As I sit here in bed, devouring yet another packet of Reese’s peanut butter cups and wiping chocolate off my keyboard, I come up with the wonderful (and ever-so-original) analogy that life is like walking along a tightrope. At least that’s how it feels to me.
Things have not been so great in my head lately. Not that my struggles are all in my head, far from it actually, but more that all the parts inside my mind seem to be fighting with each other. The creative part of my brain is being blocked by the side plagued with depression. The extroverted part of my brain is being shut down by the parts riddled with anxiety. The part that desperately needs to do everything at once, perfectly, is in a game of tug-of-war with the part that doesn’t remember how to get out of bed in the morning. And I’m exhausted.
Telling myself “don’t look down”, works when I am balancing precariously, atop a tightrope with the burden’s of all those around me stacked up on each hand as I reach out, desperate not to fall. It also works when I feel like I am drowning. When looking down means I can see the bottom of the deepest parts of the ocean, pulling me lower to disappear into the sandy floor. And looking up showcases the beauty of the sunlight as it pierces through the waves, up to where there is oxygen and I can breathe again.
I go between these two feelings regularly. Sometimes multiple times a day, other times I swing between the two every other month. When I am up on the tightrope, juggling all of my ridiculous, self-imposed responsibilities, it is inevitable that I will drop something, lose my balance and come falling down. Landing with a magnificent splash, I will begin to sink. The ocean pulling me down, filling my lungs with salt water and my soul with darkness. Then, eventually, like a geyser waiting to explode, the ocean will send me soaring out of the depths and back up onto my tightrope.
Oh, how I would love to set my feet down on solid ground.
I often question how I am allowed to be raising children, when most days I am still trying to raise myself. Some days, I feel so old. Like I have been alive and struggling for centuries already, with no end in sight. Other days, I feel like a child trying to raise children. Way out of my depth, with nowhere to turn for help.
Parenthood is hard. For most of us, it is the hardest thing we will ever do. Raising a family, when you have no family of your own is even harder. You never quite know why you are doing something. When I make decisions as a mother, I often go through a lengthy monologue in my head trying to work out my reasoning. Am I doing this because I believe it is the right thing? Am I doing this out of habit because it what my parents did when I was a child? Am I doing this purely because it is the opposite of something my parents did? Am I right? Am I wrong? Am I hurting my children without realising it or am I doing the best thing possible for them? I never really know the answers, but yet the questions keep coming.
Growing up in an abusive family has so many more lasting effects than you could possibly imagine. The insecurities that arise because you feel as though you were never loved or worthy of love, cloud every judgement, every decision, every choice you ever make. Do I deserve these beautiful children? Do they love me? Do they know how much I love them? Do I even know what love is?
I’ve never been good at grey. I tend to wander between black and white, and back again. All or nothing. Nothing or everything. I go from not getting out of bed for days on end, to taking on far too many tasks and activities for any sane person to be able to complete. Let alone, to the standard of which I hold myself to. I go between binge eating all day, every day, to not being able to remember when I ate my last meal. I go from “I’m so sorry I made you hurt me so badly” to “Screw you, I’m a m*****f****** queen, I don’t need you!”
They say it takes a village to raise a child, but what happens when your village abandoned you as a child? When there was nobody there to raise you, and there’s nobody there now to help you raise your children? Or maybe there is a village now, but you are too scared to let anybody in for fear of being thrown out with the trash like you were before?
I can act tough all I want, but at the end of the day. That is what it comes down to. Fear of being hurt. Again. When your own family easily tosses you aside like yesterday’s paper, it is almost impossible to believe that somebody with no genetic attachment to you, will remain loyal, loving and supportive. What if I mess up? What if I’m not good enough? What if? What if? What if?
I wouldn’t wish my family on anyone, but I do often wish I had family for my children. Family to lean on when things got hard, to help out with the kids, to celebrate the milestones with and to cry together with through the bad times.
Maybe one day it will stop hurting, and I will no longer care. Or maybe one day I will share my whole story and people will stop asking me what happened to make me the way I am today. Who knows what will happen. All I know for sure is that I will be okay. My kids will be okay. And that is enough for me.