Parable of the Paperclip

Parable of the Paperclip

I think there is an epidemic of women, especially mothers who don’t value themselves enough.  I should know I am one of them.

Before I had children, I was a pretty confident lady.  I made decisions quickly and rarely second guessed myself.  This obviously has little to do with valuing oneself, but it is hard to know the difference when you are young.

When I started having kids I was fortunate enough to be able to stay home with them.  This is when everything really went downhill.  I started sacrificing; mind, body and spirit.  It is hard to find value in yourself when you are covered in poop and barf, listening to twinkle, twinkle and watching Blue’s Clues.  But what do you do? My kids need me and they needed to come first.  As I added more kids, things got busier and more complicated and I really only think of them and what they need.

I then started in on the guilt. I yell too much, my house isn’t clean enough, I didn’t make a balanced enough meal…all these thoughts really didn’t help me find value in myself.  But I have humans to raise and teach. In my eyes I was doing a very mediocre job.

One day, I was listening to a Podcast and the speaker spoke of creating a list of things that I enjoyed doing or talents or creative outlets.  I could not think of one thing.  Not, anything that wasn’t mildly dishonest, I could list a bunch of things that made me look good, or things that I “should” like to do (does anyone really, really enjoy cooking?) After spending years and years focusing on others and being absorbed by these precious children of mine, I couldn’t remember or connect to who I really was.  I didn’t really realize that, but it comes… later.

At this point in my life, all of my kids were in school for seven hours a day.  I was left with my thoughts and my inadequacies and I didn’t like it.  I filled my time with frivolities and who knows what else.  But I felt empty.  One day I was with Ruthie and April, when Ruthie and I decided to take a training to become a Doulas.  I was excited and for the first time in a while, I felt like I was going to do something worthwhile and just for me!  So dangerous!

On the last day of the training our instructor passed around a bowl filled with beautiful glass beads. The beads were all different colors, shapes and designs, each one unique and gorgeous.  As the bowl came to me, I dug around and found this grey, spiral shape thing, not necessarily a bead, but it looked cool.  At the end of the class we passed around the beads that we chose and had a closing ceremony of sorts, when the instructor saw mine she said, “who picked the paperclip?”

It was me. 

the parable of the paperclip

In the sea of expensive and valuable glass beads there was a cheap and disposable paperclip.  This is what I chose as a representation of who I was as a Doula and ultimately a person.

We all laughed and I didn’t think much of it at the time, but within hours I learned a very important truth about how I felt about myself.

Right after my training I had a meeting.  I was telling a big group of women, that I was just at a training to become a Doula.  They were asking me questions about what a Doula does and I was excitedly answering their questions.  Just then my close friend blurted out “I know lots of nurses that absolutely hate Doulas.”

I kind of sat there and stared.  I went from a complete high to a complete low.  I was devastated.  This was one of my best friends and she not only wasn’t happy for me, but she made sure the 10 other women knew how ridiculous that I am.

I was so sad, so naturally I called my mom.  I told her what happened and she said, “Aleena do you see the pattern?” She reminded me that I have always surrounded myself with friends and people that were not very supportive of who I am, and kind of critical and I have always second guessed myself and who I am.  Then she gasped “the paperclip!” Right then I made the connection.  The paperclip!!!! I have never valued myself and the magnificence that I bring into this world.  I have always seen myself as a paperclip in a sea of beautiful glass beads.

I have been attracting friends and situations that continue to prove that thought about myself.  It took the appearance of the paperclip and 35 years for me to make the connection.

I am learning that nothing and no one can give me value.  That thought has to come from myself.  I am also learning that it is just that, a thought and I can change my thoughts, which actually isn’t the easiest, but it is doable.  I also realized that nurses might not like doulas, but nurses don’t hire doulas, pregnant mothers do. And guess what, they like doulas!  I am still learning and trying to understand.

Do you think you are a paperclip too? Are you not finding value in yourself?

Let’s work on this together.  Let’s be the most spirally, beautiful, valuable paperclips that we can.

How do you find value in yourself? Teach me!

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