Friday, October 25, 2013

Fall

The weather is gathering that bite that always comes by late October. Truly, fall can just take your breath away. It creeps up on you, leaves slowly changing. And then one day you open your eyes to the most beautiful picture you’ve ever seen. And before you can wrap your arms around all that intense beauty, it just up and blows away on you. Fall is tricky and fickle like that. Just when you fall for it, it’s gone. And everything is bare and white and stripped and cold. I know that’s coming, but I’m still stuck squarely in a world of bright reds and harvest yellows, carved pumpkins, and apple ciders and that amazing rustling and crunching sound that seems to just pop under your feet.

Somewhat ironically in the midst of all of this color and warmth, I have been feeling a bit more bare and stripped these past few days. To see something you write go “viral” as has happened with Distracted Living, is a strange and disjointed feeling. It is both amazing and terrifying. I feel much the way those autumn branches soon will be: highly exposed. And so I feel compelled to write one final postscript on this post, on this week. On what brought me here, on what happens next.
When I started my little blog just more than a year ago, I found myself writing for many reasons. On some days I found myself at the keyboard in search of a creative outlet, or an opportunity to share something funny or cute with myself (really more than anyone else) that my kids had done that I didn’t want to forget. But there were also moments when I found myself writing because I had stumbled upon something deeply uncomfortable that I desperately did not want to look at. What this was, this un-comfortableness in the pit of me was truth. And whenever my gut told me I had hit upon it, I knew I had to write about it. And perhaps even more sickening was the thought that I should share it; that by doing so there might be some not-so secret path to healing and learning. 

Which brings me to the past couple of weeks or so. I had a difficult night one evening with my daughter. I struggled with it. That sucky other mother voice in my head, the one all of us seem to have that only pops up on your shittiest days, she kept popping up and whispering in my ear, you are a failure at this. Until I sat down one morning and poured out the truth of that night. It was deeply uncomfortable to write.  And then I took that uncomfortable feeling and I doubled down: I shared it.
An amazing thing happened after I shared it. I heard from wonderful mothers and fathers and people who had never been parents in their lives but who understood the power and humility of a close call, who felt the pull of being stretched in every direction. Of being so present for everyone and everything, that they in fact were never really present for anyone, least of all themselves. I was humbled by their honesty and grateful for their capacity to shed some warm light on my own truth. In doing so, they made me feel like I was part of a larger struggle, and that I didn’t have to wrap my arms around it alone. They called me brave even though I didn’t feel that way.

There were also many folks who called me shitty and worthless. There were plenty of people who said I didn’t deserve my children. They said I was a moron or an idiot. I heard those folks too. I know them. They aren’t bad. They are making a call based on limited information from some pretty reductive and overly dramatized headlines. They know well that other mother that likes to whisper many of the same things in my ear from time to time. I accept their judgment. I opened myself up to it. Except I really didn’t feel like much of that either.
In the end, I didn’t feel particularly brave or massively incompetent. I actually just felt something rather remarkable in its un-remarkableness. I just felt human.

You can say a lot of things about me, but at the very least, you can say I owned this. I owned my imperfections. And in that process, I’m trying to learn. I’ve written before that if I teach my kids just one thing in our short time here on this blessed Earth it is that we are born perfectly imperfect; that they should fully expect themselves to fail thousands of times before they even get one thing right. That this is how we learn. They should not love themselves in spite of this reality. They should love themselves precisely because of this, because of their uniquely human capacity to struggle and persist in the face of challenges.
My father captured the most amazing picture of my children this summer. They are on the swing set, mid air. My daughter is holding on white knuckled, her hair flying in the wind while she pushes against her brother’s strong back as he laughs with the glee he almost always seems to feel on rides that are wild and uncertain. This week, as I reflect on my journey thus far as a mother, I can’t stop staring at it while I listen to this song on repeat by Train. The lyrics go like this:

These bruises make for better conversation

Loses the vibe that separates

It’s good to let you in again

You’re not alone in how you’ve been

We all got bruises.
In the end, it was a really great week. For all of those wonderful friends both known and unknown out there, moms, dads, parents and non-parents alike who showed their bruises and accepted me fully with mine, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I am forever grateful. Indeed, in the cold and sharpness of autumn, I actually don’t feel like I am falling at all. I am warm with gratitude, holding on white knuckled in this uncertain ride that is life.

 

13 comments:

  1. Jenn this is beautiful! I loved your post, Distracted Living, and think it is such an important amazing post for all parents, and non parents to read. I can't believe that anyone who has ever cared for a child hasn't at one time done something similar and then thanked God for giving them a "free one." Thank you for putting yourself out there. Much love!

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    1. Thank you Kathy for always being your true, authentic, warm self. You are a model in putting yourself out there :)

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  2. I feel this all too well, too deeply, too uncomfortably.
    Jenn, you are a light. You guide us. We are looking UP TO YOU.
    I have been in an uncomfortable place this week for other reasons, but I'm being censored in BlogLand. My husband thinks that whatever I write/share affects his "reputation" as a surgeon. On one hand that is understandable. On the other hand? It's too big a pill to swallow. Why should my writing about my experiences with depression, anxiety, and withdrawal from my meds affect his career? I don't know anymore. I told myself a long time ago---I promised myself I would never again take a post down after publishing, etc., and that I wouldn't let anyone else tell me what to write/not write. But now? I'm letting him do that very thing. I waver in my head. I don't know what's right anymore. I only know I fiercely feel the need to write and share so that maybe someone else will feel less lonely on her road. There will always be haters, but I don't care about them. They can suck it. I just want to help myself and others. I just want to be me.

    I love Fall, this post, and what you're continuing to do (HELP OTHERS, make them say, "me too! i've been there!").

    DO NOT STOP. EVER.

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    1. Erin you are truly too kind here. Take your own advice - DO NOT STOP. EVER. :) xoxo

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  3. Jenn - you are so real and honest which is why I was so deeply moved by your post. You put yourself out there via your writing because you are a writer and that's what we do. Keep telling your truth. Just like Erin said, don't stop. Your words touch so many people. xoxo

    PS. I LOVE that song, too. I wrote a post on my blog in August about it: http://bipolarmomlife.com/we-all-got-bruises/ :) :) :)

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    1. Jenn - we are blogging soul sisters :) Another Jenn with two "n"s writing about the same song? I loved the post you shared - particularly the words at the end "Trust Your Struggle." How awesome is that. Feel as though I will thinking about this all day. Thank you so much for your kind words.

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  4. Amazing post. I feel much as you do about blogging, though I continue to hold myself back in fear of my own potential response to real feedback on the raw truth. Your humanity sure seems like bravery to me as I sit here, knowing full-well I'd be unlikely to own what I put out there in so courageous a way as you have.

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    1. Sharon - stopped by your site. So lovely! Do hope you continue to share more!

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  5. Maybe it's the hormones, but reading this post brought tears to my eyes. That song kinda sums things up perfectly, doesn't it? Either way, please do not let this one experience with the viral-ness of your blog stop you from writing, or from posting and sharing again. Your posts are inspirational and make us all stop, think and reflect along with you. And wasn't that your whole point in creating and publishing this blog? Love you, my friend. :o)

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    1. Totally the point of the blog. Totally the point of great friends - lots of help with the whole stopping and reflecting thing :) Love you right back!

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  6. Hi Jenn,
    I read your Distracted Living post on HuffPost. I also am a West Hartford blogger. I am so glad I found you. I thought I was the only blogger in WeHa. My blog Live Life Now http://alexiszinkerman.wordpress.com is about living in mindfulness and creative living. I'd love to get together some time and talk blogs and writing. azinkerman@gmail.com Alexis

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    1. Thanks Alexis - I will have to go and check it out!

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