Speak Out in Meetings
Where to start with the rabbit holes? To me the rabbit hole is like a tornado that shakes me around and tosses me out on the other side, forever a changed person. As I look back, there are many, and they always share the same theme. The dreaded “SHOULD“. From very early on, this was the conditioning of the behaviour of a good daughter, and in tandem, the behaviour of a good girl.
- You shouldn’t eat that
- You shouldn’t climb trees in dresses
- You shouldn’t kick-box because it isn’t ladylike to have bruised knuckles
- You should stick to the mall and not play street hockey with boys
- You shouldn’t speak out in meetings or you’ll be seen as a b*tch
- You shouldn’t wear your hair like this or that, or wear this or that kind of clothing
It goes on and on. The worst one I think I ever heard – and I thank heavens, I did not let into my subconscious – was advice on how a wife should never refuse sex with her husband; her job was to please and serve him. I know…jaw drop!
The interesting thing is just how pervasiveness of this mentality. I was having lunch with a woman whom I admire and look up to, who for all appearances has it all together, and I marveled at her response when I questioned what would happen if we just didn’t live up to the “should.” She replied replied, “but we have to.” I find that telling.
But I digress. Each one of the rabbit holes, these “shoulds” challenged me to make decisions about who I was as a person. Many times the struggle was that I wasn’t perfect or right, in the eyes of others. The worst part, was the endless repetition of that message in many subtle and overt ways, until I actually started to believe I was flawed and somehow less than for not fitting the mold.
My deepest, darkest, longest rabbit hole was perhaps the most profound and life-changing one. My son continued to have seizures despite brain surgery, chemotherapy, and other radical treatments. This was about 3 years into the ordeal. I had managed to keep up with my obligations as a wife, mother of another son who also needed my attention and love, an employee, a daughter to an ailing dad, a sibling, and a friend. I never missed any engagements, I never missed work, and if I did I made the time up in the evenings, or in the middle of the night. I didn’t cry, as I had to be strong for everyone; I didn’t ever take time for myself. My job was to live up to my “shoulds” and take care of everyone else. Then one day my son ended up in the hospital for paralysis of his entire right side. Well, that was a new and unforeseen week spent at the hospital, and here I was without a change of clothes or even toothbrush, worrying about getting my work done. Worried about my son, but needing to put on a brave face while stuck in a tiny room 24/7. The paralysis was temporary, he walked out a week later with no ill effects. Jump for joy, right? Oddly no, this was my breaking point. I returned to work to the warm sympathy of colleagues, and all I could do was cry. For the past three years I hadn’t dared, and now the crying went non-stop for a week. I fell completely apart. I couldn’t take care of anyone anymore. I couldn’t even take care of me. In my mind I had failed. And yet I got up, and I picked up the pieces through tear-clouded vision, and I re-invented my concept of me and of good enough for me. I found meditation. I found energy healing. I found peace. I found balance. I found the realization that all along I was perfect as I was. I found myself! I didn’t need to be anything, but the best me.
I have come a long way from that person. I am now speaking and advocating for epilepsy and cannabis awareness. I now have a healing practice to give back the peace and purpose I have found. I still have my day job, but I take it in stride and know that when the universe wants me to leave, the signs will be clear.
And the rabbit holes? They keep popping up. Just today my son had a seizure at school, and during the drive to pick him up, I found my inner chat turn to, “I shouldn’t be working, I should do more healing with him, I should have seen this coming and kept him home….” The difference now, is I realize the chatter is BS, so I stopped it and said, I should be the best me I can be today and that is good enough. So in the end I suppose I should say, thank you rabbit holes for the tough and rewarding teachers they have been for me.
Written by: Melanie Groves