Everyone thinks I am perfect. I don't!

Everyone thinks I am perfect. I don't!

QUESTION:

your avatar   Lunanueva (32 year-old woman) from Uraguay

Hi! I am a full time secretary earning more than the average salary. I have three small kids and a loving husband. Everyone says that they envy me because I am able to handle everything. But there is something missing in my life.

I couldn't finish my career as a lawyer and now working as a secretary makes me feel so stupid. I am not sure what to do. To end my career as a lawyer sounds silly but I hated to study law. I did it because of my parent's pressure.

I would love to do something related to arts but I am not sure what. Besides I have no time and my husband is not very supportive. He insists that what I am doing OK! I want MORE and to feel happy with myself. I hate it when someone with less studies than me hands me some work to do while I know that I could have done it better!! It's really hard.

Thank you for your help!!! P.S. I would love to find in your tests a vocational test or some counseling on professions.

Do I have any possibilities to feel good about myself?

ANSWER:

    Brenda Kofford, LMHC

Dear Lunanueva,

From your background description, I gleaned that you are an adult female who is juggling the varied responsibilities of wife, mother, daughter, and employee, who is in the developmental stage known as "family with young children," who sees her spouse as "loving", and who may keep her feelings and thoughts safely tucked behind a social mask.

Even though your life is full, I hear a message of personal emptiness "I want MORE and to feel happy with myself." When you begin to explore what may fill this emptiness, you find that there is a creative aspect of yourself that is yearning to be expressed. Yet, when you look to your spouse for validation, you find that he doesn't view your life through a similar lens. You also find yourself directing your feelings of anger towards your co-workers.

You wrote that at one time you had invested your energy into law; yet found that you did not like studying law. I am confused about your movement towards and away from law and how you see that connected to your parents due to the spelling of a word as "pression."

The strengths I found in your writing is in the awareness that your feelings and thoughts (feeling stupid... and know I could have done better than that) are more about yourself than the others and in the seed of self awareness, "I would love to do something related to arts..." It is my thought that the striving for something more at this time fits in the suggestion that during their 20's people are generally invested in doing what they "think they are supposed to do." The 30's seemingly have individuals question what they have been about and where they would like to direct their energy. So, it is my thought that the feelings and thoughts you are experiencing may be a common experience for many women.

When I read your use of the words, "stupid, sounds silly" and find yourself unsupported by your spouse and experiencing negative feelings and thoughts while you are at work, I found myself thinking of the Greek myth of Phineus.

Phineus was a man who, because of his gift of prophecy, had been banned to an island by Zeus after he openly spoke about what he foresaw. In addition to this inability to leave this island, there were Harpies who would swoop down from the sky and foul his meals.

When Jason and his fellow Argonauts found Phineus, he welcomed them gladly and with hope. Through his gift of prophecy he knew that with Jason were two men, the wind-swift sons of the North Wind, who would overcome the Harpies. Yet, when these two men began to attack the Harpies, Iris, the rainbow messenger of the gods, requested that the Harpies not be killed and promised that they would never again foul Phineas' food.

This story leads me to thinking about how certain children in families, because of their gender, their birth order, or the anxiety the family struggled with during specific times, has them become "special children." These children often have a gift of prophecy. That is, they develop a sensitivity to the emotional environment of the family, they known of things unspoken, and take responsibility for easing one or both parent's anxiety.

So as adults, in their early twenties, their actions/thoughts/feelings may be invested in trying to walk in their parent's shoes, fulfill a parental dream, or rebelling by doing something opposite. What this may bring about is a woman who finds herself bound on an island and hungry for self nourishment. Yet, when she begins to fulfill her own needs, her Harpies (her critical thinking, negative feelings, and anxiety) come rushing in and foul that which is before her.

An interesting thought that comes with Iris' request that the Harpies not be destroyed is found in the value of one's own Harpies -- the messengers of denial, the blockage of open communication, the craziness of conflictual values, principles, and beliefs, the seeking of external validation -- that they are messengers that need to be confronted and understood. In what way could a confrontation with a woman's Harpies be the birthing of clearly thought out and self-defined principles, beliefs, and values?

How can you bring to more clarity your wish to do something related to the arts? What creativity could you bring forth to create a dream board, a space that through writing, drawing, music, sewing, etc., you could allow yourself to artistically speak to yourself more clearly and definitively about what it is that is within yourself.

When your Harpies come to foul your dream board, artistically include them on your dream board. Confront them with an artistic expression of their opposites. Let the dream board develop into an ongoing reflection of who you wish to be and who you are. Question how your dream board could come to fruition. What are the slivers of actions that you could incorporate into your life that would begin to move you towards the realization of your dream board? When can this artistic aspect of you begin to come to fruition? Where would it be expressed? How would your investment in the arts meet your needs? Who would tremble and react to your dream board? How would their trembling and reacting affect your dream?

You inquired about vocational testing. My experience with career testing is that it provides information about what careers people choose who test similar to me. So, before you move towards testing, why not become more clear about your own values, principles, and beliefs. Take time to define yourself more clearly with yourself, with your spouse, and with your family of origin. Then explore testing.

Allow yourself to dream with thoughtful, present, bliss.

I hope your journey allows you to meet, acknowledge, and embrace yourself. I believe that it is the living moment by moment in the present, the sum of the daily pieces of our lives, that create the whole of a woman.

Brenda Kofford, LMHC

Don't depend on other people to make you happy. Spend more time discovering all the things that bring you joy.
"A mind is like a parachute, it doesn't work if it isn't open."
Frank Zappa
The best lessons are those we learned the hard way.
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