A few weeks ago, the rains came. Heavy, set in, I-can’t-get-any-clothes-dry-plus-my-hair-won’t-stop-being-frizzy rain that lasted days and days and days.
And I’m here to admit that it caused me to Have A Meltdown.
Not the dramatic kind of meltdown full of shouts and screams and smashing of crockery. But the kind where you sit on the couch alone, sobbing quietly, not knowing what to do to make the sobbing go away.
With every new gust of rain pounding on the windows, the four walls closed closer in on me and I thought that if I didn’t do something I might just become crushed by them. I was consumed with the panicked thought that this was what my life Had Now Become, that I had given up my business and my life and was now tied to a House and a Baby, and that the social isolation and mundane-ness of it all would send me crazy. And that if I wasn’t looking forward to it now, then what kind of Mother would I make? I knew I had to give up a certain fight for Independence and Freedom, and instead devote my love, my body, my time and my life to another little being that needed me for its survival. That I would be officially Attached. Depended On.
And, just between you and me, that realisation terrified me.
For those of you who know me, you would probably not describe me as emotionally cold or cut-off. In fact, some of you have called me the most maternal woman you know; warm, loving, nurturing and, well, mother-ish.
And, yes, there is a part of me that is all those things. But there is also a part of me that is fiercely independent. That gets cranky when I can’t do what I want. That struggles to give up my desires for the sake of other people’s desires. That can’t just do something for the sake of making someone else happy.
That is, quite simply, selfish.
There, I’ve said it.
So, it was this realisation that I am, quite profoundly, very selfish and not at all ready to give up all that I probably should which sent me to the edge of the couch and to the edge of my mind with deep grief. And panic. And desperation.
Because, what I see is that children take, and Mothers give. And although maths has never been my strong point, that doesn’t sound like a balanced equation to me. Yes, I know, people have told me oh but they do give back to you, they give you things you can’t even know about now, but I’ve also seen Mothers who give up so much of themselves for the sake of their families that they don’t know who they are anymore. They spend their lives juggling all the different roles of mother, wife, career woman, cleaner, friend, household administrator and God knows what else, that they end up cold and shivering on the bottom of Life’s floor whispering, “I just can’t do it anymore”. “What about me?”
So, with these thoughts firing rapidly in my mind, and with a long stretch of day with not so much on as to cook lasagna for dinner, I found myself grieving the Life I Had Lost and sobbing for the Life That Was Currently Happening. My business was mostly gone, the world I was so in touch with was a foreign concept, and even my friends lives had become so separate to what I seemed to be going through. A Housewife I had suddenly become. Oh the panic.
So, amongst the rain and the sobbing, I found myself looking up to the sky and saying this:
“Angels, if you are there, if you exist, You Have To Do Something NOW To Make This OK. I AM FREAKING OUT AND I CAN’T MAKE IT STOP.”
So I asked again. Urgently. “Hello? Anybody?”
Obviously, not the kind of spiritual moment I was looking for.
Instead, Joel found me at the end of the day and picked up all my smashed pieces of doubt and grief and confusion, and turned them into a list of coping strategies I could refer to. His words, to be exact, were, “Um, Rachel…I don’t mean to tell you what to do – I know you will be fine – but I just thought, um, maybe, if you want, you could have a look at these things I have jotted down about possibly some things you could do when you are feeling alone. To try and cope. If you want.”
The list contained the following:
- Ring a friend
- Go for a walk
- Meet me at work for lunch
- Join a mother’s group
And while they are things I already knew would help, the gesture touched me greatly and I realised that my Hole wasn’t so deep. That I was supported, and that it was normal to feel these things and that as long as I keep being honest and open I would be ok. And that I would make the best Mother that I could at any given time.
So I decided to add another thing to that list: to write. Write and write and write. To be shamelessly honest and open and write about Real Things that people may feel but not necessarily express. To admit that it’s ok not To Be Perfect. As a mother, as a woman, and as a human. And to hopefully give others permission to not have to Be Perfect either.
The next day, I started this blog. Maybe the angels were listening that day. Maybe they have given me this unstoppable desire to write. Maybe that’s what I’m supposed to be doing.
I’ll just run with that for the time being. Good enough for me.
This is my Red Tent.