Life is a series of ebbs and flows. Some days are better than others. Some months are better than others. Hell, lets be real, some YEARS are better than others.
Some people know this, and I don't share it lightly, but 2017 was a rough year for my little family and this has carried into 2018. My daughter and my husband have both faced some extremely trying and ongoing medical issues. I’ll spare you the details but the search for medical answers has brought significant stress and drastic change to our little family.
Anyways, a few weeks ago I was on the phone with my cousin. She called just to vent. She was packing for vacation with the family. Emotions and tensions were running high and patience was running low.
We all know the feeling. We have all been there before. We are already at our limit and then something happens that pushes us over the edge. Pretty sure it’s an experience as intrinsic to motherhood as childbirth itself.
As she is venting about the popcorn her husband couldn't find in the pantry and the endless pile of laundry, she suddenly stopped mid-sentence and immediately began apologizing. "I'm so sorry, I forgot who I'm talking to and what you guys are dealing with. I'm crying over popcorn and you guys have 'real' problems, you don't want to listen to this... I'll let you go."
My heart broke, because yes, we are dealing with 'real' problems right now. But girl, I have been on the other end too. I have cried because my kids won't fall asleep, because I can't find the remote to the TV, because I tripped over the same shoe 14 times already today. You know what - those ARE REAL PROBLEMS TOO. In the midst of being sleep deprived, hormonal, and pulled in 14 different directions - sometimes those very 'small' things seem very, very, big.
One thing I have learned in one of my many counseling sessions is regardless what your problem is; your feelings are still valid. You don’t need to meet any criteria to have feelings about your experience. I think this is a really important lesson that can have a grand impact on our daily lives. I get through my days right now by constantly reminding myself that as much stress that sits on our shoulders right now, we know that we are still VERY lucky and we have a lot to be thankful for. My life didn't always carry the weight that it does right now, and it won't carry it forever.
With that said, every tear I have shed, every curse I have yelled in anger, all of my emotions are all valid. It isn't invalid because there are people who have bigger worries than me. In turn, what I am going through does not invalidate somebody else’s experiences.
Do not allow anyone to take away your feelings. THIS is how the word "crazy" starts getting thrown around. If you're like me, I can handle being called many, many things but please don't call me crazy. It stems from a relationship back in college almost 20 years ago (gulp) when every time I voiced my feelings, instead of validating me, the guy I was dating would call me crazy. Sadly I know this is an experience many others have gone through as well. Somehow as women, society tells us our feelings don’t matter unless we are dealing with something of great substance. If our problem doesn’t qualify as substantial enough, we are supposed to accept life as it is and just move on.
But the truth is, your feelings are valid and you have the right to not only feel them but to voice them. When we keep things inside too long, it allows all sorts of nasty stuff like self-doubt, guilt and shame to take root. We express our feelings to get them out, work through our stuff and move forward. There is some kind of magic that happens when we vocalize what we are holding in; the negativity begins to lose its power and the healing process begins.
So here is the thing, one of my main goals at Vitality Buffalo is to create a space and community where women can gather and be real. Friendship and community are so essential to facing life’s hurdles straight on. Please know when you walk through our doors, you are free to be yourself and bring all of your emotions and feelings, good and bad. When we are able to be true to ourselves, it is then we are able to grow into the best versions of ourselves.
TABITHA SWEENEY is the founder and owner of Vitality Buffalo. Vitality Buffalo is a fitness studio specializing in family friendly fitness.