I’m not gonna lie, 2015 is not my fave right now. It’s not at all what I was expecting going into the new year. At the end of last year, certain things started bubbling to the surface that I was finding joy in doing — some new forms of creativity that I had set on the shelf since childhood that were beginning to reawaken. Dreams I didn’t even know were inside me began to emerge. And that was so exciting! From the outside, I may have seemed like I had things under control (maybe not? I don’t even know anymore), but I’ve never really felt like I knew what my purpose was in this life. So yeah, 2014 brought some little nuggets with it that gave me a liiiiittle more direction in that way, but this year? It’s just bringing out all sorts of ugh.
If He’s the potter and I’m the clay, I feel like the driest, crumbliest piece of dog poop mixed with clay that He found in the back under a sloppy pile of cockroach barf. It’s a refining season right now, as I’ve been encouraged to see it, but man, it just feels like there’s nothing really solid or sure in my life right now. I know this is kind of vague, but like seriously everything about who I thought I was as a person, wife, mom, sister, daughter, friend is turning out to be… just I don’t even know. These feelings! WHERE ARE THEY COMING FROM!? Deep down hurts and anger and rawr all coming to the surface at the most random times! It’s throwing me off, for real.
I’ll give you guys a tame example. Back around Christmas we didn’t have a ton of funds so I wanted to try to make gifts. I thought, since I had just discovered a new love for watercolor, I’d try making my Mom a little something. I painted some flower collage thing and was all “I’m going to be vulnerable in giving something imperfect as a gift”, because where I’m coming from, that would have been a never-in-a-million-years thing because in my mind, it would have made me look weak and imperfect. So when the time came for me to wrap it, I started out all pumped because I was stretching myself to even give something like that away, but before I even cut the wrapping paper, I turned into Hulk. Like, if you saw how many emotions came up when I was about to actually hand over a piece of “art” — which, in all honesty SUCKED — to my mother as a Christmas gift, you would suggest a mental hospital. Justin was across the table from me when I was crying, listening lovingly as I was going on and on about how stupid she’s going to think it is and how much I suck at this and I can’t bring myself to give it to her… and he sweetly encouraged me and reminded me of the truth. I went ahead and gave her the stupid thing.
My Mom said she loved it and was so gracious when she opened it which helped a little, but I still wasn’t convinced it was anything of value at all. The next time I walked into their house, I looked on the entry table and lo and behold, there sat my little stupid painting! Now how would you feel in that situation? “Awww, Mom loves me, lame painting skills and all! Happy happy rainbow chip frosting delight!” Ohhh no. My gosh you guys, I snapped. My ugly painting was not only on display, but on display for everyone who walks into their home to see FIRST THING. I went home and raged quietly in the comfort of my own bedroom, but I mean. Issues, much?
I won’t even go into all the body image wonderfulness that’s surfacing at the moment because it’s much too raw and I don’t want to subject anyone’s eyeballs to that kind of word assault right now. Just, wow. I never realized I had so much suppressed junk in there that I was carrying around with me all this time. I know it’s good that it’s coming up to the surface because that means healing is happening. It just doesn’t feel like what I thought healing would feel like. I’m determined to press on through this season though, which is a big thing for me as a former quitter. This crap is tough, but I’m not going through it just to give up partway.
I don’t know if this will turn into a new series of posts or if I’ll get too embarrassed after this one and never show my face on the internet again, but I have a secret to share. I’m just going to dive on into this pool of humility and tell you about one of the most dumb mistakes I’ve ever made as an adult. So when Justin and I were married, I was 20 and had never lived on my own. To be completely honest, I didn’t know how to cook except to brown some hamburger meat and even then, I burned it because I was terrified to have any pink undone bits and yeah. Don’t feel sorry for me. I eventually sort of learned.
So when I would do our laundry, I number one, hated it because we lived in a little house at the time where the laundry room was actually the garage. Not so bad except number two, there were billions of black widows. Billions. Each with billions of tiny little devil eyeballs I would feel staring me down every time I would step foot in their territory. What I would do was basically run in, throw a mix of clothes in the washing machine, dump in a capful of pretty smelling stuff from a cute jug with pictures of flowers on it and run out, sometimes even leaping out the door because what if a spider wanted to jump on me at the last second before I left? I mean I had to get outta dodge and fast.
Laundry would be finished and I’d go get it, run back in the house and dump it on the floor and go back in maaaaaybe a week later to repeat the washing/leaping process. I never would fold the clothes on the floor. As a matter of fact, I still don’t unless somebody’s coming over to the house. And that someone has to be a “Someone” like a princess or a president who doesn’t know me very well and I want to give them a good impression. Even then, I usually don’t because it’s just like, no. I still hate it and Maddie changes her outfits 80 times a day anyway, so folding is a complete waste of time. And I don’t know any princesses or presidents — that too. This logic may appear flawed, but let me assure you, it is a reflection of magnificent growth in me personally. In the past, I would have taken the pile of clothes and hid them in my closet in trash bags. I actually did that. Frantically shoved all the clean clothes in trash bags instead of folding them so no one would judge me by my homemaking skills. Makes perfect sense.
Anyway, back to the confession. For at least two years I did laundry that way. One day when I was pregnant with Maddie, I had an eye opening experience. I don’t know if it was the nesting hormones kicking in or the fact that I just physically opened my eyeballs in the laundry aisle at the store, but I noticed there was this foreign substance called DETERGENT next to all the cute colorful jugs with flowers on them with the fancy names like Vanilla Passion Oasis that I had been using. To put it plain, my sweet naive adult self had been buying FABRIC SOFTENER based solely on the packaging and scent, then I’d go home and rush through the laundry because it’s the worst. I was basically soaking our clothes in perfume for two years and never really washing them. FOR TWO YEARS. That’s just, I don’t even know. I’m not ashamed, just kind of perplexed and actually a little in awe of how completely ridiculous it all is.
Okay, that wasn’t so bad. I’m not sure anyone can top it, but you are welcome to try! Maybe I’ll do a follow up post with all your embarrassing confessions in it. Okay yeah, that sounds fun, let’s do that!
How many times can you reheat a cup of coffee before it becomes just a really cute mug of toxic brown goo? I ask because I never really get to finish a cup without reheating at least 5 times and that’s kinda sick, no?
The moment I sit down to take that first sip is a downright intimate experience. “Come here, you sweet thing. I’ve waited all night for this.” And then no matter what state of perfect peace things are in just minutes before, the moment I go to take that first precious taste, it’s as if my entire household senses it and decides to come alive. Every time! Welp, from the sound of that screeching in the other room, the baby needs to eat or someone’s butt needs to be wiped or a spill needs to be cleaned all of a sudden right this second. Better deal or heads are gonna roll! So its back to the microwave.
Then after getting sidetracked with watching some Beat Bobby Flay or Pioneer Woman (#priorities), dealing with a few more rounds of poops (#regular), it’s already time to pick up Maddie from school (#commoncore) and I still haven’t finished that cup I made at 8am. I’m not even exaggerating here!
Not to mention, we don’t have an actual coffee maker or a Keurig or anything normal like that. We have this aeropress thingamagig Justin bought because he enjoys buying terrible things that confuse the average human being. It probably takes about the same amount of time as brewing a pot of coffee, but it only makes one serving. And the process is not exactly convenient nor does it invigorate.
Ahh, just look at it. It has hipster-like appeal, doesn’t it? Don’t be fooled, Susie. When you don’t have a handsome flannel-wearing, bearded man making one for you, it’s downright medieval torture first thing in the morning. Funny thing, now that I mention it, I do have one of those handsome flannel-wearing bearded men, so why am I complaining again? Oh right, I haven’t had my coffee yet this morning. brb, I left it in the microwave.
And on that note…
It’s been kind of cryptic around these parts the past year or so and it feels like it’s time to step out and be a little more transparent with my writing. Vulnerability was never my strong suit, and though I’ve always been pretty open about my life, how stressed I could get, how crazy my kids would act and how annoying my husband could be, it was never from a place of complete honesty. I guess I never really thought everyone wanted to see the weak parts in all their glory, so I put on a bit of a show to try to mask some of what was going on. The things I wrote were true, just not very deep. You didn’t really see Morgan. So I’m pushing aside all worry of coming across cuckoo for cocoa puffs and I’m just going for it! (Which, in essence, is another step in my healing process. To step out and be seen for who I really am. So thanks for being a part of this!)
There’s been somewhat of a paradigm shift for me. Do I still have hard days as a mom/wife/human being? Sure. But the change has been in how I’m trying to not automatically go to the negative place in my mind, thoughts, etc. and purpose myself to think on what is good. To not grab hold of the lies and negativity that cross my mind so easily and quickly, but instead to purposefully push those aside and replace them with something positive and true.
The most helpful tool of sorts that has impacted my life has been this: Think about what I’m thinking about. In my darkest hour, I was saturated in condemning, shameful, comparative, negative thoughts. I was so hard on myself for the mistakes I’d made and the person I had become over time. I really didn’t recognize myself and actually quite honestly hated who I saw in the mirror. The true shift began when I stopped buying into that garbage.
Think about what I’m thinking about. I do this as often as I can throughout the day. Not every thought HAS to take root and become a part of my identity. There are a lot of pretty negative/hurtful/perverse things that cross our minds if you start to pay attention. The thing I decided is, who cares? Just because something crossed my mind doesn’t mean it’s true or that I am forced to believe it. Yes, it’s natural to ruminate on ideas and concepts that aren’t necessarily life-giving and fruitful… we all do it, all day every day. But how much sweeter would it be if those ideas were mostly good instead of soaked in harshness and negativity? Hear me out if it sounds like a pointless concept – what harm would it do, really? We know reality. Bad things happen to us. We mess up. People are cruel. But what happens is when we sit around and ruminate on these things, we begin to believe them, they began to shape how we see ourselves and others and then over time we find that we’ve actually become the thing we feared or hated. When I say ‘we’, I’m really talking about myself because this very thing happened to me.
Not sure if this is coming across clearly, so let me give a few examples from my own experience.
I can remember times where I was too harsh with my kids and made them cry. Later that night while laying in bed, here’s what was happening in my mind, “You’re such a terrible mother. They don’t feel loved or accepted. You’re such a monster. You always do this. They’re going to grow up and have issues because of how you always scream at them. You’re screwing them up. You’re so cruel. You’re never going to change.”
This is where I lived. Every day. With everything that I put my hand to. I burned something while I was cooking and then thought, “You’re never going to be a good cook.” I got angry with Justin and then I thought, “He’s going to leave you and find someone else who IS kind to him.” How sad!! I became so fearful, angry, bitter and hard on myself, not even able to see the good. The reality is, I messed up. I was angry. I was manipulative. I flipped people off and chewed people out and hurt those I loved and who loved me. I was a terrible cook. Does that mean it’s the end of the world and there’s no hope for me? No. Does that mean I’m always going to be that way and I’m a monster? No.
The next thing I began doing after thinking about what I was thinking about was to stop believing the junk. Sometimes positive things don’t cross our minds very often on their own, so for me, that means I sometimes have to literally look myself in the mirror and think (sometimes say) “No Morgan, you are good. You are honest. You have a pure heart. You are gentle and kind. You speak nothing but sweetness and truth. Justin appreciates you. You are a perfect mother.” And you know what? Those things may not be 100% true in the moment, but doing that has changed me. I don’t hate myself anymore. I truthfully can say I love myself, where I am right now. I may not be perfect, but who the heck is? I might as well be a little easier on myself while I’m figuring all this out. It sure hasn’t hurt anything.
There have been some dark moments where I’ve been driving down the road and thought, “I should just swerve off into that ditch” and then I was like, all disturbed that I merely thought it. “Oh my God, I’m going crazy. I am a danger to myself. My mind isn’t right.” I was upset about that for a long time because on top of actually thinking about killing myself and not really knowing why, I was also pregnant at the time. Am I suicidal? Do I really want to die and take my baby with me? NO WAY! And that’s the honest to God truth. Just because it crossed my mind for whatever reason, I didn’t have to believe it or follow through with it. And I didn’t have to believe the lies that followed! I am NOT crazy. I have a sound mind and I love my life and my baby. That’s an extreme example to apply this concept to, but in the day to day, we really do grab hold of a lot of crap that we don’t have to.
Take the lady who cuts in line for example. Was it rude? Absolutely. Do I know everything about this woman and her life? No. She could be a kind, considerate person who just happened to be caught up thinking about her grocery list and didn’t see me. If I were to bite her head off, or leave the store and ruminate on how rude she was all the way home, while I was cooking dinner for my family, while I was laying in bed on into the next day, give her a piece of my mind while blow drying my hair, what does that do? It just steals my peace and joy. It’s like a poison you just keep drinking. A knife you just keep twisting. So yeah, maybe the fact is that she was actually cutting me in line because she was an inconsiderate butthole. It would STILL do me good to think the best about her. Where’s the harm in that? This applies to thinking and speaking about my kids, my husband, myself. If you’re believing the best about others, you have to believe the best about yourself as well. “You’re never going to be a good cook.” You know how many times I’ve thought that about myself over the course of my life? I finally decided to stop believing it and try to do the opposite. And you know what? I’m not Iron Chef Mario Batali, but I’m sure not as terrible at it as I once believed. I’m actually getting pretty good. I never would have given it an honest shot if I didn’t stop myself from believing the worst.
I know thinking on something that doesn’t seem possible sounds dumb. I keep it in perspective. If I was in a dark alley and a man came up to me with a shank, I definitely wouldn’t be believing the best about him like, “oh maybe he just wants a friendly conversation” – like, use a little wisdom. Homeboy is getting maced and can find another friend. (Plus, what am I doing in a dark alley to begin with?) Also I realize I have to change some of my ways and circumstances aren’t going to shift just because I think “I am kind.” I’m just noticing that taking that first step in starting to believe good things, and starting to imagine that I could be different than how I am now is actually doing some of that work for me. What I’m saying that where I put my mind and my speech, my actions are following. And then, it’s been amazing, but the circumstances are starting to change. It feels unnatural, sure, to argue with my husband and then stop myself and think “I’m more kind than this. He loves me. I love him. We’re better than this” And then instead of continuing to be mad at him, it actually has helped me then be better at apologizing and owning up for my side of things. And over time, we are finding that we aren’t even having those fights at all because we’re both thinking the best about one another! It has helped me to break out of that familiar place of feeling so sorry for myself, so depressed and anxious and fearful and bitter, so hard on myself for messing up, that I can actually stir myself up on something positive, take care of the mistake in the moment and move on to do better next time. No ruminating. No beating myself up.
Think about what you’re thinking about. You don’t have to accept everything you’ve been told by yourself or others. If we’re not careful, we can get caught up in believing the worst. I challenge you to capture those thoughts about yourself — the big ones at first, then the more subtle ones you’ve believed for so long will start coming up — put them to death and replace them with the best possible scenario. Because the truth is you are pure hearted. You are kind. You are patient and gentle. You are a wonderful person. You are great at that one thing. You’ll be amazed with what starts to happen once you begin to believe it.
Tomorrow Ruthie will be TWO MONTHS OLD. Mother of pearl, that was fast.
This little lady is something else. She is such a delightful little bug — she’s very alert, smiles all the time and makes the sweetest cooing sounds. I can hear her “talking” in the next room right now, as a matter of fact. THE BEST. I’m thankful that she is sleeping through the night and never melts down, even though it’s looking like she’s begun teething. I know, WUT. I guess that’s what happens when you bake for three extra weeks… I have to remind myself that she’s actually closer to 3 months old, which is when Maddie and Jack started teething. Seriously though, even with that happening, Ruth is such an easy-going baby.
When I was pregnant, I had a hard time imagining what this one would look like and what kind of personality she would have. Since I already had a girl and a boy, it was hard to imagine another one looking any different than Maddie or Jack, but she came out seeming like a perfect combination of them both. Now her personality is starting to come out and I can assuredly say she is her very own brand of wonderful. The only thing about her that isn’t perfectly dainty is the fact that her poop could rival that of a 250 pound man after consuming a large and very spicy curry. Look at that sweet face though!