Have you ever felt broken? I mean broken broken. Like nothing is working broken. Like an old toy that needs more the batteries broken. Menopause has hit. You look in the mirror and the evidence of its invasion is all over your face and the backs of your arms. The bags under your eyes from not sleeping are large enough to carry a six-pack and a roll of Bounty extra-thick paper towels and you can’t remember from one room to the next why you came in there and what you needed. Broken.
I find myself a lot quieter lately. Silently waiting for the answers to solving my brokenness to somehow come floating down from wherever they are hiding and into my brain so I can apply a formula and magically solve it. Fix it. Make it better. Check it off of my proverbial to-do list and call it done. But hours turn to days and day to weeks and weeks to .. you get the picture. A long time passes and still, I feel nothing but brokenness. Not sadness like I am depressed but truly like something is not right and all my attempts at figuring it out have turned futile. I feel almost like I am walking around inside someone else’s body in someone else’s life. I love my children but I even find myself wondering if being a mom was a part of the life I wanted or if it was a part of the life I thought I was expected to have and I fell in line. Come on… I am not the first to think this, maybe just one of the first to admit it out loud. Again, I love my kids so no need to call the authorities I am not going to leave them on the doorstep. But if I am honest, I do find myself wondering what life would have been like had I not had them. Where I would have lived and what I might have been doing had my life not turned to the responsibilities of caring for another person. The same with being married. The daily choice of choosing another person’s needs over your own. The doing things for the greater good of those you live with. The constant battle of compromise while balancing self-care. Oh and social pressure of not forgetting to drink water, watch my edges, include spinach in my smoothies and chase my passion. The never-ending to-do list of essential life skills that seems to be getting longer and longer each day. I am a serial entrepreneur. I like the adventure of starting a new venture and love the idea of not working for anyone else ever in life. The freedom to make money, doing something I love on my schedule is something that truly gets me up in the morning. The part I don’t like is the grind and hustle of having to make my own shit happen. I sit in my office sometimes and look around at the spreadsheets and post-it notes and calendars and ask myself is it all worth it. And then just like that, the brokenness creeps in and I want to tear it all down and walk away. Go get a desk job somewhere shuffling paper from one side of the desk to the other. Something I don’t have to think about or be responsible for. I can show up, not give a shit and go home. Broken.
I wish I could tell you when I started feeling this sense of being disconnected but I can’t for the life of me put my finger on it. I am not sure if it is the seemingly unending chore of being a mom or the finality of being married or the mourning of the loss of my youth with each hot flash but there are moments that I cannot deny where I feel completely shattered in pieces. Moments where I can’t flash the mommy “it’s going to be alright” smile and I can’t shoulder any more Black man burden of the world pain. Days where the best I can do it lay on the couch and indulge myself in mind-numbing television shows and eat hot popcorn for breakfast. I have to tell myself I don’t care for once what the kids are doing before I come downstairs. “Go ahead son, eat all the chocolate chips you want for breakfast lunch and dinner!” I don’t want to look at the Google calendar to see who is supposed to be where at what time. I don’t want to have to think about meetings and funding for my business.
I don’t want to wash and fold another load of laundry even if my son is out of underwear. For these moments I want to sit in this space and do nothing. I just want to sit here, quietly and feel broken.
I don’t know about you but somewhere in the mommy handbook, I read a passage that said being a mom meant I wasn’t supposed to feel anymore. That somehow my humanity was less important than the parent-teacher conference. In the subtext, it described scenario after scenario where I suck up my own pain, hurt and disappointment so the kids wouldn’t worry. There was a paragraph with footnotes that quoted research on how a mom is without a doubt required to put the needs of the entire household ahead of her own. That moms eat last, they go-to bed last and they certainly feel last… only when everyone else has gone to bed are they allowed to find a quiet place in the back of the closet to cry. When the house is empty they can get in the shower and let out that gut-wrenching cry they have been holding in for years. That when menopause hits you don’t talk about how unattractive and crazy it makes you feel with your spouse because he has enough things on his plate already. Later they added an addendum called self-care and mommy burn out and there were lists upon lists of ideas on ways you can “have it all” but must take care of yourself. Try yoga, spa treatments, v steams, nail appointments, girls trips and of course meditation all at the same time. Because another to-do list and checklist is exactly what is needed. The one thing I have never been able to find is what to do with all of the stuff you feel when being a mom is just plain old overwhelming. Where do you put the feelings of guilt that come flooding in when you get home from the spa because your special needs son had a meltdown the minute you left the house and now he feels bad because he broke your favorite vase? Pause. Who wrote this manual and where did it come from?
Historically moms have set ourselves up for failure. We created this picture in our minds at some point according to expectations of what we thought we should live up to and somewhere along the journey we lost touch with ourselves as women. We are humans with feelings, emotions, needs, wants, and dare I say dreams. As little girls, we had pictures of the lives we wanted for ourselves. Granted mine was to be a race car driver but that is beside the point, I still had dreams. And if I am honest, it did not include being married with a house, a dog and 2 kids. It also did not include living life miserable because I don’t give myself room to feel whatever I was feeling. For a moment, go back to childhood. If you were hungry, you asked for food in whatever way communicated to your parents that you needed nourishment. If you were tired, you communicated that need. At some point, we lost the lesson of being able to communicate our needs clearly in whatever manner we need to communicate them to get those needs met. We have to go back to those lessons from childhood and allow ourselves to feel again. To be sad or happy or tired or fed up or broken. So today, I am going to sit down on this couch, watch Netflix, cry when I need to, drink my spinach infused smoothie, let my kids eat what they can reach, husband find his own keys and feel broken. What are you feeling? Oh yeah. Good.