Thank God for people you can take your sunglasses off in front of, even when your eyes are brimming with tears.
I’ve always used sunglasses to shield myself from a world I so often find difficult to interact with. Behind the shades I feel anonymous. My eyes are hidden, and so often my pain too. Because if there’s anything that can reveal the invisible hurt swirling within, its my eyes. And mostly, I’d rather not go there.
But maybe, shielding myself isn’t always the best option.
Because earlier this week, I ran into a newish friend at the gym. And right there in the locker room, after she asked me how I was doing, the tears started flowing. With sunglasses already off, I couldn’t hide the struggle and overwhelm. I couldn’t ignore the inner turmoil that has been devouring me. And mostly, I couldn’t lie. It was too late to put up my shield and pretend that everything is okay.
I spilled my guts about how hard motherhood has been. How my strong-willed toddler brings me to tears nearly every day. How I didn’t even know a child like him could exist. How I have zero control. How he WILL NOT use the potty and therefore, can’t start preschool. I told her how the education of my older child has left me confused and questioning, in a constant state of anxiety about whether or not I’m doing the right thing. I told her that I’m tired. So tired. And that lately, all I’ve wanted to do is run away. Or sleep. I told her how my entire life is in upheaval and how I feel like I’m failing at every single thing.
And you know what? Later that day, she sent me a message thanking me for being vulnerable. In fact, she told me it was refreshing. REFRESHING. My tears, my mess, my complete and utter confusion over what I am doing in life, in motherhood, in marriage, somehow spoke to her soul. And it gave her permission to share her hard too.
We are constantly being fed the message of “enjoy every moment,” which is silly when God himself tells us this life is going to be HARD. So why do we feel compelled to pretend it’s not? We need each other friends, in the good and the bad, the easy and the hard.
Maybe we aren’t supposed to be hiding. Maybe we are supposed to be bringing our darkness out into the light so that others might feel free to do the same. Maybe sharing the hard transforms our shadows into a ray of hope that someone else needs in order to know they aren’t alone.
Because sometimes “me too” is the most comforting phrase a person can hear.