Over the years I've chosen theme songs for my life. Everyone does this, right? I mean, I can't be the only one who imagines walking in the door of any party, meeting, interview or parent-teacher conference carrying a boom box blaring my personal theme song to drown out my self-doubt and your critical eye. Thankfully Apple has made this scenario a lot less awkward with the invention of iPods and ear buds.
When I filed for divorce, it's no surprise my theme song was "I Will Survive." Gloria Gaynor knocks it out of the park. I went to the vintage store, purchased platformed disco shoes and bedazzled the crap out of them. Not only do they lift my spirits, but man, they look good.
When the boys and I moved out of the long-time marital residence, my song was definitely from The Mary Tyler Moore Show: "You're gonna make it after all...." Can't you hear it now? "Who can turn the world on with her smile..."
After putting on my screens at the new house, I was so impressed with myself, I couldn't resist doing an MTM (standard move of mine - throw hat in air, smile and spin.) Without a doubt, my sons thought I was nuts. But in my head, I was feeling Mary-Tyler-Moore-screw-you-Mr.-Grant-take-no-sh*t-conquer-the-world-on-my-own vibes. And who can't use a little dose of that every day?
Unfortunately, self-destructive thoughts creep in my brain and camp out. After receiving negative messages from a spouse for well over a decade, I believed them to be true. Even worse, it became natural to think that way. If only I was prettier, thinner, smarter, richer.... Oh, you're right, sorry to bother you with my ridiculous thoughts, you've had a long day at a real job... Absolutely, you know best. What do I know? You get the picture - and it's not a pretty one.
As a rational person (and after a lot of therapy) I know those negative messages are false. My opinions matter. I am smart. Changing my hair color, whitening my teeth or having bigger boobs won't make me more worthy of love. I'm already worthy.
But here's the kicker: even though my brain knows those messages are false, my body operates on instinct. When reminded of a past negative message like, "Do not call me, text me or email me at work; I have paying clients that are way more important than you," my body automatically has a visceral reaction. I physically feel anxiety, loss of breath, and the sensation of being punched in my gut.
The worst part is, instincts are hard to retrain. After having the habit of being on the defensive for so long, I am amazingly skilled at interpreting things negatively and not feeling worthy of others' time. And then what happens? The old tapes in my head start to play: If only I were... You are right, that was a ridiculous idea...I am sorry I bothered you.
In summer I saw the movie, We Bought a Zoo, in which a father gives his son some words of advice and inspiration. He says: "You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it."
You might wonder, how do we muster that twenty seconds of insane courage? Get yourself a theme song.
When I've got my theme song playing loudly in my head, it overrides the self-doubt, negativity and fear. I get a I-don't-give-a-rat's-ass-that-I've-got-a-run-in-my-tights-and-screw-the-man-I-like-who-doesn't-feel-the-same-toward-me-and-yes-dammit-I-do-look-good-with-dog-drool-on-my-boob attitude. I don't have a glamorous life. I don't have a full social calendar. My jeans are too tight. I have fines at the public library. I'm lonely. I spend way too much time at Kwik Trip.
But with Alicia Keys in my head, there is no room for negativity and self-doubt. As seen in my music video below, her words and music have the power to bring out the positive from deep within. My overly-sensitive-average-single-mom-life makes me feel like a "Girl on Fire." Just click the play button and enjoy. I bet you've got some fire in you, too!