Oh man, my inner b*tch is working hard to take me down this week. She tells me that the leprocy all over my face (OK, it’s psoriasis, but it looks like what I imagine leprocy looks like…I’m being dramatic, I know) makes me ugly. That inner b*tch tells me I should stay home and lock myself in my room because I can’t wear makeup and my eyes are swollen shut every morning. It’s too painful to put makeup on my face, and even when I do, my eyes burn and tear up all day, so in a couple of hours all my makeup is completely gone anyway. She says I look like a different person. She says I’m heeedeous (Nacho Libre).
Made me think…
How much of our identity is wrapped up in things outside of who we really are? You are not your face. That’s been my mantra all week. Your identity is not your appearance. It’s not who you are. You have rashes on your face. Who cares? That’s not even a real challenge. I just listened to a podcast with Ed Mylett interviewing Amy Purdy who lost both of her legs when she was 19. Take about real challenges. She is so inspiring, and I hope you listen to it. I have a good friend with MS. Her legs don’t even work half the time and she still outworks everyone and is killing it in the finance industry. I have friends who just this week lost everything they own in a house fire, and their insurance company is saying they don’t have insurance. They have to hire attorneys and won’t see a dime for years. My little rashes on my face are nothing. My appearance doesn’t matter. My skin isn’t who I am. I am not a face. I am not a body. None of us are. We are amazing humans, children of God with unlimited potential no matter what our circumstances. No matter we look like. To what other false identities do we attach ourselves? Our roles?
You are not your roles. I find this with single moms all the time, and I did this for years. Playing the single mom card gave me sympathy. Talking about having my kids all the time and raising them by myself made me a martyr. I got lots of attention and praise for how hard I was working and people would say things like, “Oh I can’t believe you’re doing it all by yourself.” or, “I don’t know how you do it.” Gave me this fake sense of confidence as if praise mad emerald super woman. Someone else’s opinion of you doesn’t make you who you are. Sympathy is a crutch. Sympathy keeps you stuck and you’ll never move forward if you’re constantly seeking sympathy for your challenges or your role as a single mom. We sometimes wrap our entire identities into our role as a mother. A single mom is not who you ARE. It’s your role. It’s your job. and it’s temporary. What are you when they turn 25 and they have their own lives? Who are we then? Still “single moms?” We have to remember we are much more than moms, we are much more than hard workers, we are much more than the praise we seek.
You are not your job title either. My identity used to be big time director of a huge ad agency. I was so proud of my companion pass I’d earned on Southwest Airlines for flying more than 100 flights in one year. If you hit that mark, you can bring a companion with you anytime on as many flights as you want for the following year. I also wore that like a badge. I travelled all over the country visiting car dealers acting like a baller, making more money than I had ever seen in my life. Until I didn’t. The recession hit. We lost clients every day. When the economy takes a turn, guess what business owners cancel first? Their advertising. And boy, did they ever. In droves. My boss asked me which clients were “red alert” (meaning which clients were we at the highest risk of losing) and I said all of them. I was terrified. I didn’t want to answer the phone because it was going to be another client cancelling. And it was. We had to fire 13 people in ONE DAY. It was one of the worst days of my life. My colleagues were my friends. We did client trips together, we did happy hours together. I even took them all to Vegas one weekend. I loved them. And I had to let 13 of them go in one day.
My marriage had already fallen apart and I was already separated from my ex-husband, so my identity as a wife was already gone. Now, I’m not a baller and I’m not making enough to pay my bills. I was 8 months late on my mortgage payment, and I moved out right before the bank sold my beautiful new home at an auction. My identity as a home owner was gone. Then they came and got my Acura MDX. My dream car. It was my prized possession. I had worked so hard to buy that car. Actually, it was a lease. My payment was $1000 a month, which was so insane at the time and one of my many bad decisions. I wanted to show that I was successful by driving the car I had always coveted. My Acura was gone. My identity as a bad ass was gone.
So who am I? I don’t run a big company, I don’t own a house, I have no money, and I have to figure out how to feed my two small kids. We are not our jobs. When our identity is wrapped up in something outside our ourselves, we crash when life changes. I crashed hard. In my room, in my rented house with the shitty carpets. A failure.
That’s not who I am, That’s just what happened. Life happens. Jobs change, incomes change, addresses change, and marriages crumble. None of those things make us who we are. If we rip away all of those things, what are we left with? When my kids move out, am I still a mom? If they don’t need me anymore, what will I do then? When they have their own homes and their own lives, I’m technically a mom, but who am I really? I’m a wife, I’m an author, I’m a blogger, I’m a business owner. Those are just roles. Those are just titles. I am a spiritual being having a human experience. I am a daughter of God. I matter not because of my titles and roles, but I matter because God made me on purpose. For a purpose. He made us all for a purpose, and he put us all here on this planet at the same time on purpose. I don’t believe in coincidences. We matter to Him. Our purpose matters. One of our purposes is to be loved and give love. I can love and serve and help others no matter how much my roles change or circumstances change. I can love and serve no matter what my face looks like or what challenges come my way.
Our experiences don’t define who we are, but we can learn and grow from them. Or we don’t. My bankruptcy doesn’t define me. My foreclosure doesn’t define me. I could still be crying in my beer because I lost everything and everyone knew it. I blew it. I wasn’t victim of a recession. I didn’t save enough. I spent too much. I bought a second home, I spent money like I was going to have millions every day forever. If I hadn’t been an idiot with my money and had saved more, I wouldn’t have lost my house nor had to file for bankruptcy. It’s so much easier to blame everyone and everything for our problems, but I was the problem. My irresponsibility was the problem. Not the economy. And I never wanted to go through any of that again, so I started over. Much more humbly, I started all over. I had my health and my kids and a job, and I just tried to focus on that. Even though I failed over and over, I practiced shifting my focus to what I HAD, instead of what I didn’t. All of those roles, titles, and challenges gave me (and give me today) incredibly rich experience. I learned a great deal. We don’t take our stuff with us, we could go bankrupt again, we could lose everything, but whatever happens, we can get through it! We can learn from it and be stronger and smarter the next day! I wouldn’t change a thing about my past. Because if you change one thing, you change everything. I never would have met John had I not gone through all of that. Had I stayed at my old company and not moved onto my new company, our paths would never have crossed. I never would have written a book, I never would have started my own business, and I wouldn’t be building my dream house right now. None of it would have happened had I not gone through all of that hell.
The other day someone asked me why I wrote my book. A few years ago, John and I were driving to the Superstition Mountains to hike, and we were listening to the Elite Man Podcast. Justin Engstrom was interviewing Kute Blackson, and he was talking about how you find your purpose. He said everyone has an innate affinity towards some group. Some people have an affinity for dogs, or the ocean or the environment, or adopted children. And immediately my brain said, “Single moms.” I know how hard it is to do everything on your own because I was one for 8 years. It is hard. And I want single moms to know that real love exists, and amazing men do exist, and you don’t have to be a single warrior for the rest of your life. And if I can help anyone transform their beliefs and their previous identities like I did, then they can also attract someone amazing. Because I didn’t attract a partner who loves me, cherishes me, and is a constant cheerleader until I released my past identities. All of them: single mom, bankrupt failure, divorcee, all of it. Those are experiences I’d never want to change. Because I learned so much from them. Those experiences don’t define us. They are just God’s way of sculpting us into the person we are meant to become. Then we can use those experiences to help others who have been through the same things.
I see you, mamas. I love you. I know you’re going through hard things, but those things aren’t YOU. You are beautiful and amazing, exactly the way you are. And all of the challenges you’re going through, even stupid ones like psoriasis, are making you stronger and even more amazing!
Wishing you lots of love,