We were at the CG base to get our new ”reserves” ID done. It’s been a few weeks since the appointment was made. This is our new reality , we are a reserves military family now and we have to change the way we do things, even our ID card to come to base. I...
We were at the CG base to get our new ”reserves” ID done. It’s been a few weeks since the appointment was made. This is our new reality , we are a reserves military family now and we have to change the way we do things, even our ID card to come to base. I was waiting for my turn to sit down and get my picture taken. I sat down and looked at the camera to SMILE. Victoria says ”wow mom that was a BIG smile”. Yes, it was and I like my BIG smile. That small comment triggered something inside of me. BIG smile…. took me back to when I was a little girl, a teenager , young adult and even now, as an adult.
Let me take you back to when I was a little girl, between maybe 4-6 years old. My dad liked things a certain way. He liked a quiet, peaceful home. He did not like noise, clutter or anything that could bother him in his serious, quiet space. My mom did her best to raise a VERY loud and active and outspoken little girl in a home with a husband that enjoyed everything opposite of what that little girl was. She was loud, happy, creative, she loved to question things, she talked (a LOT and still does!), she had BIG emotions, she liked to sing and dance. She disrupted the peace and quiet her dad enjoyed and had until she arrived.
At a very young age I learned in order to be accepted and loved I had to somehow morph into anything just as long if it was quiet and not myself. I was not allowed to be too loud, too happy, have too much fun, ask too many questions, be ”too much” of anything. So I started shrinking. I started to think being ”too” much of anything was bad , which equaled = I was bad, there was something wrong with me and I had to fix that so I could be loved and accepted by the single most important man in my life at that moment- my father. My mom seemed to support and encourage the shrinking , I saw her do the same thing over and over. She would say things like- let’s not bother your dad, your dad had a headache, lets not upset your dad, let’s not tell your dad ______ (fill in the blank depending on the day) so we do not upset him. I saw how she created a make believe life around what made my dad comfortable, even if that meant shrinking and not being ”too” much of anything.
So that is what I did. I was only too much of the things he wanted me to be. I became perfect for him -good grades, clean face, pretty clothes, perfect good little girl. Years went by and I made myself so small until there was nothing left of me. I became what I had to in order to be loved and accepted by my dad. But even then, it was never enough. There was always an unspoken expectation, something else I had to do, say or be to be accepted by him but even then there was ALWAYS soothing that was never good enough and he had no problem letting me know. Oh, how I wish I could tell my 4, 10, 14, 19, 23, 28, and 30 year old self that she is beautiful the way she is, that she did not have to change anything about her to be loved, that being too much of anything is how God made her to be and that ALL the qualities and traits that she worked SO hard to shrink and hide and get rid of are the gifts, skills, talents that God created JUST for HER so she could be all she was meant to be. But she did what she had to do to find the validation and approval she so desperately needed and after all is what her mother did too so how was she supposed to know?
I brought these beliefs to every single relationship and place in my life. It has cost me so much joy and it has robbed me of experiences I will never know about. But I can say that today , I am awake. I can say that after many years of- therapy, self reflection , lots of broken pieces, broken relationships, divorce, infidelity, finding myself and losing myself multiple times, pain (oh so much pain)- not only my own but the one I caused to so many , postpartum depression, chronic depression , anxiety, suicidal attempts and thoughts, abuse done to me and abuse I’ve done to others.. a lifetime of striving to live up to the world’s expectations of me, pretending to be someone I am not in order to fit , be accepted and loved, being a prisoner of my own thoughts, feeling bad for wanting to be myself… after all of that of that, I am finally loving myself enough to not allow any of my circumstances or my past dictate or tell me who to be, what to think, do, say, or how to live and love. Today, I am actively working on being ME, ALL of me- with the BIG smile and all the things that make me, ME!All the ”too much”. I believe God has called me to share this and change the narrative. I am no longer afraid of not fitting or nor being able to live to someone’s crazy and unrealistic expectations of me.
I am writing this at a local coffee shop, people are gathering talking, coming in and out , they all smile and ask each other how they are doing. I sit here and look around and wonder how much pain they’re carrying today. What is the weight of their burden. I wonder if like me they have been living a life that did not reflect who they truly are and want to be. I wonder how many times they, too, have shrank. I want you to know one thing- you are who you are ON and WITH purpose. You were not an accident and all those things you were told to change so you could fit, are the things that you need to embrace and share with the world. We need your story, we need you, we need your truth, we need to have the real conversations, the hard conversations. We need to be proud and never hide or shrink again. Today I am going to smile ”TOO BIG” , love TOO much, DREAM TOO big and be, do and say all that I am meant to be, do and say. And I hope you do too.