Author: Karen Copeland
You’ve probably noticed it’s been a long time since I’ve written anything on the Champions blog. It’s not because I don’t want to write, it’s more because I have found myself stuck for the last few months. And this might be surprising to some because I’ve been involved in several different projects and events, and maybe others haven’t seen me as being stuck. I was wearing a mask. Those projects and events were a good opportunity to distract me from the feelings I was carrying. To convince myself that I was doing okay.
I remember going out to play in the mud puddles when I was a kid. Maybe you do too? It was always fun to find the puddle that was just a bit deeper. I can still recall the squish of the boots as they sunk into the wet earth. The mud would provide gentle resistance as I moved my feet forward. I’d smile and laugh until…
You know how you find that puddle, the one that looks like all the others? It seems all good at first. It’s a big one, bigger than you are used to. You venture further into the centre, knowing you can turn back at any time. But you come to discover it is cleverly disguised. Without warning, it grabs onto your boot and won’t let go. Panic starts to set in as the more you try to get your foot free, the deeper it sinks. The wall of mud becomes tighter around your ankle. Gripping you. It will not let go and you look around wildly knowing you have ventured too far; and it feels like no matter how loud you yell no one can hear you calling for help. So you don’t.
I found that puddle.
For a long time, I did my best to pretend that I wasn’t stuck, that I could walk out of that puddle anytime I wanted to. With each task I took on, I sunk just a little bit deeper. I would wake up in the night, my heart racing, my mind filled with thoughts of the future. Let me tell you, the future was looking pretty bleak and uncertain in those moments.
If you’ve never been stuck in this kind of puddle, this might seem insignificant to you. You might want to say “Come on now, just pull yourself out! It isn’t that hard” or “You chose to get in that puddle in the first place, now you just need to choose to get out“.
Even though I know better, I was saying these things to myself. If I just try harder, pretend longer, I can get out of here. I didn’t call out for help and I sunk deeper and deeper.
Yesterday, I asked for help. I sat down at my computer and started typing. I put a post up on the Champions Parent Discussion group with the disclaimer:
Fair warning. This post is going to be raw. And heavy. And probably rambling.
And I proceeded to barf out everything I had been holding in for so long. I wrote:
I am struggling with my parenting right now. I don’t say this lightly. I don’t say this to garner sympathy or even empathy or anything in particular.
I say this because I can’t leave it unsaid any longer. I can’t hold it in anymore.
I am overwhelmed with guilt and “I should have’s”. I try to practice forgiveness towards myself but it is getting harder and harder. This feeling of failure is so powerful and consuming.
In an instant, I was surrounded by my village. Many women were suddenly near me. Some of them jumped right into the puddle with me and others encouraged from the sides, waiting with warm fluffy towels for when I was finally free. They reassured me that the panic I was feeling for so long was temporary, it wouldn’t always be this way, they were there to help.
Slowly, and with a great sense of relief, I felt my foot slip out of my boot. I found myself back on firmer ground and wrapped in love and understanding.
In that moment, hope returned. I was no longer alone.
Sometimes we think strength looks like doing things all on your own. But real strength is when we have the courage to be vulnerable and ask for help. To share our fears with each other and discover that we are not alone.
When we do this, we find our way out of the mud. Stronger, because we are together.
With gratitude to my fierce mama friends, who came to my side yesterday and provided me with the community and support I so desperately needed.