I know, from the wisdom borne of experience, that I should listen to these people:
And not just about body image.
How about our definition of “success”? Or our striving for “perfection”?
Even Beethoven got it, just a couple hundred years ago.
Is it wrong to believe that yes, sometimes “good enough” is good enough?
Is it wrong to feel that I would rather live my life loudly, and messily, even if it means I occasionally embarrass the people I love and burn myself while cooking and wake up in the morning with headaches from having scotch after having wine with dinner the night before?
Is it wrong to ask a group of random mostly-strangers whether something is wrong?
Why do we spend so much time thinking “there must be something wrong with me because ______________________”?
I’ve read the thing Caroline Knapp wrote about why women cry, (quoted in this post on a different blog and from a long time ago), and I don’t even necessarily feel like any of those things are really my problem any more. I’ve integrated my need for work — both existential and financial — into my idea of myself as a woman and wife and mother and friend. I feel “strong, sexual, and ambitious, cued into my own varied appetites and demands, and equipped with the freedom and resources to explore them.”*
Husband asked the other night if there was anything I felt I really wanted/needed to do before I die. (Not that I’m dying, nor he, well, I guess we’re all dying in a certain respect, but ykwim.) I said that there had been one thing for a long while, but that I’d done it now, and so no, not really. The “one thing” was loving and being loved by someone who I felt really knew me, and to whom I could really talk. I have that now. I didn’t for a very long time, and I knew it, and I knew that by choosing not to do anything about it I was going to be very angry at myself at some point MUCH later, and then, despite all of the reasons why I couldn’t try to make it happen it wasn’t possible not to, and so here we are.
So now I have that one thing. And a lot of other things. I really do have everything I need (except better health insurance — diagnosing Only Daughter’s allergies/random hive outbreaks is going to end up costing us nearly $2000; but that’s a story for another day.)
But still I vacillate, sometimes wildly, between feeling like superwoman and crying in the bathtub.
I’m not doing (professionally) what I wanted to do, well, not completely anyway, and partly as a result of some kind of weird professional vindictiveness/discrimination that I’ve never completely understood nor accepted (and despite really enjoying Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In, it didn’t really seem to offer any practical advice for someone at my age/professional stage),
but I’m doing some things I never imagined I would do and I’m actually pretty darn good at them and am making a pretty good living at the same time;
I’m nearly 50, and gaining weight despite the healthiest eating habits and activity levels I have seen in the past 15 years, and clearly nearly menopausal
but I have good skin and my gray hair is kind of growing in nicely with my blonde highlights, and I can’t really say I’m going to miss having a period, and Husband actually thinks I’m beautiful in every way;
my sons have grown up, and are all (First) or mostly (Second) moved out of the house and don’t really talk to me all that often and Only Daughter is 12 going on 25 with the attitude to prove it, and I’m quite sure that I’ve been a hopefully-mostly-good-enough-but-probably-mostly-inadequate parent
but my children are also smart and strong and independent and I’m pretty sure they know that I love them and have always done my best, and that they will “grow up” to be capable and happy adults.
I do know I’m tired of being disappointed/frustrated/angered by memories of the same things. I move on, mostly, but then I don’t, and then I’m crying in the bathtub.
Is it “Enlightenment” if I feel like Superwoman merely more often than I feel like Crying Girl?
I want to be able to put down those things that don’t serve me; ignore the things that have happened that I could not change; and forge ahead leaving a trail of stars in my wake.
I’m tired of the “hooked-in-illusion” of facebook and twitter and LinkedIn. I want to have friends over for dinner more often, and read fantastic novels and poetry, and play great music with fun and supportive colleagues. And I want to keep and treasure all those things I have: a loving and devoted Husband, healthy/happy/strong/smart children, a warm cozy home with nightly delicious meals and the perfect bottle of $6.99-9.99 wine to go with it.
Well, and fewer nights crying in the bathtub.
*Most of the time. Nobody’s perfect.