"Well," patting her on the hand "all that matters is- you have a healthy baby."
I watch her deflate. Her courage sags away from her. It was scary to tell the truth. Now she feels ashamed. She agrees out of embarrassment.
No! I want to say.
NO! That is not "all that matters". Because a healthy mom matters too.
Sometimes we wear our scars on the outside. But sometimes the scars are hidden, and no less deep.
Sometimes our scars are in our sense of violation. When our body is not treated as our own.
Sometimes it is our sense of powerlessness. When our voice is ignored or mocked.
Sometimes it is in primal fear. When our lives hang in the balance and no one is giving any answers.
Sometimes it is in the rip of our mother's heart. When our baby is taken away and no one will tell us why.
Sometimes it is in our desperate loneliness. When we enter the gates of deep, dark, reckoning. And we do it without support. Utterly alone.
The scars we wear on the inside are just as real.
The health of a mother matters just as much.
A healthy baby isn't all that matters.
I am here. I hear you. I see you. I acknowledge your scars both seen and unseen. You matter to me mama. You matter to me.
Tell your stories mamas. Your pain is real. Your trauma is real.
I am in a love affair. Outside my window is the most beautiful tree in the world. You might not believe me, so let me offer photographic evidence collected over time.
I know, hide your shock.
I like to think of my office as the Tree House- I think you can see why. The point is, this is serious love.
Ode to Tree or something like that.
Trees have played an important role at different points in my life. So... let me just play it fast and loose and say: I love trees.
Fast forward: I have been licensed a few years but I am brand new at supervising counseling interns. I am very young (as opposed to now, when I am full of wisdom). Younger than most of the people I am supervising. Suddenly, my mentor and dear friend is seriously injured. And, of course, I do everything I can to help in his recovery. In part, this means I am "him" for a month- filling in his very big shoes.
Here's the problem though. I am so not him. He's the kind of mentor everyone wants. In my book, he's kind of a big deal. He's the sort of person who makes you feel safe, and seen, and valuable and competent all at the same time. The sort of person that you want to be around. The sort of person you feel lucky to be around. Combine that with decades of experience as a therapist. He is a valuable well of knowledge and experience in a package of infectious warmth. And guess what? I'm not him.
I'm sooooo not him.
Not even close.
So... it is the holidays. I am a mom and business owner. I am worried about my dear friend and mentor. And I am trying to be him. Sort of. In that, I am trying to be him and failing miserably at it. Because, well, none of us do that very well.
And everywhere I go in his place, there is a new group of people that is so very worried about this man they love. They are desperate for updates and for reassurance. Reassurance I cannot honestly give them in the early weeks. And they are so painfully aware I am not him.
And I just keep thinking, really Lord?
And I let myself get caught up. Caught up in the worry. Caught up in my feelings of inadequacy. Becoming very internally aware of all the ways I fall short. The experience I am missing. The wisdom. The sort of benevolent-comfort vibe that I wish I had.
I don't do zen very naturally.
I know, hide your shock.
And I enter this store at the exact right moment. And my eyes fall on this necklace.
And in that moment all the trees I have loved flood into my mind. I stare at this necklace and I realize what I need to do. I make myself a promise: I will stop being a poor version of someone else. Instead, I will be the best version of me.
And honestly, I don't even know what that looks like in that moment. I don't have some great insight here. It's completely unclear and I don't know how I'm going to get there. But I know in my gut, this is a promise I must find a way to keep.
And I guess I'm sharing this for two reasons. One, because I am obsessed with my tree in the way a proud pet owner must talk about their pet (and share pictures). And so I will take any opportunity to talk about it. Two, because I wonder if you might be experiencing this too? Is there somewhere in your life that you are trying your very best- to be a poor version of someone else? What might happen if you let that go? You're not succeeding at it anyway. You can't be. What if you made a brazen promise to yourself- to be your best self... and no one else?