“You’re so strong, Stacy. I don’t know how you do it.” “You’re the strongest person I know, Stacy.” “You’re the strongest woman I know.” “I wish I was as strong as you are.” I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve heard this in my life. Newsflash…I’m not that strong. I’m no Super Woman. I cry in the shower some mornings just trying to force myself to go to work. I rip myself apart every.single.time. I make a mistake. And then I do it again, over and over in my head. Sometimes it takes me hours to fall asleep at night because I’m consumed by all the stupid things I said…or did…and maybe it happened yesterday and maybe it was 2 years ago. I have some of the worst negative talk in my head but would never say those things to someone else. You wouldn’t believe the stronghold those words have on my ability to take risks, to take chances, to be spontaneous. What I wouldn’t give to be able to just do something new….no fear, no holding back, just jumping because I want to. What I wouldn’t give to do something just for me, no thought behind it other than just doing it because I want to and feeling zero guilt, zero remorse.
Now before you go feeling sorry for me or thinking that I’m looking for platitudes or encouragement…I’m not. I’ve got a whole big folder full of pins on Pintrest and my bible for that. I’m simply stating these things because I am sick and tired of being sick and tired and I’m starting to feel like a fraud. I’m sick and tired of saying I’m ok…when I’m not. I’m sick and tired of smiling when I really want to cry. I’m sick and tired of saying YES when I really want to say NO. I’m sick and tired of not being able to feel how I feel because of guilt or shame or judgement. When did it become not okay to not be okay?? When did it become shameful to admit that you can’t carry the weight of the world alone on your shoulders and even if you could, that you shouldn’t have to?? When did it become embarrassing or weak to admit that you can’t do it alone…or even that you just don’t want to? Why is it not okay to admit you are not okay?!! Because right now, I am not ok and I NEED that to be ok.
I feel things. Sometimes because I have no choice but to…it’s just part of who I am. I used to hate it, resent it, tried to deny it, ignore it. I can’t anymore. I feel things and some of those things hurt. A lot. It’s just part of my life and who I am. I feel things deeply. I can’t kill a bug without feeling sorry that I did it and sometimes (all the time), I apologize to it for killing it. I can’t watch the adopt a pet commercials because I will cry at night for days thinking of how I wish that I could save all the dogs and cats in the world and give them a home with love and food and shelter…and a kid without a home?? Donezo. I can’t even watch someone else cry and not cry too. I still feel tremendous guilt and shame for putting my best friend furry baby Isabelle to sleep, even though I knew she was ready. My feelings get hurt….all the time. By the person I can’t believe just cut in front of me in a store, I would never to that. By the kid who is a teenager (which basically means they can’t stand any adults or really anyone because we’re all annoying and dumb), but why not me? The worst part of my feelings being hurt is that most of the time, no one even knows. I tuck that hurt in really nice, in a comfy little spot inside my head, inside my heart and go on with life. Why? Because I don’t want to appear weak, even though I am sometimes. Because I don’t want to feel bad or guilty or stupid for feeling how I feel.
I raised my children to be independent, to be able to fly feely and proudly, ready and strong from the nest….that was my goal. But a piece of me broke when my first birdie flew. I felt a loss so deep and so painful I wasn’t sure I could get it together and I’m still struggling. Not because I’m not happy for her. Not because I don’t want to see her succeed. Not because I thought she couldn’t do it and not because I didn’t want her to do it. Ask my kids and they’ll tell you…I’m their biggest fan and I always will be. It broke because I had to let her take a piece of me with her. I gave it gladly. I gave it willingly. I gave it freely. I gave it to her so she’ll always know I’m with her and I would do it again. So she’ll always know that no matter what life throws her, I am here. That no matter how many mistakes she makes, that I am here to hold her, to help her, to guide her, to love her. That no matter whom in her life lets her down, that I will be here still. Arms ready to hold her, hug her and help her up when she falls. And I will do it again…I still have birdies left in the nest.
I have experienced a lot of hard things in life; things that tried and almost succeeded in breaking me. But that doesn’t make me special. Everyone has hard things happen to them in life. That’s life…the good, the bad and the ugly. It is what it is. Some of us get more than our share, but that too is what it is. And most of the time I can take that bad thing, learn from it, grow from it, move on from it. Sometimes it takes a minute. Sometimes it takes a lot of minutes. I’m not ok, but I will be. I’m writing this to admit that in this moment of my life, right now, I’m going to need way more than minutes. I’m writing this so that if you are not ok, that you have someone else telling you…it’s ok to not be ok. I’m not ok….but I will be…because I can be strong just like I can be weak, and sad, and happy, and mad, and hurt, and forgiving, and depressed, and positive, and lonely, and optimistic, and whatever the hell else I want to. You can too. Give yourself permission. OK?