She’s to be admired and respected. Her inspiring story, confidence, and surety. She’s financially secure, emotionally stable, and seemingly ready for anything. She is well-read and well-rounded, non-judgemental, and spilling over with wisdom. Always ready with a kind word, or funny anecdote. Always put together, she’s in a healthy relationship—she doesn’t take any shit. She’s got a job she’s happy with, a safe place to live, and friends.
This woman has purpose. She is someone I want to be friends with, in hopes I might absorb some of her awesomeness by osmosis.
The problem is—I am this woman; except I’m not.
I’m a faker—exposed. A phony. A fraud. I am all things and also none of them. The fear that you will find me out keeps me from being me. It also allows me to be whatever—whoever—you need. The ability to exude confidence, availability, kindness, and love just helps masks the fact that I have no fucking idea what I’m doing.
I can be all the good things—as needed, but I don’t feel them in my heart; not all the time. The effects of trauma—Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)—low self-esteem—self-image and abandonment issues—financial insecurity—they all sit on a hair-trigger, waiting for just a twitch before unloading a full-blown assault of self-hatred. My own mind attacks me, daily.
I am fortunate to have many tools to combat this, but my mind often overrides sensibilities. Some days I can’t leave the house. I can’t pick up the phone. I’m choosing abstinence-based recovery, so picking up any substances to change how I feel at any given time is not an option for me.
“Fake it ’til you make it.”
I can’t let you in and I can’t let me out. I have several close friends who know the real me, but I still feel like a fraud. Women talk to me, look up to me, ask for suggestions, and tell me I’ve helped them. I love being available to other women in recovery. I love spreading hope. I just don’t love feeling like I’m just pretending.
I will probably never be 100% satisfied with my outside appearance, but I usually seem that I am. Faker alert. All that junk running around my insides prevents me from thinking I’m worthy enough to invest the time and energy into the physical appearance I desire.
The inside stuff is much harder. Therapy, 12-step recovery, non 12-step recovery, family life, being a stay at home mom, going back to work, exercise (or lack of exercise)—the list goes on. Some days I wonder if I’ll ever be fully satisfied with my station in life. Other days, I wonder how my life could get any better. Most of this directly correlates to how well I’m taking care of myself. Making my therapy appts—taking time for me—doing all the stuff I often suggest others do.
It’s so hard to put all this good for me stuff into action, but I can’t tell anyone that because they’ll know I’m not perfect; that I have only 24 hours in a day.
I totally embrace who I am. That has been an amazing experience for me. I’m still chubby and occasionally bite my nails. I abhor the hairdresser. I live in patchwork skirts and band t-shirts. I’m a work in progress, but not changing what I love about me is freeing.
Being a mom sucks sometimes. I love my kids more than life, but some days I just want to quit momming. Raising humans is hard! Being a SAHM was the hardest four years of my life! It’s not always a fucking Pinterest party or a trip to the zoo. It’s potty training picky eaters. It’s preemies and doctors visits, and – and – and. Sometimes I feel like I’m not built for all that stuff. I know I’m built for loving them the best.
I’m grateful for my amazing fiancé, who is a far calmer parent than I. But I feel like I have to foster a perfect relationship where we never fight and agree on everything, and sex happens regularly (whatever the fuck that means).
We often disagree. Sex happens if we’re not too tired; occasionally. I work graveyard and he’s on days, so that adds an interesting dilemma.
I often wonder how I got from where I was to where I am and why I deserve this life. Maybe it’s all in my head. If I am a phony, then I am a pretty lucky one. I built this glorious life, after all. I don’t know if I’ll ever feel exactly how I want to feel, but I keep thinking if I continue all this inside work, I’ll get there.