I had a belated birthday gathering with my girlfriends and we all brought our public faces. That "representative" mask as Glennon Doyle Melton calls it. I had just finished reading her book Love Warrior and was itching to talk about it.
Unsure where to start because as long as we have known each other, we are still uncomfortable with the pain, I could tell. Pain is awkward, it triggers the pain of others. We are suppose to be happy all the time, remember? Glennon talks about the Comparer, Shover, Fixer, Reporter, Victim and God Reps in her book, who made her feel worse instead of better. We haven't learned quite yet how to sit with our own pain, how can we do so for others?
The pain that makes you feel worthless. The pain of isolation. The pain of losing someone you love. The pain of careless words. The pain of betrayal. The pain that makes you feel so small, you disappear inside and put on a mask to deal with the crazy world outside.
Sometimes, it feels too heavy for myself and it could certainly feel too heavy for someone else. So I shove it aside like everyone else and no one was the wiser. But I knew. I couldn't run away from the internal dialogue of self-doubt and worthlessness that rears its ugly head constantly. After much education and counselling, I learned how to sit in my pain and address it comfortably. I now think of my pain as shells waiting to be broken open to expose my deepest desires.
Keeping my recent promise to myself that I will not sacrifice my inner voice for the sake of harmony. In between the polite how are yous and what have you been doing lately, I blurted it all out in a hurry. Not the smoothest delivery I assure you. "I recently read this book, Love Warrior, and the author writes about when you strip away your role to someone else, say a partner and a mother, what do you have that is solely your own? She also talks about how her husband didn't really listen to her, causing her to be disconnected from him."
The silence was thick with questions that hung in the air, I have broken the cardinal rule. We were suppose to talk about mundane pleasantries aren't we? One girl quickly shoved it aside, showing annoyance on her face. Oops, I might have just ruined her idea of a pleasant evening. I could feel the other filled with thoughts that have no answers so she kept quiet. Like an exam she didn't study for and might just have the wrong answers.
The third girl said to me, I don't know, I haven't thought about what can I call solely my own. But my husband isn't good at listening. Sometimes I feel, is it just me?
This got me excited, this was the truth, I hear it.
The annoyed girl tried to quickly shove it under the carpet where all the difficult truths belong. She said it's just different seasons in a definitive manner and continued to ask the quiet girl about her children. I nodded in agreement, eager for more information but knowing it was my cue to let it be for the time being. Quiet girl heaved with relief, she knew how to talk about her kids, it was a safe zone for her. She put on her mask again and rattled on.
I listened patiently for a while but I wasn't going to let up just yet. I said, "the book also talks about how parenting is exhausting and sometimes you just want to sit back and watch some TV, is connectivity even realistic? She was so disconnected, it started affecting things in the bedroom." This was my own truth, even though I wasn't a parent, I sure have dated emotionally unavailable people and the sex was the first to go. There was no way I was going to be open to it if I do not have a deep connection first. The quiet girl nodded in agreement. We were getting somewhere, little steps to know each other truly.
Ask yourself today, what do you have that is solely your own?
The kids will fly the coop someday and touch wood, your relationship might not work out. Men often don't feel guilty about wanting to meet up with friends, have their own hobbies or pursue a career, it is often the women who sacrifice these things. I believe if we find a little more balance in our lives, we wouldn't be so devastated when our roles change.
Comment below if this speaks to you. Your life stories like mine are valuable to the other women here.
I can't wait.
To love, light and peace,
Womanhood: Navigating the Toxic Waters is by Jenny Lee. You can find her here.
You can find tattoo art here.
Read about my review of Love Warrior here.