The Things We Don’t Say

nana

My husband took this picture of my daughter looking back at him from my car rear view mirror layered with dust. At that moment, we were lost on a country road in New Mexico. The scenery was amazing and the adventure unforgettable. I love everything about this photo.

Several years ago, I started a blog called Momentum of Joy. Almost no one knew about it, and I was adamant about keeping it that way. I didn’t write for long, and I was never comfortable with the idea that someone who knew me might read about my struggles. It got to the point where I felt like I could no longer find my voice. The words just disappeared. I allowed the domain to expire, and my desire to write faded away.

The stress of this past Mother’s Day led me (and my family) to the brink of ending up on the 5 o’clock news, so I decided to blog about it. I supposed that I did it for grins as well as self therapy, but that post unexpectedly reopened a part of my life that I had assumed was long gone until that very moment (https://momentumofjo.com/2017/05/20/mothers-day-a-day-of-relaxation-unless-of-course-youre-an-actual-mother/).  When I went to reactivate the site, I discovered that someone had nabbed my old domain and was effectively holding it for cyber ransom (Yeah – I’m looking at you China!), so Momentum of Jo was born (basically because it was available and close-ish to the original name).

Most of my initial posts were primarily comical or satirical in nature, but I still refrained from sharing it in a broader format with those in my life.  As I wrote more posts, I began to dig deeper, to delve beneath the surface layers, and to get more personal. There was no reason not to because so few people even knew about the blog. It was safe.

When the hurricane hit a few weeks ago, many of us became instantly connected in a way that I can’t adequately articulate. We shared extreme anxiety and fear for our families and homes for days, and we were deeply saddened at the losses that followed. We wept with friends and strangers, and we united to help those whose lives were devastated by the storm. That continues even now. Even though life will progressively fall back into the old patterns, something extraordinary happened in those days that changed me.

The protective walls I had been holding firm for years started to crumble, and to my own complete shock, I began to share my posts with family and friends. I recognize that this may seem inconsequential, but countless bloggers can confirm the freedom that comes with anonymity. No judgement. No questions. No explanations. Or at least none of that from anyone in your daily world. You can share the raw parts of yourself without having to worry about harsh whispers a few blocks over.

But after everything I have seen over the past few weeks, I’m tired of residing in the shadows. I see too many people hurting.

The more honest I become, the more people reach out and tell me that they have been or are in that emotional place as well. We all struggle with the nuances of being a human, but we rarely talk about the parts that hurt us the most – the fears, the losses, the despair. We paint over the pain as we cover social media with platitudes and plastic smiles.

I live a life that is overflowing with blessings. My children are wild and crazy and incredible. My husband is an amazing father, a wonderful husband, and a true partner in my life. I love all of my family more than they could ever imagine. I have genuine friends that have been at my side in my best moments and my darkest hours. I have a great job, and I sincerely love my colleagues. Our dogs are goofballs, but they are our goofballs. It’s the American Dream at it’s finest.

Except when it wasn’t and except when it isn’t.

I struggled desperately with depression when I was younger and almost did not make it out of my college years with my life. I still catch myself reeling from unexpected panic attacks, I feel consumed by loneliness at times, and I must work constantly to mitigate the irrational fears and behavior patterns that go hand in hand with anxiety disorders and expressions of OCD. As a bonus, I currently have split ends coupled with a serious mani / pedi deficiency. I’m a reflection of reality.

Most days are pretty good, but sometimes, I just get knocked on my emotional ass.  We all do. But we don’t talk about it.

So often, those raw and real aspects of ourselves and our lives are not reflected in the things we say.  Those can only be found buried within the things we don’t say.

If one person receives a minuscule level of validation or healing from something that is difficult for me to share, it’s worth my facing my own insecurities. If someone is in a dark place, and they can find a spark of light or a gleam of hope in my words in that heavy moment, I can handle judgement from those who don’t understand. I don’t need or ask for their approval or validation anyway.

Our struggles forge our characters and bind us together, and our lives are too important to be lived disingenuously. Life is like my family’s journey down that dusty country road. We get lost at times, but we are never alone. It may take us a good while to figure it out, but we will find adventure along the way, we will always have each other other, and ultimately, we will find our way back home. This journey is meant to be shared, and all of our experiences happen to help us to grow. If we can stop hiding so much of our true selves from the world around us, perhaps we can embrace more parts of this human experience we are having.

Hopefully my truth will resonate with another who still can’t find the words. I’ve found my voice again. Maybe I can help someone else find theirs, too.

Love and light always – Joanna

Layered

56 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. foodzesty
    Sep 19, 2017 @ 02:10:45

    Love you Jo.

    Reply

  2. wakinguponthewrongsideof50
    Sep 19, 2017 @ 06:26:29

    Beauty full and inspiring jo! You are truly my hero, because you just are! Your humanity, kindness and beauty shine through with everything you do. Xoxoxo. Thank you!!

    Reply

  3. sarahphillips
    Sep 19, 2017 @ 06:41:11

    LOVE this and LOVE you! I actually took a a screenshot of one paragraph because I thought it was so powerful and I could relate so well to what you said. So, yes, someone (me) did find a ‘spark of light’ and a ‘gleam of hope’ in your words. Please continue being the authentic, genuine and open Joanna that we all love. I think that is probably what draws people most to you…that and your twisted sense of humor. 🍇

    Reply

    • MoJo
      Sep 19, 2017 @ 06:52:23

      Well helloooo Sister Grape! I don’t know what you mean about my twisted sense of humor (or maybe…I do…). 😉 I’m so thankful for you and not just because you are my crazy cat lady friend. (But that is a monster bonus.) I’m thankful because you are kind and genuine and wonderful. You are a beautiful and wonderful friend Sarah. I am tremendously blessed to have you in my life. Mama Grape will never keep us apart! ❤️

      Reply

  4. overthehillontheyellowbrickroad
    Sep 19, 2017 @ 07:36:24

    I love this sentence: “If we can stop hiding so much of our true selves from the world around us, perhaps we can embrace more parts of this human experience we are having.” I aim to try to do this in my blog as well.

    Reply

    • MoJo
      Sep 19, 2017 @ 07:47:10

      It can be very difficult for me to share those unfun parts of my life. I don’t know why though. We all go through this stuff, but so many of us just don’t acknowledge it publicly. I don’t think we have to embrace the drama and fall into a heap of tears with every conversation, but it’s funny how we try to shield the things that we really should share with each other. I love that you own your stuff. I am inspired by your bravery. ❤️

      Reply

  5. carolrolke
    Sep 19, 2017 @ 08:31:25

    Those dang split ends get ya every time! 🙂 This is a great post. I’m glad you found your voice again. Shine on!

    Reply

    • MoJo
      Sep 19, 2017 @ 09:05:44

      I love that you picked up on my snark! You always make me giggle. Some day I will need an attorney, and I don’t care what it is for nor do I care if you specialize in it or not. I will so hire you just so we can find the humor in the moment wherever it may be. 😉

      Reply

  6. Writer Lori
    Sep 19, 2017 @ 08:56:38

    “This journey is meant to be shared….” Amen and hallelujah! Felt wrapped in your warmth and dynamism from first word to last, Jo. Delighted I found you here in cyberland and celebrate your bravery and candor with every post. You’re a beacon, dear girl, you really are…. xx

    Reply

  7. joyfullyrenewed
    Sep 19, 2017 @ 11:37:03

    It’s like you’re opening up my soul and whispering: write, write, write. I truly love you so much 💗

    Reply

  8. Jan
    Sep 19, 2017 @ 11:43:17

    I love everything about that picture of your daughter, too !!
    Sweet Joanna,
    Thank you for writing this post. My writing voice is strangling from what I think others should or should not think of my words. I have gone from daily writing to weeks of no words to days of writing sporadically. I am left feeling guilty for not writing. I needed to hear your words … they resonate so very deeply within my soul. Thank you and bless you for your honesty. jan

    Reply

    • MoJo
      Sep 19, 2017 @ 13:53:03

      I think that’s why I stopped writing before. I just felt stifled by my fear of judgement. I found myself wrestling with it again over the past few weeks, maybe even the past few months. I don’t understand why we stress so much about what other people think.

      Reply

    • joyfullyrenewed
      Sep 19, 2017 @ 14:38:10

      I am going through the same! I’m so grateful that I’m not alone. Not that I want others to feel this way, but just knowing that I’m not so different.

      Reply

      • MoJo
        Sep 19, 2017 @ 14:39:29

        I think that’s exactly it. We feel like it’s just us, but when you write about it, you realize that that isn’t true based on the reactions around you!

  9. Hussein Allam
    Sep 19, 2017 @ 14:37:28

    Yeah, i remember that name of your previous site as momentum jo, i was wondering why you changed but now i can conclude what happened, but you still nice blogs to read. Blessings, Mojo jojo

    Reply

  10. Hussein Allam
    Sep 19, 2017 @ 14:43:30

    So amazing post but sad at the same moment, i am really happy to know that you find your own voice again. I appreciate too for what you doing in helping other people to find their own voice too. Great post, mojo 😊👍

    Reply

    • MoJo
      Sep 19, 2017 @ 16:16:31

      It did seem to.have a bit of a sad tone, but it’s more about standing up to my fears and recognizing that everyone has problems. We avoid talking about the yucky stuff, and we feel like it’s just us when it really isn’t. You’re a sweet soul Hussein. You always want the best for everyone. Your kindness is absolutely your strength. 😊

      Reply

      • Hussein Allam
        Sep 20, 2017 @ 06:15:25

        Agreed with you that no one in the world is free of problems. Yes true all what we see in our life is beautiful, as we are the one making things look disgusting ugly. We must look to life from different telescopes until we will be able to find our own way. Thank you so kind for the sweet comment, i appreciated it a lot. You are so kind, generous and true friend. Mojo Jo Jo Jo 😉😂😊

  11. Donna Regner
    Sep 19, 2017 @ 16:56:42

    I am sitting here with tears rolling down my face. You are one in a million Joanna and I love you!

    Reply

    • MoJo
      Sep 19, 2017 @ 17:15:30

      My man would probably say “Thank goodness for that!” if he read your comment! 😉 You’re so darling, and I (we) adore you guys so incredibly much. You are our instant family, and we love you both beyond words! ❤️❤️❤️

      Reply

  12. mainepaperpusher
    Sep 19, 2017 @ 20:59:03

    In my head, I’m changing the name of your blog to Courageous Jo! ❤️💕❤️💕❤️

    Reply

  13. misifusa
    Sep 20, 2017 @ 12:50:42

    Jo, what can I say except HURRAH! I’m sending big ol’ wrap my arms around your neck and squeeze – HUGS! So proud of you. I love the beauty that is you – all of you! Congrats girl! You’re here! Keep up the great work and thanks for all you do for me xoxo

    Reply

  14. Shareece Dumont
    Sep 20, 2017 @ 16:11:47

    Joanna, you have a true gift for words, but most of all, you are genuine and brave. I hope you continue to boldly share your story. As a strong and intelligent woman with such a gift, you can reach so many. I love you and I treasure the sisterhood that comes from truth and honesty. You are amazing.

    Reply

    • MoJo
      Sep 20, 2017 @ 18:50:27

      Thank you my amazing friend. I get nervous writing this stuff. It’s silly to fear the truthand sharing feelings, but it’s not my comfort zone. But then again, I guess people don’t have to look at it if they don’t like it! 😉 I really do appreciate your beautiful support. I’m so thankful to have you as a friend!

      Reply

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  16. I tripped over a stone.
    Sep 21, 2017 @ 11:22:22

    Amen! ~Kim.

    Reply

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  18. Playamart - Zeebra Designs
    Sep 23, 2017 @ 21:57:44

    Reading the comments makes it pretty obvious – to me – that you are cherished by many, and it’s easy to understand why you are cherished! you bring sunshine into the room and raise the vibrations of all just by being you!

    I think this bad-weather season has ignited an amazing undercurrent of brilliance in your writing!!!!!!

    Reply

    • MoJo
      Sep 24, 2017 @ 17:24:56

      I can’t stand it when someone says something so kind to me that it leaves me unable to respond. Clarification – I adore the kind words. I can’t stand my inability to respond in a way that conveys my sincere gratitude. I’m still tripping on my words four sentences late. So I will just say thank you but I really feel so much more gratitude and appreciation than those two words could ever possibly convey.

      Reply

      • Playamart - Zeebra Designs
        Sep 24, 2017 @ 18:24:43

        it’s what makes you special, and between like-minded people, no extra words are needed! there’s an energy that flows, no matter the distance, and we’re all connected via subtle-yet-beautiful strings of ‘stuff’ we can barely begin to understand!
        just keep on being you! that’s your destiny!!!! l

  19. KDKH
    Oct 04, 2017 @ 15:35:06

    Good for you! I have to say that my mother understands me a lot more since she started reading my blog. The bad part is that I don’t feel like it’s worth the arguments to write about my dysfunctional family/childhood. My readers are probably relieved they don’t have to read about that, but it is a bit of a block for me. I wish you better luck with your family!

    Reply

    • MoJo
      Oct 05, 2017 @ 20:36:11

      I don’t put all of our stuff out there either. I allude to situations, but I don’t get specific. We can’t go back and change the past anyway, and putting it out there in detail would wreak serious havoc on my present! 😉

      Reply

  20. snakesinthegrass2014
    Oct 06, 2017 @ 12:01:10

    This is poignant, extremely well written, and pressed buttons in all the right places. Well done. – Marty

    Reply

    • MoJo
      Oct 18, 2017 @ 08:58:18

      Thank you so much Marty. ❤️ Also I’m so very sorry that I didn’t respond to this earlier! Apparently something wacky happened in the comments and I miss a bunch of these. I appreciate your kind words more than I can tell you! 🤗

      Reply

  21. socialanxietychildren
    Oct 08, 2017 @ 09:14:59

    Thank you, Joanna, for sharing your experience and we are glad that you’ve found your voice back! The more we read about others’ experiences of anxiety and mental health issue, we feel more ambitious for spreading out the information of social anxiety. Many people with anxiety are suffering in silence, therefore they do not seek proper treatment and/or other therapies. We hope that more people can understand these invisible sicknesses and support others. Thank you again for posting blogs that encourage people to speak out their experience in that emotional place as well. You are so brilliant!
    -YF
    -8/10/2017

    Reply

    • MoJo
      Oct 18, 2017 @ 09:01:57

      You are such a doll, and yes, I strongly believe that it is a silent epidemic. It’s normal to feel abnormal – ironic, no? 😊 Thank you my sweet friend. 🤗

      Reply

  22. amaranto es
    Oct 19, 2017 @ 06:50:27

    give thanks you again for posting blogs that encourage people to speak out their experience in that excited plaza as well.

    Reply

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