“How are you?” They ask.
What I really want is to scream. I’m fucking exhausted. I am living a dual life that sometimes feels like it’s three or four or five layers deep. And I have 90 minutes a week to explore this safely and the rest of the time have to be so many things to so many different people.
I’m a boss controlling millions of other people’s dollars and how that’s spent on their advertising. I’m a captain of a sports team that thinks I’m fearless or something to be admired, because I often have to be confident and collected when really I want to play dirty. I’m a friend and a bride-to-be and a fiancé. I’m a coworker, a stranger on the bus. I am a freelancing entrepreneur with clients that rely on me and don’t care what I’m feeling that day. I’m a daughter and a sister and those roles I can’t shed even if I wanted to – at least not now. The fallout with the wedding would be too much.
I’m trusted and respected.
I’m also hurting.
My heart breaks at least five times a day. I stop to cry in washrooms. I break long enough to get through and then pull it back together.
But this is all me. And that’s where I have trouble. None of this is fake. Adult me is coping and puts on a damn good face despite hurting. And she’s supported by this tribe of three she’s cultivated.
But there’s a part of me constantly screaming out for recognition and attention and to have her needs met – the girl at the top of the stairs – and she’s so fucking tired of not being heard that she is making her presence known.
So I negotiate with her that if she calms down until Wednesday we can unleash those feelings and explore them in 90 minutes together because that’s all I have to offer her. That I hear her pain and love her and I am doing my best to do something about it. Sometimes she listens, grabs my hand, and holds on until then. Sometimes she doesn’t, like now, she’s throwing a massive temper tantrum and wants to be heard. We’ve been talking too much in therapy about things that don’t matter to her, but adult me needs to take care of.
I try to love her through it anyways and add another role to the pile – I am a Mother to myself.
But the answer when people ask us how we are is always the same. We’re “good” – because if we were anything else too much could be lost. We need the job and the support and the social stability. We are too tired and wary to explain the nuances and subtly of this pain to people we know won’t understand. And the last thing we are doing is giving up this fight and going back home. The last thing we are going to do is be reliant on our parents again. At least that we can agree on.
So I hear you, little one. I hear you screaming and yelling and feeling trapped. I’m doing my best. Just please hang on till Wednesday.