Monday, November 11, 2013

On Photo Walks And Messy Thoughts

I've noticed lately that my blog has become all about my art and memes and classes and I want to get back to the real me occasionally. But this post seems like such a downer in some ways, that I decided to break it up with some shots of a recent photo walk on a glorious Autumn day. Believe me, I hesitated about hitting the publish button! If you don't want to get into the messy stuff, just scroll through and enjoy the photos! :)

Have you ever had a day where you couldn't do or say anything right to save your life? A day where everything you did (regardless of how well-intentioned) failed to have the effect you were hoping for? A day where everything you said just came out wrong?  I experienced just such a day recently.  A day punctuated by three distinct interactions that left me feeling raw and vulnerable, the shame storm in full gale, swirling violently around my head, my inner critic screaming in my ear about being stupid, thoughtless, selfish, negative, a total fraud. 
seasonal outdoor decorations
Initially I wanted to come here to cry on the shoulders of my blog friends, to wail and whine about how unfair life can be and how misunderstood I am. But I allowed myself the entire weekend to lean into the discomfort and pain and see what I could learn from it. I tried to calm myself with the thought that I am human, flawed, I make mistakes. But my inner critic wasn't having it. She was still convinced that I was a fraud and busily whispering screaming negative thoughts in my ear. I leaned harder. I didn't retreat to frantically cleaning the house (my usual mode of numbing the pain of emotions I can't handle) or eating excessive amounts of sugar-laden treats. I didn't go on a rant about not being understood or appreciated.

In the first interaction, I was told that while I profess to be a positive and caring person, in reality I’m so NOT. That statement, coming from someone whose opinion does matter very deeply to me, cut me to the quick. It stung.  I’m sure that it was intended to hurt.  I wanted to rage and get self-righteously angry and deny. But at that very moment I shut up. I took it in. I shoved it back so I could deal with it later. And later came. And I found myself asking:  Am I really being selfish? Am I really NOT a positive person? 
covered bridge reflected in the water
The second interaction had me questioning my parenting and the line drawn between running to the rescue (no child was actually in any kind of crisis) and setting boundaries for my own self-care.  Is it selfish to deny a child’s want (not need) in favor of meeting my own desire for some down time and a full weekend at home? Am I a bad mother?
hanging on
In the final interaction, I thoughtlessly crossed a line with a friend. Something I considered harmless wasn’t. I did my best immediately to repair the damage, but once you’ve crossed a line, can it be un-crossed?  

I know there are two sides to every story, two sides to this debate. I am not selfish for wanting to do something that brings me great joy.  By the same token, I am self-less enough to put that very thing on the back burner and wait because that is what will make the other person happy. But I can’t help but wonder if the other person sees this in me at all???
fallen leaves
I have come to the conclusion that SOME of the charges leveled at me had merit. I did cross a line where I might have known better had I paused a moment to think it through. And  I will admit that I do complain too much. It is my default mode sometimes. I whine about little stuff.  Stuff that in the overall scheme of things doesn’t matter at all. Stuff that I can’t control – like the weather. What is the point of complaining about it? It just makes me sound like a negative Nelly. I keep catching myself at it and trying to stop myself.  I'm working on it.
tall grass against the sky
On the other hand, I know in my heart that I am generally a positive person.  I try hard to see the good, the light. I do not dwell on the past or borrow trouble for the future.  The charges leveled at me have not convinced me that I am truly selfish. I know I am not self-less either. I'm somewhere in between. I just need to figure out if I have the balance right.
creek by the walking path
Do you feel this tug in your life? How do you know when you have struck the right balance? 

19 comments:

simply bev said...

Your post today is so heartfelt and I thank you for posting, even though you second guessed yourself before hitting the publish button! I'm always seeking balance...it's a daily thing. You are not alone! (and your photos are lovely!)

Jo.C said...

Nobody is perfect and we do things consider them and move on. Though sometimes that is the really difficult part. Hope things are better soon and sometimes time and space help.
Thank you for your honesty x

Sian said...

What Jo said! Thing is, none of us is perfect. Everyone is flawed, that's part of being human. But we don't have to get it right every time. It's okay to get it wrong. We all do it. Getting it wrong helps us get it right more often. I think!

Barbara Eads said...

Cheri, great post because it is so real!!
1. True friends don't purposely try to hurt you.
2. I think it's an important lesson for kids to learn that you value yourself enough to put yourself first once in awhile.
3. We all do or say stupid things. I expect my friends to give me the benefit of the doubt. I would never purposely hurt them. And (going back to #!) if they are my friends, I try to give them that same benefit of the doubt. I would not have people in my life that purposely hurt me.

I think we all feel like this sometimes. I just try to ride it out and know that each day and the distance that provides from the incident, will make it easier. After all, you said it, we're all human. Don't let it get you down for too long.

scrappyjacky said...

Cheri...we all feel like this sometimes...and I'd echo what Barbara says.
It's far too easy to beat ourselves up about it....and pretty impossible to always get the balance right....and our kids [especially] are very good at sending us on guilt trips!!

Sian said...

I'm back, with a quote. I went to take TSO to her flute exam this morning and as I sat there waiting for her I read a magazine. The first thing I read quoted Thurber; " You might as well fall flat on your face as lean over too far backwards". I thought you might like that today :)

Krystal K Grant Photography, LLC said...

Unfortunately most moms train their families early that "mom = martyr" so it is simply expected. I have watched you work so hard for balance, and I know that all you seek is a fair shake for yourself. You know yourself. Stay strong, my friend.

Karen said...

Do you know what Cheri - you know that you are a good mum and friend and as far as being a good mum goes the best ones don't give in to emotional blackmail!

quiltingfool said...

One of the many things that distinguish men from women is that, once a thing is done, men completely and entirely forget about it. Women, on the other hand, chew on it, mull it over, let it take over their lives completely, and can't seem to ever let go of it. If you have determined that some part of this was your fault (with your friend)enough to deserve an apology from you, then make that apology if you haven't already, and that is all you can do except learn from this incident. If this person is your friend, she will accept your apology and love you anyway, warts and all.

Carola Bartz said...

This tug only sounds too familiar. I think all of us know one or the other side of it, we all went through something like this. As someone said before, none of us is perfect. We are all humans, and that means we make mistakes.
I haven't "known" you for very long, but to me you don't appear selfish. You seem to be thoughtful, pretty serious, a woman I would love to talk with in "real life".
I have so often asked myself whether I am a good mother or not. But - is a mother a good mother if she always gives in to the wants of her children? Isn't it much better for the children to see that even mothers have a life of their own and sometimes really deserve their own downtime? In my book that is not a bad mother.
Ah, the balance - no, of course I don't always get that right. Easy on good days. Not so easy on bad days. I'm constantly working on that myself, on bettering myself. You're not alone here, Cheri.

debs14 said...

The comment from 'quiltingfool' is so right. We can't turn the clock back, we just have to learn from every situation and move on. What's done is done, dwelling on it won't help.
Hope this week is going better for you!

Karen said...

What's really important here, I think, is the self-reflection you've done. It's terrible to be hurt, to feel embarrassment or shame, but we've all been there. Your reflection has put it in perspective, and you can move on---better for it, I'm sure. Thanks for posting, and the photography is gorgeous!

Kai B said...

An important consideration is that you didn't lash out, that you let yourself absorb and consider. That is very difficult to do. Go you! Through these interactions, you have gained further self awareness, you have come up with thoughts that deserve further consideration, and you tried mightily to be gentle with yourself. All of that is awesome. No one is ever perfect but it is good that you are willing to progress. Cheri, you rock! Continue on being gentle with yourself and be secure in the knowledge that someone is always "here" when you need a shoulder or an ear. :)

Kai B said...

An important consideration is that you didn't lash out, that you let yourself absorb and consider. That is very difficult to do. Go you! Through these interactions, you have gained further self awareness, you have come up with thoughts that deserve further consideration, and you tried mightily to be gentle with yourself. All of that is awesome. No one is ever perfect but it is good that you are willing to progress. Cheri, you rock! Continue on being gentle with yourself and be secure in the knowledge that someone is always "here" when you need a shoulder or an ear. :)

Melissa said...

Wow, I've had these same kinds of thoughts at various times . . . wondering if I'm too selfish, if others are right when they criticize me, and what should I do (or not do) differently in future situations. I'm so glad you were able to share with us your thought process (& your beautiful photography). Having spent time with you, I know you have a positive outlook and are also conscientious of other's needs and wants!

Missus Wookie said...

Lovely colours in your photos and thoughts in your words. Oh yes I struggle with these thoughts and concerns. The process is the important thing and then from there you can move on, make apologies, give explanations if you want to but know you have remained true to yourself...

alexa said...

Sorry to be late arriving, and I think that everyone else above has said just about everything that the is to say! Hoping that things are going better for you by now ... What I was struck by too was the sheer quality of these glorious photos :).

Miriam said...

Catching up with you today. Like everyone else has said, you are not alone. I hope that writing it all down has helped you, it is great therapy. (Morning Pages) Your pictures are very beautiful Cheri.

Cheryl said...

I applaud you for hitting the "publish" button. Thoughts are messy because life is messy, and it's always refreshing when people share the messiness along with the prettiness. These kinds of days happen. If they didn't, I don't think we'd be living. And without that tug, I don't think we'd be growing. IMO, for what it's worth, you wouldn't be reflecting like this if you were a selfish person. (And - again, for whatever it's worth - I think that sometimes it's OK to be selfish, especially when it comes to our time.)