November must be all about balance for me this year as I keep coming back to this theme. Perhaps it's because I have found myself rather outspoken about political concerns I have even on Facebook where I usually just keep my mouth shut. I got so wrapped up in the middle of the road that I became rather blah about everything. I've been reflecting a great deal on how balance can be good (aka post about scheduling vs. free time) but also bad (aka not speaking out about social justice issues because I'm trying to understand the other side or some other such thing). But today I'm in a rather conflicted space as I ponder the distinction between putting forth love and thinking about what do you get back. Why conflicted? Because there is a part of me that thinks that even thinking about what you get back is a bit not the point.
My whole life, I've been taught the value of self-esteem. This lesson never really sunk in as I am absolutely soaked in self doubt. I have spent most of my life trying to gain the approval of others. I was never a suck up more like a pathetic beggar hoping for a scrap. The work I did I always did with a mind as to what others would think. I did little work simply for the pleasure of doing the work. Even when there was pleasure it was tortured with the longing that someone just one person like it. I am the person who constantly refreshes their blog page hoping for a higher hit number and maybe a comment.
And in the process of understanding this about myself I realized how amazingly narcassitic is to be insecure. One is always thinking about oneself. I began to wonder if I could solely blame my own upbringing and began to wonder if a bit wasn't the culture in which we live. We live in a world where happiness is the goal. Where the end result is to love your self. To feel about good about YOU. Our care of the body books are "YOU On A Diet." Our self help books are all about helping us to become better at being us.
Over the last few weeks as I struggled with my full time staying at home role, I realized that much of my problem wasn't so much that I hated this role but rather that I felt like I wasn't doing enough for myself. But when I sat down and thought about it, it wasn't as a big deal as I had thought. What does it mean to sacrifice yourself for your family? To lose yourself in your children? Is this as bad as a thing as I had been taught? What if by doing these things I was actually becoming more confident? A better human? What if what is important is not about me but about giving out to others? Learning to let go of expectations of myself? What if it wasn't about a constant care of me? What if in the process of caring for others I was caring for me? And what if in that process I ceased to give a shit about me anyway? Was it really all that bad of a thing?
Let me try to clarify. I am not suggesting that I have become a door mat to my family. Rest assured I am not June Cleaver. I still like to take time for myself to read, say the rosary (my form of meditation), write, talk to H about Delezue and Spanish Cinema. But I have stopped fretting about "ME". I have stopped worrying about loving myself. Stopped worrying about accepting my body. Stopped giving a shit about feeling good and making me feel better about me. Instead I am focusing on giving out love. Giving out my writing. Giving out my words. I am making each act of putting forth a conscious movement towards others. I am remodeling my life to make myself a better human not because it will make feel good but rather because it might improve things around me. And mostly I have stopped keeping taps about what I get back from these actions. I am learning slowly through the readings of people like Dorothy Day that the best way to live the example of Christ is to put out love not with any kind of hope of reward. Rather we put forth love because that is what it means to be the best possible human.