Misplaced Frustration

Misplaced Frustration

Part of a prayer book I’m reading says to write a letter that confesses your fears and joys of parenting. Experiences, I suppose,of what you’re feeling in the moment. Some days I feel like I’m present and that I’m at least doing the basics but here lately I’d say at least over the last 6 months if I’m not yelling then I’m extremely frustrated. Micah may not remember this stage-thank God- as he’s a baby but Ari probably thinks I don’t like her or that everything she does is wrong or that I’m mad at her all of the time. It’s a mixture of so many different emotions.

I feel like there are so many different stages of the reality of parenting and when you hit that you stage you spend a certain period of time wondering how long you’re going to be in that stage. (i.e. how long am I going to have to keep telling them to clean up after themselves? Like this has been going on since they were 2? They’re 11 & 14). I have very smart, funny, loving kids. There are some days and some moments in very hard days where they really make me laugh with something they say or do. While Sam doesn’t live with me during the school year, it’s nice to get to face time her and get to hear about her day or listen to funny stories that she tells. Her sense of humor is really quirky. Ari is over the top melodramatic. All of the time. But she’s also really sweet, helpful, and way more self sufficient than even I realize at times. She can cook, clean, do her hair, do her laundry, and get herself off to school. Pretty good for a middle schooler. Micah is still a little person and requires a lot of attention, but he, too, is making his way towards independence. My number one thing I’ll be glad for him to learn how to do is use the toilet!

But in all of those things that I can see right now in my head as I am writing, they aren’t what’s seen in day to day life. It’s the frustrations of repeating the same things over and over again. Asking the same questions that you asked a few moments ago because you’ve given directions but nobody has done what you’ve asked. Repeating the same rules. If anyone lives in their house with a master negotiator like Ari then you get it. It’s exhausting to have to constantly repeat no because she will creatively ask the same question in a different format. So I find myself yelling a lot more than I used to and she feels that. She even says “please don’t yell” before asking a question sometimes and that kind of makes me wince. Which then puts me in a head space of man I suck!

Honestly sometimes our response to our kids is not about them or something they’ve done. Sometimes it’s more about us and the stressors we are carrying around. Being an adult is difficult. There are mounds of bills to pay on a monthly basis-watch out for the unexpected ones. We are balancing work and the high demands of the job, friendships, along with marriage or significant others.Volunteering in ministry or giving our time elsewhere. Then we have to make time for ourselves- How? Where’s that extra time coming from? Along with trying to care for and manage these little people who come with their own set of problems, illnesses, friendships, extracurricular activities, jobs, feelings, and needs. It’s a lot for all parties involved. And sometimes we are already on the brink of losing it then something our kid says or does sends us over the edge. Doesn’t make it right but it happens. I can tell you in most situations that what’s been happening with my yelling episodes.

As I’ve come to recognize that, I’ve gotten better at taking the time to take a deep breath and go- Ok don’t do this or fix this or change that- in a much calmer tone. I am better able to communicate with my kids because I am recognizing where the source of my frustration is coming from. That’s not to say that sometimes they aren’t the source! Hello! All parents know that at times they are the main source. I have had to send myself to my own room for a time out on behalf of my kids LOL. But this is just a reminder that sometimes we miss the beauty in our kids and in parenting because we are letting outside things affect our mood and set the atmosphere in our home. What could potentially be a great teaching moment turns into us being angry and the child being sad or frustrated because of misplaced feelings. We’ve all done it. We’re all learning, no matter what stage of parenting we are in.

Just be grateful for God’s grace because kids are resilient and forgiving beings. They continue to love us even when we are less than favorable towards them or unfair at times. I thank God for that! At the end of the day if you’re like me, you’re just praying to God that the little people He has blessed you with will continue to grow into the amazing people you’ve been praying and trying to shape them into.

Even When You’re Unsure

Even When You’re Unsure

So I took a break from writing my blog just for a little bit just to regroup and reflect. Sometimes in doing things we find ourselves getting burned out or the outcome isn’t quite what we expected so then our confidence wavers.

I’ve had moments when I’ve thought “What’s my purpose with writing this blog today? What’s my goal?” I don’t want to just be writing my thoughts just to be writing. Part of my goal is yes, to get my experiences out there, but the other part of the goal is to touch someone or to motivate someone or more than anything help someone know they aren’t alone.

I’ve walked through so many stages of life where even though I was surrounded by people I felt like not a single person understood the depths of the pain I felt. I still have moments like that right now. So I write to connect with others in hope that they’ll know that they aren’t isolated in what they’re experiencing.

I recently told someone that I was taking a break from my blog because I didn’t know what God wanted me to say. And that’s true. But also confidence in who I was at that time was wavering a little (still is wiggling a little bit but who’s isn’t?). I was balancing a lot. I had been through a scary experience. I was exhausted in ways I hadn’t been in years. Mentally I could hardly get through the day sometimes without crying. And honestly I didn’t think anyone wanted to hear what I had to say anyway.

But it’s in those moments, when you’re unsure….when you don’t know exactly how you feel or what you bring to the table, when you’re in the rawest form of yourself that you should share with others. That’s when you should write and be around people. That’s when people relate to and connect with you the most because it’s the rawness of your life that’s touching the rawness of their soul and telling them that they can make it through another day. Don’t let your uncertainty convince you that there’s still not power inside of you. I’m still reminding myself that people want the transparent version of me not the cookie cutter, put together version. You should remind yourself of that too.

Even when you’re unsure share where you’re at. How else will you move past uncertainty to being absolutely certain? You won’t know until you start actually doing the very thing that you’re afraid of or that’s holding you back. The definition of certain is “known for sure; established beyond doubt”. Some synonyms to accompany that definition are unquestionable, sure, and definite. So we can’t build our confidence, Faith, or certainty in anything without letting go and taking a chance and then once that chance is taken we are standing on something that is unquestionable, sure, established beyond doubt and well that’s my goal: to move from uncertainty in myself to being visibly certain of who God says I am.

Choose You

Choose You

I’m sitting here today writing this after coming back from an amazing experience in Nashville, TN. I was there for a conference called Business Boutique and I got so much more out of it than what was expected in my reasoning for going. I went alone, which was kind of scary and then kind of liberating. I didn’t have to engage in unwanted or awkward conversations. I could read my book without many interruptions. I walked around and took my time doing things I wanted to do. I didn’t have to worry about anyone else’s thoughts, desires or opinions but my own. I spent a lot of time just being quiet and taking in everything around me.

As I stated in my previous post, I am going to be speaking on and addressing issues of co-dependency I know that I struggle with. One of them being people pleasing. People pleasing is described as follows: “It’s fine to want to please someone you care about, but codependents usually don’t think they have a choice. Saying no causes them anxiety. They go out of their way and sacrifice their own needs to accommodate other people.” I struggle with this a lot. I’m not sure if I have all of my life or if this is something that manifested in me and I never really recognized how much feeling like this clouded my decisions about me. I convince myself that by sometimes just saying “No, I can’t do that.” or “No I can’t be there.” that I will disappoint people and then they will walk away or no longer want a relationship. In my most recent relationships that are newly formed I don’t have this problem as much. I am comfortable saying no but I often find myself feeling bad about that too!

But honestly, disappointing people is a reality. People are not always going to be happy with your response or with you not being able to do the things that they feel they need from you. While it’s important to show up for those you care about and love, your well being and priorities are important too. Sometimes what needs to get done or who needs help may not be on your priority list that day and guess what? That’s ok. It doesn’t make you a bad person. It makes you a responsible one.

The problem I created for myself (especially in friendships) is that once I made myself available to those around me, because I genuinely want to help or be there, it became harder for me to step back and say no. Instead of setting up priorities for me I made everyone, and I mean everyone, a priority over any and everything I needed. Which then lead to doing things out of fear or obligation. Which then lead to being overwhelmed and frustrated and then further lead to other feelings and emotions that I didn’t understand or couldn’t process.

Going to this conference was a big deal because I, for the first time in so many years, walked against my own thoughts and fears. Instead of really focusing on doing something else that I could have been doing for someone else I focused on something that I needed to do for me. I tried to get out of it several times but thank God for a husband that won’t let me quit on me, who won’t let me take the easy way out because it’s comfortable for me.

I know we have all at some point heard that making someone happy is not your job. Making yourself happy is. Everyone is responsible for their own happiness. As many times as I’ve heard this, it was not until this decision on whether to go to this conference was presented that I actually truly understood it. I even said it to my husband when he said “Babe, I just want to make you happy.” and I responded “That’s not your job. It’s mine.” And I love him too much to let the burden of my happiness rest solely on him. It’s for me to figure out and it’s unfair to have him jumping through hoops to try to achieve something that only I can achieve within myself and within my heart.

So every time you think about making a decision that solely rests on making someone happy over doing what is best for you, your life, your family, your priorities remind yourself that if this person’s happiness rests solely on you (which if they love you I’m sure it doesn’t! They want what’s best for you) then your need to re evaluate that relationship and establish different boundaries. It’s ok to choose yourself.

Living Freely

Living Freely

I want to be free. Truly free. I don’t want to be caught up constantly in my own thoughts and feelings. I no longer want to carry around the same feelings, frustrations, and pain that I have carried with me for years. I am sure that there are so many of us who want the same thing. At times, we can feel like we are in a cage-emotionally and mentally bound and no matter how hard we try we just can’t break through. I can see freedom but I don’t feel like I can obtain it. But I do know that this is not how God intended for me to live.

I recently started going to therapy and on my second session my therapist said “I’m going to say this and you may say no but I want you to look it up and think about it-Codependency.” And I said “Yes, that’s me.” See at my church we have a group called Celebrate Recovery. So many times people have shared their testimony and how being apart of this group of people all trying to break free of something has really helped them. I didn’t really think too much of it until one Sunday morning, some of the people from Celebrate Recovery shared their testimony on how God had healed them from certain things. As I listened one testimony stood out to me, and it was from someone talking about how God had delivered them from codependency. From that moment on that phrase just stuck with me. I had so many moments when I thought I should have been attending Celebrate Recovery but I talked myself out of it!

But now being in therapy I am ready to face it because I am tired of living this way. I yearn to walk into what God has prepared for me. I know that until I start addressing some of the things that I am dealing with and allowing to hold me back that I will continue to live in the same vicious cycle. For the next few blogs I want to talk about what co-dependency is in hopes that some of the symptoms and how they affect me will help someone recognize these symptoms in themselves and search for freedom. I know that God can heal us and free us of anything but we have to be willing and open to address these issues and the pain we are harboring in order to reach freedom. We can’t want to be free and then not do anything to, well, get free!

The symptoms of codependency are shame and low self-esteem, people pleasing, poor boundaries, reactivity, care taking, control, dysfunctional communication, obsessions, dependency, denial, problems with intimacy and lead to painful emotions. I want to touch on shame and low self esteem which is summarized as “Not feeling that you’re good enough or comparing yourself to others is a sign of low self esteem. The tricky thing about self esteem is that some people think highly of themselves, but it’s only camouflage for feeling unlovable and inadequate. Underneath, usually hidden from consciousness, are feelings of shame. Some of the things that go along with low self esteem are guilt feelings and perfectionism. If everything is perfect, you don’t feel bad about yourself” (whatiscodependency.com).

What stood out most to me in this summary was people thinking highly of themselves but it’s camouflage for feeling unlovable and inadequate- and the statement about perfectionism. I think that I am a great person. I think that I am intelligent, funny, caring, and understanding. I don’t think I’m perfect but often times find myself feeling like I don’t meet the standards of those around me. I feel inadequate. Often times these standards are things I’ve made up! Let’s be real-have you ever found yourself forgetting to do something or making a mistake and then convinced yourself that your husband or coworker or friend is upset with you but they haven’t said anything to you at all? They haven’t even given off the indication that they’re upset?! I convince myself frequently that my husband will be upset with me about something and he’s like “Nope. I think you’re doing great!” I think this goes along with perfectionism. I want to do everything right. Although I know I’m not perfect, I want to do everything perfectly to my or someone else’s expectations. Of course, realistically, I can’t always do things perfectly.

So……listen. I am going to put this as simply as it has come to me…..You can make a mistake, you can disappoint someone, you can unintentionally hurt people, you can do things but not do them perfectly and you are still a great person. You are still intelligent, funny, caring, and understanding. Your mistakes don’t take away from who you are. You can’t make a mistake and then God goes ok subtract the smart or caring characteristic from this person. There is no one sitting around subtracting from your greatness because you aren’t operating in perfect order. If you are struggling with your self esteem I challenge you (and I am going to do this too!) to start leaving notes for yourself. Write down confirmations like I am smart, I am loved, I am successful, etc. And together we can witness to and encourage each other on the growth and change we will see from speaking life over ourselves. Let’s get healed together. Let’s be free!

Keep Asking

I’m the type of person that if I ask for something a few times and I don’t get what I’ve asked for or a resolution to the issue I’m asking for assistance on I’ll stop asking. I’ll conclude that it won’t change or I’m not going to get an answer and I’ll attempt to just deal with it or work around it.

I was talking to someone the other day and I was saying “I don’t want people to be like me. If you need help keep asking until you get it. Keep asking until your questions are answered.” And even then it didn’t sink in to me what I was saying.

If you have kids or you’ve been around kids long enough you know they are some persistent little beings! When they really want something they will hunt you down, bug you, harass you to no end! They will not stop until they get an answer. They will not give up until you’ve given them what they want or need or give them resolution to their solution. Wow! We should be more like that.

The Bible says in Luke 11: 9-13 to ask and keep asking and it will be given to you! If there is something you are needing from God- if there is something you need answers, clarity or knowledge on keep asking. Don’t stop. This applies to life in general! If you need help with a project or help with your kids-help at home, help at work keep asking. Don’t settle for no replies and silence. Don’t set your self up to keep carrying things and then they get heavier and heavier until you can’t deal.

Listen, (and I’m talking to myself here) people cannot help you with what you don’t tell them you need help with. We have to stop seeing the need to ask for help as a weakness. My husband has said to me many times that asking for help is a sign of strength. You can’t do everything on your own. We want to because we want people to think that we got it handled and we are all put together like a present with a nice red bow on it.

People are hurting inside and falling apart because they won’t say “I need help with this.” “I can’t handle all of this”. Don’t be that person. If you are asking for help and not getting it keep asking! Don’t stop making your needs or requests known. So much stress is carried that’s not necessary because we won’t ask and then keep asking. God hears you and sees where you’re at. Ask Him for help and I promise He will send it!

The Answer May Not Match

The Answer May Not Match

Have you ever asked for directions and what the person told you (or that crazy GPS) had you in an area unfamiliar to what you asked for? You’re looking around thinking “Well, I asked for direction or clarity but this isn’t what I thought it’d look like…”

I’ve had experiences where I’ve asked for or prayed for things and it looked totally different from what I visualized. Sometimes it wasn’t so much the question I asked but who I asked the question to. Other times it wasn’t what I prayed for but the lack of clarity that had me sitting back wondering why things didn’t make since.

To say I’ve had a trying few weeks would be an understatement. I’ve had an experience that even now writing this still shocks me but at the same time I’m grateful for. People like me, Type A personalities, always want to be in control and we hate failing. We want to do and get everything right. Often times we are our worst critic. We are so hard on ourselves.

I’ve said so many times that God is in control. But is He really? (Ask yourself that?). He can’t be in control if you’re in control too. He can’t do the things He needs to do in you and through you if you haven’t opened yourself up to Him and released the need to make things happen yourself. You can’t say that God’s in control and still sit around stressing over things in your life that haven’t even happened yet.

I recently lost total control and in the moment it was very scary. After the moment, it’s strange how clear things were. Everything in my mind was dumped out and blank. There was nothing up there. No lists of things to do, no sad thoughts and most importantly none of those negative thoughts were up there either. All of the things that were floating up there in my head that I had convinced myself were true (like…you’re a failure, you can’t do this, you’re always alone, no one listens to me, you’re not being a good parent) all evaporated. And the things that needed to get done without me got done one way or the other. I was sitting around one day and thought “This is what it must be like when you let God be in control.”

When we remove the worry, self doubt, self criticism, other people’s perceptions, worry over decisions, stress over things that aren’t for us to stress about anyway-when we remove our selves from the equation and let it just be God moving in our lives….well we get peace. We get thoughts that focus on His goodness and His will for our lives. We get clarity. We get a release from the one thing holding us back (which is us-we hold ourselves back).

So I’d prayed for direction. I had prayed for clarity. I had prayed for peace. I had prayed for God to guide my steps. I had prayed for freedom from myself to accept God’s will. And what happened didn’t look like any one of those prayers I asked for but they all got answered. When you seek Him and pray- your prayers will be answered at some point or another. But….expect the unexpected because they may come in a way that you think will break you but instead puts you on the road to victory.

Connect to Something….

Connect to Something….

That makes you feel good or that releases stress and reminds you of the things that you have to be grateful for. For me I love music. I love singing and dancing. From Kindergarten until I graduated high school I was always in a musical program of some sort. I watch a lot of tv shows that involve singing. I used to love Glee and American Idol. I love watching So You Think You Can Dance, Dancing With The Stars, and World of Dance. Watching these shows often makes me wish I would’ve taken up dancing as a child and pursued a career in professional dancing.

I listen to music of all different types of genres and it doesn’t have to be in English either! Spanish, German I don’t care. If it touches me or makes me dance then that’s all I care about. I’ve told my husband so many times that I want to take Latin dance classes. I can Salsa, Merengue and Bachata but I know I would just love taking classes, dressing up and performing.

What is it about music and dancing that I love? Well it makes me feel free. Free from stress, worry-all the things I’m balancing. It also helps me to process my feelings. When I’m having a difficult day and I need guidance I’ll turn on Praise and Worship music to connect deeper with God and often times it turns into me remembering how good He is and how He’s blessed me more than I deserve. I don’t just turn on Praise and Worship when I’m sad, but when I’m happy as well.

When I’m feeling super emotional I’ll play certain artist that tend to have emotional music because I feel like in their music is understanding for what I’m feeling or dealing with. There are times when I’m happy and excited and I want to dance. I’ll put on music that reflects that. A lot of the time that’s Salsa music. The point is my connection to music and dancing helps me to go deeper and to process what I’m going through in the moment. It’s a release for me.

A lot of the time I come out from my dancing/singing sessions feeling blessed, motivated, encouraged, understood and powerful. This could also directly represent my relationship with God. When I connect with Him in prayer or just spend time worshipping Him, I come out feeling the same way or ten times better.

No matter what you’re facing or balancing-good or bad- I challenge you to find your release. Look for something in your life to connect to that pulls you out from that dark place and reminds you of your purpose. Seek something that helps you turn your thoughts or your pain into something productive.

Yes, we may have people in our lives that we can talk to sometimes that can help pick us up or celebrate with us. But we all know from personal experience that people aren’t always there for you. Sometimes you have to tough it out alone and pull your own self out or celebrate alone. And that’s ok. Just find that thing that gets you there and keeps you pushing through. Find the thing that won’t let you give up on you. You’re worth fighting for.