485 days of loving more!
I wrote this post about six weeks ago when some personal struggles will still ever-present. I share it tonight with The Orange Rhino Community because I think it is an important message to take home on one’s journey to yell less and love more.
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With a blizzard headed towards our town, I buckled all four boys into the mini-van and headed to the grocery store. You know, along with every one else I knew. After circling and circling looking for a parking spot, we finally found one. I pulled out my phone and perused the grocery list my husband had emailed me. Yes, you read that right. My husband normally does the grocery shopping. It is one of his favorite things to do and boy do I embrace it!
“Cheese. Turkey. Slider Rolls. Chicken Nuggets. Pork Loin.”
Okay, time for some honesty. Not only do I not grocery shop, I don’t cook. I mean I cook, but not real elaborate meals. Cooking has never really been of interest to me so when I met a man who loved it, well, I hung my apron up and said “Great, when should we get married?!” Now baking on the other hand, baking I do. Just ask my hips, they won’t lie! So being a baker and a non-cooker, I stopped when I read the words “Pork Loin.”
I had no idea what a Pork Loin was. Pork chops? Yes. Pork Loin? No. No problem I figured, I’ll go into the grocery store, read the labels and I’ll be all set. Right? After weaving through people, grocery carts, cheese displays, wine displays and understandably whining children and moms, my entourage and I arrived at the meat section. I looked and looked at labels but nothing said “Pork Loin” on it.
I wanted to ask for help but honestly, I felt embarrassed. How could a mom, a woman, not cook? How could I not know what a Pork Loin was? It was so simple really, and there truly was no reason to be embarrassed and yet I was. It is hard to be honest sometimes because of the judgment (real and perceived) that exists in the world. I have been laughed at before for my inability to cook; I have been silently shamed for not cooking better meals for my family, for not cooking for my husband. And cooking aside, I have felt judged in the past when I dared to share emotions about various topics from my child’s behavior to my struggles with motherhood, “me-hood” and marriage. So right now in this moment, I found myself hesitant to be honest and admit my need for help. But, with my boys starting to rock the grocery cart and go at each other, I had no choice.
I scanned the people around me, looking for someone loving, understanding and clearly knowledgeable! I spotted an older woman with a softness about her, intently scanning a chicken package. Yes, she fit the bill!
“Excuse me?” I said quietly, “My husband told me to get a pork loin and I don’t know what that is.”
Her response? The best response EVER!
“Oh, honey, I don’t know either. I don’t cook much. Let’s find another lady and ask her.”
Wait. I wasn’t alone? I wasn’t the only one who didn’t know? I couldn’t believe the sense of relief I felt over a pork loin conversation! I no longer felt embarrassed, but encouraged. What happened next blew my mind and still makes me chuckle. I had asked the chicken lady because of her external softness. Turns out she had a great loudness within. Oh, had I clearly picked the right woman to ask.
“HEY LADIES!” she shouted. Yes, shouted out into the section. Eyes turned. My boys stopped picking on each other and froze. My heart stopped.
“This mom needs help getting a pork loin. Who can help her?”
“I can!” said a nice lady with black wavy hair. “Come here sweetie.” She welcomed me without rolling eyes that thought, “wow, you don’t have a clue” and instead with a smile that so clearly said “Hey, it’s all good. We all learn at some point. Let me help.”
We scanned the pork selection together; her asking me what my husband was cooking (me: um, I don’t know, pork?) and explaining the different cuts for different recipes. She agreed it was all quite confusing and that nothing said “pork loin” but finally suggested a particular cut. I graciously thanked her for her time on such a busy day and wheeled my entourage on to the next aisle.
I couldn’t stop smiling. My boys continued to bicker and complain that it was taking too long but I just kept smiling. It must have been a sh*t eating smile because my oldest son asked me:
“Mommy, why are you smiling like that? You look weird.”
And so I let him inside my brain that doesn’t stop thinking about life and insights and you know, blog titles.
“I am smiling like this because I just came up with a blog title. Wanna here it?”
I chuckled and told him anyway. I had decided I had a lesson to share that if my boys could embrace it young, it would help them time and time again.
“Oh well. Here it is: ‘Honestly, we all need more honesty!’ You see guys, mommy felt scared to admit she was struggling and didn’t know something. I worried what people would say when I admitted to this feeling. But then when I told my story, turns out that someone else understood and I wasn’t alone and then I got help. And it felt great. But, I would have kept feeling not-so-good if I hadn’t shared what I felt in the first place and we would still be stuck in the meat section, not the cookie section.”
And that was the honest to goodness truth. I used to cry myself to sleep at night after I had yelled at my kids. I used to think all day that I was an awful mother, the only mother, who yelled at her kids. I used to struggle with wanting to talk about it, but not having the courage to tell anyone because I feared judgment. It was an awful feeling yelling, it hurt so much and broke my heart; but it was perhaps an even more awful and hurtful feeling keeping that truth all to myself.
The day I started being honest with people about my yelling, a weight lifted.
I discovered I wasn’t alone.
I discovered I wasn’t the worst mom in the world.
I discovered that people didn’t judge me, but supported me in my desire to change.
I discovered that my story, made others feel better, just as the woman in the store declaring she didn’t know what a pork loin was, made me feel better.
I discovered that sharing honestly and openly about my struggles is quite powerful.
The day I started being honest with people about my yelling I started healing.
Yes, I started healing.
It took courage and strength to be honest, especially after having received judgment, shame, and ridicule in the past when I shared honestly about a variety of struggles in my life. Oh how I wish this weren’t the case. Oh how I wish people didn’t have to be scared to share their honest struggles. Oh how I wish people could share openly and begin to feel hope and happiness sooner than later. Oh how we honestly need more honesty so that less people feel alone and more hearts heal.
I am glad that I pushed through my fears and finally started sharing honestly.
Discovering that I wasn’t alone and that other people shared my experience and could offer support so greatly soothed the sting of my truth and helped my heart feel a little better. Right now I am hiding two very hurtful truths. I want to share about them but fear judgment. So I am keeping them to myself, feeling lonelier than ever; my heart feeling sadder than ever.
But I want to start healing. I need to start healing. I need to start sharing.
I know sharing works, I know it heals. I will find the courage to share again soon, because I know someone else needs to hear my honesty so that she too can heal, so that we can heal together. And once I find that courage, I will look for the Chicken Lady to scream out loud to the world about my honest struggle out so that it isn’t only two of us who heal, but many.
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Here is one of the truths I wanted to share about and finally did: One Truth About Asking for Help