Like Glennon and Abby
I made a mistake tonight.
After a long day of work, I sat down and opened Instagram. My husband, seated next to me, was still working. As soon as I opened the app, the mindless scrolling started. The scrolling that’s meant to be relaxing but rarely ends up relaxing my mind. After double-tapping a post or two, my eyes fell upon a video shared by Abby Wambach and Glennon Doyle. If you’re unaware of who these two rockstar women are, I encourage you to do a little research. One is an Olympian and former professional athlete (along with other really cool things), both are bestselling authors, both are incredible activists. They’re also a married couple. Like I said, rockstars. Really relatable couple for comparison, right? HA!
The sound wasn’t even playing on my phone, but I watched their talking heads bob around my screen for a moment. Before I could even catch myself, a single thought shot across my mind..
“I wish we had an Abby Wambach and Glennon Doyle marriage”.
Insane, I KNOW.
Then, I did something I immediately regretted. I looked at my husband of 5 weeks and said,
“I wish we had an Abby Wambach and Glennon Doyle marriage…”
For any currently engaged couples, future authors on healthy relationships, or generally sane human hoping to be in a committed relationship, I’d file this under the “don’t” tab. Just a suggestion.
Statements like this one, friends, come from the nasty edge of that double-edged sword we call being an achiever. It’s also evidence of exactly what happens when boundaries are not established between prime inner critic time and social media. As a self-proclaimed recovering perfectionist and achiever-type, I’ve learned the importance of guarding my own personally constructed boundaries when it comes to social media.
I never feel as insecure or inadequate as I do when I spend time on Instagram. Do you have the same experience? That sweet pop-up notification grabs my attention and pulls me into a world that never fails to hurt me. In 30 seconds, I can go from feeling proud of the good work I did during the day, or proud of my marriage, to feeling like the life I’ve built is simply not enough. This shame-storm story has a beautiful and grace-filled ending because of the amazing partner I’ve been blessed with. He called me out immediately, and reminded me of the work I’m still doing to keep my heart protected from my inner critic.
Yes, I felt ashamed of my thought process and the competition I placed myself in. Yes, my inner critic wanted to tear me apart and reduce me to self-destructive thoughts. But, if years of therapy and countless hours spent with Brene’ Brown (I read her books, I’m not actually hanging out with the Queen on the daily) have taught me anything, it’s that self-compassion is the only antidote to any shame-storm.
That’s the key: learning to love yourself. Constantly shaming yourself and seeking approval from others will yield only one result: sitting on the kitchen floor with a paper bag over your mouth to find a normal breathing pattern while recovering from an anxiety attack. Okay, maybe that was only my experience, but the point is that shame, shame, and more shame only leads to more pain.
Your perspective of yourself will change when you start to believe you’re enough as you are. Your entire life will change when you learn to identify your shame triggers and build some boundaries for yourself (or walk away entirely).
No, you’re not perfect. No one is. That insecurity you feel, that comparison trap you frequently fall into, it’s a choice. It doesn’t feel like a choice, but you can choose something else. You can choose something radical – compassion. You can make a decision to live with an intention of self-compassion. You can create an expectation for yourself that shame will no longer hold the mic during your inner monologue. You can decide that you’ve had enough and you want to create a more joyful life by simply choosing kind language when speaking to yourself.
Tyler (my husband) isn’t a soccer star and I’m not a best-selling author (yet). Tyler played rugby and football in a previous life… the soccer thing is never going to happen. I can be inspired by a marriage I see play out on social media AND feel gratitude for what I’ve been blessed with. Tyler and I have experienced our entire engagement and first weeks of marriage while confined to and quarantined in a small condo. I feel pretty confident in thinking a marriage that survives a quarantine and global pandemic is built to last, Olympic medal or not. I feel very confident in telling you that self-compassion is the single greatest antidote to any feeling of shame you’re walking through, best-selling book or not.
Marriage can be and is a practice. Compassion can be and is a practice. Take it one day at a time and lead with love. Apply that love to each relationship… especially the relationship you have with yourself.