I know that sounds like a really stupid thing to say, but sometimes, you need to know that what you are hoping to find ISN’T ACTUALLY OUT THERE. That was something that had a very freeing effect on me. Once I found out I was tormenting myself looking for something that didn’t exist (basically uncovered the lie and realized the truth), the despair of not getting what I hoped for evaporated.
I was so consistently DISAPPOINTED. Here I was, 46 years old, and what did I have to show for myself? I was disappointed in my looks, my career, my marriage, my spiritual condition, all because I told myself I SHOULD look another way, I SHOULD have a more successful business, I SHOULD have a more romantic and idyllic marriage, and I SHOULD have an unshakeable spiritual confidence. (I don’t know what other SHOULDs you deal with, but I once knew a lady who used to say, “Don’t SHOULD on me!” I loved that. 🙂 )
Now, sometimes other people do put pressure on you to be or do something else. I have struggled with my husband’s concern for my weight (although he is also concerned for his own), his concern for me making money to earn back what I invested in building my business (and also to help support the family). But MOST of the pressure I feel is SELF-INFLICTED. I am the one doing this to myself. Why? BECAUSE I BELIEVE THE LIES PROJECTED BY THE MEDIA, and sometime well-meaning loved ones.
The media tells me I must be beautiful to be loved, admired, accepted, and successful. Even statistics prove a lot of it to be true. Most CEOs of companies are tall and handsome. Beautiful (and by my standard, that means skinny) women get jobs easier, and overweight women do not get as many promotions in comparison to skinny women.
Unfortunately, I had this brought home to me as a teenager when my father, God bless him (he was doing the best he could to help me), told me, “Penny, I just want you to know that boys like pretty girls, and, well, I just don’t want you to expect anything.” This is the phrase that threw me into my first full-blown suicidal depression at the age of 17 – along with his declaration that I looked like a football player in my jacket. )
So my self-esteem – despite being an “A” student, the highest female PSAT score in my high school, voted most talented, and even voted a “Senior Superlative” by other students – revolved around that one simple fact. I would never be loved. Ever. As my grandmother and aunt would say (in my earshot), “She’s got such a pretty face – it’s such a shame.” I was worthless, or so I thought, until one psychologist finally got me to blurt it out during a session. And that was the beginning of the healing from my first adolescent bout with depression.
Now, as an adult, I see absolutely stunning women who are not skinny. I saw Mandisa at a conference, and she is so amazingly beautiful, I couldn’t take my eyes off of her smiling face. Queen Latifah is another woman that blows away my idea of weight=beauty – well, at least for OTHER women (yes, I still struggle with that).
However, I have finally realized that my weight does NOT stop other people, including men, from loving me. My husband LOVES me – I mean REALLY LOVES me. He desires me. So I’ve given up the HOPE OF BEING SKINNY IN ORDER TO BE LOVED, because I AM ALREADY LOVED! And true to the title of this post, I feel so much better after giving up hope! 🙂
Then there is the lie that my marriage should look like a romantic comedy. There should be a happily ever after when we no longer struggle, and he isn’t dealing with chronic pain, and all of my needs (and his needs) are being met. BUT IT’S A LIE. There IS NO SUCH THING. At a marriage conference, the husband and wife leading shared that percentage-wise, their relationship was
- a struggle 10% of the time,
- luke-warm 85% of the time, and
- red-hot 5% of the time.
How’s that for an honest revelation? WHY AM I EXPECTING MY MARRIAGE TO BE 95% HOT??? If the people who make it their life’s goal to have a great marriage are luke-warm 85% of the time, who am I trying to emulate? WHAT I’M TORTURING MYSELF ABOUT DOESN’T EXIST! I know this sounds stupid, like I should know better – but my longing for MORE touch, MORE excitement, MORE passion makes me forget what I know, and makes me think that something (or SOMEONE) else out there may be able to give it to me instead. That’s another LIE.
So ever since I gave up hope for a 95% hot marriage, and accepted a marriage where my husband loves me the absolute best he can, and I stopped resenting him for not being a character in a movie, I feel much better!
Last example: one of my favorite people in the world called me and left a message saying she KNEW that there HAD to be a way to work HALF the time and make TWICE the money and love what she did. I knew how she felt – she and I are almost identical in our thinking and feelings. But I recognized the lie immediately – THERE IS NO SUCH THING.
She stays miserable with what she has because she is constantly hoping for something else that most likely doesn’t exist. I mean, she COULD do it – by becoming an Escort (if you know what I mean), but in the real world, that scenario is just not going to occur, at least, not without learning some new skills and making new contacts and doing a LOT of hard work.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I believe she needs a new, better job that she loves and makes more money. But half the work at twice the pay? It’s just my opinion, but I think she would feel MUCH better once she gave up all hope on that.
So I ask you, for what LIE do you need to GIVE UP HOPE? I encourage you to go to the Forum Thread about HOPES that you CAN achieve at http://christianwomenwithdepression.com/forum/?vasthtmlaction=viewforum&f=5.0 and write out a new list of hopes for yourself that are healthy and productive, not unrealistic and reason for beating yourself up for not achieving them.