I’ve been the skilled captain of my own seemingly sinking ship for as long as I can remember. Expertly navigating through one storm after another without completely falling apart, but taking in more water than I’d like, moving slower and growing more tired. I’ve felt like life was a storm I could never pass – that I was forever stuck under a dark cloud feeling like happiness was only found in the movies or for people who deserved it. I didn’t think I deserved it; I was too broken, too fucked up. I thought my daughter’s smile and free spirit could save me from drowning under my mistakes and ridiculously high expectations of myself. I had to be great, amazing even, and I wasn’t living up to the woman I wanted to be, and therefore I was a failure. A complete failure, stuck in the rain.
My whole life I’ve been resilient, I don’t think I’ve had an option to be any different. I’ve had to be a strong and independent woman often without a tribe to lean on during my darkest days. I’ve had a difficult relationship with my mother and my estranged father passed away a month ago bringing to light many childhood feelings I’ve worked so hard to store away. I’ve struggled knowing my worth and thinking I could achieve anything worthwhile, trying hard to define success for myself as a woman and a mother. Guilty that my role as a mother just wasn’t enough to fulfill and nourish my soul. As I’ve gone through one storm after the next I’ve repeatedly asked myself: what will I become? What will I become? I’m often too scared to make a change and have tiptoed around my life worried I was just going to make more of a mess of everything.
All of this doubt and fear has left me emotionally drained and socially isolated wanting nothing more than to put a do-not-disturb sign on my door and lay in bed. Still. Hoping if I did so life would be OK and I’d dodge another storm. Worried if I faced another storm I wouldn’t survive.
I’ve tried hard to cover up my unhappiness with an empty smile and simple conversation. I’m the Queen of deflection. But last Friday someone saw through the façade and saw I was hurting more than I was able to process. I felt exposed, I felt naked. But more than anything I felt relieved. Holding all these emotions in has consumed me, and I was finally able to breathe and be OK with knowing that I’m not OK right now, that I need help. And that started me becoming truthful to myself and those closest to me. I was so afraid to be anything less than stellar, but in the process I was killing myself.
I’ve spent entirely way too much time beating myself up over decisions I should have made and mistakes I regret, telling myself that my life wasn’t going to change. I wasn’t worth it. No wonder I wasn’t on my way to finding happiness, I was literally talking myself out of it. In the midst of the rain I was crying and not moving, sure that nothing good was going to come.
The first step in feeling better and moving forward is being honest with yourself. This often means acknowledging you need help and that you aren’t OK. As someone who has suffered from depression I know it’s easy to sit back and let your emotions consume you. But this isn’t the legacy I want to leave for myself or my daughter. I know happiness isn’t something that is going to happen overnight and I have to learn to accept that there will be more storms, but I will overcome. I have come so far already to give up now. But I can’t go along this journey alone so I’m seeking out help to be a better person, to me. I owe myself that much.
So let the rain fall, accept it’s time in your life. But sail forward. You’re worth it.