isn’t the goal. The goal is to realize that no matter what I’m feeling that it will work out. Sometimes, we just have to wait out what we are feeling anxious about. If it’s something I can resolve immediately, I work on it but a lot of times, it’s just the fear of the unknown.

We ave to find a way to trust that we will be okay. There will always be a way to figure out how to feel better. It’s just a matter of not succumbing to the emotions at the moment and feeling despair. You have to just realize that the immediate feeling isn’t what you will be feeling for the rest of your life. It will pass. You just need to find a way to navigate through it.

It won’t be easy especially when you’re in the middle of an anxiety attack. Find your support. Find your breath. Find a way to get to the other side of it.

EMPATH

Who knows what an empath is?

According to Merriam-Webster, an empath is one who experiences the emotions of others.

It took me a long time to figure out I am an empath. Well, I believe I am. I don’t actually have an official way of knowing.

According to this article from psychology.com, here are the 10 ways to know you are an empath:

  1. Highly sensitive (in my case, oversensitive)
  2. Absorbs other people’s emotions
  3. Tend to be introverted, can be overwhelmed in large gatherings
  4. Highly intuitive
  5. Need alone time
  6. Can be overwhelmed in intimate relationships
  7. Targets for energy vampires
  8. Replenished in nature
  9. Highly tuned senses
  10. Huge hearts but sometimes give too much

It took me a long time to figure out that a lot of the times I was overwhelmed by my feelings, it was because I was absorbing other people’s feelings. It devours you and makes you want to hide and not deal with anything. I’m sure there also people out there that would be surprised that I need time alone. I can specifically remember one night I had gone to Knott’s Scary Farm with my friends when I was 16. At the beginning of the night, I was super social. By the end, I just wanted to be in my bed by myself. There are many more examples that helped me realize that I fit the description of an empath. I wish I had known when I was younger so I could have figured out how to deal with it better. I don’t think I fully realized it until I was almost 30.

It did make having a relationship difficult. How do you explain to someone how you feel when you don’t even completely understand what is happening? The accusation of being oversensitive was thrown at me a lot. And I thought I was. I thought it was my fault that I felt the way I felt. I finally realized that my feelings don’t need to be invalidated. This was something that was a part of me. I had to learn to own it.

That’s exactly what I ended up doing. I learned not to stop my tears or if I was feeling upset. It didn’t get rid of the feelings. It just bottled them up until I exploded. Now, I try to understand them and I talk about them. It helps to move forward faster.

Now, let’s talk about being an empath and a mother. That means that you rarely get alone time, there are feelings all over the place, and picking up other emotions is a daily occurrence. The positive side is I also know when my kids are really feeling things and I need to address them without assuming it will heal. The only way I do know how to deal with it is to shut myself down (which I admit might not be the best way). I have to compartmentalize a lot. I don’t know if this makes me a better or worse mother because I have to separate myself from whatever my kids are feeling or doing.

Something I hadn’t thought about until recently is that my children might be empaths as well. The older one already shows signs of empathy at an extremely young age. How do I teach her to deal with this? How do I teach her how to handle it when I’m not even sure how to deal with it myself? What is the healthiest way for her to handle it?

Do I have any empaths out there who can offer some advice?

Last On The List

Taking care of yourself is not easy. It’s especially difficult when you have 2 kids and they are your priorities. Every day, I take a look at my calendar and it’s filled with everything I need to take my kids to or get done for my family. Currently, I’m using their nap time to write this post.

It’s more than likely that if you have kids, you get caught up in their daily lives. You keep taking your one step in front of another to realize that you have gone a while without doing anything for yourself.

It’s another type of downward spiral. If you keep putting yourself last, you’ll be (guess where?) last.

The funny thing is that my husband would tell me to take nights off and go write or go spend time with friends or go do whatever. But I feel/felt guilty. I feel like he is working so hard to take care of all of us. How can I just push more work onto him when he is finished with his actual work? How can I not be there for my kids just because I’m tired?

And the worst part is that if I choose not to take the break, I resent everyone else for it.

It took me a while to figure this out. I wasn’t a better person for putting everyone else first. I was angry that I never got to do anything for myself. I was angry that I felt unimportant to everyone else. I wasn’t happy. Basically, I felt like my kids’ maid and that was all I was good for.

This wasn’t going to change without me putting in some effort. Obviously, the kids need me. Obviously, I need to do my part in helping the household function. So it involved some thought and practice on changing the way my life was scheduled.

Now, I wake up early to exercise so I can’t blame anyone else for missing a workout. The days I don’t is because I prioritize sleep since that is what my body needs that day. I’ve been making plans with people and not feeling guilty about it. Even if that little seed of doubt enters my mind, I try to make it leave because really, I’m a better wife and mom because I do take the break.

We try to go out on weekly or semi-monthly dates. I used to feel guilty about leaving my kids with their grandparents but I’ve realized that they all seem to be having fun so what am I feeling guilty about? I might as well have fun too.

And I’m loving writing again. It took me a while to get back into this because I was so busy trying to take care of everyone else that my mind became super blocked. The thought of putting words down started feeling overwhelming. I kept pushing it off until I couldn’t anymore. I enjoy doing this. So I have added it to the list of things I want to do for myself.

There are 100 other things that I’d love to add to that list and maybe as my kids get older, I can. But, for now, finding some way, any way to do something for myself that I look forward to on a daily basis is enough.

Am I A Toxic Person?

A few months ago, I had a long-time friend tell me that I was had been making negative comments about her and to her. And thus was the end of our friendship.

It did make me think.

We are all aware of toxic people and the fact that we should stay away from them because they aren’t good for us. We try to stay around people who have good positive energy and make us feel better about ourselves.

But what if we are the ones that are toxic?

I wouldn’t have ever imagined this about myself except there was literally someone who chose to stay away from me and end a friendship because I was toxic for her.

How do we even figure out if we are the ones who are toxic without going through that kind of heartbreak (and yes, it was heartbreaking)? When does it stop being honesty and more toxicity when it comes to friendship?

I’m not going to defend myself here because I can’t speak for that person’s feelings or how she perceived my words. If what I was saying was being received as negative, then all I can do is accept that my words must have been negative.

I can explain what I have been doing. I have been analyzing myself constantly over the last few months trying to figure out how to better myself as a person. I also have been wondering that if one person could view me as toxic, does that mean another person could as well? Self-doubt and insecurity have now become good friends of mine. I keep thinking about everything I say multiple times after it’s been said to figure out if I’ve hurt or offended anyone else.

I also have been trying to figure out at what point do I stop blaming myself and accept that maybe it was just our relationship that had come to its natural end. How much of my true self do I change just to make sure I am not toxic to anyone else? Is it actually a question of honesty versus toxicity?

How can I fairly judge how and who I am as a person? How much do I need to change to ensure this doesn’t happen again? Or will it happen because we are all different personalities and how we view each other can change over the course of a friendship?

Controlling Your Thoughts

Have you ever had one bad thing happen to you and it made you focus on everything that has gone wrong in your life lately? How about thinking about one thing that scares you and it makes you go into an out of control negative thought spiral?

There are days that I will wake up fine and have a hard time dealing with my kids and then it just seems like nothing goes right. I start thinking of all the things I’m unhappy about and it grows and grows until I’m completely resentful. I think about all the things that used to make me feel good in the past and dwell on that instead of my present.

The crazy thing is that if I just change my point of view to focus on the good instead of the bad or found a better way to deal with the harder things that happened, I wouldn’t go into this downward spiral. That’s not to say that I’m not correct in what I’m feeling. It’s just that there are good, positive things that do happen. I just focus too much on the negative.

It’s hard to control our thoughts. It’s easier to follow our instincts. It’s an uphill battle to continuously think positively. It’s work to recognize the good things, especially because they may be little things. I can easily name 5 things that I don’t like about my life but constantly struggle to name 5 things I love about it.

If I continue to follow this pattern though, it will be hard for me to find happiness. I’ll stay in a constant state of anxiety and disappointment. I will miss the great things that are happening in front of me.

I also do believe that appreciating the good surrounds you with positive energy and it attracts more good stuff. So as much daily work as it is, it is definitely worth trying to stay positive. Recognize and understand anything bad that happens and feel it but don’t dwell on it. Shifting your thinking is a daily mind exercise.

So work on not sending yourself into a downward spiral. Find the good.

Being Direct

For a long time, when I was growing up and even when I became an adult, I just shoved down the way I felt even though I was miserable. I would get angry at the way I was treated by others or sad because of some reason or another and I’d just pretend it wasn’t happening. It would eat at me until I exploded. I’d get so angry that I would yell and scream and insult. It never ended well. I’m pretty sure I lost a few friendships that way. (Although the question remains if we were really good friends to begin with, if one fight could break us.)

Anyways, I finally realized the only way I’d feel better is if I talked about the way I was feeling. Then, it was up to the other person to work it out with me or decide not to be friends with me. It still sucked a lot of the times because usually the problem had arisen due our world views and ideals not aligning and that meant that it would be difficult to remain friends unless we wanted to argue or be annoyed all the time. It was better for both of us to walk away at that point. At least, we maintained our sanity and civility.

As I get closer to 40, I thought that most of the people I knew subscribed to this thought pattern. I realized recently that I was wrong. There are still a few non-confrontational people out there. And somehow, you could be doing something and never know it was happening because no one told you that you were doing it. It’s a difficult way to maintain friendships because it requires you to be perfect all the time.

I learned after having quite a few meltdowns and having a few spectacular blow out fights that it was better to be uncomfortable with someone for a few minutes but have a stronger friendship for it. I’d rather talk to someone about something even though, honestly, I dread it. I get nervous and anxious just thinking about being in that weird zone where we have to talk about our feelings. There’s the possibility that the discussion will end in a fight because you’re both arguing your point of view and no one is really listening. But there’s always the possibility that you both will figure it out and it will make you both better for it. I’ve had practice having these discussions with my husband because it’s impossible to have a happy relationship unless you’re both willing to discuss the important issues and listen honestly without getting defensive. I’ve been in the relationships where it was just attack and defend. Those aren’t any fun, trust me. You have to be able to admit that you might be at fault (even accidentally). Everyone is human. Everyone can make mistakes.

After the last few decades of my life, I also learned that it’s okay if not everyone likes you or even wants to be friends with you. My personal goal is to be honest with myself and and believe that I’m doing the best I can to love myself and to be a good person to everyone I know.

After that, whatever happens, happens.