Who do you think you are anyway?

I get this question a lot. From that asshole in my head. He’s the one who reminds me incessantly of my failures as a mom, a wife, an artist, a singer, a writer, a human.

So today, when he emerged from his cesspool with myriad harassments, I just happened to be in the right mood to answer him.

“Well, since you asked,” I began…

I’m a woman. I’ve been married ten years and I have two kids. I live in Nashville. I stay home and try to teach my kids, but we’re probably putting them in school because this homeschool shit isn’t working. But that will be a huge step for me because I have a lot of anxiety. I worry about my kids falling off of jungle gyms and slides and breaking their necks. I worry about them being bullied. I worry about everything.

I’m an introvert – an ISFJ on the Myers-Briggs – so having kids has cost me one of the things most core to my identity: solitude. But they give me a lot, too – a lot of cortisol, a lot of heart palpitations, a lot of headaches and commotion and chaos. They also give me hope and grace and laughter. Being with them all day every day is grueling, but being apart from them even for a few hours sometimes hurts. Is that codependence or abiding love or both? I have no idea.

I am a mom who loves my children more than my life, but raising little kids day in and day out is hard as fuck. There are so many days that I don’t think I’ll make it, but I haven’t figured out what “not making it” looks like, so I just keep going. I mess up. Every day. I don’t spank or yell or abandon my kids, but I can be passive aggressive and shaming. And I sigh a lot. My counselor says I don’t have an anger problem – I have resentment issues. And I have unrealistic expectations for them, for everyone around me, and, mostly, for myself.

I daydream sometimes about hopping a plane alone to Hawaii or London. Maybe finding a little hut next door to Jack Johnson’s family or a row house near Chris Martin or the Beckham’s. I have a love-hate relationship with our culture. I hate conspicuous consumption and waste and celebrity worship, but I love comfort and I can’t help wondering what makes musicians and actors and artists tick.

I was raised in middle America by very young and loving parents who did the best they could. It was in the Midwest where I learned to ride a bike, write stories, sing, and play guitar. I also learned things I’ve had to unlearn like perfectionism, prejudice, and that my feelings are too big. I was a singer-songwriter in Nashville for a little while, but it got hard and it pulled all my insecurities to the surface. So I quit. Then I got my Bachelor’s degree in writing and tried to write a novel, but it got hard and it pulled all my insecurities to the surface. So I quit. Then, after my kids were born, I began creating textile art pieces and tried selling them, but it got hard and it pulled all my insecurities to the surface. So I quit.

It seems that if I’ve followed through with anything in my life, it’s been quitting. And quitting too soon. And quitting when I became scared or got lazy or didn’t get applause. And quitting things I really, really loved.

But wait.

That’s not all.

Because grace.

Because my marriage that I work on every day.

Because my kids who I’ve given all my blood, sweat, tears, and sleep to for the past seven years without running away (except maybe to the closet to scream into a pillow).

Because ten years of counseling to overcome eating disorders, to reconcile with anxiety, and to conquer dysfunctional patterns.

Because I’m not the same person I was 5 years ago.

Or ten years ago.

Or twenty years ago.

I’m less arrogant and more curious. I’m less judgmental and more compassionate. I’m less wishy-washy and more certain. But only where that certainty is concerned with my identity, my story, and my path of healing and growth. Everything else lingers within the realms of mystery these days.

That doesn’t get me noticed, I know. That doesn’t sell books or get clicks or mean I’m an expert about anything. “Good for you, Krista. You’ve spent thousands of dollars on counseling over the past ten years. Now you don’t let your in-laws completely walk all over you emotionally. Brava, chica!”

But you know what, asshole in my head bullying me around this morning, this isn’t just about me. This isn’t about accolades or inadequacies or attention for me. It’s actually about all of us women. Because we all have these questions and doubts and uncertainties. I know this because, for all my introversion and relational weakness, I have some friends. And these are the things we talk about.

It’s about us, ladies. It’s about us at our best and when we feel like shit and everything in between. It’s about the bittersweetness and vulnerability of being a mom. It’s about the drama and beauty and difficulty of relationship. It’s about the power and glory and struggle of being a woman today. It’s about the many forces that push and pull on our hearts, minds, bodies, and souls. Because, while my history and my day-to-day is as unique to me as yours is to you, there is a universal story. There is a story about missteps and grace, loss and hope, healing and love.

And there is a story to be written about soaring above it all.

So, here we are, all of us, writing our stories. I hope that something in mine will give you good questions to ask, a couple tools for deconstruction, and a bit of soil for planting new seeds.

The Boss sang to us a long time ago, “You can’t start a fire worrying about your little world fallin’ apart…”

So here’s to our worlds falling apart. Here’s to daring to try a new thing, or an old thing we gave up, or just stopping and breathing. Who says you can’t pick up where you left off? Oh, right, that asshole in your head who thinks he knows everything. Well, don’t let him get you down. Let him fuel you. Prove his ass wrong. Make up an alter ego for yourself. Mine is Tempest Savage and she is one bad-ass fighter. She’s equal parts Rhonda Rousey, Beyonce, and Amy Schumer. She is afraid sometimes, and she doesn’t always get it right, but she knows enough to keep going. And she knows enough to begin. Again. And again. And again.

And again.

What will you begin today?

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