A friend said to me the other day, ‘things got so on top of me a couple of weeks ago, I honestly felt like driving off a cliff. I should have called you, but felt awkward telling someone.’
Ladies, I feel like it’s time to put a few facts on the table, to lessen taboo around certain subjects and get us TALKING to each other about things that are important to us, over and above the day to day ‘Where should we go on holiday?’, ‘What school’s best for little Archie?’, ‘Where do you get your eyebrows done, they look fabulous!’
Let’s start to incorporate surface level living with what is really going on in our lives. The stuff we may keep hidden, the stuff that may have us crying silently in another room so we don’t wake the family, the stuff we may think we can’t mention because at the end of the day we’re living, breathing and loved, so 'we should be grateful, right? We should get on with it, stop being so silly, so entitled, so sad.'
Let’s start trusting in the sisterhood.
Trusting that even if they can’t fix, they’ll listen. Trust that they probably have a ‘thing’ too that they’d like to share with someone. Trust that they’ll be relieved that there may be someone else just like them who at times just does not cope.
When the friend told me about her feelings of ending it all on that day, my thought was ‘unfortunately you and many other women I’ve come across.’ When I challenged her on why she hadn’t called me, she was concerned that she may be overreacting.
We SHOULD be talking about the things that we aren’t coping with. It’s not to make light of the subject of pain, but to make RIGHT the subject of pain. Make it right … normal … every day to be able to pick up that phone and say to someone ‘yeah, life is just not working for me at the moment, I really need to talk and I really need to be heard.’
And to be heard is the key.
As a life coach I know that change comes from within, from fighting back against the beliefs, thoughts, feelings and actions that are keeping you trapped, down and bound. We do not have to connect with each other for the intent of fixing, merely to be heard and to release.
I have always believed that all emotions provide us with a holistic human experience and all are presented to us so we may grow, learn and evolve. All emotions should be respected, acknowledged and accepted for the role they are playing in that moment. Most of us are doing the best we can at any given time.
We have to be more comfortable in speaking and sharing, not so we come from a place of effect and request that another hands us our solution on a plate, but to speak, voice, express and take this energy that afflicts our heart space, and move it away from us to stop it festering and growing within.
This way, the pain can have an opportunity to expel itself from our core and we are then given a chance to view a situation for what it is, rather than from a personal pain perspective. We can then plan, implement and maintain our own change.
It’s time to put ‘taboo’ on the table, ladies! I'll start ... [deep breath]:
Taboo # 1
Four or five years ago my hair started falling out. I had pretty fine hair to begin with, but at least in the good ol’ days it covered my head adequately. After my divorce and when I hit ‘hormonal 40’ it appeared that my head was saying ‘bald is the new black!’ I voiced my concern and distress to someone who I had known and trusted my whole life, to be met with the remark ‘oh how funny! When I tell my husband he’s going to have a field day with this one!’
From that point on I retreated and did not really mention the utter impact this hair loss was having on me. But it sat with me daily, everywhere I went; there it fell. I was so devastated by the thought of losing what I had. I thought no one would ever desire a partner who was losing her hair. I would look at every other woman’s seemingly thick/er locks and wonder ‘why them, and not me?’ Because I had chosen to feel like I was ‘wrong’ for having hair loss by the initial comment from that woman, I just shut up and shut it in. Some days it got so bad I wondered if it was worth living at all.
Vain yes, human, yes.
Taboo # 2
When I turned 40, I also turned into Santa. A fine white covering of hair appeared on my cheeks and chin. 'Oh my God!' I thought. 'This too? You’ve got to be kidding me!' I tried every depilatory method available, only to have them all react to my skin and produce volcano-like acne all over my face. I didn’t talk much to anyone about this at the time, because I was so ashamed of the way I looked.
I would endeavour when out to make sure I wasn’t talking to anyone in the direct sunlight, as they’d surely notice it then! I would pick shady spots or turn my back to the sun so it wouldn’t catch what I’ve come to realise is known as ‘peach fuzz’. Because I had chosen to feel like I was ‘wrong’ for having hair on my face, I just shut up and shut it in. Some days it got so bad I wondered if it was worth living at all.
Vain yes, human, yes.
Taboo # 3
The gloom settled over me a few months before I gave birth to my first child.
Ante-natal depression, it was termed. I hadn’t known that it could come before birth, but it did. At the time I didn’t realise that the ante was my preferred depression, as you see the post brought the voices. I’m not sure how many nights I sat there alone whilst my husband was on night shift, willing myself not to listen to or act on what I could hear in my head. When it appeared all the other new mums around me were thriving, I felt like I was declining; as a mother, a wife, a human being.
I did go to the GP and I was prescribed anti-depressants, which had me either manic and cleaning at midnight, or zombified and detached.
And to the outside world? Well, I pretended. I became robotically Stepford. I smiled when I had to and said ‘good, thanks!’ when people asked how I was. Because I had chosen to feel like I was ‘wrong’ for not being a perfect mother/wife/human being, I just shut up and shut it in.
Some days it got so bad I wondered if it was worth living at all. This was the time when alone, I could have well and truly driven myself in to a tree. I did not want to feel this pain anymore.
Self-serving yes, human, yes.
Taboo # 4
When I was 41 I looked at the reflection of ‘that area’ in the mirror post-shower. 'What has happened THERE?' I thought. 'How can something that used to look like a Cheeseburger all of a sudden resemble a Big Mac, complete with the lettuce hanging miserably out the bun?' I Googled labiaplasty … yes, there is indeed a procedure to take your Big Mac back to a Cheeseburger. I had chosen to feel like I was ‘wrong’ for having a Big Mac, so I just shut up and shut it in.
Some days it got so bad I was immensely grateful my husband can’t really see without his glasses, and when that’s on show, he’s not usually wearing them.
Vain yes, human, yes.
We have to start talking about that which pains us and view the 'taboo' as ‘normal’, so I have chosen to lead by example.
We have to move away from the superficial and when someone says ‘how are you?’ if you’re not good, choose not to feel pressure into saying otherwise. The sisterhood is stronger, tougher and smarter than you may realise. We have to be comfortable in saying ‘today, it’s crappy, today it sucks, today is a drive into a tree kinda day! But I know if I can say this to you I can lesson my own despair, perhaps pick up some insight along the way and tomorrow shall be better!’
We have to talk so we understand that we are not alone and that we have more in common than we may think. I don’t believe talking necessarily means that you have to be fixed, you just want to be heard … validated … understood. There is so much to be said for not carrying a burden alone.
I am not wrong, I am just me. There is a massive difference. You are not wrong, you are just you. Again, massive difference.
The only shame here is that a woman feels she can't speak up, especially in the sisterhood of another woman.