I fully admit that I have never watched Jon & Kate Plus 8 … but just from following their fall from grace in the tabloids and in the blogosphere over the past year or so (how could you miss it?!), I feel like she and I are (dare I say it?) soul sisters in a sense.
You see, while our life stories are completely different (and I don’t have 8 children/a reality show/book deals, or make my husband feel like he’s 2 and therefore needs to rebel and hook up with 21-yr old girls to sow his oats…) …
We have similar personality DNA, in that she and I are both Type-A control-freaks with super-high expectations for ourselves and those we surround ourselves with … who needed to be brought down to reality.
And over the past year, while she has navigated a separation and divorce in the public eye, I’ve put my recovery journey out there in the public (albeit a niche public!) eye.
One could argue taboo things like divorce or recovery belong behind closed doors (and full disclosure here–I still question her desire to continue the show with her children while going through her divorce), but I also think there is some truth to transparency being a (surprising) healer.
After all, when you take away the masks we present to the outside world, we’re all human and we’re all flawed. So if we can help even one other person by being honest about our own struggles, is there so much harm in that?
The trajectories we have traveled over the past year aren’t entirely dissimilar, and when I read an interview she did for the November issue of Good Housekeeping, I couldn’t help but be struck by how closely I could relate to so much of what she was saying.
Here’s an excerpt:
GH:Kate, you seem to be doing amazingly well under all this pressure.
KG: I’m just doing what I have to do. I’ve learned to deal with stress. In fact, things that would make the next person go over a cliff don’t even make my radar anymore.
GH: Would they make the old Kate go over a cliff? You seem to go with the flow more these days.
KG [laughing]: Oh, the old Kate would be long over the cliff! So it’s a good thing that I’ve put things in perspective. I realize that life isn’t perfect — it can’t be perfect. I can drive myself nuts trying to make it perfect, or I can just have a lot of fun with the kids.
Since I tend to dramatize things, I have taught myself to take a deep breath and ask if it’s really as bad as it seems. I realized that if I handled the issues that come my way the way I used to handle them, I would probably have a heart attack. I don’t really freak out about everything anymore — I can’t afford to. I shock myself a lot with how I just handle things. I’m focusing on my kids: I cannot fail them.
GH: Let us ask you this: Is there any silver lining to this experience? It seems as if you’re more playful in the moment. Is that a new thing for you?
KG: Yes, I’m trying to be more in the moment, and to challenge myself, too. The boys pushed a screen out of the window a while ago, and I remember getting extra mad, because it was dangerous and also, how the heck do you put a screen back in? And it took me 20 minutes — the film crew was there filming me, and I’m thinking, Great — but I did it. I figured out how to maneuver the screen in, and I was like, “Yeah, I did that!”
GH: What gets you through the hard moments, and those mornings when you really don’t want to get out of bed?
KG [after a pause]: My kids need breakfast. I have to get up because they matter, and what good would it be if I wallowed in self-pity? Sometimes I’m like, “OK, I know I’ve said it before, but now I’m really done this time!” And saying that somehow makes me feel better, as if I have a choice [to give up].
It’s been a very unpredictable and shocking year, which is why it’s a little scary to open my eyes some mornings. I am aware I could fall apart. It’s been the hardest thing I’ve ever done, just to keep going, putting one foot in front of the other. When I run, I just watch my feet go, and think, One foot in front of the other, one foot in front of the other, and that’s how I feel. Eventually I will get through all of this.
My feelings about Kate have definitely softened over the past year, and we can all learn a little something from her very public unraveling, especially with respect to letting go a little.
Ultimately, I think loosening the reigns is not about lessening our expectations of ourselves or others, but rather being kinder to ourselves about just how realistic those expectations are … and not allowing disappointment when those expectations aren’t met to stain our existence.
We just need to remember to put one foot in front of the other, and keep on keeping on.
How about you? How have you made peace with expectations of yourself and/or others?