I feel so privileged to introduce you to my amazing friend, Jennifer, who is going to be blogging here.
I am in awe of her strength and character and this post, her very first blog post ever shines a light on those traits. I’m looking forward to being able to publish more of her thoughts in coming months. Why not have a read and let us know if anything resonates with you?
When I first read this post it bought tears to my eyes … we all need that ‘me too’ but what do we do if we cant say it?
The all Inclusive, “Me Too.” by Jennifer Bowater
I’ve recently been introduced to two little words with a lot of meaning.
These two little words are an ethos if you like of a beautiful friend of mine that is working with a collective of women writers with the outlook of championing each other on. (You know who you are!) It’s because of her that I have recently searched the countless encounters of my life for my “me too” moments and discovered that they were few. These are my thoughts as to why and in writing and exploring these thoughts I hope I can change the future of my “me too” moments, and possibly yours as well.
Like I said above, I personally haven’t had very many “me too” moments. My life hasn’t been exactly relatable. My childhood was pretty broken, as were my teenage years, and my struggles into adulthood and entrance into motherhood were very different than a lot of people around me. Because I couldn’t join in with the “me too” moments, I found myself becoming isolated (partially my own doing of course). I’m actually an introvert (shout out to the INFJ’s in the room) so it was mostly ok, but also it was detrimental to my mental health.
In those rare times I was willing to share my early motherhood days with others, (which feels like eons ago now) I wish I could have heard and had more of these precious “me too” moments. Or at the very least, I wish I heard more praises being uttered than criticisms. Above all, I wish I had praised more than criticized.
All too often though, I think we inadvertently shame each other for doing a good job, or for being able to do something we possibly didn’t have the time or space to do ourselves, or for achieving beyond the (sometimes supposed) chaos of family life. Did you ever wonder if that “chaos” didn’t exist for everyone? Is that ok to ask? Gosh I hope it is, because I know the loneliness and self-loathing that the lack of apparent chaos brings. That sounds backwards doesn’t it?
So, self-deprecating became my best friend and one of the only ways I could relate to a lot of my peers. Over time, that has a real effect on your self-esteem and the value you place upon yourself. I know this because that is precisely what happened to me.
I think this is probably a good time to give you a little insight into who and possibly, why I am…
Firstly, Hi, my name is Jennifer Bowater and I’m a serial organizer. Ha! (I’m also an American living in the UK…you may have noticed by some of my spellings.) Basically, I control my environment wherever possible.
I love (NEED more like) routine, I thrive when presented with a challenge, I’m naturally an ordered person, an introvert and a fighter (for myself and others, I am a lover of Justice), and I know my inner-self pretty well…probably from all that introvert-contemplating I do. 😉
These seemingly good qualities are mostly the result of, shall we say, an unconventional upbringing. We were on the run from the police as a family for a few years, which ended when my father was finally caught and imprisoned when I was nine. My mother then hid from her responsibilities and essentially gave my brothers and me up. I eventually acquired my own juvenile (jail) record and sought drugs to ease the pain of life. That’s the condensed version anyway. Ultimately, I had to take care of myself from a very young age…and I didn’t always succeed. So as you can imagine, these experiences have shaped me. I was fortunate enough to have some good people come along in my life and I had a catalyst moment that changed my narrative. (But that’s a whole other story or two, for another time.)
So, in a nutshell, I control my surroundings to keep myself safe and to keep my anxiety at bay. Or, I do these things because I’m driven by my anxiety? Hmmm, it’s a conundrum. And It’s probably only natural that my parenting style and general “adult-ing” would very much be a by-product of the life I’ve had and survived thus far. Everything in it’s box.
Again, not exactly a tale many people identify with, ergo, no “Me Too”. Every characteristic or trait I have is for a reason and consequently has a split personality. #TheGood and #TheBad. Luckily, I have recognized this and those VERY FEW (I’m an introvert remember) people close to me have as well. It’s a classic case of your strength is also your greatest weakness and vise versa.
All that to say, I’ve had a revelation about this “me too” business…
It might not always be possible for us to say “me too”. Our experiences in life can differ so greatly from one another that we may find it hard to connect or to find that common ground, and that’s ok, because I also realised that we CAN ALWAYS say “me too”. “Me too”, to the mere fact that we are fellow humans, that we are fellow humans with untold stories and backgrounds, with flaws AND with downright beautiful strengths (and a whole plethora of stuff in between).
And I just wonder ever so quietly if “celebrating” (too much) of each other’s mistakes or perceived failures is all too easy sometimes. I mean it’s an awfully big challenge to celebrate someone’s brilliance instead, isn’t it? Especially, if it’s in an area we ourselves may struggle to come up top trumps, but can you imagine what will emerge when we put our insecurities aside to lift up another? Not just for the other person’s sake, but for our own sake too.
So, today (and hopefully everyday) I say “me too”, but in a different way, and I promise to celebrate with you, not just commiserate. I promise to praise you even when it’s difficult for me to do so, because that is where my heart really is.
And the next time I find myself unable to say “me too”, because I may not have been there yet, I will listen, I will be present and I will be real. I will keep my promise. Whatever that may be, I hope I can do the right and just thing for that very moment.