by Lori Dwyer on July 24, 2012 · 15 comments

My self esteem is flattened and condensed, pressed like flowers between the pages of a heavy book.

You may not know it if you’ve met me, you may not have picked it at all. Because if nothing else ,I am an expert at wearing a mask. With the exception of one phenomenal breakdown at DPCon’12, I attend blogging events as the digital version of myself. I’m professional (if not punctual), smiling and friendly. I am almost at the point where I can have a conversation, a real one, with no awkward half beat pauses.

I’m getting better. I can attend functions, wrangle my children, mostly cover up my continual annoyance and agitation which is not really my babies fault but manifests itself in their direction anyway. I use my hands full of preschoolers as an excuse to leave early and when I arrive home I relish the silence and solidarity of my TinyTrainHouse.

As I’ve said, I’m just fine. It takes me by surprise when I see sympathy in people’s eyes, when I see my own tragedy reflected in their comprehension. Because I am fine.

I am drowning. I am nothing.

I am a facilitator for my children, for the running of our life. For paying the bills, cleaning the house, organizing daycare, play dates, bath times and stories. I do all that, and beneath it all runs a vein of “This is not good enough, that is not as good as they had in the Before, you are fucking this up.”

And I sigh and say to the voice in my mind “I know”, then I try not think about it too much and I go on with my day. Because I am doing the best I can and really, what else is there for it?

Occasional compliments from others inspire genuine surprise in me. Where once upon a time, on being told I was a good mother, the voice in my head would say “I think so, too…”, where now it just says “If only you knew…”

In fact, any compliment leaves me confused. Look at myself and I see someone dirty and stained, her only redeeming quality shrieking her truth for all to see because it serves to numb the bone drenching grief that rules her.

I expect people to murmur spoiled pity behind their hands, sorry for my circumstances but recognizing, if not verbalising, that of course that would happen to Lori, who else has such a screaming soul to cause it?

I expect to be left out, slightly apart and alone. I expect any man who comes near me will soon back away, as they see what’s underneath the cloak of ‘normal person’ I wear most days. I expect my children will resent me, the friends I have remaining stay only until their pity is exhausted, for death to touch me over and over, since it left me alone for twenty nine years and has some time to catch up on.

I know, I know– expect those things, and that is exactly what I’ll get. But it’s become so difficult not to. I know how blessed I am, with my children and my house, my mother and the close friends I have… and the blessing feels tremendous because, really, there’s a part of me that believes I don’t deserve any of it at all.

It’s so difficult to explain, and it’s an unfamiliar frustration for me, being unable to find the words I’m looking for to capture some errant emotion on screen… I smile and I cope, live my life with my socks pulled up, big girl panties on and a dedicated air of getting on with things…

But strip me down and you’d find my soul pared away, whittled to a thin strand of almost nothing at all. Hypnotize me, ping my subconscious; you’ll see a woman screaming, naked, alone and cold, with no expectation of being rescued, no hope. None at all. And what’s worse is, she expects nothing more… and she feels she deserves it.

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Lisa J July 30, 2012 at 12:39 pm

Hey Lori – one part of what you said really brought back to me a conversation I had with my mum about 10 years ago. Her and my dad split up when I was about 8 years old. She was raising 2 young kids already enrolled in a private school, trying to pay a mortgage and get it all done working 20-25 hours a week without child support or a break of any sort. When I was in my early 20's, mum actually broke down to me about how guilty she felt for being such a bad mother – because we couldn't afford to go on holidays or to the local show, because she couldn't get us the birthday and Christmas gifts we wanted, because we used to all huddle under a doona together on the couch of an evening because she couldn't afford the gas bill, because we pretty much lived on spaghetti and potatoes for many years (her family were spud farmers, so those came free….). This confession from her broke my heart, and completely baffled me at the same time. To me, she is (and always has been) superwoman. I never remember feeling unloved, or not being able to go to her for a hug or comfort, or going hungry, or really wanting for anything. I never remember feeling cold or alone, or feeling we were poor. I remember an amazing woman who renovated an entire house herself. I remember a woman who worked incredibly hard and gave us everything she could – even if it meant she went without. I remember lots of love, and growing up proud that my mum was so strong and brave. She cried in those first few years – a lot actually. But then she'd gather herself together, hold us tight and tell us that things will be better tomorrow.

Your kids aren't going to look back and see things the same way you do right now. They're going to remember a mum who loved them fiercely and did everything she could for them and gave them everything she could. And when they grow up a little more and begin to understand you did all that while your own heart was breaking – I promise you that, like me, they will not only be stunned, but will be unbelievably proud and grateful.


Mumabulous July 25, 2012 at 7:14 am

I dont know you but from this distance you are handling your circumstances with a dignity, grace and strength that is inspiring. I've been fortunate, I haven't experienced tragedy so I cant say I know how you feel. But I do not know this – thoughts and feelings ebb and flow and if you live in the moment you'll see glimmers of light.


Anonymous July 25, 2012 at 2:05 am

Being called a "great mom" is the best
compliment anyone could ever give me. And you are a great mom! And I am very aware of how we can beat ourselves down by believing the opposite, that we suck at it. That every other mom is better. SO not true, but I fall into that dark place where I feel the same as you do. I also have lots of ucky issues interfering with my being able to feel good about myself. And really the person that is making me have all of these issues is ME! Reminds me of one one of my favorite Nirvana songs, Aneurysm. And the lyric: Beat me outta me, beat me outta me. Sometimes I wish I could- that's a lie. I am now wishing this every day. Going to therapy tonight (b/c that is the only way to make sense of this crazy world…), maybe I will introduce her to Nirvana. HA! Hang in there Lori, you are not doing such a bad job. Your brain just tells you that. Tell it to STFU! I will try that as well…. Lisa


Anonymous July 24, 2012 at 11:03 pm

Lori… For much different reasons than you, I know exactly how you feel. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other if that's all you can muster that day, and try to believe us here when we tell you that you ARE making progress, you ARE getting better and you most certainly DID NOT deserve all the awful things that have happened to you. At. All. You ARE worth so, so much, and I hope that somewhere deep down you know that, and that this knowledge grows and comes closer to the surface to remind you just what an awesome person you are.




Glowless @ Where’s My Glow July 24, 2012 at 10:15 pm

Digital you is awesome. Real you is awesome. Much love to you, particularly tmw xxx


Melissa {Suger} July 24, 2012 at 10:00 pm

You I just want to pick up in an awkward hug and hold you tight until this passes. And if not passes than quiets a little for now so you can hear your true voice. The one that is strong and knows she is worth great things.

As your friend {I am hoping I can call myself that} I will not stand for this voice, she has no business here. Don't give her the space. Don't let her take root and grow. Don't believe her for a second.

I call bullshit on that voice.

Big love to you. Another brave post about life in the after. Keep telling people Lori. Don't let them think for a second that this sort of pain just disappears. xoxox


Donna July 24, 2012 at 6:23 pm

Lori Im one of the many who has always stood in awe of you, and especially (as I have mentioned before, at the Disney function) about how your beautiful children are a credit to you. It may be a bloody long road ahead still but just focus on that one step at a time towards some sort of healing x


Anonymous July 24, 2012 at 1:01 pm

Hello, I read your words today and boy, could I relate. I think the problem is not you, it's all the others out there who are too afraid to be as honest as you. If everyone was, you would find that you are among the majority not the minority.


Miss Pink July 24, 2012 at 12:26 pm

"I am fine"
I know that all too well. We're fine, we're breathing and healthy, there is food in our bellies, and we can laugh.

I don't have PTSD. Not that I'm aware of. There is probably a whole bag of fucked-up-ness that I've stashed away in some corner. But I do understand explicitly the expectation of being left out, of having no one, and feeling that people recoil in your presence. That you are so hideous and offer nothing to anyone.

For what it's worth, and I fell we have spoken enough that I can say honestly I do not pity you. I don't like a lot of what has happened to you, but pity isn't a word I would use. Or feeling sorry for you even. It sucks and I wish it didn't happen but more than that?
Being broken doesn't make you some monster people run from in horror. Perfect is boring, cracks and chips, they hold stories and stories are what make people interesting. Obviously you're one fucking interesting person!


Marguerite July 24, 2012 at 12:24 pm

Lori remember – when you are going through hell, keep going!
xx M


iSophie July 24, 2012 at 9:52 am

I can't fathom what you've been though, I just think you are incredibly strong because you do just keep going, and giving.

And you have an amazing talent for putting it into words.


Fiona July 24, 2012 at 9:19 am

That fear of breaking. Of being found out for who I really am. And that she isn't good enough.


Anonymous July 24, 2012 at 8:46 am

This is closer than I have ever gotten to describing exactly how I feel….Thank you for the words I needed.
Jen xx


Spagsy July 24, 2012 at 8:44 am

we all feel like we are not good enough – it is what motivates up to try and be better. it makes me sad that you feel somehow you deserve the feelings of inadequacy…but i suppose it is normal to wonder why bad things happen to good people. sometimes they just do. we need to know sorrow to understand and appreciate joy some would say.

when you feel low remember that there are those who look up to you and instead of pity, they draw insertion in your circumstances and have their own hero worship issues.

I look forward to meeting you one day – probably in some blubbering way, and you will ask why i have vomit in my hair – or something…

oh well.. til then
xx rah rah


Mrs Woog July 24, 2012 at 10:11 am

Shit Lori. This is a shitty way to feel. I know you and I know you are more than that. You are a fucking warrior deep down. x


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