Saturday, September 17, 2011

Most days, I'm barely hanging on

I have a slew of imperfections.

A slew.

A blogger once said that if we spent less time building a ruse of "perfection" and more time sharing our imperfections with the idea of helping others with similar buried struggles, everyone will see that there is no perfect person and the real perfection is likely accepting ourselves for what we are, and eliminating that guilt we feel from our constant failures, whether in our heads or not. He did not mean to say that we shouldn't try to get help, but stop trying to paint your life as perfect to the people around you. It takes too much energy and it's not helping anyone, least of all yourself.

In the spirit of divulging the truth about what may look like "perfection" to the casual observer (see this blog post), here's what my life is really like: (It's REALLY going to help and make more sense if you read that other blog post first.)

  • I sit in bottom of my shower and sob about once a week. 
  • I work out to clear my head and sometimes work out so hard that the pain I feel in my legs and body is strong enough to distract me from the pain in my heart. I suppose it's better than how I used to self-medicate with food.
  • I take on too much, but I have trust issues and that's why I don't delegate much.
  • I may seem outspoken in public, but at home I eat  my words and swallow them into a pit of bitterness and resentment. It's a coping mechanism that I'm aware of now and am trying to work on. 
  • I lack faith and hope when I need it the most.
  • I curse.
  • I alienate my friends and husband and blame them for what was probably more my fault than theirs. But I never have the guts to actually bring up my problems in a conversation. 
  • I doubt myself ALL THE TIME. 
Kristen Bell

  • I may be a size 10 right now, which is the smallest I've ever been since 8th grade, and people tell me all the time that I look great, thin, awesome, cute, whatever. It makes no difference, b/c I feel fat and I don't know if I have a complex or what, but I want the exact body of Kristen Bell. Yet, I'm scared that if I had that body, I still wouldn't be satisfied. And I think I am fat and ugly and completely unattractive about 90% of the time. The compliments feed me for a moment or two, but then I see a glimpse of myself in the mirror. The wrinkles. My wide, dough-y thighs. The dark circles under my stressed eyes. It's not pretty.
  • I often wonder if this is it for me. 
  • I never fully understood "A Dream Deferred" by Langston Hughes until this year.
  • I don't take enough responsibility for the problems in my life. 
  • I don't love teaching sunbeams. 
  • I don't apologize enough. 
  • I sacrifice a lot for my kids, but I don't think it's enough. I think they'll end up damaged somehow b/c of me.
  • I feel strangely satisfied when I learn that other "perfect" people have problems worse than mine, and then feel resentful when they figure out how to fix those problems, when meanwhile I'm still treading water. I hate that I do that, and I'm so so so sorry.
  • I'm a terrible person. 
  • I'm extremely hard on myself. (Ask Shan. She has a firm testimony of this.)
  • Most days, I'm barely hanging on. 
  • I can't afford a lot of things, but mostly, I can't afford to get the help I need.
Even as I write this, I can't imagine how it's supposed to help anyone. I just feel like I broadcasted my dirty laundry for all the world to see so that everyone could be present for my pity-party. But the thing is pity-parties are not so helpful, if you ask me. I've never been the kind of person to tell anyone--but my closest friends--about my issues, b/c of that stupid "perfection" front that I've tried to cultivate in the past. Plus I don't wanna bother other people with my stuff.
And I'm freaked that someone will use it to attack me, silently and passive-aggressively judge me, or do that self-satisfied thing that I'm guilty of. Or worse...pity me.

In any case, this is hands down the scariest blog post I've ever written.
I hope it can help someone.
Anonymous (or not) comments are welcome.


  1. I can wholeheartedly say me too to more than half of your list. And I think that's the point. Letting yourself be vulnerable and sharing these things isn't going to fix them. It's to let others who have the same issues know they're not alone, and in turn to let YOU know you're not alone. And while you may not be perfect, you are very normal, and that's O.K.

    Also, in the interest of full disclosure, I have been very jealous because your size 10 looks way slimmer than my size 10. I may have even whined about it once.

  2. Try reading a book my therapist has been using to work with me. It's really helpful with understanding where your issues come from and gives ideas on how to fix them/overcome them. It's called "Reinventing Your Life" by Dr. Jeffrey Young and Dr. Janet Klosko. It's close to therapy without the therapist, which I know you can't do right now.

    I feel for you, Rena. I am right there with you, and honestly, I don't know who isn't there a lot of the time. I think (well, I know) we all have our struggles and our issues and don't want people to see them. One thing I have learned in therapy is that the more we allow others to see our imperfections, flaws, shortcomings, whatever you want to call them--the more human we appear to them, and the more it binds us to others as spiritual beings having a human experience, because God knows we are imperfect, we just need to accept ourselves as such and move on with trying to do our best each day. Easier said than done, for sure. ;)

    I commend you for opening up like you have here and sharing your 'humanness' with us. That takes a lot of guts. And like you say, I love your guts! :D Hang in there, sistah!


  3. Brandi, we just are constantly volleying the jealousy between us, huh? I'm jealous of your Klout, you're jealous of my Klout (yours is higher today, btw.) Then, I'm jealous of your BlogHer status, and you're jealous of /my/ size 10. I could go on and on and on about other things you have that I'm jealous of, but it's not very healthy, so I'll leave it.

    Thanks so much for the support and for starting this trend among the BGW's. Even though the feeling in my gut (the clenching panic) hasn't subsided entirely, but I take heart that I'm not alone and that maybe if other people can get through it, so can I.

  4. Amber, I heart you. You remind me to be compassionate and less selfish when it comes to what I'm dealing with.

    And I think you're definitely right about sharing it or letting it out instead of bottling it away. We all know how bottling it up ended for characters like Hester Prynne or John Proctor/the people of Salem, Massachusetts.

    Thanks for the book recommendation too. I'll be sure to look it up. I need some help, clearly.

  5. I'm crying Gams. I love you. That's all.

  6. I love that you shared Rena. It's sometimes the hardest thing to do but can be the most freeing. I often find myself comparing myself to others, especially with all these perfect blog posts I read. It's unhealthy and quite honestly, a big misconception about most people. You're definitely not alone. Most women I know spend all this energy trying to be the perfect mom, perfect employee, perfect wife and all that does for us is create resentment and self-loathing. I just decided one day to give it up. I'm not going to be perfect in this life, and I'm always going to struggle. I quit reading blogs for the most part and now I'm trying harder to quit living my life to please everyone else. I've slowed down on things so that I can keep my sanity and I'm learning to say no to requests. I have to take care of myself first so that I can be healthy enough to take care of my family. You're beautiful, a great mom, a good friend, and an accomplished woman. Most of all, you're human and doing your best. Just keep hanging in there. Do what you can to get, a bishop is called as a counselor and can always provide great guidance in times of needs and maybe even help you get professional help if needed. That's what fast offerings and the Church are for. Love ya girl! You're doing awesome! Janet

  7. Dear Rena,

    I think that you are a pretty cool chick. I also think that you are a great person. Just thought you should know that.


  8. I'm your sister and I know you are perfect so quite trying to fit in with us nut jobs. Its really not working. We will always put you up on a pedal stool so get over it.. I love that you think you have doughy thighs and dark circles and although I don't see it, it gives me something to imagine to make you more human and less Hollywood. I think every person should get on the "HA HA HA your a failure train" because it is pleasurable to feel a connection with others. I don't have a whole mass of successes but I have a some learning experiences/failures that I love to share so I can feel connected. I love you Rena and regardless of your insecurities, I see you as a creative,beautiful,kind,outgoing,determined,hilarious, fun loving, hardworking,best friend,great mommy,awesome sister, forgiving, understanding spirit. I am so lucky to have you in my life. You rock lady! Don't worry Rena, this is a great blog and I'm so happy your a failure. Welcome! HA HA HA HA... BTW If you insist on this charade then you can borrow my copy of Reinventing Your Life. The best thing about you is your ability to laugh at yourself. Don't get sucked into anything less.

  9. When I get discouraged or feeling a bit jaded I don't even bother to post on my blog, so thanks for the motivation! Rena, you're probably one of the coolest people I know. Hang in there! You're la crème de la crème.

  10. I don't know how any teacher really does even just that teah - and I say that as a teacher. BUT I really don't know how one teaches and has a husband and kids. That's the truth. That is probably my biggest fear. To have to do all of the things that people like you actually do. And I say props to do for attempting to do it all - and I might add - even still doing things that develop your talents. i.e. your writing talents on top of it all. I've always admired you.

  11. Wow. What an outpouring of support. I don't know what to say. ...But you know me. I'll give it a whorl.

    Tex, your story and friendship means the world to me. I think we're kindred spirits, only in BGW world that's also known as BFFFE's.

    Roxy, I'm so glad to have been able to see you today, and thanks for your love. Don't give up on blogs, but maybe give up on the ones that make you feel like less of a person. Stick to a the "real" people who aren't afraid to broadcast their problems. I'm really glad I did that. I feel refreshed and SO much support.

    Kirsten, Got your wedding invite. I must say I'm trying to find the best wedding gift that fits the coolness of that invitation. Let's just say it's not going to be a toaster. ...unless the toaster looks like vintage luggage. I wonder if there is such a thing...

  12. Chris, I love your guts too. I'm so glad you came out here and you'll be happy to know I laughed hysterically throughout your comment. Especially this line: "it gives me something to imagine to make you more human and less Hollywood". HOLLYWOOD, psh! I had no idea what to make of that except to laugh. I makes me smile though. Maybe one day I'll have hollywood money and it'll be enough to for me to get a camper and boat, and then we'll have some kick butt sister campouts. Heck, I'll get a house with a pool while I'm at it. And a pony. For Bennet, of course. What would I do with a pony?

    Anonymous, Thanks for the high praise. I wish I knew who to thank, but I'm sure if you think I'm cool, the feelings are mutual. =)

    Esperanza, It is ridiculously hard to have a family and work, yet so many of us manage. You'll be in my shoes one day too, I'm sure. And since, I know you, I'm betting you'll do it all while wearing heels too. =) Thanks for your kind words. Are you going to the UCTE conf, btw?

  13. Rena, My heart hurts for you sometimes. You seem to have so much (from my perspective) to admire and envy: your talents and your personality, your warmth and smarts. At the same time, I think many people hide the same feelings you express here, so your expressing them helps us all to see ourselves and others a little more clearly (I think) and reminds us to be a little more kind, a little more thoughtful, a little more forgiving--of others and ourselves. Thanks for sharing.



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