I started blogging because I became isolated after having my first baby. I was content to live in a state of ‘shut in-ness’ for almost two years after my eldest daughter was born but I realised that I didn’t want my life to be held on hiatus until my kids left for college pretty quickly after my youngest daughter was born.
Put simply, I didn’t like the person I’d become. She was sad and antisocial. You wouldn’t talk to that Sophie at a party. To be brutally honest, she wouldn’t have talked to you anyway. I became so shy that I either clung to anyone kind enough to try to engage with me so closely that even the least perceptive person would conclude (correctly) that they had got stuck with a worryingly needy, insecure nutjob or I clammed up so hard that I would just whimper and act like a deer facing down the proverbial highlights.
Oh yeah, I was rocking at life. Seriously, I was kicking ass – at being withdrawn and over anxious. What I didn’t realise then was that I didn’t have to be like all the people who seemed to be doing a good job at life. I honestly don’t know why I didn’t cotton on to the fact earlier. I was never like everyone else before I had a baby. What made me think I would be after I gave birth? Still, when you get stuck in the rut of depression, your sense of logic often fucks off. You don’t notice it, obviously – that would be far too easy.
After the schooler turned 2 (while I was knocked up with the toddler), I started taking her to a different play group. It was held in a big old church hall – instead of one of those custom built, white painted, sanitary places with child sized furniture. It’s still run by the women who started it in the 70s. Their grandchildren go now. There were endless supplies of tea and a complete lack of judgement. People who had problems coming to terms with parenting (like me) mixed with the highlights & Isabel Marant gang (ironically, just as unpopular – because they don’t breastfeed and can afford the help we all want) while the kids ran riot.
It was the first time that I didn’t feel like everyone could see how crap a mother I was. I’m actually crying as I write this. I don’t think I can say anything else that will express how bittersweet the experience was. I met a couple of other women who felt like I did. And they said so. They actually admitted it. I was blown away – I wasn’t alone, I wasn’t undeserving of my child, I wasn’t selfish because I missed my freedom. I was just lonely, overthinking and really fucking tired of it all.
Ironically, since I ‘came out’, I’ve met a lot of other women who feel the same way. I know it’s okay now but I will never forgive myself for being so hard on myself. The last person who should have been that unsupportive of me was, well, me. I come back to that again and again when I write. None of us should be so self critical that it becomes a crippling social problem.
The experience gave me resolve. I’ve suffered from depression a few times and I find that the best thing – for me, anyway – is just to get really, really angry. To channel all the hatred I feel about the condition into destroying it by creating something else. I know it’s what makes me a workaholic and an overachiever. They’re a defence mechanism. I’m always scared that, if I stop, the mist will come again. I can’t let that happen. I just can’t. I know it’s going to mean that I’m always running but I don’t care – fight or flight. The anger’s the fight and the work is the flight.
In short writing, training myself in all aspects of digital marketing and social media and learning about lots of different things from the amazing people I’ve bumped into in my search for information and journey of discovery has given me energy. Not just energy, but strength. I feel like I’m invincible when I campaign. I’m an activist, a warrior and a worthy adversary. I’m also a reliable ally, a loyal friend, an erstwhile cheerleader and a better person than I was.
I’m an outgoing, sociable, engaged woman now. I feel more confident about my choices and I know that my intelligence is useful again. I have learnt that I can be sexy – even after having two children. I can also get out of bed and have a shower and breakfast every morning. That last bit was the level I struggled with when I started out.
I don’t want my daughters to see the sad, cowed little doormat that I had become. I want them to know a strong, vibrant, inspiring woman. I want them to admire me – or, at least, to see an example that they can use as a foundation for all the wonderful things that they have the potential to become. Those girls are full of faith in the future. I want some of that. Most of all, I never want to show them that it’s something to doubt.
I can’t write about how I’ve grown without writing about my favourite resource. Put simply, it’s people. More specifically, it’s my readers. I’m not a very ‘easy’ person. I have epilepsy – it’s controlled, but it means that I have to take medication constantly. Something about the combination of my meds and the fact that I have excessive electrical activity all over my brain now has changed my behaviour over time.
I’m very logical and have problems empathising with people. I don’t like to talk about my feelings and – in truth – I find emotions difficult to process because they don’t make any sense to me. They’re unpredictable and improbable. I hate jokes that require subtlety. I think Will Ferrell’s funny. Everyone else thinks he’s puerile. I understand that he’s obvious. That’s why I like him. There are no variables and no complications. Phew.
All the same, I needed some readers – I like constructive criticism. I’m all about performance management. It’s sound business sense, after all… I put myself out there and asked people to try me for size. It was hard – really hard – but they were kind and helped. I stopped being scared of my perceived shortcomings and just got on with it.
In truth, I think I would have given up if it hadn’t been for all the wonderful, generous, intelligent people I came into contact with – and still come into contact with every single day.
You’re a mixed bag – and I need that. You all stimulate something different in me. From ideas for posts to just letting me know that I’m doing okay for you, you all have something to say that I value. I will never be able to thank you all in turn but I can celebrate your efforts.
You read what I write. That’s enough for me. That makes me very happy. I hope that, sometimes, I can make you happy too.
And now I’m going to go and have a little cry. Or a big cry. I don’t mind doing that occasionally now – because I’ve learnt that it can be cathartic. That’s a good thing – you’re teaching me things like that.
Thank you all. Really. You’ve changed my life just as much as I have. Consider this a love letter to you and your generosity.
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