Last night we went to see Paloma Faith at Westonbirt Arboretum. Outside. In the rain. Don’t be fooled into jealousy over our very glamorous lives – it is years since we went to a gig. But last night we put on our wellies and our best we-don’t-mind-the-weather faces and we went. As a Fathers Day present for Wes and, let’s be honest, a chance to get out of the house and leave the babies with their grandparents.
Throughout the day I had been humming the only one of her songs that I really know. And realised how nicely it would link to a blog post about the current state of my brain. I was onto something. It was going to be effortless – as though I’d had a music-based epiphany whilst freezing my toes off in a field near Tetbury. I’m pretty sure that’s the kind of blogging that wins awards.
She didn’t play the song. It would seem that even Paloma Faith is trying to keep me honest. (It is also possible that her choice of set list had nothing to do with me, and was based around the fact that she has more recent material and a new album to test out. I doubt it.)
So bear with me while I shoe-horn in the line from the song that was never played. (I’m ok with it. Honestly.) It goes a little something like this…
Do you want the truth or something beautiful?
That line has rung true for me since the day I heard it. Those have felt like my options for the longest time. Truth or beauty. Being honest or keeping people happy. Letting people see me as I am or maintaining the illusion of control. The truth, with all its mess and ugliness and terrifying vulnerability has never felt like the viable option.
Motherhood changed all that for me. Not initially – the temptation to project the image of a perfect, coping mother was just too strong. I’m not sure it worked. But I was damned if anyone was going to see how badly I was failing. I worked my way through a year of depression and all my friends thought I was fine. They didn’t see the times I sat and cried. The times I couldn’t bring myself to cook, or tidy, or leave the house. I didn’t tell anyone how desperately I wanted to run and start over somewhere far away. Or that I knew my baby would be better off if she was raised by someone else. Anyone else. That’s an ugly, awkward kind of truth.
The problem is that I want my children to be sure of themselves. To know that they are enough, just as they are. That, no matter how ugly or inconvenient their truths, they are worth listening to and worth loving. And I know, even as depression settles in to a second innings, that the only way that will work is if I am sure of myself. If I know that I am enough, just as I am. If I can accept my truths and share them. If I know that I am listened to and loved. Which is hard.
You can’t teach someone something that you don’t understand. So I am studying honesty and openness and vulnerability, in the hope of passing those gifts onto these two little people that have been put in my care. I’m reading books, and subscribing to blogs and listening to wise, generous friends. And I’m trying it out for myself. Here, and at church, and with my family and my friends. Tiny little steps towards understanding the fact that my truth is beautiful. There is no either/or.