An Empty Cup
It was tempting to title this post, A Broken Cup as that’s how I’m feeling. My cup isn’t just empty, its bone dry and cracking. Its fair to say its been a really tough couple of months and of course as tough months go, there is always a lesson hidden in there at the end of it…somewhere…isn’t there?? I’m still hoping.
As I broke down and cried to a dear friend about a month ago her words of wisdom (and she is one of the wisest women I know) were “remove yourself from it”. My first reaction was strong and as I howled uncontrollably into the phone I muttered the barely recognizable words, “WHAT?? That doesn’t make sense! Isn’t that running away? I don’t want to run away I want to cope with it I want to know how to deal with it I cant hide from this” etc etc, splutter, splutter, sob, sob.
I had embarked once again on a major project which has always and would again envelope me. Consume every emotional, physical and mental resource I have and then some. In the past I have done this project (which usually a team would handle) whilst working full time, looking after my nanna and doing all sorts of other over-achieving activities perfectionists undertake. But Ive always done it and so when the pressure was put on me again to do it, I said a reluctant yes. This time Im working part time, still looking after my nanna and hey presto, I have a baby too. In hind sight, it was an insane undertaking.
Boring details aside, the event was a huge success. I raised the $50,000 I aimed for, I got through the night with my baby thanks to some loving help from friends, and from what Ive heard people are very impressed with the night. Great. wonderful. Success. Accolades and “thankyous” and “your great”‘s and all that. Whhhaatttteevvverrrrrrr.
Here is what is unseen. And the reason Im sharing is that the wise and wonderful friend from above shared with me that I get dumped on because people think I can cope. Because I say to the world (somehow??) “I can deal with anything! Bring it the hell on!”
I am broken. I am hurt beyond immediate* repair. My love cup is empty.
Its not just the event, although it certainly took the last bit of me. It’s the accumulative effects of being a woman, with a baby, a work ethic, a husband, a life. All of a sudden…its empty and we didnt even see the leaky stains. We all go through it. Even the bright as a button, always baking, perfectly groomed, “everything is wonderful and my baby sleeps perfectly” bullshitting mothers. We all go through it. But do we all GET through it? A friend of mine recently had an affair. She has a wonderful husband, amazing kids. Nice house. Im pretty sure her love cup was just empty. Its all the giving…the pouring and pouring. The 24/7 availability. The full time parenting, the cooking, the cleaning, the feeding, the reading, the dancing, the activities, the never going to the bathroom alone, the never having time to be sick and just recover, the ‘only the mum will do’ hugs, the washing, the husbands coming in and saying crazy shit like “Im tired”, the dishes, the dishes, the dishes, the dishes, the dishes, the requests for sex when all. I. Want. Is. Sleep. (this is actually only partly true…I do want sex, I want to want sex, I want to have the time to lie in bed and feel something but its just not my reality right now). Its feeling like a goddess and a used rag at the same time….sex happening on this side of the bed, sleeping toddler suckling nipple on the other side. Me, in the middle, pouring, pouring, pouring.
It doesnt end there. And this may be different for others but its true for me on such a deep level. I take things so personally and each time I let something in, my cup is drained. I crave to know how NOT to take things to heart, how to shrug things off and Ce la vie. This must be one of my life lessons and if so I am getting ready for my letter from the queen because I am NOT getting it. Ive heard all the “Its not about you, its about them” lines. Maybe when my cup is full I can remember them. But add what I have just been through to the ‘every mother’ paragraph and its too much for me. Hence, Broken.
I am battling the most hurtful situation with my family at the moment. Ive given and given and given and I cant wait anymore for te love to be returned. My pain threshold just isn’t as high as they think and Im done. Im broken. I thought I could hold out but its just too much. I cant beg to be belong anymore. Broken.
I put a shout out to all my friends for a little help recently and it was like I was standing on the beach in the wind shouting into the sea….all I got was spray in my face and wet shoes. Cold. I felt so alone. Why?? Why isnt anyone answering me? Why? I give sooo much. I try and help everyone and do whatever I can for anyone! WHY??? why am I being ignored?? Why wont my family love me???
Insert voice of wise woman: People dont think you actually need help. People think you can take anything. You look capable. You act together and seem like you can do anything.
Me: Thats crap! Im ASKING therefore I need it right?? Im begging, Im crying, Im saying it out loud!
As the days and weeks passed, a very select few of my friends came to the party. Those who gave and helped me out gave lovingly and for that I am so grateful. But the experience of banging my head against the wall, the feeling like no-one cares, being ignored, being blatantly ignored. Begging, asking, sharing and being ignored. This broke me.
Work load is one thing. I can do workload. I realised this time around that I had time, if I spent every waking moment doing it and that it wasnt the workload that sent me over as I thought it would be. It was the emotional toil. The effect it had on my relationship, on my little one, on my heart and soul. I couldn’t take the deleted emails and skipped facebook posts, the un-returned texts as anything but personal. Im not sure what has happened to me. I used to be hard arsed. I could take anything – do anything – say anything. I worked in fast and very corporate tough roles and had to deal with all sorts of stuff but now, at this point in my life Im just not able to deal with it. Ive gone soft. I would literally cry out with real tears from a heart that felt genuinely broken, “why doesn’t anyone care??”
One month later and I get it. I think. ‘Remove yourself’ doesn’t mean hide/run/pretend. It just means decide what I will embark on knowing whats involved mentally, emotionally and physically. Pick my battles. Choose the right time. Prioritize. LET GO of perfection (that old chestnut). Don’t stand in the middle of the road and then kick myself for being run over. Why should I have to cope with moving cars driving straight toward me? Remove yourself. The cars are still traveling, and I may be able to dodge them, but why on earth would I want to, when I can use the footpath.
And so…I remove myself. I wont do another event. Not because I cant do the work, or raise the money, or put on a good show. Not because I dont have the time. But mainly because if I’m not asking, if I’m not putting myself out there and needing the help of my friends then I cant take their ‘rejection’ (busy lives, lack of money, other priorities, misunderstanding, 20,000 other valid reasons) personally. I cant feel like they are rejecting me, like they don’t care about the worthy cause. I dont want to resent my friends, I dont want to feel like this. All I want to see is the beauty in them that I see every day. I wont do another event so I dont have to have the exposure to my family, the reality of how much Im not involved, thrown in face. I wont have to be spoken to like Im spoken to.
This, as Im sure you are getting, is hardly the point and while its going to work for now and is a great practical step in self-preservation, it is not necessarily going to the core of the issue.
So what is the issue? Shit if I knew that Id be a millionaire. and a lot happier right now instead of sad and jaded.
But Ill take a stab that it has a little bit to do with self-esteem and how I define myself. A little bit to do with my perfectionist personality. A little bit to do with lack of sleep and general stress. And hey, a little bit to do with my friends’ stuff, my family’s stuff and a little bit to do with life in general. A sign of the times as they say. A little bit to do with everything.
And a LOT to do with an empty love cup. I have no doubt that with a full cup I wouldnt have such a short fuse, I would be less likely to take everything so personally, I would be more open to giving and understanding that its not all about my needs. For me an empty cup means Im meaner, sharper, I hurt more, I ache more, I cry more, I frown more. A full cup means I would laugh more and shrug off more and yell less and basically cope more. I would absolutely love more.
Would I NOT have my little one? No way. I adore her. She lights my heart each day and I want to give her everything of me. But to give from the cup, the cup must be full…
And so as I was at my friends place last night and she was pouring pouring pouring so lovingly into my cup as I cried my eyes out, we thought we would put together a list of how to fill our own cups, because God knows you cant wait for anyone else to do it and its absolutely so important if we are to continue being the giving goddesses and loving mothers we all aim to be everyday.
So here are a few things from our “how to fill our own cups” list:
- Watch some True Blood or anything with vampires. (her list…this would totally piss my cup off :)
- Read Fiction
- Have a luxurious cup of tea in china. (the crockery, not the place, unless thats an option for you then go for it)
- UFC Martial Arts (SO not my list…but it floats her boat)
- Sewing, crocheting, knitting
- Meditate for 1 minute
- ask a neighbor to watch the kids and go to the toilet ALONE. Take a book.
- Adult conversation
- Junk magazine, even if like me, you just look at the pictures
- Cooking for fun, not for a meal
- Hang out and VENT with other mums. Be OPEN and HONEST. It lets you both off the perfection hook.
- Go for a walk without the dogs or the kids
- Have a bath with candles
- Get dolled up and strut it. Even just to the shops. Include makeup. Hell in my case Ill even include deoderant.
- Get a new hair do
- Dance. Either with the family or on your own…sing into brush if necessary
- Clean sheets and new PJ’s
- An at home massage by a professional so it doesnt have to end in sex
- Plan a night out with a drink, an innocent flirt and a lot of dancing. (I say plan because Im still breastfeeding and have chosen not to drink whilst doing so…)
- Go to a cafe for a coffee without the kids on the weekend and eat at normal pace, whilst having an un-broken conversation
Im glad my event was successful, Im glad my event is over. Im glad Ive stopped waiting for my family to finish “teaching me a lesson” and I’m glad Ive stopped trying to shove my sharp corners into the family’s circle. Im hoping to spend the next months repairing my special relationships, my inner core, my heart. I know its all possible and I pray that its not too late to mend the really important things in my life. I have learned a very valuable lesson (ahhh I knew there had to be one) and that is, that I cant look to be filled from the outside. I cant expect others to give me what I need. I cant wait for them to work it out and then find a way to get past their own stuff and hand me what Im looking for – its not their job. Im in charge of me and Im in charge of what goes out of my cup and also of what comes in. I can choose to say yes, no, stay or go. I have to regulate my time and my needs and stop waiting for people to fill something they dont have the capacity nor the desire to fill. How disempowering for any woman to be at the mercy of what others may or may not do! It doesn’t mean things wont hurt. It doesnt mean friends wont come and go. It doesn’t mean I will never be disappointed.
But it does mean I can say Ce la vie, shrug, perhaps shed a tear, perhaps not and move the hell on to my cup of tea in fine bone china that I will make time for.
Siiiigghhhhhh. Thank God I cleared that up.