Motherhood makes me want to be braver

{imperfect is the new black}
{imperfect is the new black}

Insecurities are a funny thing. Over the years, I feel like I’ve been pretty open on this blog about mine. In general, I don’t consider myself an insecure person, but that hasn’t always been the case.

For the most part, I’m a person of very cyclical moods. About once a year, I experience what I consider to be some kind of depression or low point. (I say “consider” because I’ve never been officially diagnosed with anything.) It typically lasts anywhere from a couple of weeks to a couple of months. It’s usually marked by an increase in mood swings, sensitivity, and a marked uptick in my insecurities. (And, you may have noticed, a lack of blog posts. The blog starts to feel incredibly insignificant during these lows, and I can’t imagine anyone caring what I have to say about anything.)

It’s not fun, but I at least feel more in control of these times than I used to because I’m now able to recognize them for what they are. Anyone familiar with depression can tell you what a liar it is — it tells you you’re not good enough, you’re unlovable, you’re just not enough. So, for me, there is power in being able to feel those things but still step back in my mind and remind myself I won’t always feel that way and that they probably aren’t true.

The insecurities I deal with have evolved over the years, but they’re usually a mix of doubts about something superficial (in high school, the size of my thighs; now, my teeth and nose) and something social (in high school, that my friends and family didn’t really like me; now, that my friends and family don’t really like me).

It’s at this point that I feel obligated to remind you that, in my rational mind, I know my friends and family love me. I do. You don’t need to tell me you do; I know it. Depression just makes me not believe it for a while, or wonder when the day will come that they will stop loving me.

I think everyone handles these feelings differently, for better or worse. For me, I workout (the best therapy for me) and I think about it — a lot. I reason on my feelings, what brings them on and what I can do about it. Often the answer to the latter is simply to ride out the storm and keep reminding myself that depression is a liar. In fact, this is the first time I’ve ever really discussed these feelings publicly — I’d venture a guess that most of the people in my life don’t even know I deal with them.

I’m kind of a hermit when it comes to my own struggles. But I’m trying to be better about that because bottling it up (surprise!) doesn’t really seem to help anything.

I’m happy to tell you that, while this post was inspired by my latest bout of low-ness, I can already tell I’m coming out of it. Good talks with some close friends and a weekend with my family were huge helps to reaching the other side of this valley. But even though it’s (hopefully) almost over, the most lingering part of my lows are always the insecurities. Kind of like a bad cough.

I think about my insecurities a lot now as a mother of a daughter. Girls seem to be especially plagued by insecurity, almost to the point where it is weird if you’re confident. I don’t know if I can keep Vivian from having her own self doubts, but I never want her to feel crippled by them.

I want her to laugh loudly even if she thinks her laugh is obnoxious. I want her to wear the sleeveless dress she loves even if she doesn’t like her upper arms. I want her to get down on the dance floor even if she worries someone will think she looks ridiculous.

I want her to live her life bravely, even when she doesn’t feel brave.

And the fact is, I’m going to be her best example of how to do that. So I had better start being a good example.

Which brings me to my new project: Eradicating my superficial insecurities. I’ve decided I’m going to stop only taking photos from what I consider to be my “good side” — just because my nose and teeth are straighter from the left. I’m going to grin broadly — even though in the back of my mind I think my teeth are big and slightly bucky. And I’m going to do whatever I can to stop letting myself slip into the old habit of being who I think people want me to be — and just trust that anyone who does stop liking me was never all that great to have to begin with.

Because I want Vivi to do all those things too. Because, to me, she is perfect. And who else could she possibly be to be better?

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9 thoughts on “Motherhood makes me want to be braver

    • Thank YOU so much for saying that! One of my insecurities is also sharing deep, dark feelings that no one can relate to 😉 Glad to know I’m not the only one!

  1. I still get this feeling at 66! I also have figured it out that it is just a feeling and will go away. Same as my sometimes feeling sort of euphoric. It does help to know its both transitory and unrelated to reality.

  2. You just voiced what we all feel at times. I once saw a print of this saying (or something very similar): “be the parent you needed at her age”. My mom used to always say: “Ugh, I’m such an idiot!” when she’d make a goof out of something (and most of the time she was talking to herself under her breath). Well she still says it in her 60s and what do you know, I’ve said it but didn’t pick up on it until my sister overheard me. She had realized it had come out of her mouth before and put 2 + 2 together. You’re doing a great thing by reflecting on this.

    Unfortunately, there’s a lot of judgment out there towards parenting styles, and specifically moms (and tragically BY moms). Don’t let it get to you. I’ve only recently become a mom too and the criticism is worse than those sleepless newborn days!! Hang in there and be strong for yourself, your marriage and little Vivi.

  3. The fact that you were able to openly share this shows just how strong and courageous you really are. I wouldn’t necessarily diagnose myself as someone who deals with depression, but since I was a teenager I’ll randomly have days like this. I’ve always referred to these bouts as a “cloudy day” (just to myself because it’s not something I’ve ever really spoken about) because it’s a day where I feel like I have a grey cloud of negativity looming over me. But bottom line, Vivi has a mama who isn’t afraid to face her fears and insecurities, which is the greatest role model a girl can have 🙂

  4. Thank you for your bravery in sharing this post! As someone who also deals with occasional bouts of depression and anxiety and many of the exact feelings you described, this couldn’t have come at a better time. I know how hard it can be to say those things out loud but that sharing them often makes us feel closer and more connected to people who can either relate or at least sympathize. And I have always wanted big teeth so it just goes to show that many of the things we’re critical of about ourselves are the very things other people find beautiful 🙂

    • Ha! I’m going to think of you whenever I start feeling down about my teeth 🙂 Thank you so much for your kind words.

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