What do you think of when you hear “The Little Mermaid”, “Beauty and the Beast”, “Cinderella” and “Sleeping Beauty?” I think of fairy tales, happily ever afters and perfect endings. Here is the reality…life is messy, marriage is hard, relationships are hard, parenting, by golly is really HARD! We grew up thinking it was so easy, watching these fairy tale stories of women finding their prince charming and living happily ever after. OK, but wait, what happens after the happily ever after? I see the shift in Disney movies now, with Moana and Brave – strong and powerful girls defeating odds and conquering challenges. Unfortunately, for us millennials it’s too little too late. Our idea of reality based on these fairy tales and happily ever after scenarios just isn’t the case. What happens in real life situations and how do the “perfect princesses” deal with the challenges of real everyday life?
For me, I feel as if life throws curve balls left and right and I’m bobbing and weaving my way through (be it as gracefully as possible). Does that bring sadness or resentment? Temporarily maybe, but long term – no. The curveballs that life is throwing are learning experiences and opportunities for growth. That said, living in some alternate universe thinking that every day is rainbows and butterflies is quite frankly foolish. Regardless of your position in life, you have your truth and you have the power to share it, and that is what this post is about.
I had breakfast with a friend recently and what she said to me really hit home. She said, “I stopped following so and so’s blog because she was consistently portraying this “perfect” life and the perfectly clean kitchen and posting it on Instagram. Ya know what I want to see?… I want to see dirty dishes in the sink and baby food spilled on the counter. Let’s get real!” Then it hit me! If we want to uplift and empower women, how about writing and showing the messiness of life.
As a great example, while in carpool this week, I heard this conversation unfold; “Hi Linda, How are you? How is Liam doing these first few weeks of school?” The other mom says “Liam is doing great! Adjusting very well!” No LINDA, Liam is not doing ‘very well’ because my daughter told me yesterday how Liam throws himself on the floor in crying spells when he doesn’t get his way and doesn’t listen to the teacher. Come on, moms! What gives!? Let’s speak about reality. Talk about how your child is really acclimating to the first few weeks of school, maybe you’ll find the support in other mothers and maybe they can provide advice that can help. Personally, I wanted to know how hard it was to breastfeed, I wanted to hear about your postpartum depression and how you coped with it, when did your baby REALLY start sleeping through the night? If we as women and parents can make that shift and speak our truth, it could make all the difference. By doing this, we can relate to other women and mothers rather than working to compete or live up to some unobtainable standard which quite frankly, will drive us all insane.
I’ll start with my truth…
When I created this blog I was living in some alternate reality, completely oblivious to the turmoil I was in. Walking through life with a heavy mask weighing me down and draining the life’s blood out of me. Keeping up was hard, sweeping shit under the rug was exhausting and hosting dinner parties was grueling. I wasn’t getting the help and support so all the things in life that should be fun and exciting became my chore.
My moment of truth came after Christmas when my new house was finally all unpacked and furnished. The sixteen foot Christmas tree was up (perfectly gorgeous in all its silver and gold glory) and the chaos of the holidays and countless days of hosting friends and family was over. Now I had to take the tree down, pack up the decorations, clean up the mess, settle my daughter for the evening and get ready for a trip to Europe for the New Year. In that moment, in complete and utter mental, emotional and physical exhaustion, I looked around and saw the pictures on the wall of the “perfect family” dressed to the nines in our yearly family photoshoots, images from traveling around the world and I got a pit in my stomach. What occurred to me in that moment was…for someone who has everything, why was there still emptiness inside? It was in those quiet moments that I gained clarity. The moments at night when I was washing dishes at home alone while my partner was out doing God knows what, that I looked at my own reflection in the window and didn’t know the person who was looking back. In this specific case, when I was taking down the Christmas tree with the family pictures staring at me…those pictures held the truth. My advice to women in this type of situation, don’t wait for the crisis or the knock down drag out fights, they may never come. It’s in the quiet moments when you sit with yourself in your own thoughts that the clarity arises. During silence and inner reflection, your answer will become perfectly clear.
Fast forward to now, in my own apartment, feeling the safest I have ever felt. I thought I would grieve the loss of the house, the trips, expensive material things, the dinner parties, the idealistic “perfect” family, but now I grieve over the marriage and the husband that was elusive to me. I grieve the loss of the years I spent praying things would get better, that the various abuses would stop. I’m speaking to the quiet and lonely women out there, the women in “the death by a thousand cuts” marriages that feel stuck and hopeless. You too have the strength, it just requires you to be honest with yourself, drop the heavy mask and be vulnerable. Show strength for your children. They look up to you and feel the anxiety and vibe you give off.
Listen, I’m not carrying a pitchfork running through the streets in anger and resentment because of what I went through thinking all women are in unhappy and in toxic situations as I was. Quite the contrary, I’m trying to speak through a megaphone and say to the quiet women out there that do feel stuck and are in toxic situations; live your life in an authentic way, speak the truth and, like I say time and time again, don’t conform to the way society says you should to be. If you are in a place you don’t want to be, shift something, anything! Ask for help. Lean on your friends and family. Seek counsel of those you look up to. It feels so incredibly good to speak your truth, trust me! You have the resources but they require you to be vulnerable. For instance, I walked into my Yoga studio and got real. I laid it all out on my mat…sweat, anger, resentment, pain and tears. That’s where I grew.
Four things you can do now that can help change your life and hopefully help someone else.
- Drop all judgement.
- Take your personal inventory.
- Speak your truth.
- Ask for help.
Someone once told me – The nail that sticks up the tallest gets hit the hardest and ya know what?… The more I get beat down, the higher I rise. Let’s rise together.