I’ve had a number of conversations of late about feelings… particularly about negative emotions… and particularly about the fact we’re not allowed to have any…

I seem to be constantly telling friends – let yourself be sad! You’re grieving! But I seem to be the only one. They’re bombarded with well meaning voices telling them to get over it, be happy, move on…

But you have to grieve. You have to work through the process. If you don’t, those emotions control you.

When my marriage fell apart, I’m the one who finally said the words. And I’m the one who refused to change my mind. He went around the town sobbing to anyone who would listen. He rang my family and friends. I remember sitting in our lounge room and every device in the house just kept ringing. That was the day I learned you could make a phone call through FB… That was the day I first shut down almost all of my social media.

What everyone saw was a guy, broken, desperately trying to get his family back together… and i was the bitch who just wouldn’t listen to anyone. One friend kept saying to me – okay, you’ve made your point, he’s sorry… now take him back.

They didn’t care about any of the reasons I gave. Umm, he has a girlfriend! Surely that would work.. no. We all know men have needs, he doesn’t love her…. Hmm… Ah, he’s unbalanced and keeps threatening and harassing us… That will stop though if you take him back – he’s told you this!… Okay, so I’m meant to be bullied and threatened into taking him back, and I’m meant to want this person in my life, in my children’s life, and I’m not meant to be terrified of him?… You’re being silly, listen to me, he’s sorry, he wants you back, you’re doing this to yourself you know…

So… he was allowed to grieve… he was allowed to turn up to my workplace sobbing… he was allowed to physically pin me to my car in the main street and scream abuse at me… he was allowed to have his ‘needs’… he was allowed to do anything he wanted… because I’m the one who said the words. I said ‘I want a divorce’. And since then, he’s still constantly forgiven for everything he does, because I destroyed his world and broke him.

Firstly… no I didn’t. He was doing all these things and more long before we broke up. He was leaving. He had already taken a job in another state and only planned to visit the kids every 2-3 months for a couple of days. He’d already made that choice, but he didn’t want to be the bad person, so I said the words…

And as a result, I wasn’t allowed to grieve. The second I showed any unhappiness, the wolves pounced. I was obviously doubting. I was obviously regretting.

Because we’re not allowed to have negative emotions… But I WAS grieving. I was grieving the loss of the ideal. The plans you make for a future. The ideas you have and the choice you’ve made. I still had to grieve for all those things. The loss of the life and the lifestyle. The hurt in my children’s eyes because mummy and daddy just can’t get along and they’re always in the middle of it. All those things…

And I see friends going through crap and they are told the same thing. Move on. Get going. You need to get over this. Smile. Why are you sad? You must be depressed… you need to see someone.. get medication.

And this takes away from the reality and seriousness of true mental health issues – but that is another story…

So why are we so terrified of feeling anymore? Why can’t we simply allow ourselves to grieve?

I was talking to a friend this morning who is going through a divorce. Only a few weeks. He’s doubting, he’s unsure, he’s feeling isolated and he’s constantly told to be happy… after all, he wanted this… There’s no mention of the psychological abuse everyone knew his wife has inflicted for years… He said the words.

Or the friend whose husband recently walked out the front door to go to work and never arrived… They found him 3 days later, miles from home on a drinking binge. Hospitalised for a week. Now going through the very long process of medication and therapy for suicidal thoughts and depression. His company is bust… she’s left to sort out the finance, clean up the warehouse, and close the business down… They have three young children…but he’s not coping with life himself, so that’s hers to focus on as well. The house. She was on maternity leave… but now they need an income, because his company is bust and he’s currently unable to work, for who knows how long…. She walking on eggshells wondering what’s inside his head. He’s trying to function at all. Her entire world has turned upside down. Her entire future has changed. But he’s back now, and he’s fine so move on… There’s no time to grieve for the life they had planned. There’s no time to be selfishly sad and angry and to shake your fist at the universe…

There are so many stories… big and small… but the theme is consistent. Move on. Be happy. Smile.

The media took a spin with the smile thing earlier this year. Telling a woman to smile is sexist… and I get that. You’re beautiful when you smile – I like you better when you smile – I tried an experiment when this was actually in the headlines. I posted a series of selfies (I don’t often have me in my profile pic) to gauge the reaction, and every single time, there was a comment on my appearance – smile, being the most prolific. But ‘smile’ also exhausts you when you just don’t want to. Because today is crap. This week is crap. Right now, it feels like this whole damned life is crap and I can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel and I just don’t want to smile… Oh, then you must need medication!

No. Sometimes, you just need to be sad. To work your way through the grieving process. To rant and to roar and to cry. Because when you finish that, then your smile will be genuine.

** And obviously, clinical depression is a very different thing to grieving and feeling sad.

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My kids are tough… They have me as their mumma after all :p 

I hadn’t actually thought about that til just now… Thinking about them dealing with their grief. They’ve been through so much… But they’re tough. They’ll get through this and so much more…

And then I thought – they learn it from me… To soldier on no matter how damned hard it gets. To never break. To stumble only if the burden is exceptionally heavy or  a load is added unexpectedly… But to never, ever fall…

A friend asked me recently how I’ve gotten through everything in my life and not cracked. And I say what I’ve always said – I refuse to… Because for me, that is my answer. I won’t break. 

So this is the lessons I teach my children. Don’t break. Don’t crumble. Don’t ever drop the ball…

But is this the right lesson? Really… To shoulder the load and to take a moment to feel, but then to tuck those emotions under the coat and continue…. 

Because tomorrow they will wake… And they will tuck their grief inside… Although it’s the end of the year and they are tired and emotional… So perhaps a crack may show… But for the most part, ‘my kids are resilient’… I have said this so many times… And I want that resilience, but I think I’ve missed the balance somewhere… And I think my kids have, too…

50 Things I’ve Learned In The Year Since My Best Friend Died

lolamyers1. People say, “Tomorrow is not guaranteed” for a reason. 2. People will tell you to “be strong.” Being strong doesn’t mean keeping a stiff upper lip. Being strong means finding a reason to keep going. Find your reasons. 3. You have to find the humor in it yourself, nobody can do that for you.…

http://thoughtcatalog.com/jessica-seburn/2015/10/50-things-ive-learned-in-the-year-since-my-best-friend-died/
This says so much of it so well… Those moments… Especially when you least expect it… I still can’t delete her from my media or phone… And there are still days I pick up that phone and start to call… And really, I don’t know that I ever want that day to come when I finally just stop… 

When you held my hands, it felt like I would never let go…

And I wouldn’t have….

But I can’t keep holding on to someone that just doesn’t want to stay… 

When you love someone, set them free…

Notice the present tense? Love…

That’s when I finally knew I had to let go… When I realised your tense was always past. Loved…

So yes, I let go… And yes, I will always love you (present tense) and I will always be here for you… But I have let go… 

There’s so few days when you don’t cross my mind… A memory… Laughter… Tears… 

A part of me is still in denial. 
Today’s memory is of that hospital room. One of us on each side of you, grasping your hand, waiting for the verdict. I can still feel the punch to the air when the doctor spoke. I can’t find the words to describe that. It was a punch. We each felt the hit low in our stomachs. You could hear the air forced from each of us. 

I reach for the phone, to call and tell you my news, a funny story, to hear of your family, to ask your advice, that recipe I’ve forgotten… Scrolling… I remember… I still can’t delete your name…

Moving on…

I keep having the same argument with close friends. Why is society so hell bent on ‘blood is thicker than water’? We choose our friends. We are given our family. 

I keep being told I will regret this in years to come… Perhaps… But for now, I have no regrets. I do not miss them. It’s been a year since I made this decision. I have not severed the ties completely. I answer the rare phone call. I respond to the odd message. 

But I forget to check social media and see the passive aggressive texts aimed to hurt. I forget to be hurt when I am informed of them, or when they do show in my feed. I forget to check in and ensure they are still breathing. Still functioning. Still angry with the works and all the people who have wronged them. I forget….

Because I have lost too many people who matter. I have had my heart shattered too many times by those souls tangled with my own. I have come to realise that binding need the chipping away constantly, the pushing for a fight, the niggling at my self esteem, the lack of support. 

Another friend just sent me a text thanking me for being an awesome second mum. I’ve been a second mum to countless people all my life. I’m not sure why I ever thought I’d never actually be a mother. Perhaps because I already had so many people to nurture. 

What I’d like though, is a mother of my own. I’ve never had someone to tuck me in and give me warm soup when my throat is raw and my head is pounding and my chest is tight, as it is now. I’ve never had someone to guide me in the right direction and show me possible pathways when the light is dim. I’ve never had someone to hold me tight and tell me that I mean the world to them. I’ve never had someone to brush away my tears, hug away my fears and threaten to murder the world if it hurt me. So I’d like to, for once, have a mother of my own… Or just someone who cares enough to simply ask how *I* am going today…

Loss

Watching my teenagers grieve… The only thing worse would be to be the parent of the other children… I can’t imagine… I don’t want to ever imagine…

A few weeks ago, my 13 year old son lost a good friend in a tragic accident. Watching his heart break… Watching him cope with grief…

Two weeks later, his best friend was rushed to hospital for emergency surgery to drain the fluid from his head. A benign tumour. More surgery this week – the fluid keeps building… 

Then Sunday night. A phone call from my 16 year old daughter. One of her classmates committed suicide. Not a close friend of hers, but someone she knew… A close friend of some of her friends… Reminders of people she has lost… Watching her friends grieve…

I can’t imagine being those parents. I don’t want to. 

I want all my chicks home in the nest. They want to be home. Battles ahead, but I need to make this happen.