This world is a very broken place right now. I’m sure it always has been, but the news and social media bring the broken right to our attention front and center daily and it’s hard to see what kind of acts of violence or tragedy have happened since the last one 10 minutes prior and it can be so emotionally overwhelming. The headlines about shootings, abuse, really sick things happening. It’s painful. I’m willing to bet anyone reading this has experienced something really hard and/or traumatic in their lives because we’re all fighting a battle of sorts.
This is why it takes being a gladiator to share our joy. Joy can be hard to feel because it’s the ultimate vulnerable act. Brene Brown talks about a phenomenon that she mentioned briefly in her Netflix special about having an actual fear of when things are going too well. It happened to me yesterday. I’m driving to pick up one of our girls from school, I noticed how damn gorgeous it is again here on the Outer Banks and I had been painting joyfully all morning and it happened. Things are too good. I’m so grateful I’m overflowing. This is scary.
I pulled myself back down and avoided an anxiety spiral. I insisted that I bravely sit in that joy. Who on Earth could say you have to be brave to feel your joy? Honestly – I think any of us who have been through something scary or hard, we can say that.
One of the reasons I have a hard time expressing joy is because of judgment and honestly because of the woman who cyber-stalked me last year trying to pick me apart when all along she was someone who was emailing me from her normal identity giving me endless praise (creepy, I know). Women on social media tend to easily bond over complaining, common enemy intimacy (let’s hate on that person together, a very empty way to build “friendships”) and criticizing how others are sharing/living their lives (don’t get me started on the royal baby name comments, y’all really think your opinion matters and it doesn’t and Archie is an adorable name so BYE LOLOLOL).
Sharing about how motherhood is hard has become so trendy and less meaningful and authentic that an opposite phenomenon is presenting itself: women are being shamed for not resenting motherhood. You want to “keep it real?” – you really need to accept that some people are content with their family. They do have good husbands, wives, partners and good kids. They do have a (mostly) clean house and if I see that tragic TJMaxx quote about good moms having sticky floors one more time… LOL, I can’t even deal. It’s almost as if women are trapped into ONLY being able to share the hard, because nothing else is accepted as genuine and people will think their faking it. This is DANGEROUS. This sets women up to truly believe that they are only allowed to complain and share how hard motherhood is to be liked and accepted as genuine.
JOY IS GENUINE, TOO.
I care more about the legacy I am leaving my children than keeping grown ass women comfortable by playing this negativity game. Can you imagine how some of these kids are going to feel when they read about how much they made their parents miserable one day? I can be honest and share how some things are hard, but I can’t filter out my joy. I will never, ever, EVER post that my children make me need to drink. I will not shame them online and I will treat this position of motherhood with gratitude, while STILL sharing when I am having a hard time in a way that doesn’t last because I don’t stay there. We find a way to make the hard time better, and we move on. And maybe there will be seasons where that isn’t so easy. That’s okay, though. Life is too short not to fight like hell to highlight and find the joy in even the toughest seasons.
If I didn’t have that joy fire in me, I wouldn’t be alive right now… I can promise you that. Post assault, addiction, a decade long eating disorder that caused permanent damage. I am so thankful for my joy fire and I am so glad to be in the arena with other women who bravely share their joy because you DO have to be brave to share joy now. People are more receptive to complaining than happiness and I’m just not interested in sitting in the cheap seats.
If you are really struggling and you can’t find your joy, I have compiled a list of numbers below to call. These people will talk to you, find you resources and help you get your joy back. Do not hesitate to call. The world needs you happy and healthy.
Thank you joy gladiators for sharing your hard and your happy. We need BOTH. And congrats to the future joy gladiators who now know they don’t have to dim their light to keep others comfortable. This is your life and legacy to leave, no one else’s.
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
- Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-SUICIDE
- National Postpartum Depression Hotline: 1-800-PPD-MOMS
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Hotline: 1-800-662-HELP
- National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673
- Eating Disorders Helpline: 1-800-931-2237
Want to keep up with an Outer Banks mama of three sweet (and oh so wild!) little girls shooting weddings & small business photography while making time for the things that matter most? Click on the links below and let’s connect!