Friday, December 26, 2008

Another Year, Another Self-Flogging

I started out this year's birthday festivities by celebrating the sinking feeling that came at midnight by going to bed and writing down all the things I hate about myself. Of course, one thing on my list is that I am half-empty. There were many other things, like how selfish, lazy, drifting, and distracted I can be. I am too sensitive, get my feelings hurt too easily, care about ridiculous things that I should be able to let go of. This list filled two pages. Writing it all down helped me somehow to fall asleep.

I woke up, came downstairs, made coffee, piddled, logged in to facebook. Ted wished me happy birthday (he's always up way before I am). I saw that I had 43 "new notifications" on facebook. I started crying. Ted sat down on the floor by my chair and put his head in my lap while I cried.

Pathetic, no?

I wasn't crying over being another year older. I was crying because I felt overly-blessed. The self-loathing kicked back into hyper-drive, and I thought, "Who are these people wishing me happy birthday? Don't they know these gross things about myself I so meticulously wrote down last night?"

Lest you think I am clinically depressed: I am now fine. I even managed to have fun today. But I think the mood started the night before, Christmas evening, when my sensitivity to noise kicked into overdrive, and I had to run away, not from my family, but from the noise they have every right to make--especially on a boisterous holiday like Christmas--so that I could take in the quiet of our snowy neighborhood for a half-hour by myself. Lori the Introvert was hoping to recharge the batteries by walking by herself in the snow. Except. I just ended up kicking myself for not being able to take it, for being weak, for being selfish, for not doing more with my life, for letting opportunities fly past me, for so often choosing comfort over charity, for constantly failing at being the person I want to be...

I almost always fail at resolutions. The one I tried to keep last year was to remember people's birthdays. But I didn't. I so admire my friend Stephanie who remembers, not just your birthday, but also your brother's--the one she's never met--and all three of your cats' to boot. For a while, she had a sign hanging in her kitchen saying "Live Your Values." No point in talking about them if you're busy doing them. That's how I feel about resolutions. I'd rather just do them than talk about them.

I'd also rather live my values than talk about them. But I fail so often at living my values. And this is what I was beating myself up about last night and this morning. I was inspired by the many well-wishes from people all over the place who know me a little or a lot, all who took the time to wish me well. What a seemingly little thing to tell someone, "Happy Birthday!" But today, for me, the big collective Wish from those I love inspired me to forgive myself a little bit. This group of people lived my value for me, my failed resolution from last year to remember birthdays. They remembered mine in spite of my failure, failure both to remember theirs and all my other many many many failures in general. It felt kind of redemptive.

Is that crazy? Am I overthinking this? Maybe. But I was inspired today not to focus on all the ways I have failed. I simply want my mantra this year to be, "Lori, Live Your Values."

I know, I know, enough with the introspective crappola. Where are the pictures of Abe opening presents? They're coming.


Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday Lori.
Love your neighbor and friend,

Anonymous said...

I don't really know you - I met you at lunch that day we went to enjoni and I stalk your blog, but I have to say what you did during our outing that day has stayed with me. When you simply purchased a cup of ocffee for that woman - I would say you live your values. You gave her a cup of warmth and compassion, as well as maybe a bit of dignity. Don't beat yourself up - I was pretty humbled that day by you and all of those amazing women. Thank you for that. Happy Birthday - maybe we'll all get together again sometime!
Courtney Wilson
(and keep the cute pics of Abe coming!)

Julie said...

Please don't flog yourself anymore. You are a beautiful person who IS living her values. All who come in contact with you see that, and want to be around you;hoping that some of that Lori Rooney goodness will rub off on them, hoping that they will take a less cynical view of the world, hoping that they will believe in God someday, hoping that they will find beauty in the smallest daffodil. You have that many Birthday wishes because so many of us love you.

Karen said...

Looking closer at one's life is okay once in a while. As long as you stop looking and start doing after you're done. And while I've never met you, from what what others have said about you, from what you yourself say about you in the way you write, the values you are living are pretty darn impressive.

Happy birthday again!

Anonymous said...


you don't know me. i'm one of your quiet blog readers. i appreciate your honesty with this post and all of your posts. so many of us think those things but don't tell anyone. i think it's brave to reveal those kinds of moments and many of us know we're not alone.

also, from my own experience, i've learned that thinking the negative things about myself ended up working against me & my goals. i used to think the harder i was on myself, the harder i'd work. but instead i've realized it does the opposite.

just a thought from a fellow friend.


coffeemom said...


Happy Bday, one day belated!

I think its an easy trap, that self flogging. I totally do it too.

But here's another way to look at it: God made you, perfectly....and those very "faults" are your own personal path to holiness.

We all have to struggle for it and towards it, otherwise it isn't of any value...and so, the very struggle against those faults (which will be a lifetime's work) is the very effort which will transform you and bring you closer to God Himself and with that: perfect love, perfect joy.

So, oh happy fault! Happy Birthday with all those failings that get to make you who you are now and will be in the future!

And that, already is pretty remarkable! Because you love better than most already, and touch the joy a little closer than most, already. I haven't met you in person, but can know that from 'talking' email and reading your words.

So happy bday!! Every one is a grand celebration!
love M

mama becca said...

Hey friend...
you sound a whole lot like... ME!
I do the same thing, the self-flogging. BUT... isn't that why we believe in something bigger than ourselves? Why else believe in it? We will never be able to live up to what we want to be. So we rely on the bigger stuff, the stronger stuff than us. And we are more thankful, in moments of self-hatred, that it was all taken from us, the burden lifted.
Remember that... remember the great love that has taken you over.
You are amazing. I can't wait to see you at Merlefest :).
Happy birthday :).

Jennifer said...

I thought I was the only one that beats myself up like this. I get so darn frustrated that I am not living the life that I want to and screwing up so darn much. Then I tell myself about it and feel better that at least I know what I think I am doing wrong and I am taking steps to change it...even though I may not actually get around to taking the steps! In any event, you totally rock ;) So does all of the Christmas snow you have. I am so jealous! It is 68 degrees here. No joke!

Jocelyn said...

Your writing is so amazing...I wish I could get my feelings out like you do. Thanks for being so out there and for telling us what is in your heart.
That is what makes you so no more flogging friend!!
love you,

Blog Shmog said...

Sweet Lori. I was sad reading through this but also totally understand what you are saying. I'm one of those people that beats myself up ALL the time. I just usually keep it to myself. I appreciate your openness and honesty. Here's to a new year, where we strive to live more selfless lives, live our values, and rest in the grace that has been given to us for the times that we fail.
much love girlie...happy birthday.

Anonymous said...

Thank the Lord for understanding husbands! I recently had a melt down where I exclaimed every fault of mine to my husband and he continues to love me anyway! Then I end up flogging myself more for putting all my faults on to my husband and not being strong enough to keep them to myself. I too wish I wasn't so sensitive, wish I was more outgoing....Happy Birthday. I raise my glass to you!
This year, I will try to live my Values too. Please try to remember, we all have faults, noone is perfect, and it is okay to stumble. You are beautiful.

Nicholas said...

I want to start by telling you how perfect I am.

I'm perfect at NOTHING!

This post hit me because we are all (maybe not) the same. At least I am anyway. So many people are in such denial and are so self absorbed that they never even try to do any self examination!

Your heart is tremendous in size and you do what is right for your family everyday. It's easy to fall into the wrath of guilt when you see what others do sometimes.

I hate myself for coveting and jealousy when I look at what some people do and give to others, but then end up hating myself for not thinking I'm good enough or not feeling worthy of my blessings! Guilt, guilt, guilt! Ahhhh!

Sure we can all do more, adoption has certainly shown me how much MORE I can do in my life, family and Ethiopia. It's overwhelming sometimes when I see how others give of themselves so much. And then I remind myself that I'm doing what I can today and will continue to grow and do more.

Happy Birthday sweet Lori - I'm looking forward to following along on your journey together as a woman and a mother to a wonderful family!

Lori Cullen
(had to get some kind of joke in)

Anonymous said...

Hello Lori, I do not believe I have ever commented on here. I appreciated your post. I am the opposite of you in personality & yet am so aware of the negatives that come with mine too :). Sometimes I leave & think why do I have to talk so much or lead so much ;).
The main reason I am posting is because as I was reading your post I had another post's music-player going & the song Whatever you're doing by Sanctus Real came on... it was just too perfect. You most likely know it, but I appreciated hearing the words while reading your post & knowing that we are all working on the strengths & weakness' of our personality, but knowing in the end that God created us & his will is most important in our lives. Love, J (

los cazadores said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
los cazadores said...

Oh, Lori. This post was so honest and beautiful. No lie, I wanted to make an honest list of things (an inordinate amount, inexhaustive list) I am totally sucky and crappy at, (including much at living my values, incidentally) ...and yet, I was afraid to put it on my blog for fear someone would think 'Oh, crap we can't place a child with that woman!'... I feared. I am not totally me on my blog. Thanks for inspiring me to be more of myself or, really, for sharing yourself with us.

Happy Birthday!


Anonymous said...

Another quiet blog stalker here (I post every once in a blue moon)...I wish I had a dollar for all the times when I was just so sick of myself...even when friends and family are saying they love me. You aren't alone but I know that I am inspired by your posts about you and your family...logically, you can't be that bad is some random stranger thinks you seem pretty cool, right? LOL! You are fabulous and enjoy another year or fabulous life!

Claudia said...

I didn't know it was your birthday, and I hate facebook, so one of those notifications was NOT from me, but... here's a virtual one, okay? Make it 44 :) HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Stacie said...

Lori - I value you. I value knowing you, being your friend, and seeing all the love and humor and wonder that you give to us here on the blog and on facebook. :) You are valued, that much I know (and by more than just myself). Therefore, I believe that you cannot claim failure. And, even recognizing where you do not live up to your own standards is more than most people are able to do.

(Have I mentioned that I'm a half-full kind of girl? We can balance each other out. :)

PVZ said...

Lori: Late reading this but let me just say I am so glad you have flaws! If you were any better than you are I would not be able to be around you. Already, you challenge me to be better, kinder, more compassionate, to invite people more often to just join in, to read more and watch less TV, and so on and so on. So, I am begging you, do not improve this year! Just stay perfectly Lori.