Settling into Who We Are
Just before the new year I wrote about how 2011 was a year of instability, a year of shifting sand, but now we finally feel like we are standing on solid ground. We are finally living in our own space. Bryan's work has really stabilized and expanded. And for the first time I finally feel like a mom. That may sound silly since I became a mom more than two years ago, but it's only been recently that I've really settled into being a mom. I think it's only been since the birth of my second child that I've fully made peace with being a mom and allowed motherhood to become one of my primary identities.
I told Bryan recently that I feel like we are finally starting to come into our own. I feel like we are settling into who we are at this moment in our lives. I keep thinking of this quote from Carl Rogers,
“Becoming a Person means that the individual moves toward being, knowingly and acceptingly, the process which he inwardly and actually is... He is not trying to be more than he is, with the attendant feelings of insecurity or bombastic defensiveness. He is not trying to be less than he is, with the attendant feelings of guilt or self-depreciation. He is increasingly listening to the deepest recesses of his psychological and emotional being, and finds himself increasingly willing to be, with greater accuracy and depth, that self which he most truly is.”
I feel like we have sort of been experiencing that a little bit. I feel like we have been settling into the selves that we most truly are.
This feeling of settling into ourselves has, for me, also extended to my appearance. A settling into my own skin, you could say. Recently when I look in the mirror I have had the shocking and refreshing experience of thinking, "I look like who I am." I don't think I look like my ideal self, or the cultural ideal that I carry around. But, I do feel like what I see in the mirror fits well with the rolls and personas I actually am at this moment in time. I look in the mirror and I see an almost thirty year old mom of two. I see a wife who's been happily married long enough to know that no marriage is completely happy or secure and long enough to be more secure than ever in her relationship with her husband. I see stretch marks and an untoned belly and instead if thinking "ugh, I hate myself", I think, "yeah, I am a mom and that fits."
I say that this has been a shocking and refreshing experience because it's an experience I've never had before. Ive never liked what I saw in the mirror, but more than that I didn't feel like it fit. You see I've often felt like I didn't look like myself when I looked in the mirror, didn't look like I imagined myself looking, didn't look like my age (once when I was 23 years old a flight attendant thought I was under 16 and told me I couldn't sit in the emergency row - true story), didn't look like the person I wanted to be or felt liked I was deep down.
I think some of this was due to a lack of deep acceptance for the person I am, as well as holding onto identities that were not really me, or at least not yet me, or not fully me. My whole life, when I've looked in the mirror I've always been a little disappointed in what I saw. This was, of course, partly because I faced the same media messages about beauty and femininity that all women face. But, I think it was also partly because my image of myself, or, at least, the self I desired to be, didn't match up with the self that I actually was in that particular moment. I always felt older or younger than I looked. I always felt that the image in the mirror didn't fit the roles and personas I held for myself in my head. Until recently.
For the first time in my life I feel like I'm settling into my own skin. I feel like I know who I am right now and, for the most part, I have a deep peace about the roles I am playing, the place I am at in life, and the direction I am heading. For the first time in my life questions like "who am I?" "what's my purpose or role in life?" "what am I suppose to be doing with my life?" aren't in the forefront of my mind and aren't shaping my identity. Phew! What a relief!
It feels good to be in this place. It feels open and spacious and exciting. We are settling down, but we are not settling into mediocrity, we are settling into ourselves.
Rejoicing in the journey - Bethany Stedman