Finding Me

Most of you are either married, been married, or have been in a serious relationship. A lot of us are moms. Being in a relationship, any relationship, changes you. It can change who you are. Being a mom changes you to your core. It can actually change your innermost being. And when these changes occur, most of the time we - as wives, women, and moms - tend to lose ourselves. Do we mean to do it? No. Do our significant others set out to sabotage who we really are? No. Do our children lie in their beds at night and think of ways to take over our lives? Maybe, but I don’t really think so. It just happens. Gradually. And then one day, we look back and say, “Where did that girl go?” And we wonder how on earth to get her back.

There are two words that I use on a weekly, and sometimes daily, basis. One is “WORTH” and the other is “LESS.” On their own, these words can mean so many things: happy things, exciting things, and sometimes sad things. But put them together and we unfortunately get a word that a majority of us have used to describe ourselves at one point or another in life. WORTHLESS. We can feel that way when our husbands throw their clothes on our clean floor. We can feel that way when our kids declare that our dinners are disgusting. We can feel that way when we look in the mirror and the woman staring back at us looks tired and worn, her hair no longer long and flowing, but rather perched upon her head like a bird's nest. Wait, are those crow's feet to go along with the nest? How can we find our way back to the woman we were when it was just us?

The woman that I just described was me a year ago. I'm so tired. Has anyone seen my husband? Wait, is this yet another medical bill? When was the last time I combed my hair? Is that a unibrow? Who is this person staring back at me? It was very hard for me to see this version of myself in the mirror because I used to always take good care of myself. I didn’t leave my house unless I was, in my eyes, perfection. See this picture? This is me as a college co-ed sorority girl. Yes, that shirt is completely sheer and yes, perhaps I did in fact get those Mardi Gras beads hanging behind me the “proper” way. I was fun, I went out almost every night, met tons of guys, and one of those happened to be “the guy.” Over the five years that we dated, I went from being a perfectly coiffed sorority girl, to an off-roading, camping gal who worked on trucks with him. Why bother doing my nails when they would just break and chip? Why get dolled up? I’ve already got him. Don’t get me wrong, I had a blast. They were some of the best times of my life. But I slowly became a different person. I became a teacher, a wife, and (praise God) a mommy to three of the most amazing little boys. Over the past 15 years, I’ve gone from being the fun blonde collecting Mardi Gras beads, to a mommy rocking some jean capris and a lot of extra weight. I went from being just funny, to being funny at my own expense because if I could make fun of myself first, then no one else would judge my appearance. 

Recently the movie Sisters came out. I saw it four times and I laughed just as hard every time. There’s a line in the movie that I just love. Maya Rudolph’s character, Brinda, delivers it after being thrown out of the “popular girls” party for the third time. She says, “Somewhere along the line you decided that I was a No. So guess who else decided that I was a No? Me!”

For a long time, I looked at this picture with sadness, longing for who I was. Actually, not who I was but what I looked like. I had become a “no.” I felt “less than” even though I now have so much more. And I’m much more fulfilled now than I was back then. I thought I wasn’t worth working on. I so wanted to get back to that girl but I believed that time, gravity, three C-sections and Haagen Dazs had all but squashed that dream. So I decided to take baby steps.

It started with my skin, taking two minutes out of the day to put me first. I wanted to try and reverse the damage to my face (thanks to many sleepless nights and the hot Florida sun). Then something great started happening. My skin made me look refreshed and I felt good about my face, so I decided to get my hair done. My hair looked so nice when it was done, that I started to take the time to do it. My husband started noticing that I finally found that hair brush that I lost years ago, so he left me some money one morning with a note that said to go buy what makes me feel pretty. Notice he didn’t say to go buy something sexy for him, but rather go and buy things that made ME feel pretty. So I did. I bought the cutest clothes and (gasp!) accessories. So now I’m feeling pretty good about myself here. Granted, my body will never be the same as the good old days. But for now, at least I’m feeling pretty with what I’ve got to work with.

Oddly enough, me feeling good about myself then spilled over into my home. It felt good to take care of the dishes before I went to bed. It felt good to take pride in my home knowing that someone could just pop over unannounced and that 75% of the time I could invite them in without feeling embarrassed. I started putting myself out there more. I became more involved at school, at church, and with my husband’s business. All because I felt good about myself. All because I decided that this being who God so lovingly made was someone who deserved to be put first, even for just a couple of minutes a day. All because I could finally look in the mirror and say that I was worth it. Now when I look in the mirror, I don’t see crow's feet. I see my happiness scars. Lines on my face that are there from laughter and millions of smiles. I don’t see stretch marks, I see timelines of when my boys were in my belly. I don’t see “less” anymore. I’m not worth less than anybody else because I’m “just a mom,” or because I have a muffin top, or because my hair doesn’t look as good as hers, or because her kids behave better than mine. I’m not worth less to God than the mom who has the time to sit in silence with God while she studies the Bible. I’m worth the same. I’m loved the same. God hears me. God sees me. God loves me and He allowed me to finally look in the mirror and hear Him say, “You might have lost yourself along the way, but look at how much I’ve blessed you with. And I can’t wait for you to see what’s in your future. You’re so worth it.”

Brooke is warrior mama to three rambunctious boys, wife to an honest, hardworking man, daughter to one of the greatest humans our great God ever created, and friend to anyone who talks to her. She's has been dubbed "the most inappropriate friend." She lives for a good belly laugh and to bring laughter to others - laughter feeds her soul. She loves the outdoors (not like hiking or rock climbing - she's not that cool - more like standing in the sunshine listening to nature!) and she finds God in the simple things.