House & HomeMom's LifeThe KitchenWork and Passions

I used to wish I were someone else. But something changed.

by Heather Caliri on July 3, 2013

Today, we’re excited to introduce a new series here at The Happiest Home! A while back Heather Caliri, author of the blog A Little Yes, wrote a lovely guest post about making a new house feel like home.  Now she’s going to be writing here monthly about saying “yes” to small things that scare us. Heather is such a talented writer, and I can’t wait to see the ideas she shares with us. – Meagan

Image courtesy Karin van Dam

It would happen almost every month.

“I wish I were someone else,” I’d cry. I wanted to squeeze small enough in my skin that I could be free of being me altogether. My husband would hand me tissues while I explained how I’d never get anywhere, being who I was.

It never lasted long: a day or two later, my hormones would stabilize, and I could go back to being me. But those nights always lingered in the back of my mind. Sure, it happened at that time of the month. But the hormones didn’t create a sense of self-loathing—they just uncovered it.

And so I’d wait uneasily until the next month, knowing I’d ache to shed my personality, my limitations, and my lack of bravery.

At the time, I resigned myself to the monthly crisis. I thought it was inevitable.

But a few weeks ago, I realized something. I haven’t said—or thought—those words in years.

This astonished me. And I wondered: what changed?

This is it: I became a mother.

Sure, as a mother you’re full of love, connected with the circle of life, yadda yadda, yadda. It’s lovely and all, but that’s not what changed me.

Here’s what did: I had no time and less energy.

How did this empower me? Well, at first it didn’t. But after a year of setting aside everything for sleep and diapers, I started doing anything I could to get my sense of self back. I started cooking new recipes. I found great books to dive into. I started writing again, and almost by chance found a group of mothers that were also writers.

I couldn’t do anything just for me for nearly as much time as I wanted, but the little I did achieve was because of consistent, intentional effort on my part. I began to see that the five minutes here and twenty minutes there added up to more than you’d expect. When I finished an essay or made a meal, I felt pride in a real accomplishment.

I also saw that there’s an ebb and flow to life—times when we can accomplish more, and less, and I started learning to accept the time I was in. Acceptance meant I relaxed about what I wasn’t accomplishing because I knew it simply wasn’t possible then. And it meant anticipating a time when I’d have my chance.

About a year ago, I got even more intentional with the practice of squeezing my dreams into small spaces. I focused my blog around little yeses, being a beginner, and pursuing joy in tiny steps.

I made the steps tiny because I’m a mother with two small kids. And also, small steps seemed less scary. I was baby-stepping my way to living abroad for a half-year. I was practicing small bravery with writing and marketing my work. I was scheming ways to break down the things I hoped to accomplish someday into tiny yeses I could say today.

Let me be clear: I am far from some of my wildest dreams: from publishing a book, say, or earning a living freelancing. Of homeschooling my kids through high school and having them thank me for it. Of encouraging and serving others.

I am still a beginner in all of those things.

But I’ve accepted being a beginner. I’ve started enjoying it. And that has made all the difference.

As a beginner, I must—by definition–try new things. I take risks, because it’s the only way to move forward. I know I’ll make mistakes. I ask for help, and imitate those who are further along. I’ve started seeing that beginnings are beautiful, full of promise and hope.

Photo courtesy Jusni Nasirun

I’ve started seeing that anyone trying something new is a beginner. No matter how expert they seem.

And I see now that the delight of finishing, of accomplishing, of reaching a goal is lovely—but that the pleasure of starting, of pursuing, of saying yes is—dare I say it?—even better.

I look back on the woman I was eight years ago and feel a tenderness towards her. A sadness that she didn’t know what she was capable of. A pride that she kept moving forward, trying, even when she was blind to her own bravery.

I know I’m not alone in being unable to see my own worth and beauty. In thinking that I’m too far behind to start. It’s a cry I hear everyday from people all around me.

So I’m here to sing out this challenge to you: just for today, let’s accept our limitations for what they are. Accept them, completely, without fear, and take the first steps towards our dreams within their confines. Any first step, believing that it—and we—are enough. Believing that our limitations could change as we test their boundaries. Let’s take the shaking hands and thumping heart we’ve been given and treat them gracefully. Let’s believe that we are beautiful women, capable of our wildest dreams if we move towards them at a slow, slow pace.

You are starting. You are brave. And it is a beautiful sight to behold.

What dreams are you aching to make come true? I’d invite you to share—in the comments—one way you could lean towards them with a tiny, little yes.

Want more ideas
for creating a happier home life?

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Sarah July 4, 2013 at 1:42 am

Oh, I wish I’d read these words back when I was a young mother. Not that I would have listened. Ha! I have spent most of my life (childhood and adulthood) wishing I was someone else – that outgoing girl who everyone liked, that energetic mom who takes her kids to places, that woman who manages to write while having small children. Part of my journey now is discovering that, in my own way, I am those people. I have friends who like me. In fact, I have more friends than I feel I can give enough time to. I do take my kids places. We’ve gone to museums and concerts and the library. We’ve gone to Florida and Hawaii. We also stay home a lot and that’s ok, too. And I’m starting to write. Not publicly yet, but I will. Part of finding myself has been figuring out that no, I’m not exactly like all those other women. And I’m not supposed to be. Part of my journey has been finding, and believing, that I am enough. For years I thought my family would be better off with a different wife and mother. But now I know that no, these are MY people. They need me as much as I need them. We journey together. Thank you for your beautiful words.

And I had to chuckle at your opening. For years I berated myself with how emotional I get right before that time of the month. But I figured out that what that time does is let me feel things in their deepest intensity. I was feeling things that were always there, but that rose to the surface and grabbed my attention. I am learning to use that intensity to reveal to me what I’m really feeling (since I tend to suppress intense feelings) and to act on it, not irrationally, but in a way that allows me to see what is missing. Some months I’m fine and that’s good, too. But since I also believe that the only way we move forward is by moving, I don’t dread those times anymore. I’m looking forward to more of your posts!

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Heather Caliri July 5, 2013 at 12:26 pm

Oh, I love this, Sarah. It is so exciting to finally stand in the ground that we are granted and start reaching up, no? It is _exhilarating_ to me–I so long to see all women really owning who they were made to be (and men too, but I find I feel a special urge to share this with women).
Your wise words about PMS are exactly what my therapist told me back in the period where I didn’t like myself much, and it did help me to gain some peace with those periods. I still feel intensely now, but it feels more like a clarifying and a check-in than a crisis. It helps that I know the signs and can recognize better what is happening. I love being a bit older and more used to being who I am.

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StephJ July 4, 2013 at 10:56 am

Thank you for this beautiful post! Your honesty in writing in touched me. It really resonated, because I am currently reading “the Gift of Imperfection” by Brené Brown (I highly recommend even though I’m on chapter 2). I am a “recovering perfectionist,” and as such, I am my own harshest critic.
As for PMS, I go through it in a slightly different way. I know I’m about to have my period when I start to hate the human race, and want to lie alone in a dark room…. :P

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Heather Caliri July 5, 2013 at 12:19 pm

Thanks, Steph. How funny! I’ve been reading “Daring Greatly”, and her information on shame and vulnerability is really impacting me. I definitely think I’ll pick up her other books.
Recovering from perfectionism is a long road. It’s exciting to me that I feel like I’ve made progress, though. What freedom!

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