I am not Melissa Urban. I am not Laura McKowen. I am not Gretchen Rubin. I am not my daughter’s best friend’s mom. I am not the dance mom who can sew or craft. I am not the woman in my recovery group who manages to sound like a fount of serenity and wisdom.
I am not her.
I am me. But what does that mean really?
I am a woman who is closer to 50 than to 40. Over time, I have amassed a myriad of roles that define me – mother, wife, nurse, volunteer, coach, writer, addict, alcoholic, survivor.
I’ve also assigned some words to myself that affect how I see myself in each one of the roles above – not enough, fat, not as funny as I think, doing it wrong, imposter, not good enough. It is these words that control me so much more than the roles I am expected to play. More than that, they stop me from really digging in deep to see how those roles really fit me (or don’t).
It is as if I am reaching for the next part of my life and a chain keeps jerking me backward. And instead of figuring out where the bolt cutters are so that I can cut the chain, I’m settling down in a nice comfy chair reading self-help books, gathering degrees and certifications, and wishing I was her.
But I am not her.
I am me. I am a woman with a shit ton of life experience. Some of my experiences have been beautiful while others have been heartbreaking. Some secrets so dark I rarely speak of them and some memories so joyful I cannot speak of them enough. All of my experiences brought me to where I am and they make me who I am.
And while I have mad love and admiration for Melissa Urban, Laura McKowen, Gretchen Rubin, and many other women, I am not them. I can learn from them, but I cannot hold my life or my being up against theirs and pass judgment on myself.
The links in that chain tell me a story – that I am an imposter and I cannot (fill in the blank) because I am not (fill in the blank). That story is a lie. I am not an imposter in my own life, my recovery, my profession, etc., etc.
I AM ME.
Being me and owning it means being present in my own life rather than wishing for someone else’s life or judging mine against theirs. It means getting out the bolt cutters, cutting the chain, and telling myself a better, truer story. Because while I still laugh at the thought of Stuart Smalley on SNL, I do think it’s important to know what really comes after the words “I am”. Knowing those things helps me stay grounded and to be…well, me.
I am enough. I am a healthy person. I am knowledgeable and experienced. I am doing it as well as I can knowing what I know. I’m not just a survivor, I am a warrior. And, I’m pretty hilarious too. I am not perfect and I don’t need to be. I am often a walking contradiction, but who isn’t really?
Above all, I am me and I am the only one who can play that role.