On My Hardest Day, I Was Strong Enough
This past week, I was in court for a custody hearing. I gave my testimony, and was cross-examined. My witness testified and was cross-examined. What followed was four straight hours of listening to my ex and the witnesses he called to the stand go over every bad day, every poor decision, every instance they could think of where I did not bring my A-game as a mom. I was forced to listen over and over how I have failed and how my ex has succeeded. It was very easily the hardest day of my life.
While I was forced to sit and listen to lies, embellishments, and half-truths about how I have treated my children, I had to draw upon strength from deep inside. I had to turn my thoughts to peace, comfort, and happiness. I had to remind myself that even when the witnesses brought forth examples with truth behind them, that the those times were during some of the darkest days of my life—days I was forbidden to seek treatment for depression, days it was implied that my lack of relationship with God was to blame for my emotional state, and days when I reached out and asked for help and was rejected. I can be gentle with myself and know that I was doing the best I could at the time, and feel compassion for the overwhelmed, lonely, detached, stressed-out person I used to be. To not look upon her as a failure. To not look upon her with harsh judgment, or with regret. I have always been enough. I have never been a failure.
I was strong enough in court, in no small part because…
I was thinking about the Just Be Enough mission while I was in court. The women I have grown to know and care about as we build community. How we have come together to be honest and promote acceptance of ourselves and give permission for us to be who we are where we are.I was thinking about the #PPDArmy and The Band from BandBackTogether and how their support and insight and comfort have been a huge part of my recovery and growth. How both groups have contributed in a major way to my desire to speak out and normalize/advocate on behalf of mental illness, special needs, and invisible disabilities.
I also thought about how the hearing provided an opportunity for those things I was keeping hidden (some out of respect for my ex, and some out of fear of my words' being used against me) to be spoken of. I can speak more freely about my depression and related issues, now that they have, indeed, been used against me in court.
I was thinking about my support network, both on and offline, and how blessed I am to have friends who love me unconditionally and accept me unreservedly. And who listen over and over and over as I process what goes on in my head in an attempt to stay rational and strong in the face of battle. Who bless me with their words in Twitter responses, DMs, texts, and phone calls.
I was thinking about my readers, and how gentle and validating and accepting you've been as I have tried to write out my sorrow, my depression, my big feelings in the form of blog posts, prompt responses, and poetry. How these risks I have taken in turning something awful into what I hope are beautiful expressions of creativity and transparency have been met with loving words and encouragement for more of the same. You can't imagine the validation you've given me this year. All of you. Thank you.
I was thinking about music, how grateful I am for the emotional connection I have to it, and how I was prepared and my cup was filled the night before I went into court. Thank you D, for the recent introduction to Blue October and the immersion in it the night before. The two playlists I have come to know well circulated in my head, and the affirming words you've given toward accepting and owning the emotions in my story gave me a lot of courage. The music was exactly what I needed, that centeredness and connectedness, to draw upon, knowing others have felt this kind of excoriating pain, have been this cruelly humiliated by someone they used to know well, have been this publicly shamed in front of people whose opinions they value. I am grateful for who you are, for how you accept my intensity and willingness to dig deep and get my drive to be compassionate and supportive, I'm also grateful for the healthy and balanced perspective you see things from, and for your wisdom and insight. You are exactly the friend I needed to meet.
The prompt this week from Just Be Enough was about how do you stop from comparing yourself, and last week's was about standing taller. Today I am not comparing myself and my emotional responses and my life to anyone else's, and I am standing taller. Because I accept who I am as enough. I accept how I was made uniquely, and all of the experiences I've had that have made me who I am today. I accept my struggles, my weaknesses, and my character flaws. I embrace them. They make me who I was created to be. And reframing those experiences to understand how they help me love deeper and see more, how my story can allow me to help others, makes me proud of who I have become.
Because of what's happened to me, I have become a more beautiful soul. Because of the ways I have been imprinted, scarred, broken, and healed. Because of what has happened in my life, not in spite of it.
I am enough. And so are you.
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By Lisa Owen