I had a very long week. It was full of great highs and really crummy lows, but upon reflecting, a few incidents have got me thinking (Everyone step back!). I've had a lot of pain that I've endured alone. I've carried the load by myself for a huge chunk of time and kept my cards close to myself. I've opened up about a few issues, but for the most part, what's going on in my life, stays inside the vault that is Joy. I know it's hard to believe with my glurging here every few days, but you're going to have to take my word on it.
A few months ago, I opened up about my PPD. I thought long and hard about it. I worried if people were going to see me as a basket case, if they were going to get sick of me, if they were going to treat me differently, if they thought I wouldn't be the same person. But I found that writing about it was therapeutic, to actually admit that I'm not alright and I might need some help and TLC was a relief.
Growing up, I learned very quickly from my dad and my peers to keep my problems to myself. Crying was a sign of weakness and not to be sensitive. I am a sensitive person, much as I like to try and hide that, it comes out. I'll say I'm one of those sensitive creative temperamental types because I'm so brilliant at blogging, or not...probably not. Anyhow. If I cried, I was ridiculed, people treated me like a freak because I was sensitive, or because I fell or my feelings were hurt. So by the time I was in grade 8, I hadn't grown a thick skin, but I had learned like crazy how to hide my emotions. I became really good at it. At the high point, I could easily claim that outside of a soppy movie, I hadn't cried in a year. I'm still good at it.
Anyhow, long story short, I was good at hiding things that were painful to me. I'd just suck it up and try to move on, storing it away and never really dealing with it. So thinking about this this week, I was wondering if I was just insanely fucked up, or if I was destined for eventually snapping and going Incredible Hulk on a train station or something. But no, I'm not. I can't tell you how many times, I've talked to women about my problems and they said something like "Oh yeah, I've soooo been there, I was ready to fling myself off a bridge". I then think to myself "Waitaminute! These are my friends, I could have hugged them! And I'm just finding out about this NOW?"
Now I'm not advocating that we start spilling all of our painful memories or secrets for the sake of that, and indeed if you want to keep it to yourself because it's just too private and too raw to share, please do. But ladies, if you're hurting and you need a friend and you have them, you need to call on them. It's scary taking that plunge about whether to tell your friends, or your blog about a big issue affecting your life. Some folks aren't good at supporting, some will freak out, some will start crying, some will treat you badly, some even though well intentioned might just make a mistake in their support.
So many of these women are moms. What do we moms hope for when our children are feeling scared, hurt, lost, confused, sad, angry? That they'll come talk to us. And of course as teenagers they never do, maybe that says something about our society, maybe we don't talk enough. Rambling on, I think society as a whole respects strength and power. I admire all my friends who have their shit together, but why can't I consider vulnerability or the strength to be vulnerable to be something to respect. There has to be a place for both.
I have good friends, they might muck up, they might piss me off, but when I think of those who have pushed up their sleeves and hauled my crying butt off the ground (figuratively, although someone correct me if it literally happened, it very well could have!) it makes me so glad to have opened up. Those wonderful positive moments of friendships are something to be treasured, but so are those moments when you're down and you see who comes kicking down the door to try and help.
So all you wonderful Mamas and women out there...and men too, in fact especially men (I just don't know if dudes actually read my blog), if you're suffering in silence and you have people you can rely on to help, consider opening up. Consider getting a therapist, talking to your doctor or family or friends. It's scary to take down those walls and I can't promise that it's all going to be rainbow unicorn farts and roses, but you might be surprised at the treasures you will find.