When I get my house cleaned up and painted and get new furniture, we can invite friends over. That’s what I have been telling myself.
Let me give you a little story. I grew up in a home with a mentally ill mother, except we didn’t know that at the time. She was just my mom, that’s who she was. I am sure that many of you have seen the show “Hoarders”, that was not quite my mom or my house, but if they had a show called “Chronic Packrats”, I am sure we could’ve qualified for that one.
Because of my mom and our house, we NEVER had guests, never had company. Each of us kids had 1 or 2 friends we would bring home, but that was it.
The stress of entertaining, of letting people in
Enter a young woman who got married very young and moved into her own place at 18. I struggled to make my space a home, and to not create the chaos of the home I grew up in. For several years, we did have company from our church over and even threw a few parties! As I got older, had more kids, accumulated more stuff, and began struggling more and more with my identity being tied to how things looked and what people would think, we slowly stopped having people over. And once I had my dream job, I had no time for entertaining anyway!
Even when we have had people over in the past, I always got super stressed about company. To the point of being ill. Of not being able to enjoy the fellowship because I was worried what people would think of my unfinished projects or my overflowing bookshelves and piles of paper.
After my mental meltdown this summer, I began counseling on a regular basis. One of the things I uncovered is that I was ashamed of my childhood, of my past. And that shame kept me afraid of people knowing the “real” me, for if they knew the real me, they surely would not like me.
But you know what? Even though my childhood did shape me, if does not have to make me. I can choose to change, I can choose to not be like my mother. Even with the issues of depression and anxiety that plague me, I can choose to get help, and I can choose to not let them define who I am.
So Who Am I?
Who am I? I am a strong woman, with a creative mind. I love to dream and I love to make those dreams reality. I feel passionately, whether it is love or anger. I am a loving wife and mother. Note that nowhere here do I state that I am perfect!
I long to help other people, women especially, who have maybe felt that because of something in their past, they don’t feel “good enough”. They think like I used to (and still fight with) that everyone else has a perfect life. That they have “it” all figured out. They make it look so easy. I am here to tell you, there is no perfect THEY. THEY don’t exist in real life, only in the media and in our minds.
If we can reach out to one another, admitting our own faults and quirks and shortcomings, we can allow others to open up and be real and accept who they are, even if that isn’t perfect. My goal on my blog and in other interactions with people is to be more real, more transparent.
Dealing with perfectionism and our past
Are you frozen by your past? Are you letting it define you? Don’t let it continue to have that power over you! Recognize it as part of your life, but I challenge you to make the following declaration:
My past is the past. Even though it helped to shape me, it does not define me. I have a choice to be who I want to be. I can change my thoughts and create behaviors that are opposite of my past. I can remake my life, even if it is one step at a time.
Here are some things you can do to help you in your journey:
- Find someone to confide in, whether it is your spouse, best friend, pastor, or therapist
- Begin to write and journal your thoughts. Don’t edit, just let it flow, this is for your eyes only
- For those who have spiritual beliefs, prayer and scripture can make a huge difference. There are many scriptures about taking control of your thoughts.
- Put your change into action. Do something you would have been afraid to do in the past, even if it is a little scary now!
This will take some work. I have been working at this for almost 6 months every week. It takes time to change ingrained thoughts and thought patterns.
Having a party!
As for me? We are throwing a Christmas party! Since I have had the realization above, that I am not defined by my past, I want to open up my home again. And while I am cleaning up and finishing up a few projects, I am not going to stress about my house, and I am NOT getting new furniture! I am not going to make excuses, it is what it is!
And I am looking forward to inviting a new group of friends in from the church we started attending this year! I can’t wait!
Have you struggled with entertaining? With letting people into your home and in to see the REAL you?