Cup of tea? We need to stop doing this!!
Why is it that we all love to pretend we are not pretending? Like a lot, like a social convention?
Well firstly, because we’re British. Would the Italians or the Spanish or even the French put on a brave face like us? Would they say ‘fine thank you’ to every enquiry? Would they greet every visitor with a smile and a cup of tea? Would they continue to struggle to look after the house and the cooking and the baby whilst inside they felt like dying? Or would they have a bit of a rant, gather their girl friends together and have a good howl, release the pent up anger and emotion and hurt?
Actually, I don’t know. I just made that up. But I can imagine it, and it feels good to me. Wouldn’t it feel good to you? To say, ‘I’m not coping, I have all this emotion inside of me that I don’t know what to do with, from the birth, from becoming a mum, from all the MASSIVE emotional and physical changes that have just happened in a crazy short amount of time. My hormones are shot, I’m shattered, I feel like punching someone, please come round and have a sob fest with me!’
But oh no, not the British! We like to be polite, we like to stay in control, we don’t like to get upset in case the other person can’t cope, in case we upset them with our upsetness. We don’t like to embarrass anyone, especially not ourselves. And let’s face it, ‘losing’ it is right up there on the embarrassment scale in British society. Along with hugging a random stranger at the bus stop. Or having our skirt tucked into our knickers as we walk up the aisle. People stop and stare or turn away, pretend it’s not happening. Oh no, not emotion dear! So yes we pretend. Of COURSE we pretend. Sometimes we get super good at it and believe the veneer; the true emotions are buried so deep somewhere that we forget what they were, that they were even there. We become the sugar-coated, and over time, not so coated, cardboard cut-out.
And in my opinion this is when the real problems start. This is when people become depressed. Think about it. If you are not feeling emotion and are also working really really hard to suppress it, imagine what this would feel like? Tiring, lifeless, unreactive, unmotivated, lack of spark, lack of passion, heavy, over eating, over sleeping, or the opposite. With the odd outburst of anger or crying when it becomes too much to contain. Have you looked up the symptoms of depression recently?
So my plea; let’s just STOP IT! Let’s stop pretending, let’s stop saying we are OK when we are not. Let’s acknowledge when the birth didn’t go to plan and we are feeling sad or disappointed or angry. Let’s admit that we are finding motherhood challenging and yes please, I could do with some help; you could bring a casserole or wash the dishes or mind the kids.
And my question for you is this: next time someone asks you how you are, what is the answer?
Rachel Weber is a former midwife who now specialises in Birth Story Healing and emotional release work. You can out more about how she works here.
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