Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Come Undone: Ode to the Overworked Mamas

Women are expected to keep it together no matter what. We are the nurturers and the heart-center of our families. We work from sun-up to sun-down to make sure that everyone has what they need--often at the cost of our own bodies and sanity. 

Sometimes however,  we need to allow ourselves to come undone

To fall facedown into our pillow and cry until our tears are spent. 

To lock ourselves into the bathroom and cry under a running shower. 

To cancel the work meeting, PTA phone tree or coffee with an acquaintance that you really aren't needed at and really didn't want to go to so that you can have that internal freak out that has been brewing for months. 

To park in an empty parking lot and lay your weary head on the steering wheel, turn your damn phone off and cry until your eyes are raw. 

Come undone. 

Let go of the bullshit that's been stacking up on your shoulders for ages. 

Come the hell undone. The world and it's expectations will wait for you--I promise. This is your moment, Love. Fall apart. I swear that you will come back together again.

Allow yourself to be free of expectations if only for a moment. Allow your shoulders to be free of the weight of the world. Just be delightfully goddamned free of all the bullshit. 

Come undone. 

My God, doesn't it feel go to LET GO? 

You can have it all together again tomorrow. No one needs to know. Just allow yourself the respite, the freedom of coming undone. You deserve every moment, Darling. 

Come undone. 

It's going to be okay. It is.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Beast of Not-Enough

I am slowly realizing that the root of my anxiety is a deep, deep feeling not being enough. Not a good enough person, nurse, wife, mother, woman...the list goes on and on. 

I don't remember a time that I did feel as though I was enough- worthy, deserving, valuable- not even in childhood. There is a pervasive fear within me that I will fail over and over again and the world around me will have proof of unworthiness. Or, that the world around me will come crashing down upon me to punish me for my not-enoughness. It is a constant and unreasonable fear that lies as deep as the DNA at the core of who I am. 

The world knows who it expects me to be- a perfectly dressed and coifed mother that is successful in her career, volunteers actively in her community, busy rearing children that are perfect carbon-copies of my own perfection all while living in a perfectly clean and decorated home with fresh, whole foods at the ready.  I'm not sure if any other women have ever managed this feat(my worried mind can think of more than a few that from appearances alone surely seem to be managing it) but I fail at this day after day. And, yet- it isn't the failure of the world's ideal of a mother, of a woman that is the core of my feeling of unworthiness- for even on days when I manage to have it all together, still this feeling of not enough persists, ugly and screaming underneath my carefully shellacked and ever smiling exterior. 

I fear that the not enough gene is woven within my cells in a way that it can never be untangled. It lies in wait for any bit of weakness so that it can come bursting through to haunt me. 

I've come so far with my anxiety and even my feelings of worthiness. However, I am realizing just how persistent this icky core belief is. I cannot tell you the root of it- I simply don't ever remember a time that I felt truly worthy of good things. As I age, I am realizing that this belief seems to be common among other women(and I imagine men, too). I think that many of my large life decisions have been made as the Beast of Not-Enough fervently whispered in my ear. It likely played a large part in my decision to become a nurse- I thought that if I helped enough people, I would become worthy. Worthy of what? I would go as far to say that there have been times in my life that I wondered if I was worthy of life, itself. 

I have sacrificed of myself in order to build others up as they seemed ever so much more worthy than I but this sacrifice did not lend itself to my own healing. 

I wonder if it is time to try something new. If it is time to expend my own energy to find my own sense of worth, far outside of the expectations of society. If it is time to find forgiveness inside of myself for my own imperfections and show my children how strong and happy their Mama can be. 

I am ready. Ready to conquer and destroy the Beast of Not-Enough. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

A Kleenex Salute

Some days as a nurse are harder than others. Today was not a particularly hard day but the desperation of my patients just seemed unbearable for some reason. So, after my last home visit I pulled into an empty parking lot and had a cry. 

As I was having a pretty impressive weep, a police car pulled up several rows down from me. Now, in the poverty-stricken areas that I work there is usually a strong police presence so I wasn't surprised to see him but I was sitting in the parking lot of an abandoned and empty grocery store and it did seem like a strange place for another person to park.  So I watched him. 

I could see that he appeared to be talking on a phone so I just continued on with my cry, gathering myself together before I picked up my kids after my shift. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a bit of white flash and I looked over- the white flash was a Kleenex that the burly police officer was using to wipe his tears as he wept into his phone.

He noticed me watching and seemed embarrassed. Then, he seemed to take in the stethoscope around my neck and my own Kleenex in my hand and nodded, like he had put together all of the clues and knew why I was here. He raised his chin in hello. 

I kept imagining the call he was making or what he had just seen(I imagined a thousand different horrible things in just a moment's time- we nurses have seen many horrors and our imaginations are sickeningly active) and I cringed. 

I raised my Kleenex in silent salute and appreciation. He raised his back to me. A shredded, pulpy, messy salute. 
Then he went back to his call and I drove off in the direction of my home. 

There is no shame in crying.  Some days we must purge the pain to continue to march forward and warrior on. 

For all of you in helping professions of all kinds- I raise my soggy Kleenex in salute to you.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Embracing Our Emotions(why it's okay to be a crybaby)

As a child I was often mocked for my propensity to tears. I feel things strongly and would often cry if another classmate cried, if the book I was reading became sad, if a teacher was harsh with another student-- you get the idea. There were children that chose not to be friends with me because I was a "Crybaby".

As I became older I found many other coping mechanisms and found myself crying in public less and less. I still cried in private as I found that crying was a great release of the pain and sadness that I often felt, particularly at the end of the day after being bombarded by the sadness and pain of others all day. As an empath, I have always been sensitive to the feelings of others and having a "release valve" is important.

I find that, particularly as an adult, crying has a stigma attached to it. Many perceive crying as a sign of weakness. I believe that such a thought could not be further from the truth.

The emotional and physical release of crying(which is believed to assist our body in releasing stress hormones and toxins) allows us to purge ourselves of negative feelings and move on with our life. Without a form of release, we do not have the emotional space within us to continue to tackle life at a deeper level. I believe that crying makes us stronger human beings.

So, the next time your child falls to tears, do not be so quick to shush them. Put an arm around them and allow them the emotional space to release what is bothering them.

When your notoriously emotional co-worker has tears streaming down their face, allow them to purge their feelings and move back to work.

This life can be hard. We all need healthy ways to release the stress, the sadness, the anger. If crying is your way, embrace it. Life is too short to carry unnecessary burdens. Release what you no longer need.

Have a good cry today if you need one, Lovelies. I'll pass you the tissues.