There is something incredibly refreshing about a sweet little old lady with a tongue sharper than a set of Gordan Ramsey’s knives. You know the kind who says it exactly as it is and holds nothing back,
“Mary, haven’t you put on a tonne of weight, you’re a lovely big fat yoke”.
It is as if they have earned their place in life as the truth giver, they have taken off their rose tinted glasses and have adopted the ‘I shall say what I please when I please’ attitude, in other words they no longer give a flying fuck. This surely has to be something to look forward to in Middle Age.
It’s the same with kids. I’m sure we’ve all had a ‘Mum, look at the lady with the beard’ moment where we have to clamp our hand over their mouth and drag them from the shop. At what age do we lose that wonderful ability to say what you see and at what age do you get it back?
Then there’s that interim period where we spend half the time coasting around the truth and the other half worrying about what that truth is. What a despicable waste of valuable outfit planning time!
Recently I experienced a disgustingly honest revelation from the Old Man who told me without ceremony, build up or cushioning,
‘You are an absolute wasted talent, there I said it’.
Oh…so I’ve been busy piddling my way through life obliviously harbouring my wasted little talent tucked inside my Gucci Belt Bag and you wait until now to tell me?
Now don’t get me wrong, he’s a wonderful Dad and I realise how lucky I am to have him stand judgment over my life choices, but he has never mixed his words. It can be hurtful, it can be raw but it is mostly the truth.
Anyhow, it got me thinking what do other people see when they look at you? Do you see the same thing that they see?
I’ve mentioned that last year in the midst of the Great Job Loss when the beginning of the M-L Crisis started waking me from my usual peaceful slumber, I suddenly went from not really caring to obsessing about what people thought. Now, I have to admit I’ve never had 100% success rate at not giving a shit but there have been many times over the years that I got pretty close. (Mostly after I’ve been to see Elayne or Roy in Brown Sugar and we have held an in-depth discussion, sometimes all three of us, about changing my hair to a slightly but not really that much, I want you to notice but not notice ash tone, but not too ashy – take this as my apology!).
But last summer I dropped to a pathetic 30% – EPIC FAIL.
Since I have committed to speeding up this 2 – 5 year crisis situation I decided it was time to face the music and dance. There’s got to be many positives of entering Middle age and I wanted to find them, but carrying around this pathetic and relatively new fear of what people thought had to stop.
Why was I so worried, what had changed?
I was recently reminded that when we were teens we played a game called Truth Corner, where you all sit around like South County Dublin Covent Girls (Be nice!), and tell each other two faults followed by two positives about each person. Vicious! I questioned my friends on one of our 95 Whatsapp groups (I would like to delete Whatsapp but for fear of one day getting trapped down a Well and Skippy being busy that day I persevere).
Some said that under no circumstances did we play such a horrid game, others remembered it vaguely, but not one of us remembered what had been said. We had either blocked it from the darkest recesses of our memory or it had absolutely no impact on us at all and there was no damage done. What if asking the question and knowing what people really thought of me, would set me free?
So, I asked.
As you may have gleaned by now I’m as open as an Easy Reader Book and that is and always has been just me. I have rarely watered myself down or changed how I act according to who you are, aren’t we all made the same way?
I’ll talk to the fellow that has come to fix the dishwasher in the same way I’ll talk to the school principal and would often adopt a Shania Twain ‘that don’t impress me much’ attitude to knobs who faff over people they feel they need to impress. Nope, you all get treated the same.
In fact what has surprised me most since I went into the wardrobe and came out dressed as a Blogger is the number of people that have commended my honesty (jaysus lads you ain’t seen nothing yet) and even more so the few that have asked am I sure I want to put myself out there like this? Like what? Like me?
Yes, I do.
I’m not afraid of who I am and I’m not going to omit certain parts of me to make you feel more comfortable. I’ve never taken myself too seriously but having kids even further released the cap from my filter.
Last week I alluded to the fact that one of the awful memories of The Buster Years was Piles. Yes you read that correctly. Piles. (I cannot use the word Haemorrhoids repeatedly as it very hard to spell and should without question feature in the National School spelling curriculum). All the while I was swanning around with my overpriced Buggy (in heels) and my perfectly turned out baby, I was in fact gritting my teeth with the pain. Who knew that Childbirth is often only the beginning of the end?!
Ok I know you don’t really need to know this but the point is, I had developed a healthy not giving a shit attitude. Imagine me years ago announcing to a bunch of Blackrock lads that I am very well indeed but do in fact have piles the size of rugby balls.
Nowadays I couldn’t care less. In fact I can also tell you that in those days getting your mitts on a tube of Scheriproct on the Black Market post baby without having to shell out the money for the doctor, drop your drawers and tell him you had a sore bum bum, was major cause for celebration (Let’s get a take away and a bottle of wine tonight – Life is Beautiful. I’m sure at one stage I asked my sister who happened to be going to the doctor to take the hit for me and say she had piles to secure prescription without inspection. Heck she probably already had them, sure who didn’t?
Which leads me nicely to the fact that maybe what the problem is, is that the more you put yourself out there, the more you face criticism and maybe as you get older those criticisms get harsher.
I’m sure the faults called out in Truth Corner back then were more, ‘you flirted with my boyfriend at Wesley’ than ‘you are seriously damaging your children’.
Sorry I’ve swerved off again…
So this week I bravely texted the most important people in my life…
‘Sorry to ask but would you mind terribly telling me my faults?’, and I waited…
Well I didn’t have to wait long as someone starting typing straight away. You know when you can see that icon, ‘Mary is typing’. Brace yourself, I thought, the moment of truth. A few minutes later, Mary is still typing and typing and typing, oh and she’s still typing.
Ok, turns out ‘Mary’ got distracted mid-way through, I did send the message at homework time after all and this is what she said,
1.‘You get all exuberant about something without fully thinking it through and then the novelty wears off and you lose interest’.
(Yes I know, I am after all Mr. Benn)
Mary obviously felt bad about her revelation and followed it with the information that in fact this ‘fault’ or characteristic makes me an ‘ideas’ person. Do you hear that Mr. Benn we are ideas people!
2. Someone else said, ‘A bit flaky’
(Yes I know, I am flakier than a highly stressed scalp)
3.‘You get drunk too easily’
(I’m sorry I don’t understand)
4.‘You curse like a sailor’
(Fuck yeah, it’s so fucking expressive)
5. ‘You spend too much money’
(Yes but on pretty things)
6.‘You are too bloody sensitive’
(I am loving)
7. ‘You care too much what people think’
8. ‘No good can come of this I would rather not say’
(Jaysus what were you going to say? Note to self – delete contact)
9. ‘You talk too much’
(A lot to say)
10. You can be fiery (Only because I can’t abide bullshit)
11. ‘You’re too open…(So?)
And there it was…absolutely no surprises.
In fact as you all get to know me I’m sure you probably could have called most of these out and heck we’re still in the Honeymoon Period.
It turns out I found it harder to listen to the compliments that followed these faults. Is that perhaps an Irish thing? You know the old…
‘Well Mary I’ve never seen you looking so well’.
‘The stupid bitch, what the hell did she mean by that?!’
These people who I had asked the question that was most concerning me of late, couldn’t give a shite about my faults. They love me just the way I am. In fact my ‘faults’ are what attracts them to me in the first place and these are the only people that really matter. These people that are the remnants after I have shook off the dregs, the fun vacuums, the energy zappers, the people who stopped believing in me and the ones that didn’t show support.
These are the same ones that tell me that I am fun, honest, loving, friendly, warm, trendy (Is it wrong that this is my favourite?), brave, a wonderful mum, loyal and as my oldest friend told me last summer when I thought I would never get through this hard time, this time that we didn’t deserve ‘AGAIN’, this time that I thought might be the final nail, the one that would change me forever, she said,
‘You are enough’.
I had reached out to the only people I really cared about and they had confirmed that I am indeed enough and that is all that matters. I can’t control how other people feel about me, if you don’t like me chances are I probably don’t like you either, but I can control how I feel about me and I was scared. I felt like a failure and I was terrified that some SAF (Smug as Fuck) was going to agree. We had reached that point in our lives that we were supposed to have our shit sorted and we had to start all over again and I was tired, so bloody tired and I felt alone.
But I don’t want to be scared anymore or worry that someone is talking about our lack of achievements because they don’t actually care about me.
It’s easy to keep your head down your whole life, nod politely at people, stand to the back of the crowd and avoid criticism. But if like me you throw yourself forward and shout ‘Hey wait til I tell you about the time I… (Did so many embarrassing things, more about this next week) you run the risk of people tearing you apart.
But you know what, do it anyway, who cares?
Just be kind, be friendly, be nice, say hello, give a wave and remember what you see is not always what’s really there. I believe the world would be a better place if we were all more honest and open and showed people the ugly truth as well as the beautiful lie.
The truth is that the whole time we were sorting our shit out, while I was beating myself up, there was a team of cheerleaders standing at the side line of our game cheering us on, telling us we are brave and strong, telling us they know we can do it and they believe in us, telling us we are enough, yet it has taken me until now to hear them.
It turns out there’s also a few assholes shouting other things at me, all judgmental and superior, throwing in their tuppence worth but I can’t hear them anymore and I don’t care what they are saying, all I can hear is…
…JUDY… JUDY… JUDY….