Weight

I’m getting so angry with this fixation we have as a society on external appearance, specifically people’s weight. This anger was triggered as I went into my work kitchen earlier this week and saw the headline of a trashy magazine blaring out “I’m size 18 but I’ll loose the weight for my son”.

It was a declaration of a celebrity who has just had a baby. Just entered motherhood.  And her seemingly key priority was getting back to tip-top shape physically.

Ok, I know. This lady probably never uttered those words – most of the stuff in these sorts of magazines is made up and sensationalised to pull in people and make a sale – but it makes me livid that others may read these words (especially young women) and have the idea reinforced that losing weight and being skinny is the epitaph of success.

It’s a load of bullshit.

When we’re lying on our death beds we won’t think ‘if only I had been thinner‘ or ‘if only I had lost those last 2 pounds’.

We’re more likely to think ‘if only I had laughed more, worked less, told my family how much I loved them more frequently, traveled the world, taken myself less seriously, been braver, had more fun, put less importance on how I looked’.

Our weight doesn’t matter.

It doesn’t measure your courage, your humour, the strength of your heart, the uniqueness of your thoughts or anything else that makes you, you.

I’m not saying that being healthy isn’t important – doing what we can to take care of ourselves physically is something I believe should be a priority. Eating a balance of foods, keeping active, sleeping as much as we need, drinking enough water. These things are all good for us.

And of course, I’m not saying to stay as you are if you’re stuck in unhealthy cycles of eating to comfort yourself or to push down your emotions. I know the hell that this is – stuck in a spiral of shame and despair.

If you’re suffering with comfort or binge eating, I’d encourage you to get some support to get a hold of it, dear friend. Perhaps even get in touch with me – I work with people specifically on stopping the comfort/binge eating.

So while I am not advocating for unhealthy lifestyles or staying in a cycle of unhealthy relationships with food, I feel deeply against this fixation we have with being young, lithe, thin.

I want to shout to the world “it doesn’t matter! We’ve got it round the wrong way! It’s the inside that truly counts!!!’

But really as I think about this more, I know deep down that my reaction – the anger – is also a frustration at myself for still basing my appearance as a measure of my worth when I know at an intellectual level that I’m so much more than my physique.

I find myself sometimes standing side-on to see how flat my stomach is. It’s a habit I’ve not yet been able to kick (although I’m able to check myself more and I do it less frequently).

I also struggle with how I look at myself physically when I’m tired or upset because my neural pathways still interpret these feelings as being linked to my weight. I catch myself judging my appearance more critically than I usually would when I’m in these states of fatigue or upset. And it’s only when I ask myself what’s really going on that I realise it’s nothing to do with how I look – it’s about the feelings that I am trying to hide away or the lack of care I’ve given myself when I’m tired or sad.

I’ve not yet been able to kick these two habits and I so sorely want to do so. I want to live free from any obsession with my physical appearance, but it’s so hard to shake it off when I’ve got constant reminders around me – in magazines, TV shows, conversations, adverts – that ‘thin is better’.

So I suppose this blog post is as much for me as it is for you, dear friend. It’s a cry to myself to stand free from the unhelpful, dysfunctional thoughts that my importance, acceptability and belonging has anything to do with me being thin.

Writing this post has made me realise that I need to have a conversation with the person who is putting those magazines in the kitchen. I need to ask her to stop bringing them in, because they’re really unhelpful and are triggering to me and my continued recovery from the eating disorders of my past. I commit to you, friend, that I’m going to do this when I next get the chance to.

So yet again, I’m left astounded that what was really going on was not my anger at the world (although I do feel enraged by these magazines and the perfection expected from our bodies). Instead it’s a frustration at how I’ve not yet shaken off the remnants of the thoughts and behaviours that no longer serve me.

So I’m going to be mindful in watching out for this behaviour – on order to change the side-on glances and critical eyes on my body when I’m tired/upset. But I’m not going to be unkind to myself or frustrated that I haven’t yet reached the nirvana of not caring about appearances.

I know that this will all come in time. I’m on the right path and that, for now, is enough.

ctl-logo-01

For a million days

My parents brought back a book for Jenson from their travels to Canada earlier this year and I love it. Possibly more than Jenson does. It’s called the Alaska Lullaby and it’s a story of how much a parent loves their child. It sums up pretty much how much I love Jenson.

I love him in a heart bursting, tears streaming down my face, smile splitting way. With wonder as he gets steadier on his feet, amazement as I see his little personality shining through.

I love him with patience as he grumbles with teething pains, with back aches as I bend down so he can walk, with greater regard for his needs than my own as I spend my ‘blog time’ searching for a little shampoo bottle he’s absurdly attached to.

There’s one line in the song which I love in particular –

I love you in a million ways, I’ll love you for a million days

It pretty much sums up all that it is a mother’s love.

And although I don’t believe in the ‘God’ of any organised religion, there’s something about love which I can’t help but think has an enduring God-like power. Perhaps that’s what Christians mean when they say ‘God is love’ – they’ve attached a persona to him, but what if God is love? And when I say this, I don’t mean that it’s part of her/it/him, but that the presence of love is divine? And so when I’m able to tap into this all-consuming, unconditional love for Jenson, I’m able to feel the divinity that is love in its fiercest, truest form.

This love is something that I feel has the power to echo across the years, like the clanging of bells across the decades. Because, although I won’t be around for a million days (if I was, I’d be around for nearly 3000 years!), that’s how strong I feel this motherly love is.

It feels like an enduring love.

It’s a love so strong that it’s guiding my future and is driving me to find space in my current role (and potentially a different job in the future) to address some of the injustices that will impact him – our education system which privileges performance over passion, environmental policies which prioritise a quick buck over a sustainable world for our future children, a financial system which benefits the few despite needs of the many…I don’t know how this will manifest in my life, but I feel the urge to do something because this love isn’t passive. It’s active.

The beauty about this sort of love is that I can feel the love of others around me, enduring through the years. I know I’m enveloped in the love that my grandparents had for me despite them having passed away. The pride my grandad had for me and the comfort of my grandma’s love.

And I can feel the love that my parents have for me despite the hundreds of miles separating me from them.

This love is all there and I can’t help but feel it will be there for a million years, as will my love for my son.

ctl-logo-01

In a funk

I’m sat down, having just put Jenson down to sleep, and am reflecting on the intermittent funk that I was in yesterday. I had moments of joy – seeing a friend, going to a yoga class, time in a cafe by myself, time laughing about what Jenson was getting up to – but kept on falling back into a bit of a mood. An itchy, scratchy feeling that things weren’t quite right.

And, having reflected on it, I think I know why this was…because I haven’t let go of my old life.

I keep on thinking  about how I’d love to be able to sleep in until noon, spend all day marathoning films, go out to eat in the evening with friends, read a book in the bath for hours and hours…and on the list goes of what I’d love to do for just one day.

And while I would never wish to be without my gorgeous little one, who is one of the very the best things in my whole world, I’ve been keeping hold of what was and is no longer.

I don’t think this has been a problem up until now because prior to this stage Jenson was amiable and willing to tag along doing whatever I wanted to do. But with his new found crawling and his little personality coming through (he’s got my stubbornness!), he’s no longer content to be my little shadow. He wants to be centre stage.

But despite this, I’ve been trying to keep my life as it was. Going out to cafes where there’s nothing much for him to play with, wanting time to chat when I need to be occupying Jenson, wanting to come first when, for now at least, that’s not how things are.

In sharing this with you, it’s helping me to let go of what once was in order to appreciate and enjoy the beauty of what is. And there’s so much to appreciate – my healthy, radiant, cheeky little boy, my family of three who I love spending time with, the possibility of doing other stuff – autumnal walks, craft activities, coffees in soft play centres, dancing around the kitchen, dressing Jenson up in ridiculous outfits, trips to the swimming pool.

And I know that things will get easier. Jenson will become more independent and will need me less which will bring with it the possibility of hours to read by myself, trips out with friends, trips to the cinema, time to cook up a storm in the kitchen. But I’m sure that, when that day comes, I’ll also feel in a funk and will mourn the days when my little boy needed me so desperately.

So I’ll try to appreciate what I have, for I have so much to be grateful for.

ctl-logo-01

Airtime

I have a principle that I incorporate into a lot of the group work I do. It’s called ‘managing your airtime’. It’s a request for people to become aware of how they show up in the group setting. If they are someone who talks a lot, I invite them to perhaps hold back slightly and let other people take more space in the conversation. If they’re someone who finds it difficult to speak up in a group, I invite them to perhaps push themselves to speak up a tiny bit more; to participate as fully as they can.

It’s an interesting concept for me to ponder on as I’m someone who tends to either speak up too much or not enough.

If I’m with people I feel truly comfortable with – my sister, super close friends, my husband – I can speak a lot. Chloe, my sister and Gregg, my husband can attest to this. With them I can talk and it’s really hard to become conscious of this in the moment in order for them to have space to show up.

It’s also true when I’ve got a role to play in a meeting or feel I have authority at work because of the role I’m in. Again, I have to be mindful to not take over and monopolise the conversation so that other people have the space to express themselves.

But I struggle to show up when it involves me becoming vulnerable with others (a topic I wrote about in my post yesterday). To feel safe, I shrink back and take more of a listening role, allowing other people to fill the space. But I’m trying to change this – keeping the principle of airtime in my mind is helpful to remember how I want to show up in conversations.

Airtime is also a concept that is serving me when I think about what needs to change in me internally. You see, I have a number of internal sub-personalities that show up a lot in my life with a critical voice (bear with me, hopefully you won’t find this concept too weird!). Here are some of the key players:

  • My inner mean girl who disparages me and is critical of my physical appearance.
  • A shy, scared part of me that is constantly trying to make me feel safe by becoming what I think other people need me to be in any given situation.
  • The discounter who tells me I’m not able to feel any negative emotion (angry, sad, discouraged) because other people have it worse than me.
  • ‘Not enough’ who, when I’m in a situation where I need to have expertise (when I’m coaching or in serious work meetings), makes me feel that I’m lacking when I don’t have all the answers or when I don’t feel like I’m the finished article.

I also have a number of internal sub-personalities that show up with a more nurturing voice.

  • The witness who I heard on my way to work the other day and reminded me to be kind to myself (you can read about it here).
  • My core which makes me feel powerful, strong and capable of anything when I tap into it.
  • The protector who shows up when I’m on my knees with overwhelm and tells me to cancel everything and do what is needed to take care of my mental health
  • My badass side which speaks up with attitude and pushes for what I want.

So what do these have to do with airtime?

Well, in my coaching session yesterday, I realised that the critical voices currently take a lot more airtime than the more nurturing ones. They tend to rule the roost when it comes to my internal dialogue. This isn’t always the case; more and more I find myself able to hear from the more nurturing voices, but this isn’t always the case I know I could do with hearing more from these gentle, kind internal voices.

I’m aware that I want these voices to have a more balanced airtime ratio.

I recognise that the critical voices serve a purpose of keeping me safe – they think ahead to see any risks that I need to prepare for, they make me aware of what I think I need to do to get people to accept me. But I don’t need to hear from them as much as I did in the past because I’m changing as a person.

I no longer feel the need to be constantly safe, I long more to be free. I don’t want people to like me because I comply to what I think their ideal ‘me’ is, I want to give people the opportunity to like me because of an authentic connection we’ve made (or to choose not to like me because we haven’t clicked – that’s ok).

I’ll still need to hear from the critical voices in order to think ahead and be prepared for what might be coming – tough questions I might get asked in a meeting, thinking about how others will best receive information I”m presenting to them. So I’m not trying to silence and repress them, I just want to find more of a balance.

And so in the coaching session, I stilled myself, gathered all these voices together and asked all them collectively to become aware of their airtime. To perhaps hold back or speak up. And I’m going try to stay mindful of their airtime in the coming weeks so that I can find greater balance in my life.

ctl-logo-01

 

Being real

I was looking forward to my coaching session this morning to explore how I can be more myself in the workplace. I’m aware that so often I pitch myself as ‘happy Amy’, ‘helpful Amy’, ‘glass-half-full Amy’ when that’s not what is truly going on for me. And while I don’t want to leave myself unfiltered at work to berate the lack of sleep I have, how I feel frustrated by X, Y & Z or be unconsciously careless about what I do share, I’m questioning the lack of realness in the workplace and am feeling uncomfortable with how little I show up authentically in order to feel safe.

This thinking started since I’ve been running a training session for managers in the workplace. It’s the one thing at work that I’ve actively disliked doing, because I feel like I’m constantly questioning myself about whether I’m enough, what people think, how I can get people to like what we’re teaching. Being like this, whilst pretending that everything is ok, keeps me safe, but it’s arduous and I’m not myself as I teach it. I’m an overstretched, overwhelmed, overcompensating version of myself and as a result, for the two weeks that this course runs every month I am exhausted to my bones. It’s been a struggle because I’ve not let myself be truly myself.

It’s not just me going through this too. I think people don’t feel able to show up fully in the workplace. For example, I was really saddened by a colleague of mine saying she wouldn’t sing in the work choir because the group is going to do a Christmas carolling session at each of our work hubs and it wouldn’t be professional to do this around colleague who she might be taking through a disciplinary or performance management process as an HR professional. I understand the tension but surely she’s allowed to be herself whilst also having a serious role to play at work?

I found myself sense-checking a blog post I wrote for work in which I shared that I’ve struggled with eating disorders and suffer to this day with anxiety. It felt uncomfortable to share this on a public blog read by a number of my work colleagues because I associate any mental ill health in myself (and others , if I’m honest) as weakness. This perception of weakness makes it hard to feel comfortable being real at work and, in the same way, it also feels weak to be vulnerable at work; to show anything of myself which isn’t 100% positive or professional.

So what have I done in the past? I’ve shied away from being vulnerable and in doing so have sacrificed showing up as my true self. And while I didn’t talk with my coach about how I’m going to make changes to be more vulnerable at work, one thing came out for sure – I’m no longer comfortable living behind a mask.

It no longer feels right.

Staying safe at the cost of my authenticity and vulnerability feels too restrictive, almost like I’m in clothes that are too tight for me. I want to take them off…but I also know that I can’t strip myself of these clothes in one go. Change this deep doesn’t work like that.

Instead I’ll need to summon the courage (along with a bucketload of patience for myself) to take off these ‘clothes’ bit-by-bit, experience-by-experience. I’ll need to remove being seen as bulletproof, always right, constantly competent, unable to be bruised and step into conversations that talk more about people than processes, more about hearts than heads, more about feelings than facts. I’ll need to be enquiring; to question assumptions about how we’re unable to be our full selves at work.

I’ll also need to hold this desired way of being with humour and grace. Knowing that I’ll fall down more times that I’d like to admit. Knowing that there’s no fixed end point to this way of being – there’s just more experiences of sharing fully of myself.

I feel excited about the potential of bringing my full self, being vulnerable and authentic, to the workplace. And while I feel like I end more posts than I’d like with the words ‘I can’t wait to see where this takes me’ they are true. I can’t wait to see where things go from here!

ctl-logo-01

A tiny step

I am currently sat on the train going to work and wanted to share a quick experience with you, dear friend.

It’s been a bit of a night for me, well, to be honest, every night is a bit of a night at the moment with 4+ wake-ups with Jenson where the only way to settle him is to sit up and cradle him in my arms.

And so today I’ve got out of the bed on the wrong side. Too quick to temper, my inner child stamping its feet if something isn’t 100% right off the mark, feeling like a grumpasaurus. And it’s only 7:15!

I was reading my book on the train – one about developing as a leader – and judged for myself for my shortcomings. I feel I have still so far to go to become anywhere near proficient at what I was reading.

But then I found myself looking at what was going on, as if from a third person’s point of view. And I realised that I was being less than kind to myself when what I really need is patience, understanding, gentleness for myself.

It hit me then and there that this voice was the gentle, balanced one that I’ve been wanting to find for a while. She was finally speaking out! Not after the fact of me being mean, judgemental, less than kind about myself, but joining in with the conversation, appearing in the moment!

Her voice is one that counters all the internal ‘mean girl’ comments I make to myself, the qualifier voice that discounts my experiences (you can’t be sorry for yourself because ‘X’ person has it worse off than you) and the part of myself I fondly refer to as ‘Mabel’ – the timid, scared child side of me who is constantly trying to make me feel safe in an unpredictable world.

To me, this new voice seems like a witness of sorts. Able to step outside what is going on and give me a more balanced view.

I know that this experience is a small thing, a tiny step on my journey to greater kindness for myself, but it feels like a massive thing that I want to celebrate! So even though part of me feels weird sharing this with you (will you think me strange for giving names and characters to all these sub-personalities that I’m formed of?!), I’m putting it out there.

Because this is huge! The start of an internal rebalancing, the discovery of a kinder internal voice, a hope for greater peace and self-love in my life.

Love

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll be aware that I’m on a path to create greater levels of self-love. It’s something I’ve been working on for years. I’ve made progress, but like an onion has many skins, this journey to self-love also does. Once I’ve peeled off one layer, I discover another layer of unhelpful beliefs, values and actions that I need to unravel and discard to find greater levels of love for myself.

I’ve written about my experience of realising that I often resist feeling loved and about the practice of connecting to my heart regularly and I suppose this post is a ‘what happened next’ from putting all this stuff into practice…so here I go.

I was putting Jenson to sleep and decided to spend some time focusing on my heart to try to hear the message that it wanted to send me. It wasn’t easy at the start – I spent about 10 minutes with my mind drifting off this and that and every way until I started to focus and meditate on my heart.

I imagined a bright green light coming from the centre of my heart (green is the colour associated with the heart in sacred Indian texts) and pictured this light and filling the whole of my body. With every breath in and every breath out, I imagined that this light was expanding more and more in and around my body. Like when you’re blowing up a balloon and it expands and expands and expands.

When I felt this light reach my head, I suddenly felt like a part of me, deep inside, was communicating with me. And here’s the message it said:

“Love every bit of you. Not just your heart but your head too and those ‘voices’ you find less acceptable. From your inner critic to the side of you that is like a scared child, your inner mean girl and your bad-ass side.”

All the facets of myself that I’ve mentioned above are part of who I am. And I’m so much more than that too. I’ve got jealousy, generousness, gentleness, fierceness, a child-like wonder, a controlling streak…and so much more.

This moment of meditation, focusing on sending love all over me, showed me a truth. That letting me love myself means pouring love over all of me, even the parts that I find lacking. It means sending generous measures of beautiful love to every little bit of me that is a bit frayed, a bit tender, a bit hurting, a bit less than perfect.

Loving myself more isn’t just about beefing up all the areas that I like to show of myself – my kindness, my intelligence, my generosity, my creativity. It’s about loving the whole of me.

What a revelation that came from just one moment of stillness. And what mercy it was to name each of those areas I’m less than proud of and tell them just how much I love them.

cropped-cropped-ctl-logo-01.jpg

Change

I’ve just finished reading a truly beautiful book on the physiology and anatomy of love. It’s called ‘a general theory of love‘ – check it out! It may sound strange – love doesn’t sit easily in our minds as a physiological response – but love stems from the limbic part of our brain. From there flows connection, affection, love in all its bright and shadowy forms. The book is written by three doctors and looks at what love (or the absence of love) does to us in our childhood, explains the evolution that led is to become social creatures and explores our fundamental need for belonging.

I’ve found it really reassuring from an ‘attachment parenting’ viewpoint since that’s the parental style I most identify with. It’s a parenting style which includes things like co-sleeping, extended breastfeeding and responding to my son when he cries in all situations to give him comfort. But this isn’t a post about parenting, I just thought I’d mention it for all the parents out there who might like to read it!

So, what do I want to say about this book…?

Well, it’s been really helpful following my post last week where I acknowledged how difficult and arduous it has been to get to where I am with my personal journey to greater courage, truth and love.

You see, I felt frustration with how long it’s taking to change my inner patterns to respond to myself more often with patience, not anger. To look at myself with grace when I’ve slipped up. To have a default setting of unconditional love towards myself.

And this book explained from a physiological perspective why it is taking so much time. You see, when we’re children, our brains have plasticity. Our brain is able to morph and learn and grow (hence why the first 1000 days are so crucial to a child – it’s this period of time where they are able to more easily change the ‘nature’ settings – a propensity for moroseness, for example – by being nurtured to have greater levels of confidence, self-assurance and acceptance).

When we’re older, however, changes around how we view ourselves – our default settings – are harder to make as our brain has less plasticity. Our limbic brain where all the emotions come from isn’t as easily changed.

And so it takes more time – sometimes years – to rewire our brains.

Knowing this allows me to have greater patience on this path I’m on. I’m able to see that things will change in their own sweet time.

Knowing this also allows me to feel less like a failure. It’s not down to a lack of effort or ability that I’m struggling with shedding what holds me back. That I still hold on too tightly to the opinion of other people, that I find it tricky to cut myself some slack, that I sometimes talk to myself with anger instead of love.

It’s biological.

And while it doesn’t make the process any easier, it allows me to accept that this is where I am and to trust that things will change over time if I keep on keeping on.

It also gives me greater faith in the process I go through with those I coach.

There are people I’ve been working with for a year or so. I’ve seen amazing progress in their lives – some have changed their relationship with food, increased their confidence or have fostered greater love for themselves – but some still have progress they want to make. And this knowledge has allowed me to have more assurance that my role is to support them and trust in the coaching I’m doing with them. Although it may take time, they will get to where they long to be.

ctl-logo-01

Acknowledgement

I had another coaching session yesterday – there’s a common pattern starting to emerge that each session brings with it a blog post. Because each session allows me to reflect on some aspect of my life and make small steps towards where I want to be – able to love myself unconditionally.

So what did my session bring yesterday?

In a way, not much happened. I reflected on how challenging I had found my recent break away. It was lovely to see friends and beautiful to be in Wales, but it was not the restful time I needed it to be. Because I didn’t let it be.

The one day when I did nothing – I let the others go off on a walk and spent 5 happy hours in my own company – was the one time where I felt myself relax and unwind a bit. The one time that I felt I gained a bit of energy and resilience…which was taken away when Jenson awoke at 2am and wanted to play for two hours before going back to sleep.

I reflected with my coach that I’d have really done better if I had stayed back every day. Let the others go on walks, rambles, trips out and instead stayed and cocooned by myself for a few hours. But I hadn’t even seen that as an option because I hadn’t checked in with myself about what I truly needed each day until I got to breaking point.

So I ended the session with the acknowledgement that I need to get more in touch with myself to know on a moment-by-moment basis what I need. Whether it’s to go out, stay in, say ‘yes’ to an invitation or gracefully say ‘no’. But I don’t know how to get more in touch with myself…the voice that said ‘ENOUGH!‘ when I was at breaking point only comes out when I’m on my knees through fatigue, over-stretching myself and doing things that are not right for me for an extended period of time. It’s something that I’ll mull over for the next few weeks – how to listen to myself more without piling on another task for myself to do (i.e. committing to meditate for 15 minutes each day).

I also acknowledged that motherhood is hard. Beautiful, rewarding, exhilarating, but HARD.

Oh so hard!

It has stretched me thin with sleep deprivation, requirements for more patience than I’ve ever had, selflessness that I’m not used to. A surrendering of myself again and again and again to protect and nurture and raise my little son.

And I also acknowledged that this deep heart work I’m doing – the sort of thing I do with the people I coach – is hard.

Oh so hard!

It is work that involves looking deeply within myself, leaving no stone unturned on my mission to live with greater courage, truth and love. Actively looking at why I don’t consider myself as being ‘enough’ and asking why that is, reflecting on where I still people please and analysing why that might be, looking at the internal critical voices that drive my behaviour to start to rebalance them with kinder, more loving voices.

So I didn’t leave my session with any great revelations, but I know that being able to acknowledge what is going on for me is really important. As I write and reflect on this, I realise that it’s the start of rebalancing the critical voices with a kinder voice that says ‘you’re doing important work Amy, and it’s ok that you find it difficult. Keep on going, dear one’.

So I’ll keep on going, even if it is hard. For I sense that while the price of being here is high, the reward is going to be great.

ctl-logo-01.jpg

Sanding away

I’m going to be honest with you about how I felt this morning – I was bereft. I sat down outside on the cold concrete floor and wept as I mourned for myself and all that I’ve lost since becoming a mum.

As I write this a few hours later, I know that what I experience is first world problems. I’m not wanting for food, safety, shelter or water – my life is pretty sweet. But in that moment, life felt very bitter and I want to share my experience with you, dear friend.

I cried for not being able to sleep as I used to, for not feeling free to have a late night with friends in case Jenson wakes up to play in the middle of the night (as he has done twice since we’ve been on holiday), for not being free to drink and make merry without compromising my breastfeeding (a choice I’ve made but one which comes with a price), for not being able to have hours writing and reading and dreaming and planning in lovely coffee shops as I used to, for my body not being my own, for my time not being my own, for having to succumb to the wiley needs of a nearly nine month old who wails in consternation if he’s not able to get what he wants. Oh how he wails and how tedious it gets at times.

And for not having the energy to put on the ‘I’m fine, all is good!’ facade when my resources are nearly gone but I’m surrounded by people. A facade that allows me to push on when I’m tired, to be sociable when I need time alone, to push down my needs in order to seem easy and fun when I feel exhausted and drained.

And when I realised this last truth – that I’m not able to pretend to be anything other than I am – I was able to see how this experience of motherhood with Jenson is sanding away my rough edges. It’s holding me accountable for what I want to be, but struggle so much with.

Authentically me.

I want to be able to say ‘I’m exhausted, I’m going to bed‘ even when others are staying up. I want to feel free to curl up in a corner and read even when most around me are enjoying being sociable and chatting. I want to feel free to be nothing other than what I am.

But yet so often I soldier on, follow the crowd, join in even if it’s not what I want. There’s probably a mix of FOMO in there, but more often this behaviour is driven by the part of me that is like a little girl just wanting to be loved and accepted and feels that the only way for this to be the case is for me to be acceptable to other people by mirroring their wants and their desires instead of following my own.

The sad thing is that none of the people I count as friends put this pressure on me. It’s my own pressure I feel. I’m sure they’re glad when I do stay up late or go for walks with them etc., but their world doesn’t revolve around me stepping in line with them and they’re not bereft when I hold back and don’t join in with whatever group activities are going on. They love me for me.

And so while I may have partly cried this morning for the struggles I face as Jenson’s mum – lack of sleep, feeling stretched beyond my limits, being forced to find patience beyond that which I didn’t know I had – I’m also thankful that this experience with him is constantly reminding me what is important.

Finding my voice, accepting myself as I am, living life on my own terms.

And for that, my boy, I’m eternally grateful.

cropped-cropped-ctl-logo-01.jpg