Sometimes people judge us with an obvious word or a look, and there is no mistake about what they are saying. In those cases I think it's a good idea to stand up for ourselves and defend our reasons for doing what we are doing which the other person clearly disagrees with. But most of the time it's much more subtle than that, and right now I'm learning to stop rushing in with my fists held high, and try to let it all go.
It's very hard. My instinct is to fight and draw blood; to argue or even to apologize. Anything but to ignore. This blogging process has taught me so much about speaking my ideas without fear of reprisal, particularly when I know it will upset people, and the process of coming out from under the long shadows of others has been liberating and refreshing, as well as painful and frightening.
Developing a thicker skin with people has been excellent for my writing, but it has exacted a price on my relationships. It's not challenging to protect yourself from things that don't really bother you anyway. It's the areas you are ultra sensitive about that cause you to feel the knife go in and twist.
To others, I'm sure it's no big deal to stay home and hibernate for a day when it's minus 41 outside. To me it was huge. I've never done that before. Ava could have gone to school and so could've William. The fact that I kept them home was intentional, and brazen for me who follows the rules to the letter. I listened to that still, small voice, which never steers me wrong if I will only be brave enough to listen, and recognized that we needed a day to unwind, relax and regroup.
It was glorious. Like an unexpected vacation from responsibilities that you had no intention of taking, but you recognize in the middle of it how good it is for your soul. Puttering and resting and staying in PJ's all day when you are supposed to be at other things felt great on one hand, and off-puttingly strange on the other. When it got to bedtime for the kids and I had to teach a writing class in my home, I felt light and happy and rested. It was a foreign feeling.
When everyone left, it hit me that I had flaked out for the day, and I was instantly terrified of what others would think of me. I'm so desperate for support from other people for my decisions, and I must stop looking to others to define how I should feel. That is the way that insanity lies. I am in control of how I feel, not other people. Everyone will have an opinion on what I do, but my opinion is the one that counts for myself, and I must find ways to become stronger in this area.
I will judge others, and they will judge me, and I am ultimately responsible for how I feel. When I'm supported, I feel great. When I perceive I'm being judged, I'm tired of feeling lousy and stressed. I can't read into comments and non-comments and Facebook statuses any more. It's my problem when I search between the lines and find criticisms of me, that may or may not be there. If they are there, I must ignore them, and continue to feel good about following that still, small voice, and if they aren't there, I don't need to waste my time worrying about nothing.
The whole world is not about me, and my confidence level should not be attached to what others think and say. The good news is that I am in charge of my own feelings, and I must take better care at managing how judged I can feel. Confidence comes from inside of me, and not any outside source.