What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. Without struggle, there is no strength. And yes, adversity builds character. I couldn’t agree more. So, if I’m on board with all that, why would I claim to have a big problem with problems?
To be honest, it’s not the problems themselves that I have a problem with. It’s the fact that so many people think that having problems is problematic.
Not quite sure what I’m rambling on about? Let’s take a look at a couple of common problems.
Big problem #1: the baby blues.
I would sooner relive 14 hours of drug-free labour and natural childbirth than 14 hours as the new mom I was. (Slight exaggeration but not much. The early days weren’t pretty. You can read about my biggest parenting fail here.)
According to statistics, though, my struggle should come as no surprise. In the US, approximately 70% to 80% of women will experience the baby blues and I imagine it’s an equally big problem in Canada.
Given the 30 or so new moms I met while doing the rounds of mom and baby groups, I should have encountered at least 21 other moms who fantasized about returning to the moment before they had that fateful shag, but I didn’t. This tells me that either a) the stats are wrong, or b) most women experiencing the baby blues believe that this problem is so problematic, they’d better not let too many people know they have it. And I have a big problem with that.
Big problem #2: marital strife.
I’m on my second marriage. The first one was just plain wrong. I said ‘I do’ when really, I didn’t, but I got a delightful mini-me out of the relationship and yes, she completes me, so no regrets.
The marriage I’m in now is right. Definitely right. Still, on more than one occasion I’ve been ready to call it quits. (I’m no picnic to be with so the thought may have also crossed his mind once or twice!) Why? Because marriage is f*cking hard, that’s why, and clearly I’m not the only one that finds it a challenge.
In 2010, Statistics Canada told us that approximately 38% of all marriages end in divorce. This means that 4 out of every 10 couples I know and you know are eventually going to break up. And I’m guessing they’re not just going to wake up one day and suddenly say, “We’re done!” Their break-ups are brewing. Right now. Right under our noses. But gosh darn it, they seem so happy!
Keep in mind that this stat only represents those who have reached the point of no return. I think we can safely assume, therefore, (and I’m being conservative here) that at least 50% of married couples have a lot of bad days in and among the bliss. Why oh why can’t more people admit they’re having a hard time?
Once again, I can only conclude that a) the stats are wrong; or b) people experiencing bumps in their relationship feel their problems are so problematic, it would be best to pretend life’s a picnic. And you guessed it — I have a big problem with that.
For the love of God, why aren’t people talking about this stuff?
The Oxford Dictionary defines a problem as:
A matter or situation regarded as unwelcome or harmful and needing to be dealt with and overcome.
Baby blues and marital strife are definitely all of the above, but who decided to add shame to the equation? If it’s okay to talk about headaches and exhaustion and busy-ness without shame, why is it that problems that are equally (if not more) prevalent are being treated like dirty laundry? I mean, God forbid someone finds out that you’re among the 70% or so of women suffering from the baby blues. What would people think if they knew that you, like at least half of all married people, were having a bad marriage day?
If we don’t disclose our problems, how are people supposed to help?
I wear my heart on my sleeves. There are very few problems I won’t discuss with those in my circle. Why? Because I don’t want to be alone with them. Being alone with my problems sucks.
There are some who caution me. “Be careful who you share with,” they say. And honestly, I think, “screw it!” If you want to judge me for being human, then go ahead and judge me. And if your judgment leaves you inclined to stay away from me because my heart is aching over a fight I may have had with my husband, that’s on you. Clearly my authentic self is more than you can handle. I’m cool with that.
While writing this, I wondered — is it only me who feels this way?
And then I received my weekly newsletter from Jenn — the big-dreaming, story-telling world traveler who will be leading me and six other women on a Guatemala adventure come February. In it, she wrote:
“I’d much rather sit down at the table with the couple who, when you ask, “So, how are you guys…” answers with, “Well, marriage sucks….” and then unpack the real nitty gritty of life together. I’d rather tape up the wounded, sit with the lonely, dance with the differently abled, hug the crying, and hold each other up in the real world, warts and all, than pretend this is a thing that it just isn’t.”
That’s what I’m talking about.
I want to be able to bring my whole self to the table, always, and I want the same for my people. That includes you. I crave authentic connection, but if we’re only ever willing to show one another our best sides, how’s that going to work? Thoughts welcome.
Viv for today xo
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