Let's get a few things out of the way right now. This is a very personal post, perhaps one of the most vulnerable and open that I've done on here. It has little to do with my business or how I do business and I am not sharing it to gain any business. Maybe I'm doing to to gain a bit of empathy? Perhaps some understanding? But it is what it simply is - my feelings, expressed here for those who wish to read it. After all, that is the primary purpose of blogging.
Maybe you've seen my "post" that created a heated conflict on Facebook earlier this week. Maybe you haven't, don't need to, don't care. Regardless, I read the post before making it "live" just to ensure the tone was not trivial or petty. Well, petty is the reaction I received from someone I'd call a reasonably close friend. After much debate & exhaustion (I'm sure on both sides) I've felt a bit lost, frustrated and hurt. Simple text and anger can elevate a situation so much more than we expect. I've decided to share the WHY behind the hurt so that, if it comes up again, someone won't think me "petty" for having my feelings hurt.
It wasn't necessarily the disagreement with my post that got me riled up. It was the comment of me being "petty" and then being instructed to put on my "big girl panties and girlboss." That was literally a knife to my heart. That, along with further deteriorating commentary seemingly took my character into question - and continued to do so as I tried to defend myself, as did many of my friends who came to my aid.
I'm no stranger to using the term "ladyboss" or "GirlBoss" - despite what many may view it as, I enjoy it and will continue to use it. I'm a girl, or a lady sometimes, and I'm a boss of my own company. If you want to argue the sexist nature of the terminology, let's do that over coffee. The term wasn't really the problem. The nature of it's intent though, being that I should "toughen up," was.
The thing is, I've been strong, I've been tough. For a long time. Much longer than many, even in my closest circles know. Now, this isn't going to elaborate into why I'm so much stronger for dealing with the things I have, no. It's the fact that nobody knows another's journey, or what they may be struggling with. I've been the offender in this as well, and I will always continue to try and be better about empathy. Assuming someone else has it easier, they should do better, etc. is not fair, and again, I will openly admit fault for past crimes I've committed in this realm. Before I go any further, I apologize to anyone that has experienced this from me - it's not ok and it's not the person I strive to be. We are all a work in progress.
The thing is - I'm exhausted from being strong, from being tough. The cracks are starting to show and I can feel it in my bones. There are many times, more often than not lately, that I am simply NOT ok. Despite my Instagram feed, despite my quirky humor, despite me keeping my social calendar busy - I am here to tell you that I am struggling. That I am not ok.
For the last 2+ years I have been battling in the field every day, trying to save my marriage. I have been to counseling (both individual and couples), I have cried myself to sleep. I have changed some of the foundation of who I am in order to be better for someone else (inevitably for me too.) I have struggled with my self-worth and fault for failing a spouse. I have given everything I have to save something that I have no guarantee will end up saved. Some of my close friends know this, many do not. It's not something I would normally share openly, but the time has come.
My husband is not at fault either. He has been diagnosed with a severe disease that inhibits his ability to be himself, the majority of the time. He struggles constantly with feeling uncomfortable in his own skin, as well as trying to determine his identity. I know how I feel when he's not the person that I married, but I can't imagine the daily battle he faces as he doesn't even know who HE is. Perhaps he never has. Add to that a cocktail of medicines to help "fix" it and there's a literal shit storm of emotions flying through our household. Every. Single. Day. Some days are good, and that's when we go out, take pictures, host parties. Others are dark days that neither of us care to remember or mark on the calendar. Time lost.
And if you've been paying attention, 2+ years is about half the time we've been married. A long list of traumatic life events occurred shortly after we tied the knot, and they started a spiral of something so uncontrollable that we're still trying to pick up the puzzle pieces and gently slide them back into place.
In this time, I've shown up. Over and over I've put on those "big girl panties" and masked the utter destruction I'm feeling inside. I've continued to grow my business - exponentially. I've stretched myself thin - maybe my counselor would say I'm doing it for self preservation. Maybe I'm doing it as a distraction. Maybe it's just because I'm a severe Type A that also has a tendency of perfectionism. Maybe it's (D) all of the above. Whatever it is, when I was basically told to "buck up buttercup," something in me snapped. Oh, my fellow FB friend, you don't. even. know how long I've been holding this broken flower together. How could you when I've literally faked happiness, control, strength for so, so long.
Those cracks I mentioned earlier? Those come in the form of feeling like my husband's depression is contagious. Of lengths of time when I don't want to go be social, when I don't want to get dressed. They come in the form of withdrawing from things I loved to do before, when I didn't feel the need to tackle everything. They come in the form of jealousy - attention my close friends & husband are putting elsewhere. None of these are comfortable feelings for me to feel. I don't want to be a non-social, stinky person. I don't strive to be a jealous friend or wife. I don't want to lose the things I love doing.
I had a close friend tell me last summer that I'm not the only one with problems. That some of my tone in social media and in conversation were getting to a point of annoyance. That maybe I shouldn't post all of my accomplishments amongst the storm because it's not as though I work harder than others - everyone is dealing with shit. I'm learning that the best of my intentions often fail miserable as it was never my intention to convey that I work harder, better, stronger than anyone. I was saddened that it had come to that. I vowed to do better. To subdue my excitement, my struggles, my pride. To make it more acceptable for the masses. I've received assurances that my tone sounds much better. That my absence of airing my problems hasn't gone unnoticed. Do I feel like this relationship is better/closer/more authentic now? No.
I had another friend sit next to me at a large social gathering around the holidays. A few people at the event were acting obnoxious (yes, alcohol was involved.) This friend said a few snarky things and in my opinion, they were completely validated by the other person's actions. However, it wasn't normal behavior for my friend to express these types of things. On the 3rd or 4th occasion where she "let something slip" she looked at me and said "you must be rubbing off on me, I don't normally say bitchy things like this." Mind you, I hadn't said much about the tipsy situation unfolding in front of us - a rarity for me, I'll admit. But those words cut to my core. Am I really viewed as a bitch? Am I ok with that? Is that how others should perceive me? No.
Because the other day, when I snapped over a stupid Facebook argument, I made a decision. While I'm always striving to be a better person, I let the criticism and fear of speaking my mind and losing close friends cloud and subdue me. A quiet introvert is not who I am. A person that doesn't want to vent, that doesn't want advice, that doesn't want comfort is not who I am. A person that subdues her success for fear of intimidating, offending, or being too prideful is not who I am. I'm done pretending that it is. I'm done apologizing for others' feelings.
On one hand, I am a person that sometimes doesn't have the strength she needs to get through the night without driving to a friend's to cry openly. On the other, I can show up and put up what I need to in order to get the job done. I am a fiercely loyal friend and wife that will love you to the end - with the new caveat that you accept me for me. I am a constantly evolving human, learning from my mistakes, trying to make better decisions and be the absolute best version of me I can be.
I am a strong, powerful woman. I am confident in my ability to do many things. I am entirely NOT confident in my ability to do many other things. I have grown a successful business that looks NOTHING like what I intended, virtually out of nothing. I don't know it all, nor will I ever. I won't pretend to but don't pretend to misguide my passion for yours. I am abso-freaking-lutely vulnerable. I swear like a sailor but I try very hard to read situations and not be offensive or cruel. I am not a bitch, but I can be if provoked. And that is ok.
We all have battles we're fighting. I do not share mine with the intent of making them seem more difficult, or more worthy of compassion than yours. We all have successes. I do not share mine with the intent of making them seem more worthy of applause than yours. I want to celebrate them with you. I want to cheer you on. And I want my friends to do the same for me. No conflict necessary.