Over the past seven years, I’ve gone through the ultimate lows while engaged in a high conflict co-parenting relationship. Feelings of inadequacy, isolation, depression, and severe anxiety have plagued me the majority of the time. I only exacerbated the situation by shutting down physically and emotionally, at times feeling unable to process all that I was going through myself. A ball of fury at most times, ready to explode or break down at any moment; my emotional sanity drowning. Not able to process the feelings myself, I refused to talk with anyone about what I was going through and how it was affecting me. Scared that if I were to open my mouth and share my truth I wouldn’t be understood.
When you have to literally fight for your child, have to fight for what they deserve, in front of a stranger in a robe, it changes you. When you look at the father of your child and realize you don’t know him and never did, when he reminds you of your own deadbeat dad – it changes the person you are. I guess it only changes you if you let it. My experiences have hardened my already dense exterior. They don’t understand. They can’t understand. They don’t know my ex. They don’t know my struggle. This is what I told myself over and over and over again.
I grew up with a fierce sense of independence, which hasn’t made it comfortable for me to ask for help or open up to anyone. Even with my core group of friends, I found myself opening up and then instantly regretting it. Afraid that they’ll see too much of my mess. Afraid that I’ve exposed too much of myself. Afraid not of their reaction, but my inability to move past my own grief of a failed relationship. Grief that my daughter’s father will never be what she needs.
I didn’t value having a tribe for a long time. That fierce sense of independence got the best of me – I could do it all on my own. Or so I thought. I struggled for awhile finding my tribe – worried that my instincts were off and I would trust the wrong people, again. Finding your tribe and people you can open up too isn’t easy. I needed to find my tribe because I realized I couldn’t continue attempting to be a good mother or good friend without having emotional support, especially when I was in and out of court with my ex. Of my four closest friends two are married and two are single parents – all respect me and my need to open up at my own pace. They have been around me for awhile, but were waiting for me to get comfortable enough to take our friendship to another level, and I am glad I did. While these four ladies live in close proximity to me I have been fortunate enough to have a virtual tribe as well.
Blogging has been an incredibly satisfying journey in personal growth. I’ve always loved creative writing and have felt the need to output my feelings for a long time. Over the years I have connected with other bloggers and those who “hear” me through my words and want to support me. I tweet I’m not doing well and those folks are the ones emailing me, tweeting me, and texting me asking what THEY can do to help me. That kind of support isn’t something I thought I could find through a computer screen but it’s been invaluable, and it’s given me strength when I had none.
As with much of my life, you have to be willing to get uncomfortable for awhile in order to get what you need out of life. I still at times feel worried about unloading to my friends. But after every vent session my friends give me just what I need to keep going. They give me confidence and reassure me that I’m not crazy and most importantly that I’m not alone. My tribe may be small, but it’s mighty and supports me and my daughter and I am grateful for each and every person who holds me down.