Afraid to let people in…

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.

clutterLet 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:

  • woman writing in journalFind 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?

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20 comments to Afraid to let people in…

  • I haven’t had a problem letting people into my home. I LIKE having people over, but I am a pretty blunt person. What you see is what you get…for the most part.

    I have a way harder time letting people into my LIFE. Into my real thoughts, in close enough that the can hurt me. It is something I have struggled with for years.

    Most people know the face value Celina where what you see really is what you get. I have a SMALL circle of friends that I let get close. I used to feel bad about it, tried to change it. Then one day I figured I have a handful of clsoe friends, my family and now my husband. That is all I really need to have in my inner circle.

    Just remember we judge ourselves WAY worse than anyone else would. I am sure most people wouldn’t even notice the things you see as imperfections in your home.

    Good luck!

    [Reply]

    bernicewood Reply:

    I know in my head that most people won’t even notice, but my heart would always try to decieve! But now, it just doesn’t bother me as much, thank goodness! If you are comfortable with the small close circle of friends, then I wouldn’t worry about it. As long as you are happy with that, it is fine!
    Thanks for coming by!
    Bernice

    [Reply]

  • Good for you! Sounds like you are making a lot of progress. I love having people over, even when it makes a mess. I think we often expect more of ourselves than anyone else expects of us!
    Hollee Temple recently posted..The Better-than-Perfect ThanksgivingMy Profile

    [Reply]

    bernicewood Reply:

    Hey Hollee!
    Once I am in the middle of having people over, I have a blast! I enjoy myself. It’s usually the lead up to that makes me a little crazy. But I am doing my best to breathe and just do the few things that need to be done. And then relax! I only have one dish to make plus drinks!
    Have a great week!
    Bernice

    [Reply]

  • Finding balance…probably the toughest and most overlooked aspect to life.

    I have found that balancing the effects of the outside/surrounding world can be done by limiting that which we let into our lives. Your suggestion is to find someone to confide in, which I agree with, but at times people, activities, stuff and so on overcrowd our life. Try reducing the commitments and connections to everything and just focus on the few things that bring value to your life.

    David Damron
    LifeExcursion

    [Reply]

    bernicewood Reply:

    Absolutely David! We cannot do everything or please everybody. It is important that we pare down our life to the things that are important to us. All the things we are pressured to do by society and the media and even peers and family, we need to let most of that go. In doing so, we free up space to live and be.
    Thanks for coming by!
    Bernice

    [Reply]

  • deb

    What a great post. I’ve spent years trying to come to terms with my past and making sure it doesn’t define my future. A very wise therapist helped me find some good memories and reframe some others. I realize I don’t have to make the same mistakes. I laughed at the “everyone else has a perfect life”. Didn’t we all think that? And now we know, “sorry, not so much”!! What we make of ourselves is what defines us, thank goodness!
    deb recently posted..Family CompoundMy Profile

    [Reply]

    bernicewood Reply:

    “What we make of ourselves is what defines us”. I really like this Deb! It’s not our past, whether 20 years ago or yesterday, it’s what we CHOOSE to make of ourselves. So many people don’t realize they have a choice, or they choose to ignore it and use their past as a crutch.
    Thanks for commenting on a not-so-easy subject!
    Bernice

    [Reply]

  • Great post. I was married very young and had children at a young age, too, and have always struggled with trying to be the perfect mom, perfect host, perfect this and that. I’m a bit better now but still spend hours and hours shining the home front when guests are expected. Although, any unexpected guests tend to marvel at how clean the place is, so there really is no need for me to spiff it up the way I think I need to. One good thing: My husband spiffs it up right alongside me, so it’s not all that stressful for me … most of the time.
    Lisa @ Grandma’s Briefs recently posted..Mom 20 reduxMy Profile

    [Reply]

    bernicewood Reply:

    Hi Lisa,
    Thankfully my husband helps me as well, but he doesn’t feel the urgency as much as I do. This year he did really well to help get things ready in advance. I still stressed, but not nearly as bad as I usually would have. It helped me to know that only half the people I invited were attending!
    I want to get in the habit of having a couple or 2 over for dinner every month or 2. I think if I did that, it would help me get used to having people in more often.
    Thanks for commenting!
    Bernice

    [Reply]

  • Goosebumps and chills down my spine reading your post….well done Bernice for having the courage and trust to share your inner wisdom and story…our homes are a reflection of who we are….there are so many sides to us that our home space will always be evolving around chaos-calm…..be a happy goddess and keep on enjoying your home and life. OM

    [Reply]

    bernicewood Reply:

    It has been difficult to share my story and be so transparent, but I think in doing so, it helps me, but it also helps others to realize they are not the only ones out there feeling this way!
    Thanks for coming by!
    Bernice

    [Reply]

  • Pam

    Wow…love to hear I’m not the only (which I know I’m not but..) who deals with this. My mom always entertained but in more of out of control party mode. I had rough childhood and yes it did take over my life for a long time. As soon as I let go and forgave myself and others I was able to LIVE! Love your quote! Thanks for sharing your story.
    Pam recently posted..Oprahs 12 Day Holiday Giveaway SweepstakesMy Profile

    [Reply]

  • Fantastic post! I am a ‘recovering sentimental hoarder’, and spent many years shifting boxes of photos, scrapbooks and bits and pieces around my home. Last year I made a decision to do something about it. I stopped collecting things, and am now on a rigorous reduction programme. I do have a few boxes to make a decision on but its getting easier. This was a pain when we had friends over, as for a while my boxes (and I mean some seriously big boxes) lived in the dining room – this didn’t stop me entertaining it just meant extra work every time we did. I’m pretty sure my sentimental hoarding is linked to the non-marketing four p’s – living in the PAST, unfinished creative PROJECTS, PERFECTIONISM and PROCASTINATION. Finally I clicked that something only becomes sentimental when you attach sentiment to it, and the longer you hold on to it the more sentimental it becomes. Carpe Diem for me from now on – Jo (simplybeingmum – “Family Life Simply Done.
    Jo@simplybeingmum recently posted..Simple Top Tip Tuesday – Taking NoteMy Profile

    [Reply]

  • I can relate to this and it’s a wonderful post. I feel the same pull toward helping women get that perfect just isn’t going to happen.
    It’s why I *try* really hard to be honest about when I screw up. Life is messy, but where we place our focus makes all the difference.
    Heather Solos recently posted..Albondigas SoupMy Profile

    [Reply]

  • Kim

    Wonderful post. I too had an unbalanced mother and as much as I loved her, I vowed never to be like her when I was an adult and I also know that some of my upbringing held me back in some areas. But before she died, I came to an understanding of who she was and why she was mentally unbalanced at times – I saw the child in her and it changed my perspective. So, although there was a time I was “frozen by my past” I can’t say that anymore.
    Kim recently posted..A Memorable Christmas HugMy Profile

    [Reply]

  • say

    Letting other people in can be very hard to some. Especially to those who have a hurtful past. And i don’t blame them if they are a having a hard time being open to others… but i believe that in time, if they help themselves to become a better person, i know they will be able to overcome this.
    say recently posted..Dating Tips for Single ParentsMy Profile

    [Reply]

  • Sally Thompson

    Forget about pains and your stress.. Live your life to the fullest! Thanks for a great post!
    Sally Thompson recently posted..express oil change couponsMy Profile

    [Reply]

  • Wow, wonderful blog layout! How long have you been blogging for?
    you made blogging look easy. The overall look of your
    web site is fantastic, let alone the content!
    online college ratings and reviews recently posted..online college ratings and reviewsMy Profile

    [Reply]

  • [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Journey to Balance, Journey to Balance. Journey to Balance said: Is having company stressful to you? Read how I got over that! http://livingthebalancedlife.com/2010/afraid-to-let-people-in/ [...]

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