My Blog Changed My Life
Three times in the last two weeks, someone has told me they are proud of me for starting and sticking with my blog. You have no idea how much this means to me, as I have often wrestled with the demons inside my head, who tell me I am never good enough.
When I tell you that this blog changed my life, I am not being coy or overly-dramatic, I am being brutally honest. It took every ounce of courage for me to start A Little Bite of Life. This blog is me, warts and all, and it was very scary to put myself "out there" for the whole world to see. The person I am today, because of this blog, is not the person I was three years ago. Ten years ago. Twenty years ago.
My entire life I've felt "less than." People have thrown labels at me,and I have thrown plenty at myself. I was not smart enough, level-headed enough, too short, too fat. I talked too much, was too bossy. I was a lousy girlfriend, daughter, sister. I was too nerdy (high school), too wild (college), not responsible enough (20's), too conservative (30's), too old (early 40's). I was cold, calculating, a bitch. I was boastful, arrogant, cocky. I was weak, pathetic, spineless. I swore too much, was a heathen, spoke without thinking, was a certified "head in the clouds" dreamer, was too serious, or not serious enough. No matter what I do in life, I've never been good enough.
Truthfully, I've been all of these things, and more. Still, as a young woman, I recognized these flaws in myself, and learned and grew from them -- I wore my mistakes as battle armor. I failed, yet I've persevered. Like a phoenix, I rose from my own ashes. I was still capable of giving and receiving love, worthy of the kindness and friendship of others, despite my flaws. I viewed life with love, faith, and hope. I strived to become a better person -- a person my parents could be proud of, a person I could be proud of. And I did it. I became a "productive" member of society, a good friend, a faithful servant of God, a hard worker. I was confident and accommodating, yet fearless. (My nickname was Danger Girl!) I moved up in my career and was respected for my hard work. I finally became the woman I always wanted to be... and yet... those insecurities still loomed, ready to assail my confidence.
Something happened along the way. I got married. My role in life changed from confident, successful,independent single woman, to wife and mother. I loved being married, yet I was no longer one, but two. I loved being a mom, and my son was my "miracle" baby, but I was not ready for the sudden changes that marriage and motherhood brought-it all came too fast. I adjusted. Then...I became a stay-at-home mother. I was no longer contributing to our family financially, and therefore believed I no longer had a voice in important family and financial decisions. Over time, those old doubts started to creep back in. I no longer had independence, and started to believe I was second-rate. Somewhere along the way, I lost "me."
I abandoned my personal boundaries, and allowed others to take advantage of me, and worse, I took advantage of myself. By ten years of marriage, I was the pathetic shell of the person I was before I married... that confident person I had worked so hard to become. I had zero confidence, zero self-esteem. All around me, life was good -- I had a beautiful family, a beautiful home, a charmed life. Outside I was still successful and involved in the community, but I went from being a dreamer, to being dreamless, with no hope for my own future. I was a failure (in my mind).
Three years ago, I reached a point where I knew things had to change -- my marriage, my family, my life. I took steps to make those changes. One day, I swallowed the sliver of pride I had left, laid out all my flaws, and asked for help from those who I thought would be most disappointed in me -- my mother, my sister, and my best friend. Something surprising (to me) happened. They did not shun me. They loved and encouraged me. They lifted me up emotionally. They encouraged me to start counseling, where I learned to love myself, really love myself this time. I joined a support group that taught people (mostly women) to create healthy boundaries with others, and to recognize that it is okay for us, as women, can have hopes and dreams. I gained the confidence to "go-for" those hopes and dreams. I learned to stand up for myself, and stand on my own. But I am not alone. I have the power of those who loved me next to me, holding my hand, guiding me on my path of hope.
You know what changed in this whole experience? Me. I no longer looked at my role as wife and mother as being the only thing I life I am capable of. I actually became a better wife and mother, because I showed my family I could be more. I still put my family first, I am not going to deny that -- it is who I am. (Those who have a family, and don't put them first, are just plain selfish.) The difference is that I put my family and myself first.
My husband gained a new respect for me, and more importantly, I gained a new respect in myself. I went back to school, to finish the degree I had abandoned years before -- teaching and writing. I surprised myself by getting "A" after "A" in my classes. (I finally applied myself!) I started to write more, and was encouraged by my professors, family, and friends. A professor suggested I write professionally. My best friend suggested I combine my love of cooking and writing, and start a blog. I kept that thought in the back of my mind for almost a year, those tiny insecurities trying to crawl back in. One day I swallowed my doubts, opened my computer, and did it!
Here I am. This blog thing snowballed -- a little at first, but the momentum has picked up. The more I write, the more I want to write. I have started to take risks I would never have taken before, both in my writing and in my life. I am really Danger Girl now! A Little Bite of Life is the one place where I can do everything I've always loved -- cooking, writing, wine, and travel, and can interact with other people who share these same loves. I can be myself here, and those who like me stay, and those who don't... don't. I am okay with that, because I have met so many wonderful people here on my blog, and in the blogging world.
There are many who do not consider what I do here as "real" writing. There are many who turn up their nose, and consider bloggers to be second-rate writers. I beg to differ. I work just as hard as any writer out there, and although I do not have a professional editor, I am my own worst critic -- far more critical than any New York City editor could ever be. Sometimes, I may have a few writing and grammatical errors, but my own editor's eye (I was a college literary magazine editor for two years) has seen those same errors in the best writers out there, so I am not alone. Maybe I don't have a book deal (yet), but my voice is just as valuable as any New Yorker or Washington Post writer -- maybe even more so, because I am knee-deep in middle America, where most of the women in this country reside.
With this blog, I understand what it feels like to take a chance, and have it succeed, and it feels so good. I have a long way to go -- I have so many more goals to fulfill, but I am on a path I can walk with confidence and pride. I finally "get it." The only limitations I have in life are the ones I put on myself. Most of all, I've learned that the best way to encourage my son to reach for the stars is to show him, by example, that he can believe in himself, and take chances on what he believes in. If his own mother cannot be a role model for him, how will he respect other women?
I never want to go back to being the person I was before. I never will. I want to always be the best mother, writer, teacher, chef, and woman I can be. You know what? I can be all of these, because of the love and support of friends and family, and a little ol' blog called A Little Bite of Life.
Photo Credit: Picto:graphic.
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