I read the words with some measure of incredulous disbelief and dismay.
I know my friend isn’t cruel enough to be joking with me, but I cannot fathom where she draws her conclusions from.

I read the kindly-worded text again: “I’m really amazed at how strong you are, fitting all that you do into a 24 hour day, and not falling apart!”

Tears prick my eyes.

You think you’re plodding along unnoticed, your efforts unseen by the people you’re desperately making efforts for… and someone on the outside looking in says something like that.

I am strong, I ponder to myself. I whisper it aloud, wondering if I will believe it more if I hear it. “I am strong.”

The words sound empty and ridiculous and my inner critic scoffs and chokes down a laugh.
“Others are stronger!” She accuses me. “You are falling apart at the seams. Maybe you can put on an act, but you are not strong!”

She’s a real bitch, that one.

I find myself in my homeopath’s consulting rooms, using pregnancy pains and hormones as a ruse… I try to mention it ‘in passing’, disguising it as an innocent afterthought: “I’ve been feeling a little low lately. You know… Just blue. Hormones, I guess, tired….?” I shrug, the final touch on a futile disguise.

She continues to write notes on her pad and asks a string of odd questions, including ‘What colour is the feeling?’ and ‘Where is it sitting?’ I suddenly feel foolish. “This is not a counselor’s office,” Inner Critic chides. “You’re so lame!”

A few moments of furious scribbling and the good doctor lifts her head to me. She looks me square in the eye and speaks in direct response to the bitch behind my eyes: “You think that everyone else has it together. You think that all other women have their lives in perfect control, juggling work and family and self. In this office, I’ve seen it all and I can tell you with certainty: it’s not true! There is nothing wrong with you, for feeling this way. You are not alone.”

I leave with an inner silence so intense, I think part of my soul has left me.

Good riddance.

I lift my head in defiance and feel a tiny spring in my step… the battle half-won.

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