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We have far more resources than ever- the Internet, the myriad blogs, the self-help books jumping off the shelves, the e-books on our Kindles and iPads, the numerous moms out there who’ve seen that and done it all- but we still fall short.
We are still not in complete control of every single thing that happens in our lives. We can’t be. It’s just not physically possible.
Yet, we balk when it comes to talking about the tough days- as a mom, as a wife, as a daughter, as an online friend, as a bosom buddy, or to put it quite simply, as a person.
Why? Is it the fact that we will be judged, no matter what? The more painful the situation and the more openly you talk about it, for every ten supporters that you have or fifty, there will be that one person silently shaking her head in disapproval.
Talking about my depression was so hard for this very reason. There’s always been this image that people create of another person, based on their limited understanding of what they know. And once you’ve created that image- through your actions or behaviour- there is a pressure to keep the mask on. If you let it slip, for any reason, be ready for the judgment.
Nowhere is this more clear than in the realm of social media.
Friends who know you well (virtually) will take umbrage if you don’t reply to a private message or respond to an e-mail. Acquaintances who send you a friend request wonder why they haven’t been accepted into the circle of trust. People you’ve known for a while will turn their noses up and leave a sarcastic note saying how you never seem to have time for them.
Of course my life isn’t a picnic! I am not sailing through parenting with a know-it-all crown on my head, doling out tips on yelling less and parenting with positive thoughts all the time!
There are days I completely lose it, where I break down and cry in the confines of the shower, where my sobs cannot be heard.
I sit and brood with a cup of tea in my hand, wondering if I am doing the right thing by being firm with my daughter on some days.
The terrifying thought that I could be snapping emotional connections with her crosses my mind, every three days, when things don’t happen the way that I expect.
Amidst it all there is the Pinterest-worthy image of this Doting Mom who seems to handle it all, with a serene smile on her face. Yet, that isn’t the whole reality. It never can be.
I’ve done it too, you know. The judgement, the taking offence, the sarcasm- yes, I am guilty. But if the last few years of blogging have taught me anything it is that I must expand my sphere of acceptance. Just half an hour of scrolling through my Facebook feed is enough to show me that all people really want is to be loved.
They want to be accepted.
They want to be taken for who they are.
To begin with feeling that compassion for others, though, I must first begin with myself. So, I start by talking about the tough days- the ones where I yell, when I feel so sad that the earth could open and swallow me up, the ones where I feel like slamming my fist into the wall to stop the anger from crushing me, the ones where nothing seems worthwhile.
To offset it all, I have the glorious days- the ones of pure joy, the ones of incredible openness, the moments of sheer exhilaration to lift me out of the depths.
Why? Because life is like that. Life is not peaches and cream. Nor is it a rocky road. It’s like a tub of vanilla ice-cream with chocolate chips and a plate of salted chips on the side. You don’t really know why, but taking a bite out of the salted chips makes you savour that sweetness even more.
So let’s begin by embracing the tough days, reveling in the good ones, enveloping everyone in the circle of compassion. Face it, we need each other. That’s the Zen of existence, to be honest- Not to always be calm in the face of grief or joy, but to observe it all with a quiet detachment.
Through the sad times and the happy days, we need each other. Let’s pledge to talk a bit more frankly about those tough days and help each other heal.