the smell of my desperation has become a stench

A peek inside our day, the fourth hour

(The first fifteen minutes can be seen here. The first hour is here, the second hour is here, the third hour is here.)

So this hour is the most boring of the day, and I could pretty much just list it out like this: interruption, interruption, interruption, oh! And one more: TORNADO DRILL.

Sometimes the interruption is polite and asks if I’d like some sweet tea. Shall we sit, gently fan our faces and figure out this problem? Here’s a sprig of mint to freshen your drink! And my! You do look lovely even though the sweat from your workout has curled the back of your hair into the shape of the manure I use to grow my daisies.

Many times the interruption is less forgiving and screams at me with the force of a fire alarm: EMERGENCY! FIX ME NOW! Yes, of course, parents in Third World countries are struggling to feed their children as I yell at you, but someone has to decide whether or not this ad campaign fits your brand. BRAND! BRAAAAAAAND!

It’s the dirtiest word in the blogosphere: brand. It’s worse even than SPONSORED BY.

No one wants to admit it, but there it is. I am no longer a person with feelings. I am not allowed to hurt or feel joy. Unless it happens in all caps. Then it fits the brand, and I am contractually obligated to exploit the shit out of that.

Can I share something with you? Since this hour of the day is pretty much a tangled string of curse words and DID YOU GET THIS DONE? And a whole bunch of pointless rambling at each other about minutia that has not one wit to do with the world going round.

I’d rather tell you that the last eight months or so have been pretty hard, and I’m struggling. I’ve pushed through with as much strength as I can, but that dark demon has returned and is trying to convince me that it’s not worth climbing over the next obstacle. Give up. Lie down and cry. Stare at the ceiling until every limb goes numb.

But since I don’t really have that option I push it all down and turn inside. Jon tries to pull it out of me so that he can help, but I don’t know how to share it.

So we see a therapist. Together, once a week. And then I see another therapist by myself. Because the pressure of running a business and being responsible for two employees and two children and two dogs and the mortgage and the food on the table and making sure THAT I’M NOT DOING IT WRONG, it has somehow stirred up my past. The past that I have not ever addressed or even known to address. The past that suffocates me as I struggle to change what it did to me.

I know my pain is relative. My life is good. I am blessed beyond measure. We are lucky. This isn’t about how poor little Heather has it so hard.

This is about the discovery that at my core is a ten-year-old girl who thought that she was responsible for keeping her entire family intact. If I was perfect, if I excelled at everything, if I didn’t show weakness my family would stay together.

But then that family fell apart anyway. All that work, and it fell apart anyway.

I failed.

Emotionally I have not progressed beyond that ten-year-old girl. I have physically carried that failure for twenty-five years. It has affected every relationship I have ever had, including the one I have with my own children. And tragically, it has robbed me of the happiness I should have been relishing these past eight months. Incredible and flourishing months.

Sometimes this hour of the day is spent sitting with my husband across the room from our therapist. She looks at me and tells me to stop lying to myself. Yes, your parents handled the divorce as best as they could, Heather, you’ve pointed that out how many times now? But still, it cut you up and spit you out.

Admit it. Say it out loud. Free that ten-year-old girl. Because it wasn’t her fault.

That’s what I’m trying to do this hour.

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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