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Can't you see how hard I'm trying?!



"CAN'T YOU SEE HOW HARD I'M TRYING!!!???"


Those are the words that were echoing off the walls inside my skull as I shouted at my husband. It was a lovely autumn day, we were out for a family walk through a nice quiet neighborhood, just me, him, the dog, and our 10 month old babygirl.


Such a happy picture.


But I was shouting. And I do NOT shout. I am a very kind, and very quiet person. I have been my whole life. There have been times that I've felt like I was shouting, like it was a big moment, but... no. Not really.


So this? This was big. What I said was "JESUS ALAN!!!"


And he fired back with "WELL WHY ISN'T IT JESUS MEG!!??" and when I went to respond I vomited out something (at top volume) that I hadn't even realized until that exact moment...


"WELL MAYBE I'M NOT EVEN MAD ABOUT THIS. MAYBE I'M JUST INCREDIBLY STRESSED OUT AND UNHAPPY AND I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO!!!!"


Oh... Right... That makes sense...


I don't even remember what it was that brought on the shouting in the first place, and I am 100% confident that it wasn't a big deal. But I do remember what finally broke in me. I was drowning.


I had started a company with a friend, shortly after having a traumatic birth experience, and things weren't working out. Not to mention that this was in the first year of pandemic and everything was falling apart around me. What I hadn't realized was how much I'd fallen apart on the inside, too.


I remember, shortly before that, that I also managed to get into the biggest fight I've ever had with my mom. Now, my mom and I are super close and she and my dad had been jumping through crazy hoops and stretching themselves thinner than I realized to help out with the baby. So when my mom suggested that I could do a better job of training my dog (which she was right about, Lula has always been amazing, but she didn't get that baby Hailey was more fragile than the grownups) it felt like I was flailing in the ocean, gasping for air, and someone I loved was 4 feet away, in a boat, saying "Just swim harder."


Now, that's not at all what my mom meant. And that's not at all what Alan meant when he asked me to just pick up trash around the house. Not to clean, not to do dishes or make dinner or do laundry or ANYTHING, just to break down amazon boxes and toss empty food boxes when I was ready. But for me? Postpartum, feeling like a failure, totally lost in all the "new mom" stuff, I just got angry.


I have spent my WHOLE life trying to be perfect. The perfect daughter, the perfect student, the perfect wife and friend and sister and person. I thought being someone that people could look up to meant being totally beyond reproach in absolutely everything I did. I would spend hours in a day scrutinizing my own past behavior and marking moments when I could have done or been better. I was so self critical that when someone mentioned a small failing, I fell apart. Because it wasn't small to me. It was a total system failure. And if I could let that one small failure slip through, what else had I missed and who else was thinking poorly of me. I had to do better. I had to be better. Because if I wasn't perfect, what was I....?


I was so afraid to answer that question.


Because my whole purpose was perfection. What if on the other side of failure... was a place where no one liked me anymore. Or no one looked up to me, which is something I really valued.


So that day, in the quiet neighborhood, pushing my daughter in her stroller, the dog happily sniffing away... I fell apart. The dam broke. I released all of that tension that had been building up inside of me for months (years, really) and I shouted. Top of my lungs. And I was finally honest with my husband and with myself. I told him about how sad I'd been. How miserable this business venture had been making me. How lost and alone and terrified I'd been. And he listened. And he helped. He helped me to be brave enough to tell my friend and business partner that I was done. He helped me realize that me not being able to clean up those messes was actually a symptom of depression and that I could talk to my therapist about it. He helped me to understand that I wasn't mad at my mom for judging me or no supporting me, because she was guilty of neither, but that I was overwhelmed by the pressure of having everyone's happiness and two literal lives (the dog and the baby) weighing on my shoulders at a time when I felt I could barely keep myself alive. And he helped me to remember that I wasn't alone. Not even close to it.


So I ask... what would you shout? Right now, what would you shout at the top of your lungs? What would fall out if the dam broke and you couldn't keep it all in anymore?


I gotta tell you, everything got better after that walk.

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