Tuesday, February 1, 2011

In Which My Ugly Comes Out

Remember the vulnerability I talked about earlier? About how I feel the need to open up a little more, expose myself a little more on the blog?

Well, here goes. My first attempt at increased vulnerability.

I ruined Blissdom for myself.

But Shelly, what do you mean? You made it seem like you had a really great time in your previous posts.

And here’s the part where I have to explain myself. I DID have a great time at Blissdom. I learned a few things. I was challenged to write with authenticity. And, best of all, I met some really wonderful people.

But still, I was ruined, in a way, because I allowed myself to go into the weekend with a bad attitude, and I stayed in a funk all weekend.

Hopefully, people who met me didn’t notice . . . too much . . . or else they were too kind to say anything. But I’m sure I conveyed a “standoffishness” that isn’t really me. At all. (I’ll let people who really know me chime in about that.)

But here’s the thing. I had been having a difficult couple of weeks prior to Blissdom. Winter and I are not on the best of terms, and emotionally I was feeling frail at best when I left for Nashville. Also, my grandmother had been sick and we were all waiting for her homegoing (which occurred this morning, but more about that later). So that was nagging at my brain before I left as well.

And then there is that old, ugly beast called Insecurity which I let transform me into a totally different person all weekend. I knew I was doing it—holding back, withdrawing, not reaching out—and yet I felt powerless to stop it. The Beast got the best of me, and I am not proud.

All weekend long I listened to terrible thoughts that sounded like this:

I want to be a big blog with more than 100 followers.

I want people to look at my name badge and say, “Oh, hey! I was hoping to meet you!” instead of looking at my name badge and then looking quickly away.

I want people to look at me and see a hip, middle-aged mom who has it all together. (I so do not.)

I want to write for a big-name website.

Oh my pride, it is so big.

Those thoughts (and worse) ate at me all weekend until I just couldn’t take it anymore. I felt so out of my element at Blissdom, so unlike myself, so unsure of myself, that I’m sure I didn’t come across in the most positive light.

It made me mad that I was having these thoughts. I know the truth about myself. I speak to women about these truths, and yet I could not stop the insecurity beast from attacking me. All. Weekend. Long.

Finally, on Friday, I texted my husband and said, “I just want to be home NOW!” and he texted back and said, “Why don’t you?” And just like that I switched my flight from Sunday morning to Saturday morning. I had to get away. From myself and from the beast called Insecurity.

B picked me up at the airport, and I don’t think I’ve ever loved the sight of him more. We talked long and hard throughout the drive home and a delicious lunch date about what I wanted to get out of the weekend, what I want for my blog, and what I want out of life. It was good to debrief in this way.

That night we headed over to the college to watch a basketball game. There we sat—B, Abby, Maggie, and me—in a crowded gym (Kate was there too, sitting with her friends) with our neighbors and friends from church all around us, and I finally was able to relax. For the first time in several days I felt truly happy. And I realized . . . this is where I belong.

This is where people know me best.

This is where I can be myself.

This is where I feel loved and accepted.

This is where I want to be.

Not that I won’t ever go away from home or to another conference, but if I do it will be totally different. I will go in with a different perspective and a different attitude. I’ll go in mentally prepared, unlike this time.

On Sunday morning, as I sat with the junior high girls during our Sunday School class, we sang this song and it touched me so deeply. Because I knew, as I sang these words, that I had forgotten to do this one really important thing before I went to Blissdom. I had forgotten to let God just reign in me.

Reign In Me

Over all the earth
You reign on high
Every mountain stream
Every sunset sky
But my one request
Lord my only aim
Is that you reign in me again

Lord reign in me
Reign in your power
Over all my dreams
In my darkest hour
You are the Lord of all I am
So won’t you reign in me again

Over every thought
Over every word
May my life reflect
The beauty of my Lord
You mean more to me
Than any earthly thing
So won’t you reign in me again



  1. I'm sorry you felt so bad. Satan has a nasty way of worming his way in to our minds! I certainly thought you looked like a hip, (middle-aged?-I don't like that), mom! Even if you don't have quite as many readers as you would like, those of us who do read you love you! So, keep up the good work!!

  2. Wait - did I write this, or did you? Sounds ALL so familiar!! :) And honestly, I have more than 100 followers, and pretty much NO ONE knew who I was. Some pretended to know, and a small handful of girls knew I was coming and we met in person, but I got more blank expressions than anyone. As I told Cory, "I was a little fish in a big pond."

    Let's just decide that we're happy to be who we are. No more comparing! Pinky swear!

    And next time, let's get our act together and MEET! :)

  3. That's exactly why I have always let "life get in the way" of my going. I have a great, great deal of insecurity and abject FEAR. You know what my biggest fear is about blogging conferences? That people won't like REAL ME like they seem to like BLOG ME. That they'll think I'm a fraud, because I'm shy and I can't think and talk at the same time, so normally I'm pretty quiet (and not at all funny) except with people who know me very well.

    I totally empathize. I like... no I LOVE ... what you learned from it. Seems like we have to learn that one thing so many times, doesn't it?

    You are awesome and I've only known you for a short while via blog, but I love you already! xo

  4. I could have just as easily written the same post, Shelly. We are ALL insecure at our core- like middle school girls. I think more people recognized me there for my business than my blog!! If at all!! Good grief- my blogging is so sad these days and I most definitley felt like I didn't belong and/ or wasn't contributing to the community. But then I let that go and decided to just have fun with friends.I don't think I ever let it completely go (knowing that other people have more readers/ writings/ followers/ adoration, etc), but I gave it the good college try. And you were fantastically wonderful to see and chat with in person! It made me so happy to see you!! Love you, sista! Keep up the great work and doing what you're doing. Raw, honest and real- that's the you that stands out!

  5. I so appreciate this vulnerability. Adding myself as a follower, and praying that God will give you peace about your blog. I enjoy reading. :)

  6. Do you know why I clicked over to your blog just now? Because I'm writing my Blissdom recap and one of my main regrets about the whole conference is that I didn't get to spend more time with you. Seriously. You can read it as soon as I (finally) finish the post. I looked for you and couldn't find you on Friday. Blissdom makes me feel the SAME WAY. And I really think people DID notice my funk. (I hope not, but I don't know how they could have missed it.) I can't wait until the stars align and we can just spend time visiting and sharing. Without the crazy.

  7. I'm not really a big fan of Christian Aguilera's, but do you know what came to my mind as I read this?

    Hey sister
    Go sister
    Go sister
    Go sister
    Hey sister
    Soul sister
    Soul sister
    Soul sister. . .

    Okay, now you'll have that song in your head, too.

    Parallel lives, ours, right? Guess what my biggest, biggest struggle is? Has always been?

    Insecurity. We're tight, Insecurity and I. Been together for 47 years.

    I feel your pain. And I'm excited to watch you triumph over it.

  8. Ah - you have nailed something we all share. I agree with Hillary that we are all insecure to some degree - some days more than others- some places more than others. I'm so sorry you didn't have fun. When I didn't see you tweeting I suspected as much. Your blog will always be one of my favorites. And I plan to come to Chicago and let you show me your town someday and we'll make our own blissdom.

    So sorry about your grandmother. It is a tearing of the heart to say goodbye to a generation. Hugs.

  9. P.S. Singing with Richella
    Hey sister
    Go sister
    Go sister
    Go sister
    Hey sister
    Soul sister
    Soul sister
    Soul sister. . .

  10. I have a friend who always pulls away when we get in a big group of people...like she doesn't know me. I think your post gave me some insight into why she does that. Thanks.

    I think we've all been there with wanting to be in the "in" crowd and look like we have it all together. The truth is nobody does. Love your blog :)

  11. Shelly, I wouldn't downplay how much your emotions about your grandmother's illness colored everything. I felt like that at Homecoming because of my mother-in-law's illness (she died two weeks later), and worry about my daughter's international travel problems. Nothing felt good or right and I spent most of the time huddled with the people I knew best.

    Don't worry--you are definitely a hip mom (perhaps middle-aged, too, but I am refusing to admit that since we are the same age). Better yet, you have a husband who tells you to come on home when you need some emotional support.

  12. So true, Tracy! He is pretty awesome! :) Sorry to hear about your mother-in-law. We didn't know about that.

  13. When I am tired, away from home, preparing for a time of grief or whatever . . . my old patterns can rise to the top. It doesn't negate the real changes that I have made . . . but it does always throw me for a loop.

    Glad you came home to loving arms, but I am so sad to hear that you lost your grandmother today. I am praying for you.

    Your blogging friend . . . who thinks you are hip.


  14. I love your transparency here. I've felt the same way in similar situations. What a demon that is! But I think just fessing up to it and owning it diffuses it some too. I really appreciate you sharing this post. From the responses you got, looks like other people do too. I suppose we're all just middle school girls at heart. I've had my middle school moments this week myself.

    Love you!

  15. Awesome transparency... I would love to go to a conference like that but would be sooooo lost and alone. I can be very shy in situations like you have described where I am such a small fish.
    Thanks so much for sharing! This made me feel like I am not alone.

  16. The thing is, though...you ARE a hip mom!

  17. This makes me think of Beth Moore's book So Long Insecurity. It's a quick read, but there were a few great thoughts in there on this issue. A verse -- Proverbs 31:25 -- stood out to me about being clothed with strength and dignity.
    BTW, that's my husband's comment on here if you can't tell! :-)

  18. I don't care how big someone is, how much confidence they seem to have or how many people flock to them...it's in all of us (as women)to measure ourselves against the appearances of others. It's a nasty little habit and one that feels impossible to break.
    It takes a lot to admit it though.

    Thank you for this post. Thank you for admitting that it wasn't perfect for you. Thank you for admitting that you felt out of place.
    Thank you for admitting what probably 95% of all us felt.

  19. I'm sorry to read that you didn't have the time you expected to at Blissdom. I love that you and your hubby were able to connect after and you were able to bounce your ideas and feelings off him. Great that you recognized quickly how/why/what you were feeling. Things like that have a way of sticking and haunting. Have you read Beth Moore's So Long Insecurity book? It is soooooo good. I think every woman over the age of 13 should read it. It didn't "cure" me, but I seem to be able to recognize the ugly monster a little more quickly.
    I am so thankful I found your blog. I love reading little glimpses of you!

  20. Amen! I just realized I've got "So Long Insecurity" sitting on my bookshelf and I have yet to read it. Your post has reminded me - I think it's time.
    Stay warm!

  21. Shelly, thank you for sharing your vulnerability. I believe we all can relate to your feelings and encounter them many times in our lives. I hope they don't stop you from continuing to strive to meet your goals. You are a beautiful person with much to share. God has a lot of plans to work through you.


  22. Shelly, I wish I had "visited" with you (my Nashville way of saying hung out and chatted) at the Therapon dinner Friday. It was SO loud and although I consider myself an extrovert it really was overwhelming. Actually I love love Blissdom as my hometown conference but being around that many people can make us all feel overwhelmed.

    Don't be too hard on yourself...we all insecurities. I have been blogging for 5 years and STILL find myself way too critical of myself.

    Sending you love from Nashville!

  23. Shelly,
    Thank you for the strength that you showed in being so authentic. What you shared resonated with me as well... you also made me feel as if I am not alone. The truth really does set us free and so many of us struggle with the same insecurities and fears of just not being "enough".

    I always enjoy reading your blog and I think that your willingness to be authentic and vulnerable with your readers is just one thing that makes you and your blog so special.

  24. Funny, cuz I spent all weekend at home wishing I was at Blissdom. :) I could have linked arms with you, girl and we could have been smalltime bloggers TOGETHER!

  25. Shelly, I did not pick up on those feelings at all! To be honest, I was experiencing some of the same thoughts. I'm trying to write my own recap right now, figuring out the best words for a complex experience. I'm glad I went but I've decided that blog conferences just aren't for me. As I've written though, you were one of the highlights for me and I'm glad we met.

  26. Don't be too hard on yourself. Sometimes life offers us lessons we have no intention of learning at the time. You were meant to go thru this so you could learn more about yourself. And you survived!