Confidence, mental health, responsibility.
I can do a great impression of confidence.
Long before i needed to hide my physical pain from my children, i figured out that i needed to hide my insecurities from the world, to put on a mask. In a way, pretending things are ok has actually helped me. For the benefit of the children i have taught myself to focus on the positive, to search out the silver lining, to think more about how my actions and words could make other people feel. I like to think i am a better person for my experiences in the dark pit of mental ill-health, perhaps even a better parent than i would have been without it. Most days i even believe i am a pretty good person, a good parent, a good friend. The mask can sometimes stick, and those days, most days it's pretty good.
When i wrote the blog post, the big one about this house, i had that mask on. Powered by frustration and despair i hammered out a rant about the unfairness of the situation i have found myself in. And the response has been dizzying. At one point i literally couldn't keep up with all the tweets and emails and i was giddy with the positivity and support pouring from my screen.
But tonight, with the pain so bad it is a scream inside my head again (after going to see toddler in her playschool nativity) my mask has vanished. I am alone with my insecurities and doubts once more.
I sit here now, crying, absolutely certain that i don't deserve a single thought, word or gesture of kindness that i have received over the last two days. I sit here, completely convinced that i don't deserve these children, these amazing people who i have been so blessed to grow with and learn from. The shadow of self doubt and depression, ever present, has won for a little while.
Children are gifts you see, and you are supposed to take care of gifts. And looking around myself now at the children sleeping on this sofa next to me, a sofa i know has mould in it but i cant afford to replace (hell, it isn't even paid for technically) i feel like i have failed them.
Yes, i never asked to become disabled. Yes, i never expected to be on my own with 5 children. But that doesn't mean that i do not feel responsible for us being here. It doesn't mean i am not mentally beating myself up every day for not being able to provide the things that are so important.
Who do i hold to account for all of this?
Does that mean i have to accept 'my lot in life'?
Does that mean i should just sit back and be quiet and not make a fuss, as i have spent so much of my life doing?
If i don't speak up, what is going to change? If i don't make a fuss how will anybody know what is going on? Doing nothing will change nothing. I owe it to these children, and even a little bit to myself to make something happen. I wont just sit and feel sorry for myself (though i cant lie, its likely that will happen at some point), i will shout, i will badger, i will pursue every option available to me to claw our way out of this frightful mess. I will go without the things i need in order to pay the bills, i will make a polite nuisance of myself to anybody who will listen, not just because *this* isn't good enough, but because that is what you do as a parent and as a parent, you keep fighting for what is right and you put the consideration of your children before yourself.
These children are my responsibility. You only get one childhood and it is up to me to make sure that theirs is the very best one i can give them. I want to be able to turn to them when they are older and know that i did everything i could to give them the childhood they deserve. No missed opportunities, no regrets. Ending a very unhealthy relationship wasn't the first step and it wont be the last. Tomorrow when we get up i will be the same smiling face they saw this morning and the morning before and the morning before that. I will continue to do all the things i can do every day to make them feel valued and appreciated and loved. And while they are sleeping, while they are at school, i will fight for them. I wont accept that this is as good as it will ever get. I won't stop trying and I wont give up hope.