For a long time I’ve felt like part of my head has been closed off, with a giant NO TRESPASSING sign to scare me away, and I’m finally letting myself unlock that gate and start sorting through the junk behind it (“Is this what’s hurting right now? What about this?”). It’s interesting to discover things in there that I’ve been writing about on this blog over the years; turns out my posts could have given me clues about what I’d find if I’d been looking out for them. Like, oh look – all that panic you’re feeling about mothering a girl started in March last year! And hey, maybe the fact that you’ve always felt different is the reason you’re so interested in stereotypes?
That last one’s making me hurt most at the moment; I hadn’t ever noticed that underneath the frustration of not fitting into the right boxes, and not being able to easily assign myself a Love Language or two, and not being the way I read/see/think that women/wives/mothers are supposed to be, has been confirmation after confirmation that I’m different, and not different in a quirky, enviable way, but different in an abnormal, outsider, something’s-gone-wrong-and-can’t-be-made-right-again way.
I’ve realised that for as long as I remember I’ve believed myself to be irreparably broken, and I don’t know why, and I don’t know how not to. I feel like the song Lost Cause by Beck was written about and for me: Baby, you’re lost | Baby, you’re a lost cause | I’m tired of fighting | Fighting for a lost cause. I listen to it when I’m down and every time I hear the lyrics they feel deeply, depressingly true.
But I recently did a personality test and found out I’m an INFJ, and the description matched me so well that I cried with relief: I FIT INTO A BOX! Hallelujah! I don’t even care what the box is, just that it’s a box, and I fit in. I must be normal (or close enough)! And over the past month or so I’ve been reading Naked Motherhood by Wendy LeBlanc and The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan and hearing my own experience of motherhood echoed in both their words and those of the many women they quote. I’ve read emails from and had conversations with friends who’ve heard their experiences echoed in my words in . Apparently I’m not the only woman in the world who feels this way about motherhood! Maybe there’s nothing broken about me! Maybe there’s hope for me yet!
All of these discoveries have brought some healing, and are spurring me on to push deeper into my head to get to the mouldier stuff buried there. I want to clear it all out now. I want to know what life feels like without all the extra weight and smelliness in there. Instead of Beck I’m listening to Florence and the Machine (I discovered this song thanks to which has played a key part in this journey [though it possibly should have come with a warning about how much it would make me bawl]):
I found out a little while ago that ‘truth’ in Greek (aletheia) literally means ‘uncovered’. And I’ve been thinking about God being light – “in him there is no darkness at all” – and about how there’s something about telling the truth and revealing what was hidden that is liberating in a spiritual way. Bringing dark things into the light takes power away from them. I was reading a blog the other day, and I kept bumping into things the author had written on mothering that sounded sickly sweet and smug. “Who enjoys mothering that much?” I thought to myself. And “Who is this woman? I don’t think I could read much more of this.”
Then I replied to myself, “This is your blog, dude. The woman is you, two/three years ago.”
There is truth on the internet, but there’s also a lot of hiddenness, and it’s obvious to me now that if I only post about the light side of mothering and keep the darker parts to myself, I’m contributing to the problem. It’s far easier to present to the world the Me I wish I was rather than the Me I am, though, so it’s tempting to keep the yukky stuff to myself. And yet I don’t want my blog to be yet another place that makes struggling mums feel like losers, especially when I’m struggling myself and so much of what I read makes me feel like a loser.
So. I’ve decided that I need to post more of the things I’ve not been posting, even if they’re ugly and uncomfortable, to balance out the internet (my blog, at least) a little more and to offer others who relate the chance to have those same “Maybe I am normal!” moments that I’ve recently enjoyed. So this week is Another Side week, where each day I’ll share with you some of how I’ve been feeling about motherhood; feel free to avert your eyes if you’d prefer to keep thinking it’s all kisses and giggles. I want to add a ton of disclaimers (“I REALLY DO LOVE MY KIDS!” “I KNOW I SOUND SELFISH AND I’M NOT ALWAYS THIS WAY!” “PLEASE DON’T HATE ME!”) but I won’t.
And.... here we go.