Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Doing it right: Reaching out

“If you put shame in a Petri dish, it needs three things to grow exponentially: secrecy, silence and judgment.” Brené Brown

 I've been struggling a bit lately.  A lot of things rolling around in my brain, most of which I can't control.  There's been this dull sense of unease for a little while that I couldn't place.

Then Sunday night, I went out to work for two hours, leaving the girls with DH.  The ripples in my brain turned into waves and I spent the whole weekend worrying.  Would I do a terrible job at tutoring?  Would DH have a terrible time with the girls?  Was I doing the right thing?

(The answers by the way are No, Kinda Yes, and To Be Determined.)

Then yesterday, the witching hour struck me hard.  My husband had to work late; my baby wouldn't stop screaming unless she was eating; my toddler was whining, grabbing my leg, and pushing every button - both literal and figurative - that she could find.

I couldn't breathe.  And that's not entirely a metaphor.

My first reaction was to scream "Can't everyone leave me alone?"  The baby seemed unphased as she continued to nurse.  The toddler froze, pouted, then threw her book at the floor.  Immediately ashamed, I started to cry, causing her to curl up on the floor.

I wanted to disappear, to run away, to hide in a closet and not let anyone see me until I had my act together.

But I didn't.

I tweeted that I was overwhelmed, that I couldn't breathe.  I asked for help and validation, and I IMMEDIATELY wanted to delete the tweet, I was so ashamed of having said it.  People would think I was silly for talking about my breathing.  They would be disappointed in me for asking a ridiculous question, for not having it all together.

But they didn't.  They weren't.  They said "Me too."

And I put the baby in the swing, walked away from the whining toddler, put on Tiny Dancer, and sang as loud as I could while I finished putting dinner on the table.

It didn't fix anything that was wrong.  The witching hour still sucked.  The stuff that's been stewing in my mind is still there.

I still suffer.

But I'm not alone, and I'm not doing anything wrong.  And I am capable of acting in spite of my feelings.  The baby can cry and the toddler can whine, and that will totally suck, but it won't really damage any of us.

And if I need to reach out every damn day to be reminded of that, I'll do it.

And that's what I'm doing right.


  1. Thank you so much for writing this post. I do this sort of thing and I only have one baby to deal with. It's a relief to know I'm not the only one! Sounds like SUCH a tough night. You're doing great.

  2. Keep reaching out. You are doing a wonderful job, and I will remind you of that every day. I will check in on you every day. Sending you my love and support.

  3. I appreciated that tweet so much, because I look up to you and admire your grace but have wondered how you seem so calm and collected much of the time (and I'm always fumbling, venting, ranting). Your tweet made me feel better about my MANY tweets like it. It reminded me that there is so much that goes on behind the scenes for all of us, no matter how put together we seem online. I was sorry you were having anxiety, of course, but I was glad to talk to you that night because I could relate. I hope you're feeling better now, and I do hope you will reach out again if you need to. The support that comes after one such tweet is invaluable and sometimes makes a world of difference in how the hour (or moment) is going, at least for me! Love you & think you are doing a wonderful job with your girls.

  4. You come online so often and tweet "Does anyone need anything?" I was actually kind of excited for once to be able to help you with something. Mostly, your tweets about yesterday just seemed completely normal to me. I'm not sure how comforting that is/should be, though... ;)

    I went into therapy for help saying, first thing, "Well, I can't breath, so could you help with that, please?!" That therapist was so good at explaining things, I have always thought of it since as just what my body does when my brain freaks out. Unpleasant, but temporary. It's also why I take one of my two meds--I used to not be able to breath properly often, every day. (Not saying you need meds, just why it sounded so normal to me.)

  5. What a quote to open up this discussion.

    Yes, the secrets can kill us via isolation.

    It hurts to admit we are not what we want and hope for ourselves, but without working through out shit, we'll stay frozen in the same place, year after year.

    From pain, will come growth. New skin. It's what we do.