It’s OK to Feel Like a Mess

emoI usually reserve this blog for the mundane, the common, the minor and frustrating yet amusing issues we Real Women face on a daily basis.  My goal is to let this blog be a place to set aside big worries, and commiserate and connect and occasionally laugh about how we aren’t alone in our pretending-to-be-superwoman struggles.

This is NOT a platform for heated political discussions or deeply intense and in-depth world matters. We are literally attacked daily by big worries and news broadcasts; no one needs me to scratch those wounds more.

Yet once in a great while, I feel that I have to touch on something that does truly affect each of us in a very personal way.  I can’t ignore some things that are on all of our minds and try to pretend they don’t exist.

Each day, like many of you, my heart hurts even more over the gun violence and shootings that seem to be a horrific and terrifying runaway train across our country.  Just when we think we’ve heard the worst, or are starting to heal after the last “bad one”, another tragedy strikes. And each of us reacts in our own way. We cry, shout, get angry, pray, and more are more are reaching out to others, to leadership, taking to the streets, demonstrating, and above all pleading that something needs to be done, needs to change.  Of course the thoughts and ideas on HOW to make a difference vary from person to person, group to group, leader to leader – and nope, I’m NOT going to go there with my own thoughts.  I still stand by my promise to not make this blog a political platform.

Instead, more true to form, I’d like to take a minute to connect with our sisterhood about how we are all carrying around a big jumbled up mess of emotions. And say “it’s ok, me too.”

Even on the best of days, we women worry. A lot. Like all the time. Throw in this horrendous situation and we go into Turbo-Worry mode. Our first natural reaction, over and over, is deep sadness. We grieve for every innocent life lost, for every loved one affected, and we grieve for our country. It’s the kind of sadness that makes us cry every time we watch, read, or listen to the news.  It’s the kind of sadness that physically hurts. It is the kind of sadness that is directly connected to our other major reaction: fear and terror.  We want to pull all of our loved ones together, wrap everyone up in a cocoon inside the safety of our homes and never venture out again. We imagine, every time we kiss a loved one before leaving in the morning, that this is how it must feel for all who have those who serve our country in the military or emergency responders. Will we be together again at the end of the day?  Because now “this could never happen to us” has shifted to “that could have been us.”

As typical women, we can without warning shift quickly to a feeling of strength and bravery.  We don our Super Woman capes and devote ourselves to protecting our family and friends.  (Sorry guys, I know you feel this is your role.  Keep it up, every super hero needs a partner).  We slide into, even if briefly, the “screw them, they can’t take our lives away from us” mode.  We declare that we won’t change our lives because of fear, we will show “them” that we are stronger and braver and can’t be bullied.  And, of course, along with this comes frustration and sheer anger. Even rage.  This is what prompts us to take action, in some form or another.  Our classic feeling of “if they can’t fix this, then its up to us to do it” comes to the surface, until we realize we can’t do it alone. So we start to take it out on our leaders who now seem so very inferior and useless.

Weirdly, jumbled into this mess are moments of joy and laughter.  We take even greater joy in spending time with the people in our lives, we celebrate every glimmer of positive news and signs of goodness and kindness in others. We come together to feel better, and appreciate those who make us smile.  Then we hear about another episode and we start this spin of emotional mess all over again. Rinse and repeat.

I’m no psychiatrist, but I’m here to say that all of this is “normal” in a world that no longer feels normal. It is especially true for those of us who are moms. My son was born one year before 9/11 changed our lives.  He has never known a world without terrorism on our own soil, without very regular occurrences of shootings and violence and hate.  He has grown up doing Active Shooter drills at school, and has had to learn how to cope with the news every time something very real and terrifying happens.  Yes, I know, we all grew up doing things like fire drills at school, many of us had drills where we hid under our desks or put our faces to the walls in the event of a nuclear or atomic bomb. Most of us grew up in war times of some sort in some area of the world.  But this is different.  This has become common, every day, right next door.

Depending on which Google search you do, there have been over 40 mass shootings in my son’s life time.  He is only 19.   That equates to at least 670 people killed, in various towns like ours across the US.  Not in wars in other countries.  It is truly shocking, devastating, and sickening.

We momma bears always want to protect our children, keep them safe, healthy and happy. That is our core sole mission in life. My son leaves for college in a month.  Even at the most peaceful of times, this transition causes a mom to worry about her child’s safety. As a child grows and starts his own adulting life, we more than ever feel our loss of control in protecting them. And that’s hard, even on good days. Now, it is slightly terrifying.

After the recent shootings in Dayton and El Paso, my son came to both his father and me and said “Please be careful out there. No place is safe.”   His simple declaration, his obviously thinly veiled attempt at hiding his fear and concern, and his final acceptance after 19 years of hearing these stories that we can’t feel safe anywhere, hit me like a truck.  That hurting heart started all over again. And it feels like we are now officially living in some sort of badly written horror movie where our kids tell us that no place is safe.

We do, of course, have our moments where we dare to feel hope and pride that maybe, just maybe, this next generation will be smarter, braver, and stronger than the rest of us and will find ways to truly make a change. To finally make things safe and peaceful in our country. To put an end to so much violence. We need to allow ourselves a few minutes at least of genuine positivity that things can change – before we go back to curling up into a ball of despair.

This morning I was forcing myself into having an uptick in the emotional roller coaster, to feel good and positive. My son is getting together with friends today to go see a movie (I’m somehow comforted that they are going to a small local theater, as if that makes a difference in safety) so he can enjoy a few more days with his high school buddies before everyone starts their next chapters.  He told a family friend yesterday that he’s excited for college.  The weather is beautiful. My husband is going to a community event this evening with his classic car club.  I love my job and my co-workers and are blessed that today, at this moment, my loved ones are all for the most part healthy and safe.  I forced myself to turn off the news early so I could take a break from those sad, scared, angry, frustrated feelings.

Then while checking some updates online, I saw this story from CNN about how other countries, in this case Venezuela and Uruguay, are issuing travel warnings against traveling to the U.S. :

Some of us for many years have been quick to talk about those “other countries” that are not safe to visit, that have too many troubles and issues and bad government and evil people.  Now the tables are turning, and we are the country that others are considering unsafe, and we are the ones unable to protect our own citizens and our own safety.  Literally, one of the reasons given in the travel alert was the “impossibility of authorities to prevent these situations” and by situations, they cite “the recent proliferation of violent acts and hate crimes”.  What has become of us?

And so it continues. As my head, heart and stomach start to swirl, I hold up my Emotional Deck of Cards, present them to all, and say Go ahead. Pick One. Any One.  We are all in this screwed up game together.


About Real Women

A "real woman" mom, wife, worker, friend, sister, daughter....
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