Excuse the mess, I’m emptying my head today. I both love and hate the internet. It has been a blessing and a curse in my life. It has been a way to access information at lightening speed, to re-connect with old friends and make new ones, shop without the hassle of line ups at checkout, no waiting in line to be served. And it has been a way to be constantly reminded of my shortcomings, my faults, my flaws and failures.
Unless you are a responsible internet user (which, clearly I am not) and avoid all social media, check only your children’s school website, the weather network, do your banking, book your family vacations and surf the New York Times, then you may have also noticed what I am about to describe.
Memes. Inspirational quotes. Motivational quotes. Little ‘pick-me-ups’ reminding you to be strong, brave, honest, courageous, take no shit and do no harm, embrace your beauty and live your best life abound online.
Just a small sampling of the well-meaning, yet soul crushing encouragement found in three minutes on the ‘net.
Well, fuck me. I don’t feel brave. I don’t feel strong, courageous or unstoppable. I feel powerless, scared, cowardly and small. Not every day, but I feel that way far more often than I feel like I have the world by the nose. And on those grey days, I don’t feel brave. I feel like I’m watching my life slip away one day at a time while I desperately grasp for any and every shred of happiness, contentment, peace, love and good from wherever I can.
A shitty day that ends with my four youngest kids all piled on, cuddled up to and all around me on the couch keeps me moving forward, safely protected and encased in their love, secure in the knowledge that their need for me to keep moving forward, and in my love, resolve and fierce instincts to shield them from the shit the world has to offer will save me. A great day that ends with a simple misunderstanding, a careless word, a cutting remark, indifference or disinterest sends me spiralling downward and desperate to find something good and real to hold on to because failing my children is not an option, so it follows that my falling completely apart is not an option either. But still I don’t feel brave.
I hide away from ugly truths. I shy away from unpleasant situations and other people’s feelings. I shield myself from others truths and opinions about my character. I hide away from facing being wrong and wronged. I hide away from true confrontation and change. I hide away from my own feelings of sadness, guilt and regret. Because I don’t feel brave. One day at a time, one day at a time, like an addict, I tell myself this ten times a day, when the panic starts to set in that I’m losing my life and not living up to my dreams, goals and what I once believed to be my potential. I don’t feel brave.
I look at my children. All five so different from the next. All five so perfectly imperfect and so absolutely possessing the unlimited potential to live the lives they dream of living. But how can they, without a role model, without a strong example to follow, without really knowing or learning how to dream, set goals and make their lives happen? How do I help them to be brave and really go after what they want, to be their best, authentic selves, when I’m so uncertain? So stuck?
I’m not brave because I raise children. I’m not brave because I get out of bed every morning. I’m not brave because I leave the house looking more homeless than chic. I’m not brave because I’ll happily eat chocolate for breakfast. I’m not brave for having experienced child birth once and going back for more, nor am I brave for numerous E.R. visits, breast-feeding in public, hospital stays with sick children or parent-teacher nights. Those things are all LIFE. Regular family life. And while I am not minimizing their validity or the importance of some of those things in my life, not one of those facts or events earns me the label or achievement of being brave in my life.
And, perhaps it is merely that I am stuck in a rut. Attributable to nothing more than my status as a human being rather to that of my being a woman, wife, or mother. I could well be experiencing a mid-life situation (not a crisis, I’m not that much of a drama queen, come now). I am not menopausal and hot flashing left and right, I am not buying a cute sports car or heading off to get a ‘mommy makeover’ at the cosmetic surgery centre, but I am questioning my life, my contribution, the true value I bring, my goals and my future.
Yeah, I get that. Helpful. Thanks, internet. You asshole.
And I still really, really do not feel brave.
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