The title of this blog started out “Why The Greatest Showman Turned Me into an Emotional Wreck!” Whilst I could wax lyrical about the beautiful portrayal of diversity and overcoming adversity, I feel that’s been done to death on the interwebs. Not that it isn’t those things, it very much is, but I blubbed my way through the two hours at the cinema for a multitude of reasons. The film resonated with me on so many more levels than I was expecting. Ultimately, it’s left me asking myself: will I ever be enough?
I was late to the party for The Greatest Showman, and only saw it this weekend. It’s not an exaggeration to say I cried my way through the entire thing. Last time a film got to me like this was twenty years ago, when I watched Sleepers. I was hungover which is always a recipe for trouble when it comes to setting off unexpected emotions. Those were the days before therapy. Before facing up to my demons and addressing the elephant who’d been sitting in the corner far too long.
For those of you who are new around here, I’m the survivor of a dysfunctional childhood
I moved house a lot as a kid, and was always the new girl – aka an easy target for bullies. I was sexually abused from the ages of eight to ten, and emotionally abused too many times to recall. I left home after a punch in the face when I was fifteen years old. I made my way into adulthood with fifty pounds in my pocket and zero education. I slept on people’s floors for the first few months, until I met my first boyfriend. His parents kindly took me in, and I lived with them until things went pear shaped a few months later.
Jobs and homes came and went in those first two years. It’s a blur if I’m honest, I’m sure I’ve blocked most of it out. I worked for some very grubby men. People who only employed under aged girls to work in their shops. Mostly so they could get us drunk and take advantage. I consider escaping their advances one of my biggest achievements from those days.
A stroke of luck came when I moved into a lovely house share at seventeen. I had a job in a department store, and new friends who were not complete losers. Far from it actually, and two of them are still a huge part of my life to this day. When I was almost nineteen I managed to blag a temp job at a big financial house in the City. The two weeks turned into a month, then three, then a permanent job, then better jobs. Those were the days when nobody bothered checking your credentials. Now I’d have to have a degree just to walk through the door.
Can you see where I’m going here?
There were many lines from The Greatest Showman that set off the lump in my throat. This is the one that’s been playing in my head like a broken record:
“My father was treated like dirt. I was treated like dirt. My children will not be treated like dirt.”
People sometimes question my motives for doing everything I do for my kids. I’ve been accused of trying to give them a perfect childhood. Oh how wrong you are! I’ve never aimed for perfection. All I want is for my kids to never EVER be treated the way I’ve been treated.
I want them to instinctively respect themselves enough to never be taken advantage of. To formulate their own ideas about the world and not be too easily influenced. To have enough confidence to tell people to keep their small minded opinions to themselves. I never want them to be so desperate for work they have to compromise their safety. I never want them to be so close to homelessness they have to sleep on someone’s floor.
Unless you have been in that position yourself you will never understand what it’s like. I might live a life of privilege now, in comparison to too many, but I have been a piece of meat. A piece of dirt. I have had people look at me like I am completely worthless. Those scars run so deep, I wonder whether they will ever truly fade.
Which leads me once again to ask the question, will I ever be enough?
I’ve come a long way from where I began. I started facing my demons after my first mental breakdown at the ripe age of 22, thanks to an absolutely incredible counsellor. I embarked on this long old road I’m still on – the path to authenticity. Cutting out the BS – the fake friends and toxic family. I have great friends, an amazing husband, and have been (hashtag!) blessed with three little humans. Yet some days I am so incredibly lonely it feels like I might drown under the overwhelmingly enormous weight of it all.
When the hurt pulses through your core, just keeping your head above water can be a monumental achievement. I used to think I had it all sussed out. It was so simple. Work hard, reap the rewards. Then along came three children. Severe sleep deprivation. Autism. Home education forced upon us. And now? Well, now I wonder how the hell I could possibly be enough.
I’ve taken some serious knocks this year. People I thought would be around forever have disappeared. Seems everyone loves your honesty and no nonsense approach to life, until you point something out to them. Oh the irony.
Each time I have to pick myself up and dust myself off it gets harder
I concluded recently that my mental health goes through cycles. Even when the rollercoaster is on a down, some days I still manage to ace life. On others, even when there are plenty of ups to be had, it’s as if a happiness gremlin has snatched away all my smiles. How can I expect my littlees to laugh if I’m not able to?
Self-esteem has been too low of late, so I’ve invested a lot of energy in getting my novel up to submission standard. It’s given me a focus outside of the grind. Something to feel proud of. I’ve needed it, desperately. My daily yoga and weekly four hour slots of respite just haven’t been cutting the mustard.
There’s so much to say, but ultimately we will always be judged on our actions rather than our words. So, I’m taking a big deep breath and putting on my positive pants. First round of would-be agent emails have just been sent. Wish me luck!
“When the sharpest words wanna cut me down
I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out
I am brave, I am bruised
I am who I’m meant to be, this is me
Look out ’cause here I come
And I’m marching on to the beat I drum
I’m not scared to be seen
I make no apologies, this is me”
Mental health is a precarious thing isn’t it? I’ve dragged myself out of many quagmires over the years, and will no doubt need to pull myself out of many more in the future. Why? Because I’m a human, and us humans are imperfect and flawed. I know I’ll f**k up at some point, and that’s ok. 95% of the time I make good decisions and am entirely dedicated to my family and friends. I think I’ve finally (at the ripe old age of 38 and three quarters) made peace with the odd 5% here and there. ♥️ If there’s one change I’ve been successfully working towards over the last few years, it’s not beating myself up over that 5%. Self-flagellation gets us nowhere, but can have the ability to grind us into the ground, rendering us useless. ♥️ This life can be such a stressful one, but the smallest things can have the biggest impact day to day. Taking a few extra minutes in the shower to breathe deeply or sitting with the kids and doing a jigsaw puzzle or some colouring makes all the difference to my mood when it’s all got a bit too much. Not to mention my beloved yoga snacks (see the video from Monday two posts down on the grid) and diffusing essential oils. Hubby said the other day “it smells like a pilates studio in here!” ♥️ Amid taking care of everyone else, it’s vital to look after ourselves, but I know so many people who don’t. As hard as it is to process at the time, when things come on top it happens for a reason. It’s nature’s way of telling us that we need to stand back and reevaluate what’s important. And believe me when I tell you, that nothing, absolutely NOTHING is more important than our mental health. So embrace that hard time and those pesky emotions, because the other side of this is going to feel so damn good. . . . . . #mentalhealthmatters #mentalhealthmonth #mentalhealthwarriors #thereforher #wednesdayvibes #yogasnacks #essentialoilswork #takecareofyou #mummytries #freefromgang #fearlesslyauthenticblogger