One of the first ideas covered in Beth Moore’s study “It’s Tough to Be a Woman” is the idea that it’s tough being a woman in another woman’s shadow. Esther was coming in under the shadow left by Queen Vashti — the shadow of her beauty, her reputation, her royalty, her actions, and so on.
Honest to goodness — at the time — I felt like I couldn’t really relate. Me? In another woman’s shadow? Not me. I’m strong and independent and confident. That’s how I really felt, too. I believed it.
I was naive.
The group kicked around ideas for the women whose shadows we were in — our moms, our mother-in-laws, first wives/ex-girlfriends, women we work with, supermodels, society’s “ideal woman”, other moms, etc. OK, ok. As the list grew I could see the concept Beth was getting at a little more, but I still didn’t see it as a problem for me.
You know what? Some things are problems but we don’t even know it because living life around our problem has become “normal.”
Sure, I can see myself feeling like I am in my mother’s shadow, wanting to be as good as a mom as her, as good a wife, as good a cook, as good a working mom as she was, etc. Early on in my marriage I was in my mother-in-law’s shadow too. I didn’t cook or clean house as often or as good as she did. I was in the shadow of the woman my late husband was with before me — he was with her for three years and they were engaged to be married. A relationship that long and that close left a shadow. There are the shadows of the women in David’s life before me — his wife of seven years and fiancee from two years ago.
The thing is this: I can’t let any of those shadows get to me, and right now they do. I have to be me and be OK with that. Not even just be OK with that. I have to own being me. I will not mother the same way my mom does or clean the same way my mother-in-law did. I read a blog post yesterday about owning things, like owning how we feel and not being sorry all the time. I want to own my own mothering style and my own cleaning style as opposed to feeling inferior by comparing myself to how someone else does it. I want to own my relationship and be me in that relationship and not be someone else.
Being able to do that means having self-confidence. I have to like myself — love myself even — and right now I don’t. Right now I’m stuck thinking that I’m not as good, not as attractive, not as smart, not as funny, not as fun, not as free, not as _____.
I wouldn’t be able to say “I’m not as _____” as someone else if I wasn’t comparing. So that’s got to be the first thing to go. Stop comparing myself to others.
Like I’ve been talking about with the posts about lovely things, I need to see myself differently. See myself as pretty and smart and funny and fun. Because I am. David once said in a conversation about this that it’s insult to him for me to say negative things about myself because I’m putting down the person he loves and adores. Well, he may not have said the word “adores.” I may have thrown that one in there. But I’m trying to think more positive about myself, so if I want to think he adores me, that should be OK, right? ;)
I’ll be honest and say it’s hard for me. It’s very hard, in fact. I struggle. A lot. David can testify. I desire to be the best and the prettiest and the first, yet I feel the worst and unattractive and inferior.
It’s a problem.
It’s a problem I’m trying to tackle. Writing about it here is helping me do that. So thanks for your patience as God continues to make this big ol’ lump of clay into something beautiful and something he can be proud of and use.