Friday, December 31, 2010

What do I want to do in 2011?

If I’d asked myself one year ago what I wanted to do in 2010, I’m sure my answer would not have been “leave my husband, move in with my parents, fail to find a job that will enable me to move out and be independent again, and meanwhile, brutally clobber the very fragile remnants of my self confidence by way of repeated failures at online dating.” 

As I look back on the year behind me, however, I feel that is a pretty fair summation of what I’ve actually accomplished.  With the exception of my kids, who now are thriving in ways that would not have been possible during my failing marriage, I feel like I haven’t done very many things right this year.

So, what do I want to do in 2011?

I think I only have one item on my list of important things to accomplish this year, honestly.  I want to learn to love somebody I have never even learned to like: Myself. 

I’ve wanted to find love for so long now that I realize I’ve found myself looking for it everywhere except for where I’m supposed to find it.  I’ve looked for it in a disastrous marriage, I’ve looked for it on the Internet, I’ve looked for it in church, I’ve looked for it in my family and my friends and my kids and my dog and in every possible place that I may find someone or something who will validate me and tell me that I am lovable.  But I have neglected to look within myself, where the pain of self discovery and growth is inevitable.  I also haven’t made the decision to focus on giving love to those people around me who have already given it to me—my family, my friends, and my kids.  This is the year I want to teach myself to give love instead of looking to get love, and in that giving, I hope I will find some things to like about myself, or maybe even love about myself. 

I know there is a more confident version of me hidden somewhere deep inside, but I don’t know how to find her anymore, and right now, I really need her.  I think she’s simply been beaten down by years of struggling to save a failing marriage and is now so focused on her circumstances as a single mom that she doesn’t know how to emerge from her cocoon.  She went in there with a purpose, to develop into a butterfly that is bursting to break free.  But right now, when I look inside hoping to find her, all I see is a mushy caterpillar that is only half baked and nowhere near ready to fly.  I think that part of the trick in finding her again is to regain the confidence that she is actually there, and she still just needs a little more time and nurture before she can break forth.  It’s that person who I want to find this year.  I want to give her the chance to unfold her wings. 

That person…she’s confident, capable, and strong.   She isn’t afraid of hard work and knows that she will be an asset to any employer who is willing to give her chance.  She won’t allow her interactions with men to define her sense of self worth, particularly when those men are complete strangers who are only going to waltz through her life in a blink of time, because they don’t have the right to take her self confidence with them when they wander off in search of a better looking piece of ass or whatever it is that they’re looking for.  She can readily move past that because she knows she deserves better.  She loves her kids with every fiber of her being and will do whatever it takes to become the independent, self-supporting, single mother of two that they deserve as a role model in life.  When she looks into the mirror, she won’t pick apart every physical feature she sees and declare it a failure, a flaw, not worthy of love.  She knows that there is beauty in her soul to compensate for her visible imperfections.  She is also not afraid of independence.  She is ready to cut the few remaining ties that are holding her to a marriage relationship which has been toxic for many years, and then enjoy the time she has to be with herself for a while.  She doesn’t need a relationship with a man to function as her security blanket.  She is confident in who she is.  She’s a woman, a mom, a daughter, a sister, a friend, an employee; a coffee drinker, a book reader, a beach comber, a dog lover, a writer, a college graduate, a divorced thirtysomething with so much depth of love in her soul that she’s not quite sure what to do with herself when she can’t pour that love into a romantic relationship. 

She’s inside of me, that person; I’ve seen her before, at different times in my life, and I have to say that there were a few times when even I was impressed with what she was capable of.  But right now, she’s cowering in fear beneath the bruised layers of her crippled self esteem, and she needs some gentle coaxing to slowly draw her out.  I think that the best way I can help her is by putting my focus on loving those people who are already right here in front of me, right now, starting with the one who is looking back at me in the mirror.  For the year 2011, my mission is to find her and give her the love that she deserves. 

And when 2011 draws to a close and I begin to wonder what I want to do in 2012, I hope that there will be a happier, more confident version of me asking the question.