Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Wrestling Alligators

I wish I had more confidence. I wish I wasn't so socially inept and could actually make friends and relate to people. I wish it were that simple. It doesn't make sense to me. It's not logical. I don't like it. I know deep down I am just as good as anyone else. I know that this is MY problem, not everyone else's.
The thing is, I truly could sit here and list off a million things I genuinely like about myself. I think I'm a good person. Sure, there have been chapters of my life I am less than proud of, and choices that I would like to forget I ever made. But, the person I am today, though I am not without flaws, I believe is a pretty darn good person. I am a good wife, a good mother, and a good friend. I have many good qualities about me.
I don't know why I struggle so much with my own self confidence. I don't know why these feelings of "not good enough" take over in so many social situations. I had two experiences yesterday with feeling unreasonably small.
The first was in CostCo. I spotted in line a local mama that I have been Facebook friends with for about a year now. Our babies were in the same NICU and we connected in a group of preemie moms. I've watched her darling little boy grow up through pictures. I can relate so much to her story, we've fought many of the same battles. She is kind, her family is beautiful. We've never met in person. The idea of approaching her was instantly paralyzing. And there was my mom, "Go say hi! Go introduce yourself!" As if it were that simple. The mere idea made my stomach turn, created a lump in my throat that could not be swallowed. Why? I don't know. I really don't know.
The second was at Buckle. I've coveted their jeans for a solid eight years. I went in to try some on. For some reason in a high end store, surrounded by beautiful people, there I was shrinking. Smaller. Smaller. Smaller. Everyone was so nice. I got no rude glares. No stares. No comments. No one treated me poorly, no one was unwelcoming. And yet, I could not shake this feeling that I didn't belong, that I was not good enough or didn't deserve these beautiful, well made clothes. The lady helping me was nice as could be, and full of compliments. Genuine compliments. Why then I stood in the dressing room, fighting tears and wrestling with the idea that I did not belong there, I don't know. There I stood, slipping effortlessly the smallest size that the store carried, watching as they easily slipped over my slim thighs, buttoning with ease around my hips and flat belly.... and yet, in my mind, I was the 250lb obese woman getting mocked and ridiculed and told I can't try on clothes because my fat body might ruin them in a clothing store in India. I go back to that humiliation every. single. time. And it's not just clothes shopping, I go back to being that person in all social settings.
At church, I go back to being that black sheep, feeling like everyone knows my past. I go back to feeling like I don't belong, like I'm not good enough, like everyone knows my deepest secrets. I go back to being 16 and sitting in the pew wondering WHY I couldn't stay on track, WHY did I make the same mistakes over and over? I wanted to do good, why was that so hard for me? I could feel the stares of my peers on me, as if they were wondering why I was even there. They knew. I had a reputation. One I had earned. I didn't belong at church. Now, ten years later, I still battle those feelings. I made my peace. I made it worthily to the temple with my husband. And yet, I wrestle that alligator every Sunday morning. Palms sweating, I walk to church. I sit in the back. Everyone is so nice. And yet... I don't belong.
I look at these groups of moms connecting, having play day dates, doing things that I WANT to do. I watch as friendships build around me knowing that I only have myself to blame for not fitting in. Knowing that if I could get past my absolutely baseless fears I could have that too. I could have play dates. I could have friends. I could do that. If I could bring myself to not be so weird.
I am not sure why social anxiety plagues every corner of my life. I am not sure how to overcome this. I am not sure how to make friends, or how to stop feeling not good enough. I AM good enough. I know that. I just don't know how to LIVE that. How to let that worthiness bleed into my image of myself. I don't know how to let that belief apply to my day-to-day life and become the confidence I so desperately want it to be. I don't know how to stop FEELING like the weird, ugly middle school kid with frizzy hair. I don't know how to stop feeling like the promiscuous teenager desperately seeking validation. I don't know how to stop feeling like the obese young adult trying to be invisible. That's NOT who I am, but it's who I feel like.
I don't know how to stop wrestling the same alligators every day.

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