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Crippling self-doubt

I had a conversation recently with someone whom I respect greatly. She’s a great person, a loving mom, and has a successful career. But partway through our conversation, I had a realization: She suffers from crippling self-doubt.

I didn’t mention it to her. Perhaps it’s just me projecting, but I’m somewhat of an expert on crippling self-doubt.

I used to mull over everything anyone said to me, trying to find the hidden insults and innuendo. I used to stop myself from doing things because I’d step outside of myself and think, Who would want *me*, of all people, to do *this*? I used to worry about what “people” would think.

I don’t know who those people are, but they ruled my life.

Some good things happened in my life:

I married someone who supports me. Even if it’s something he has no interest in himself, he will congratulate me and say I did a good job. Even when I start doing my “negative self-talk,” he’ll tell me I’m full of it. When I think something is no big deal, he’ll make a big deal of it. He points out my successes, when I see that I haven’t yet reached my end goal. He tells me he believes in me.

Another good thing that happened is that I ran out of time. Literally: I just simply don’t have enough time to do everything I need, want, and must do. So a few things had to go. Organized closets? Gone. Clean fingernails? Often not the case. Crippling self-doubt? Don’t have time for that today.

Finally, I became a mom, and the first time you hear your kid doing that negative self-talk thing that you do…. that’s when you realize how awful it is.

I guess I’d say I’m still ‘recovering’ from my crippling self-doubt habit. Tonight I am reading — for the first time ever — at In Celebration of the Muse, a huge Santa Cruz event that celebrates the feminine muse. Years ago, I wanted so desperately to read at the Muse, and was devastated that I wasn’t chosen. This year, I saw the call for entries and I popped something in e-mail. Frankly, when I received the invitation to read, I didn’t remember what I’d submitted! So in that way, I am ‘recovered.’

But as I was dressing, I got out my fabulous red dress, the one I bought second-hand one day when I was feeling fabulous, and I thought, Hm. Can I carry this off? Perhaps I should wear sober black.

But In Celebration of My Muse, and In Celebration of Overcoming Crippling Self-Doubt (for tonight, at least), I am typing this now all dressed up in my red dress.

OK, so I cut out the shoulder pads. I wasn’t feeling quite *that* fabulous.

I hope I will see my friend there, and I will give her a hug, and I will pass her some of my anti-CSD love.

From one busy mom to another: Just do it. When are you ever going to get the chance again, to do today what you want to? Tomorrow, you’ll be on to something else. Something else to love, fear, and conquer.


Posted in Culture, Parenting, Psychology.

5 Responses

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  1. Iris Seitel says

    I read what you wrote and I love it. I can identify with it…….

  2. Christine Aspenhill says

    Thanks for your honest writing. Am weary today, wondering when I’m going to have time to even remember some of my old loves, passions……time. Toddler having a melt down. But your writing lifted my spirit. Thanks

  3. Suki says

    Christine — I well remember those toddler days! I often felt completely dull: in the personality sense and even in the sense of a dull knife. I felt like all my edges were gone and I was just dragging my way through the days. But of course, it will end! As your children come into themselves and detach from you, you’ll find out that you’re still in there. Some of the best advice I got when mine were small was to remember that this period is going to end quickly, and if you spend it regretting what you don’t have, you won’t have as many wonderful memories. Sometimes I remember my little kids and I know that person was true — I don’t fixate on the bad stuff anymore but remember the small joys.

  4. shelli says

    I can really identify with what you are saying, and I have found that getting married and having children has really helped my self-doubt. I simply don’t have time for self-doubt anymore (or at least the all-consuming kind!). So I do what I want, do my best, keep trying, and remember that I have nothing to lose but fear.

  5. Suki says

    Yes… those days back when you could stare at your navel all day and feel sorry for yourself. That would be a luxury now, wouldn’t it? A couple of times since I’ve been a parent I allowed myself short episodes… “Go away, kid! I’m lying in bed feeling sorry for myself!” but then of course I start thinking, What kind of role model am I being? and I get up. Also, the pasta sauce is burning on the stove, I had to kick aside piles of laundry to get to the bed, and I’m afraid that when my daughter said, “I’m doing a chemistry experiment” she might have found explosive compounds somewhere in the house…..

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