I think I have spent most of my adult life trying to fight Insecurity. But Insecurity is really just a terrified little girl who fears that people don’t hear her, understand her, like her, accept her, approve of her. How can I fight that? Insecurity is not bad, she’s just afraid. She is afraid that she is wrong, that she’ll look or sound stupid, that she will be misunderstood. She shows up, uninvited, at the most inconvenient times, to the most inappropriate places. Places where you’d think she’d steer clear of, simply because there should be no place for her there. But she finds a little crack in the door, makes herself really small and squeezes right on in, somehow, making herself known. And she doesn’t always look the same, either. Some days she’s wearing the “my kids like their dad better than their mom” hat. On other days, she dons the “I can’t seem please my parents” sash, or worse, the “my husband is getting tired of my baggage” shoes. On really bad days, she’s got the “my students don’t like me” shirt on. Those days are really bad, because the office is the one place where you usually feel pretty secure. She’s that little girl at the party that no one invited, but she comes on in to look around anyway. People see her but since she’s not really doing anything wrong, they leave her alone. They even feel sorry for her because she’s all alone and looks adorably pitiful. But the longer the party goes on, the more she dislikes being ignored, and so she starts to draw attention to herself, in small, mostly discrete, ways. She knocks a glass over, or bumps into the tv, making the picture go fuzzy – and that drives you crazy, since you spent an hour working on the antenna to make it just perfect. Since a little bit of naughty isn’t really enough to get a response, she’ll take to extremes. In the end, she wreaks havoc. But it’s not her fault, and you can’t really scream at her, or fight her or throw her out on her behind, which is what you really want to do. Instead, you sit down with her and talk with her about why what she is doing is not really that great an idea, and that it ends up being more destructive than anything else. She opens her big eyes, nods her head, lets you know that she is really listening to you. Then she thanks you for taking the time to talk to her. She’s very polite. You don’t even have to show her to the door. She gets up and walks to it on her own. And she was kind of charming in a way, so you’d almost like to hug her as she leaves. And as she does leave, she turns back toward you and smiles a little smile that breaks your heart because you know that even though she understood what you have told her, the attention you gave her was really nice. And sooner or later she’ll be back for another round.
Sometimes she seems to come around a little more than usual. Like now. We’re at the close of what has been a really long school year, and I am tired. But I’m always tired this time of year. My kids are missing their dad a lot – he travels for a living; it’s literally his job. And you can’t go from having a break from mommy every other weekend to suddenly being with mommy for two straight weeks and still liking her as much – it’s simply not possible for a mother and three children to spend so much time together and not want to pick the occasional fight. Truth is, I’d like to send them away some nights, but I don’t for fear that child services might not agree with me sending 6, 8, and 10 year olds off on their own. They are smart kids – they’d be fine. But I don’t really want to get in trouble, so on those nights when I really get fed up, I keep them home and scream at them instead. As for my folks, well, I’m not sure you can be an only child to two aging parents and not have them need you all of the time. That said, I can’t be there all of the time (I’m too busy screaming at my kids), so the push and pull starts to wear me down a little. And then, when I start to moan, I can hear my husband think to himself “oh quitcherbitchin”. So I go upstairs to bed and as I turn out the light, I see her, Insecurity, sitting quietly in the rocking chair by the window. She watches me as I sleep, and when I get up in the morning, she’s emptied out all of the clothes from the dresser drawers onto the floor and she’s starting to work on the closet. Unfortunately, she followed me to work today, too, and the security guards thought she was a student so they let her in. So, here we go again. I guess it’s time she and I had another chat.