With no struggle, we have no courage.
After my son was born, it took at least 3 days before I loved him.
I was truly in shock after he was born and it took some time for me to grasp my new reality. It changed me forever.
I spoke about it briefly on my blog.
On that day, like leaves on a tree in autumn gently falling to the ground, everything in my life dropped softly away and nothing else mattered. Nothing. My priorities changed. I loved him more than anything in the world, but that could never change how hard it is. I can only speak from my experience as a work at home mom. Being mom is by far the hardest thing I have ever done. There have been many days of tears, frustration and even anger.
I am so lucky to have women in my life who have opened up to me about the reality of motherhood. While it is the most beautiful part of life, it can also be the darkest. I have had friends and even random clients talk to me about their struggles as moms, and nothing makes me feel more honored or more normal.
I will never forget hearing my friend tell me in one of her darkest moments that she wanted to take her baby out with the trash. I did not feel disgust or fear; I felt honored to hear her truth and heart. I was let into her innermost darkest place and I felt honored. Opening up about your fears can only begin to shed light where there is darkness. I remember being so sleep deprived that I thought about dropping my son off at CPS, coming home, and getting at least 4 solid hours of sleep until they found me. There is a reason sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture. Because it is torture.
This is just one area of our lives that treads into the darkness. Struggling marriages, family members coping with mental illness, loss of loved ones, the list of heartbreaks is never-ending. Human life is riddled with great emotion and really hard times. But without the pain, the suffering, the struggles, we would never know how strong we are, and how much fight we have in our souls.
As mothers, we have weaknesses, exhaustion and moments of great frustration; we may walk away and close doors from our children for a chance to just breathe. We may realize our limits and ask for help. As partners, we may go to therapy to gain tools on how to strengthen our marriages. As individuals, we may seek medical treatment for mental illness. To me all this shows is our strength. We love so much we are willing to work harder, have the strength to change, to seek help.
We would probably never brag about this on facebook. No, that is reserved for only the happiest of moments.
How sad is it that we only see the smiles over the facade, masquerading the pain as happiness and perfection, when so much courage and bravery is lying beneath?
I find strength in hardship. How will we ever know how strong you are if we don’t know what you have overcome? Without intense darkness in the moments of our past, there is no appreciation for the light we enter as we break free from whatever bondage held us captive. A sunny day means little when every day is clear, sunny, and 75.
Social Media’s Truth
The internet does not help my point. We by nature want to post the happiest parts of our lives. A recent article in ESPN, entitled “Split Image“, says it all.
“Yes, people filter their photos to make them prettier. People are also often encouraged to put filters on their sadness, to brighten their reality so as not to “drag down” those around them. The myth still exists that happiness is a choice, which perpetuates the notion of depression as weakness.
Life must be Instagrammed — in more ways than one.”
Please, read it. I carried it with me for weeks. Split Image. What an impact that makes. You have probably heard it before. My mom to this day reminds me, ‘We never know what is going on in other people’s houses.’ Or perhaps the old adage, he could be coming from a funeral. We try to ease and explain other’s anger and sadness to prevent our own.
What we glean from the internet is a false and happy reality.
I am guilty of assuming people do not want to hear about my sad days, dramatic days or if I am just frustrated. It is easier to portray happy. It is easier than telling the whole truth.
I have been thinking about this all week. A wonder mother I met last weekend has a truly remarkable story. She is so strong and so are her stunning kiddos. Without her telling me about the darkness they have overcome, there is no way I would know just how strong, independent and resilient she is. I am happy to have met her even for a brief family photography session.
I am honored to see her dark and share her light. Like the ESPN article said, it is just a picture.
Yet there is so much behind it. So much truth, so much light overcoming the dark.
These children have a warrior spirit. Their father was severely injured in Afghanistan. They traversed states, and hospitals, to be together as a family. Eventually, it became clear that traumatic brain damage took away the father they once knew. These children moved nine times in two years. Can you even imagine doing that as an adult?! Such fighting spirits.
Only 6 months later, this amazing mama then lost her best friend to cancer only 90 days after being diagnosed.
Through it all, they had one another. Their love has out-shown the darkness, and they have found new life, new light.