Pressure, pressure everywhere.

Pressure, pressure everywhere.

And no end in sight!

This might not be pretty. It’s certainly not packaged all up with a beautiful bow on top. But it’s the truth.

I had a huge meltdown last night. Everything hit me all at once. I wasn’t exercising enough. I was yelling at my kids too much. I wasn’t selling enough books. I had amassed a few negative reviews. I snapped at my husband.

Then somehow my thoughts morphed into, what if I’m not saving enough money? What if I’m a horrible teacher? Why isn’t my house clean enough? What if my next book sucks?

Everything started spiraling out of control and there was nothing I could do to stop it. Nothing anyone was saying to me made sense. In short, I wouldn’t let it. Their suggestions weren’t going to calm me down do why bother letting them settle in my brain.

In a lot of ways, I feel like I have some kind of split personality disorder. And no, believe me, I’m not trying to make light of a serious mental health issue. But there are so many versions of my life I feel like there’s nothing real and tangible to hold onto.

There’s my book life:

I just released my tenth book (plus three box sets, and a few anthologies). That should be enough to put a smile on my face for days. My instant one-clickers, my loyal readers were rabid over this release. They loved what I did. Hell, I loved what I did. I was and still am very proud of my book – of all of them. Each new book I release has better sales than the previous. So why they hell am I so hard up on myself? Why do I feel like a miserable failure?

It sure as hell shouldn’t have anything to do with the public reception for my book. By far, that was huge. Blogs I never thought would even know my name read and LOVED my book. People who are not in my immediate circle bought and read my book – and loved it! But then, I give the few negative reviews more weight than the many positive reviews. Because in my mind I’ve set this ridiculous standard of needing please everyone.

And in that respect, I’ll never win.

There’s my health life:

I can say, with pretty much absolute certainty, there has not been a single day in my adult life that I have not felt like crap about the way I look. I hate my body. If I don’t find it attractive, which I don’t, then how on earth is someone else going to find me attractive? You can see where this is going to bleed into my marriage. There’s this insurmountable pressure to exercise every day (even though no matter how much I exercise I never seem to lose any weight), to eat perfectly, to never cheat, to never have a glass (or four) of wine. And then if I do cheat, if I do miss a day of exercising, I’m the worst type of human being out there. And the real kicker is that I am not a judger. I don’t care how tall, short, curvy, skinny, black, white, gay, straight you are. But then I bash myself for not fitting this pre-determined mold in my head.

My kids love me. My husband loves me. My friends love me. Why isn’t that enough? Why isn’t being a caring, kind, compassionate, funny, intelligent, loving human being enough? Why is “skinny” the pinnacle of the human condition?

Because I placed that ridiculous standard upon myself.

And in that respect, I’ll never win.

There’s my family life:

I yell way more than I want to. But my kids have developed that “oh it’s just Mom talking. I don’t really have to listen” mentality. So if I need to get their attention, I have to yell. And then when my husband gets home, he’s stressed from work and stressed because I’m stressed. And stressed because the kids are stressed (hell, who wouldn’t be if they were being yelled at all day long). You see how this is going to play out, right?

But at the end of the day, all three of my kids fight to curl up on my lap. They snuggle against me, loving me unconditionally. My husband stares at me with a dreamy look in his eyes (at which I usually snap because I don’t deserve to be looked at lovingly). Why can’t I realize that being a family is as difficult as it is rewarding? Why can’t I let the stress go at the end of the night? Why can’t I openly accept the love my family so openly wants to give me?

Because in my mind, I’m supposed to be perfect. I’m supposed to be the picture perfect mom and wife all the time – even when I wouldn’t ever expect anyone else to hold themselves to that standard.

And in that respect, I’ll never win.

Sadly, I think I could go on and on about the different lives I lead. Mom, wife, teacher, author, friend etc etc. And from the outside so many people would call me a success.

Success is a funny term though.

It’s something that needs redefining.

Success is:

Writing and getting lost in a story that I love, even if no one else ever does.

Loving my body for what it’s done for me: give me three beautiful children.

Having a crazy, insane family who loves me beyond all belief.

Success is being easier on myself and celebrating the things I have accomplished rather than wishing about all the things I might never.