NCOD Project: Being your authentic self, By Emily T.
If you knew that in order to be true to yourself, you had to throw your whole beautiful world into a tailspin, would you do it?
And do you really think you have a choice?
For at least eight months of my life, I actively struggled with this- probably for longer than that, subconsciously. I’ve always loved myself, and believe in being your most authentic self. But when you become a parent, where do you draw the line at self-sacrifice in the name of your children? Your loved ones? Your spouse? Stability? Often times, online, and especially in GroVia Families, we lift each other up and champion self-care, because we understand as a community of parents and caregivers that you cannot raise your little ones to the best of your ability if you don’t first fill your own cup, which is easier said than done.
Imagine this: you are reasonably happy. You have two gorgeous children. Their father is a loving, devoted and very kind partner: one of the best people you could ever know. You have everything you could ever want and never expected that when you “got there” that you could still have so much to learn about yourself. And that what you are learning about yourself is something you can’t change even if you wanted to. Past events, thoughts, and feelings click in your mind with such a sickening and terrifying clarity. You can’t turn it off, and you’re about to alter everything.
As much as you think about trying to bargain or change it, there’s a hand-pressed straight between your shoulder blades, pushing you mercilessly. That hand is guiding you just like the way you herd your toddler along, trying to get to that doctor’s appointment or their older sibling’s sports practice, etc, on time. You try to give your little one choices, instilling a sense of self, but ultimately it is our job as parents to guide our children where they should go, and we do. What a scary thing it is to know that this is what is happening to you and that the idea of choice is an illusion.
I remember thinking: I just lit my entire world on fire, knowing beforehand that I would be trying to rescue everyone after I tossed that match. I would be accused of being mentally unwell, unstable, and selfish. I tried to love myself and give myself all the grace possible, but truthfully, I despised myself. Some days I still do. My friends tell me I am brave and strong, and that they are so proud of me, over and over, and as many times as I need to hear it. My children's’ faces were two of the only things that kept me going some days. One day, I woke up and realized that I was no longer being pushed; I was flying.
The difference between being brave and being selfish? Perspective. And I’m here for you, brave friends. I’m here for it. We are here for it. Please come out, and please love yourselves again. I did it, and I can tell you that one day you will be able to breathe again and be so proud of your strength, self-knowledge and that your children will feel the positive effects of that more than you could ever imagine at this point in your self-discovery. I wish I could say it’s easy, but it’s not, and truthfully there are some really hard days. You are going to learn more about yourself and the people you love, and it’s not all going to be positive. But it’s worth the fight. I am finally free to be myself, not the idea of who I thought I was supposed to be.
To those of you who are questioning and struggling: You are brave and so strong. Reach.
Emily is a mom and long-time GroVian whose love of GroVia began with her first baby in 2014. In addition to her small humans, her favorite things include coffee, doggies, good doggies, bad doggies, big doggies, itty bitty doggies, friends and family, roller derby, eye makeup (and especially super-bright lower waterline colors heyyyyyy), music, and last but certainly not least, her amazing partner Hollie. Emily is happy to finally feeling like dancing every day again, even on the hard days.