I used to be polite, to the exclusion of being real, being myself, being seen.

I used to smile when strangers asked me probing, personal questions. I used to wince & bite my lip as I tried to tell them a story they could hear, something that would fit with their world view. Something that wouldn’t upset them. I used to really care about what others thought of me, my choices, my internal life.

I don’t care as much these days.

I’ve lived through some hard stuff. I’ve picked myself up & dusted myself off more times than I can count. I bet you have too… I used to berate myself with the reminder that others had much harder lives than I. Isn’t that how we’ve been taught to think by good ol’ Catholic Ireland? ‘Don’t be feeling sorry for yourself now, sure aren’t there starving children in Africa?’ or my favourite ‘Well, that’s just tough luck. Sometimes life is hard & you just have to pick yourself up & keep moving.’ Read: ‘There is no room for your feelings here. Feelings are fucking scary.’

For goodness sake, don’t stop. Don’t pause to feel the sad crappy shitness of what you’ve lost.

If you sit with your pain, your sadness, your loss, you might just get stuck there. Now that scares the crap out of us, doesn’t it? It certainly scared the bejaysus out of me. Until it didn’t. Until I went into those dark, messy feelings. Until I sat with them, felt them, showed my younger self that the world wouldn’t implode if I felt sad. Or if I asked for what I knew I needed but had been too afraid to even acknowledge in myself until that moment.

I’m learning to feel more; more sadness, more pain, more loss. It sucks…my God does it suck…and it’s also the most incredible gift, because on the other side of those uncomfortable feelings are joy & pleasure & connection…I know, they can be uncomfortable too.

I’m learning to answer those probing questions with the truth. Or, whatever feels true for me, whatever serves me in that moment. I’m learning to say ‘No I don’t have children & it breaks my heart sometimes…No, I don’t want to look into fostering or adoption, because it’s not a solution for me.’ I’m learning to be real & unapologetic with it. I can be compassionate & authentic at the same time.

I’m becoming an obstreperous young woman. I’m owning it. I even bought the necklace. I wear it with pride & hope someone asks me what it says. So I can tell them the story behind it…which you can read here, if you fancy.

Go forth & be Obstreperous.