coming out of my shell

When I go quiet, it’s usually because I don’t know what to write about. I start a post, but I don’t know how to finish it. I want to present the best of myself, but she appears to have taken a holiday, and what’s left is someone much more human — full of faults and cracks I’d just as soon cover up.

A few days ago I was watching Brené Brown’s talk on vulnerability and realized a) I need to reread Daring Greatly and b) I am feeling all sorts of vulnerable lately, and my default response is to play turtle and retreat into my shell.

I started a new role at work last month, joining a new team to build a better experience for small businesses on It’s my first team change in the six years I’ve been at Automattic, and in many ways, it feels a lot like my first days at the company all over again. I’m growing different skills, and working with different people. It’s been a pretty smooth adjustment, but I’ve been head-down trying to figure out how and where I fit into this new role, and my head is so full.

I am tired. I am either unable to sleep, or unwilling to get out of bed before ten. I have this perpetual sense of being late, being behind, of missing the mark, of underperforming. Not enough, my brain chants. Not enough.

Our house is a mess, but only by my standards, which are admittedly higher than is warranted for a family of four with two young kids. We’re living out of laundry baskets, and the pile of clothes in my closet that needs to be hung up outnumbers the clothes that are already hanging. Our office has a fly problem that’s basically driven me out until further notice, or until I can get up the energy to clean it properly. Our shower is falling to mold and water damage, and the cost to replace it is not in the cards. The kids’ rooms are…well, they’re kids’ rooms. I’ll leave that to your imaginations.

Tim’s health stuff is a factor I can’t go into detail about, but let’s just say, sometimes it feels like there isn’t enough room in this house for our combined mental health issues. Medication adjustments are perpetually kicking his ass. Health issues are compounding. He’s doing the best he can. We both are, really, doing what we have to do to get through the day.

Gwen is going through one of her boundary-testing phases, where every little “no” has the potential to turn her into a raging demon child. It is exhausting keeping up with her feeding schedule, because like an actual newborn baby, she gets hungry every two hours and screams when she doesn’t get fed. She’s living on mac n’ cheese and chicken nuggets and hot dogs and strawberries, because we have to choose our battles, and there are so many other battles lately. Getting her to eat a vegetable is like pulling teeth.

Speaking of pulling teeth, Ellie’s are falling out faster than the Tooth Fairy can keep up. The big P is racing toward her like a freight train, which means lots of Big Questions and Big Feelings and I am not ready for my nine-year-old to grow up, but I don’t have much choice in the matter.

And I’m at the tip-top of the roller coaster. Monday starts a three-week sprint of intense user interviews, kids’ dance rehearsals and recitals, and a trip to San Diego. Here we gooooooooo.

All of this spans the third anniversary of my dad’s death. The body remembers, even when the mind is trying not to. I’m re-grieving his illness, remembering his last days, watching him deteriorate and pass. I miss him deeply. All while trying to juggle and balance and dance around the rest of life’s little hurdles.

There are things I want to do outside of family time, outside of work time — things like exercising and enjoying the spring weather that finally decided to show, things like drawing or writing or making, but I also want to sleep. A lot.

So last night, as I was laying there, exhausted but wide awake, wondering why my mind was such a dumpster fire, it occurred to me that maybe I have good reason to be frazzled. Maybe some vulnerability is warranted, otherwise you might not hear from me until July.

It’s not all bad, though. I’m getting my money’s worth out of my Celexa. My therapist is a rockstar. I re-subscribed to Headspace to get a little bit of calm, because I can use all the calm I can get. And Tim cleaned the office while I was writing this, so hey, friendly reminder that I don’t have to feel personally responsible for everything.

Hi. I am tired. How are you?


  1. You are a mother who questions her role to work, relax, have a marriage and generate an income. Mom’s go through this. It is all right not to be able to do everything. It is all right to go take a walk and take a few pictures. Don’t schedule the time just do it. Tim can take care of himself while the girls are at school. You need and require me time or you will be no good to anyone. We all need some time alone. We all need to know we are loved and appreciated. We all required some point in time to give more than our 95% but remember you aren’t the only one who has these feelings. Gwen has her own set issues that need a firm hand and love. She knows the buttons and uses them. On your trip to San Diego take time to be in your room by yourself and enjoy the quiet. We forget sometimes it is all right to enjoy quiet. The world crowds us and we end up a mess. Take care of yourself.

  2. I thought I’d leave a comment, but much like you I feel quiet these days… enjoy San Diego, sun, delicious food, and good company as much as possible, and hang in there

  3. *hugs* Us parents have it rough. 😉 I hear you’re going to Poland?? Familiar territory! 😀

  4. Indeed, although I have mixed feelings about going back – I’m not really missing it to be honest. I’ll spend a few days prior with my family, which I feel anxious about too. Mixed feelings sums up my current state pretty well 😉

  5. No! Have you ever flown 25h with a toddler? 😉 It’s one of my nightmares 😉 Not to mention jet lag… it would all be a bit much for me I’m afraid.

  6. Oh, yikes, you’re right. *shudders at the thought of a toddler with jet lag* I hope you have a fun meetup and that all goes well with family. If nothing else, it will be that much sweeter when you make it home. 🙂

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