I went out last weekend. My ALONE weekend without my boys. When I left the house, I wasn’t feeling particularly social, but I thought it would be good for me. It was time to stop pacing and looking at pictures of the boys and get out.
So I went to a fabulous party. There were so many people and fancy clothes and glitter and FUN. There was dancing. So much dancing. I watched a girl and her boyfriend and had an overwhelming desire to transpose myself onto her body and experience her carefree confidence. I wanted to feel her skirt twirling effortlessly around her legs and collapse onto her boyfriend’s chest, laughing and laughing and laughing. I looked down at my Lee Press-On nails and clasped my hands together. And I tried.
I danced and drank and laughed.
But my mind wasn’t there.
My mind was with my babies, wondering if they were staying up too late and if Jack still had that cough and if he stopped picking at the scab on the top of his right hand. I was wondering if Justus was missing his little stuffed Lovie. If he was missing me. I realized then that I wanted to leave. But it was still early and people were still sober. The real fun hadn’t even begun. I offered excuses and apologies. Their raised eyebrows questioned, “What about all the dancing and laughing and drinking and jokes and raised arms and raised glasses and “woo-hoos” and high fives and shoulder pats and hugs and stumbles and more laughing? What about being cool and fun?”
I’m reading Glennon Doyle Melton’s latest book called “Love Warrior” and in it she describes her “representative”: this is what she refers to herself as when she acts a certain way to feel accepted and included. It’s the act she puts on when she feels uncomfortable. Her “representative” takes over and is the person the world expects and wants her to be.
At that moment – when I was trying to slyly duck out of the party – I wanted to say, I’m sorry but my Representative has exhausted all of her efforts tonight. But don’t worry. She will fully recharge for the next party. She’ll be back and she’ll be cool and fun.
So I drove home, curled up under my covers and the world outside continued to be cool and fun.
The next day, I went for a run. A long, mind-clearing run. Ten miles later, I was trudging up the hill on my street, which had suddenly turned into Mount Everest, and I was a complete sweaty mess, gasping for air. My neighbor saw me and said something with a strong accent and I didn’t understand him. “What?” I asked. He said it again, this time slower:
“You a strong lady.”
My first instinct was to giggle (which I did), then said, “I’m trying.”
I’m trying to be a strong lady. I’m trying to figure out who I am, and even harder than that, I’m trying to be that person. Live in her skin. Live her life.
I don’t want to pretend to be happy; I want to BE happy. And when I’m NOT happy, I want to be ok with that too. I want to be ok with all my emotions – even the uncomfortable ones. When I’m tired and want to be alone, I want to say, “I’m tired and I want to be alone” and when I need a friend to talk to, I want to say, “I need a friend to talk to.”
It’s certainly an arduous journey, this journey of self-discovery. But I’m moving forward and making progress every day. It feels slightly ironic that it’s taking such an effort to discover who I am. After almost forty years of living in this body, you’d think this should be easier, more natural than it is; however, despite its difficulty, I’m trying to be the strong lady my neighbor thinks I am. I don’t want to pretend. I want to FEEL strong and BE strong. I’m trying.
I still get very high and very low in life. Daily. But I’ve finally accepted the fact that sensitive is just how I was made, that I don’t have to hide it and I don’t have to fix it.
I’m not broken.
– Glennon Melton