I’m no expert, not on life or work or being a woman or being a mother, but what I do know, is that sometimes we all lie…
When people ask us “how are you?”, almost always the answer is “Great thanks, or good thanks, or amazing, or awesome”. When was the last time that someone said “It’s not going well. I’m not coping. I don’t know what to do. I’m sad. I’m broken. I’m in trouble. I need help. I need to talk”? In my case, I can’t remember the last time someone said that to me or I to them. (Insert that little “IDK” emoji here). I remember a joke doing the rounds a few years ago, it stated that when people ask how you’re doing, don’t tell them, they don’t really want to know. But guess what, if you’re struggling with something, and I can possibly help, I DO want to know. And I’d like to think that someone will listen to me when I need to talk or vent or ask for advice or guidance.
Why are we so afraid to open up and ask for help? Why are we so scared of showing who we really are and what we’re going through? Why are we so afraid of showing our humanity? I fully understand not wanting to confide in strangers, but what about friends, or family, or those soulmate people that the internet is so full of? Is it shame? Is it not wanting to show weakness? Is it not wanting people to truly know us? Is it not wanting people to truly see us? We all need to talk and be talked to.
I’m almost 50. I completely accept who and what I am, (ok not totally, if I have to be honest, I’m not happy with my body or my wrinkles, or my crooked toes or the bony elbows), but I’m happy with my heart and my soul. I’m secure in who I am as a woman, a wife and a mother. I will not tolerate being judged for what I’m going through at any particular time of my life, or how I feel when things get to me or get me down or make me sad. As for confidants, I keep my circle small, but damn, those that I allow into it, are people who have crept into my heart, and they happen to think I’m damn amazing, crooked toes and all.
How do I cope with things? Day to day things?
Some days amazingly well, other days I sneak into the bathroom and have a good cry (which I call a sinus attack). Do I always tell people what’s going on? No, I don’t want to bother those close to me with something silly that’ll blow over tomorrow. But when it’s a big thing, like a really big thing, I tend to talk and talk and talk, to those who live in my heart. Sharing with them ensures that I have invisible support, whether it be a motivational meme or just a “have a great day” message. In actual fact, my life is pretty damn awesome.
I have an amazing job, great husband and incredible kids. They know me as nobody else does, and they understand the “sinus attacks” which happen from time to time. It’s weird when your 18-year-old son wants to just hug you and not let go, and gets mad when I say I’m alright when he can clearly see that I’m not. I don’t want him worrying about me, or why I’m sad, it’s not his job. The same applies to my girls, they know their mother with an intuitiveness that scares me. One look and they’ll ask if everything’s ok, or ask if I want a glass of wine. (Yes, I’m a wine lover). I’m also a control freak, so when I do have a glass, it’s only on certain days, and never more than two… On Friday afternoons I have a “party for one”, that’s when I dance around my living room to ’70s and 80’s tunes – my poor neighbours).
I think I’m pretty normal, sometimes. Yet there are a few things that are chipping away at my strength and my internal rock and they are making my heartache, a lot.
Here are a few of my “things”.
Unemployment: My husband was retrenched at the end of March this year (for the third time in 3 years). He’s 50, so the job market is not exceptionally welcoming, but we persevere, the right opportunity will come along, of this I’m certain (I’d kinda like it to happen soon though, pretty please). In the meantime, we do what we can with my salary. Luxuries are non-existent, but we pay the bond, pay the car and eat. Those are great accomplishments I think. We have two kids still living at home, they’re 19 and 18, they understand the situation, and handle it in an extremely mature way, by adding no unnecessary pressure).
Mom Stuff: My eldest daughter (25) emigrated to NZ in January this year, jeez, talk about emotions! Hubby and I raised all our kids to be strong and independent, yet when they do strong and independent things, we freak out and don’t cope! Not seeing her or hugging her is physically painful, even though I know she’s happy there over the sea, it still hits me daily. She has a good job, an apartment that she shares with her partner, and they’re doing well. Yes, I cry often (not the sinus attack kind), real tears, that I don’t mind showing anyone. My heart aches with the fact that I know I need to let go, yet I don’t think any parent is really ever ready to let go completely. I miss her terribly, even though I know she’ll visit and we’ll eventually save up enough to go and see her too. I wish sometimes that there was a parenting handbook, that could prepare us for these things, but hey, live and learn like my dad used to say.
More mom stuff: I worry about my two younger children, will they find employment, will they be happy, will they be safe, why do they roll their eyes at me, will they do their chores, you know, normal mom stuff. Are they really ok, when they say they are? Are their friends ok? Are they carrying burdens that they should not be carrying, at this age? Do they know and understand how much they are loved? Do I show them enough love? You see, I worry.
Getting back to talking to people, confiding in them, letting them in, letting them truly know us.
I recently spent time with a friend, and we talked, really talked. She asked me how I was doing, and instead of saying “fabulous, thanks”, I actually spoke to her, about everything, and in turn, she spoke to me. We didn’t judge, we didn’t say the others’ worries were silly or unimportant, we talked, truly talked. I offloaded my thoughts and worries and she did the same. We covered topics from marriage to family to work to shoes. It took hours, hours so very well spent. I left the conversation, feeling lighter than I had in years, with a little bounce in my step, knowing that she knows. Knows me and why I’m sometimes sad, or angry, or worried, or quiet, she now understands me even better and I, in turn, understand her. The support we offered to each other was easy, heartfelt and without a trace of falsehood. Our connection was strengthened in the knowledge that we’re both human, both women, both mothers, both wives, and both quite normal.
After that conversation, I am paying closer attention to those around me. Looking a little deeper, giving longer hugs, asking more questions, listening more patiently, and talking more. Not speaking. I actually talk. I talk about real things, true things, valid things. I listen to what they say, the tone of their voice, the lift of their shoulders, the look in their eyes. You see, talking is just one side of it, listening plays an even bigger role. If we don’t listen, we can’t hear. Sometimes we can hear even the unspoken word, we can see the sadness in someone, we can identify hurt and anger. And we can identify with it. Truthfully. Once we do that, we can help, and be helped.
I’m done with lies, those little lies we tell people, and those little lies we believe. I’m done. From now on, let’s just be true. True to ourselves, and to others. Always true.
M loves oldies, cars, laughter, red wine & people. Entrepreneur, Wife & mother to three amazing brats. Bulls & Bokke. She loves Elvis and … more wine!
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