Last year I fell during an obstacle race and I ended up with a fractured tibia. For a while afterwards I hobbled around in a complicated brace that protected the injured part of my leg and I longed for something similar that I could velcro-strap on my insides, which were, frankly, falling apart. A cracked bone was nothing, just the cherry on the giant emotional shit sundae of early 2016. My life was crumbling and I could not keep it to myself: I had to talk about the pain or the pain would eat me alive.

So I wrote about what I was going through. I wrote publicly. I told my truth as best I could but the story was messy and revealing and I regret sharing it the way I did.

I can tell you from experience there are lots of reactions you’ll get if you decide to expose your yeesh-laden personal train wreck to the world. There will be kindness, support, and empathy. There will be people who tell you they don’t approve of the way you’re behaving. There will be people who tell you they don’t know what to say but you’re worrying them. There will be silent staring bystanders and you’ll probably never know what they were thinking. There will be people who sever ties. There will be carrion birds.

My life looks nothing like it did, for which I am deeply grateful. But sometimes things don’t heal perfectly. My knee isn’t like it was. My heart isn’t like it was. If I had social anxiety before, I have something different now, something that grips me like a vise. Just like that internal brace I once wished for.

I don’t reach out to people now. I did not try and repair those lost relationships, except for the one that was most important. On the rare occasion someone tries to connect with me, I shut them out. Aside from long-distance emails and calls, I don’t have friends. My family lives 339.4 miles away from me.

There are two stories I tell myself about this. One: I’m doing okay. I love my kids and my husband and I am an introvert who genuinely enjoys alone time. I have a new volunteer position that will involve plenty of human interaction and I have lots of things that keep me busy.

Two: I’m lonely. I’m lonely, I’m lonely, I’m lonely.

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Years ago when I was so unsure about having children, I didn’t know how I’d ever come to a decision one way or the other. In the end it was a leap of faith more than anything resembling certainty; a terrified here-goes-nothing plunge off the high dive.

What would it have been like, knowing what I know now?

I’d have understood how my happiness and peace of mind would become dependent on the happiness and peace of mind of people whose emotions and comprehension were in a constant state of flux. How my sense of self would often feel lost and buried under the rubble of motherhood, how what I did each day would go unseen and unappreciated.

I’d have known that confidence and validation was never going to be part of this gig for me: each year would be a blundering foray into the unknown, each day would bring reasons to doubt myself and useless wishes for outside assurances and internal conviction.

I’d have seen how the slippery nature of time would at first stretch the hours into achingly dull periods that felt as though they would never end, then send the earth spinning at such a dizzying pace the very best views would be there and gone, there and gone. How it would become obvious that there is no real difference between letting go and losing your grip. Good times, bad times, nothing stays the same.

I would have caught a glimpse of the indescribable magic behind all these things and more. The way motherhood is both small and expansive, a rut and a telescope. How it has torn me down and built me up and left me with a heart brimming over with not one overriding emotion but every complicated point in the spectrum.

Is it worth it? I might have asked, once upon a time.

Only if what you want is everything, I’d say now.

A post shared by Linda Sharps (@sundry) on

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