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Friday, 16 March 2012

7. The C-word

Everyone wants it.  Magazines and books keep sharing secrets of how to get it.  Companies tout their wares claiming you will get it if you bought what they have to sell.  Many people walk and talk as if they have it.  Confidence. 

Recently, a well-meaning friend asked why despite having everything going for me, my ‘beauty’, “great friends, wonderful hubby, fab kids” I lacked “a lot of confidence”, pointing out that most women would kill to be in my shoes.

Sigh.  I have a complicated relationship with “confidence”.  On occasions when I have received my quota of Zzzzzz’s, had my work-out, and feel very organised, I wear confidence like a slinky second skin.  On those OTHER days, however, that part of my personality fails to make an appearance like a missing guest-of-honor at his own surprise party.  When my GF (and no, it does not stand for Girl Friday but girlfriend) sent me the concerned note about the missing quality in my otherwise sparkling personality, I must confess I started crying. 

Am I so transparent that she saw through my insecurities through a few pieces of prose I had invited her to critique?  How can that be?  I had not written about the boy who used to punch me in the stomach and face if I did not allow him to spit in my mouth -- of how I would feel so stupid (for being a coward) and dirty afterwards.  Neither did I write about the derogatory profanity that served as a cane to whip and belittle me -- continuing until I finally left the family home for good.  Of birthdays that went uncelebrated with no cakes, presents nor parties.  Or the humilation I felt one Christmas, as eyes stinging with uncried tears, I unwrapped my lone present - a packet of Twisties - whilst my siblings cried out excited shouts of joy at their gifts.  “Fat, ugly and stupid” were corrosive taunts fed to me on a daily drip.

I was the girl who never spoke up because nobody bothered to hear me.  Never protected myself against the abuse hurled at me from all sides because it would only get worse if I did.  I was the girl who had nobody to turn to and there was not one person there for me.  Better to just curl up in a ball and say nothing.  Why?  Because I had begun to believe I was worthless.

Okay, enough of the oh-my-so-tragic-childhood!  Just give me a moment whilst I put away my violin – truth be told, at the end of the day, yes it was a lousy childhood but there are millions who had it considerably worse than me.  But yes, my GF is correct.  If you looked up “confidence” in the dictionary, you would never see a picture of me beaming back at you.

Yes, I can do certain things with confidence.  Walk into a room full of strangers and strike up a conversation.  Get my daughters to giggle at how silly their mom is.  Convince Matt that I am always right, even when I’m wrong (sorry Matt!).  Top up your glass and make sure you don’t leave our home hungry.  Recite the alphabet from a to z.  AND, whenever I put on a pair of heels, with those magic extra few inches -- I become the epitome of  Miss Confidence!   Must be the fresh air up there!

My self-assurance does however teeter dangerously on the edge of hysterical confusion at other times.  My mothering skills.  If I am interesting enough to myself and others.  Do I set a good example for my children with my choices and actions?  Am I fulfilling my destiny? Am I making the right decisions.  The catalog is painfully long so I won’t bore you any further with it!

I know I have much to work on with so many chips on my not-so-broad shoulders and my thin skin needs toughening up.  But its okay.  It keeps me busy (and out of trouble!).   Taking baby steps, one at a time, I know I will have relapses now and again but will try to show myself  kindness and be patient with myself. 

They say Rome wasn’t built in a day; so let’s just agree I’m a work-in-progress.  Meanwhile, I will just have to find a way to keep my heels on without getting a permanent backache!!



  1. I relate so completely I always say it has been tough but damn it could have been a whole lot tougher I am lucky to have not had it worse :o)

  2. Your best one yet, GF! I ask myself all the same questions every day and find myself wanting every time. It's hard to love yourself, that's for sure. But, as ever, knowing that you are not alone goes some way to soothing the hurt. xoxo

  3. For someone who has had to experience those terrible things though, which I know were not warranted at all, I think you're amazing! Thankfully you've surrounded yourself with fabulous people who will remind you of how special you really are. Don't forget it!

  4. Sorry for making you cry:( I love you for who you are my dear friend..if it helps, I am exactly the same. Hard exterior, loud belligerence and a smug arrogance is a thin guise for my lack of confidence too. Treading life day to day surrounded with the people I love who don't judge me arbitrarily heals me gradually. You will get there hon.

  5. how did you get in my head?! haha
    from the comments above, i surmise that LOC is a common malady (egad! how odd that that term is so closely tied to the female gender!). thanks for this piece though, its vulnerability is not lost on me & its honesty is inspiring.
    p/s good on you, jo! i was guessing that it might've been u. just like you to tell it like it is, & love that it came from a place of love too :)

  6. Hi everyone,
    Really sorry I have been 'quiet' on the comments. I wasn't sure whether or not I was supposed to respond or if this section was solely for feedback from everyone else.

    This was by far the hardest piece I had to write as I wanted to write something positive out of something quite difficult.

    I thank you SO so much for your kind words.. I have re-read them all a million times, and get choked up at the warmth and compassion in your words..

    I hope my future pieces will continue to either make you laugh or touch your heart.

    x Me