I’ve been to three gigs this year which considering we’re only at the end of January, I’m doing a pretty good job at letting my hair down and living a little. Just a little. At the end of every working week. No biggy. Casual as. Standard even.
But do you know what? To me its freaking monumental.
A milestone of significant proportions to be able to simultaneously let go of ish not meant for me while also building myself up enough to a point where dancing and dressing up and being wildly happily drunk are OKAY things to do. Free of mind chatter or self judgement or guilt.
Just free. Fullstop.
It’s something I’m unapologetically and whole heartedly proud of. I’ll tell you why.
As a solo mum to three (my sassy empathetic loving little humans), as a woman, as a 33 year old, as someone who’s always attracted a lot of unwarranted attention from both women and men (consciously or not) and for someone who spent the last two years inching my way back from a 10 year relationship ending - there has been a lot of narrative that went into a night out. Or dressing up. Or drinking.
There was so much to consider.
It meant letting go of thoughts or memories or attachments to people and places.
It meant donning another mask to say 'hey its all good' when in fact it was more like 'hey, I need help to breathe' .
It meant being seen when I wanted to hide.
It meant showing up when I wanted to remain in the shadows.
It meant stepping out and smiling when I had only moments before spent hours huddled between the sheets crying.
It meant facing judgement.
In the past it didn’t matter to those around me whether I was silent or extra, the fact that I was present was enough to trigger an onslaught of emotions they would inevitably feel comfortable projecting my way.
Emotions that would show up during the night like me being excluded from conversations.
Or welcomed only to participate in hostile ones, usually targeted at me, and my life choices.
Or there would be belittling comments.
Or gossip directed my way during the event and the days that followed.
I didn’t think any of that was worth one night out.
And it wasn’t.
Something had to change if I ever wanted to feel comfortable socialising again.
So I did. I changed.
Not like in a shampoo commercial where it happens over night.
But gradually. With intent.
I shifted my focus from those around me and started being accountable for how I was showing up in the moment.
Nevermind what others were thinking, what did I think about me? What did I think about what I was wearing? How I was behaving? The things I was saying? Was I contaminating or contributing to interactions through the night? Ultimately… I found once I got to a space where I was okay with me, where I was okay with my life choices, everything was ok.
Others opinions didn’t matter. They held no weight to my sense of self.
As long as I viewed myself with love and grace it made no difference to me whether others who crossed my path held the same view or not.
There were other aspects ofcourse to feeling restricted and confined when invited to drink or go out. I didn’t want to drink and then start thinking of my ex.
I didn’t want to drink and start acting erratically as a result of trying to escape from myself.
I didn’t want to drink and be concerned how others were perceiving me.
I didn’t want to drink and give the pretense I was fine knowing full well the next day would only mean heightened emotions and a magnified sense of morbidness towards my life in general.
So to avoid all of that I decided simply not to drink. Maybe the odd wine here or there. But never to the point where I didn’t still feel in full control of my body, my words, my actions.
I also had to ask myself a few questions: What did me showing up and being seen actually mean to me? Did the opinion of others really hold that much weight? Who were these ‘others’ I gave so much power to? Did I really represent so much negativity in their lives - really? Was I responsible for the things they were projecting simply because of how I looked? I had to ask my self these things because they were a reality for me. And still are. But how I deal with them has changed. I have changed.
Also. Dress Code Ladies. Whats acceptable for a 33 year old solo mum to wear these days?? I’ll tell you what.
What ever the F you want. Seriously.
And age is just a number here. If you feel good – wear it. And own it. Truly express yourself.
One of my challenges this summer was to wear little cut off shorts that covered approximately 20% of my ass cheeks. It was a double dare to myself which I tentatively but quietly was all to happy to accept.
It was more as a challenge to my perception of self really.
I left my marriage feeling insecure about a whole range of things to do with my physical body– my cellulite riddled butt being my biggest self loathing.
These shorts were going to be my queit F U to that way of thinking and being.
I'm more than the dimples on my ass Yo. I'm more than my insecurities. Imma freaaaaakn own these shorts.
Like Yo! Do I even have any on? And does it even matter?? At the end of the day, does what I'm wearing make me less valued? Less worthy? Less lovable? No people. The short and long answer is a resounding and very firm No.
I figured if you can see the ripples in my thighs, good. I think its sexy AF and anyone who thinks otherwise can go...... back to the gym or on a diet....just elsewhere. Away from me. Cos I aint buying into it.
And guess what? Wearing them shorts didn’t change a damn thing. Apart from the fact I felt freaking ace. I freedom danced my way through the night and ended up having one of thee best nights ever. And then I hit repeat on my next night out. Aaaaand the next one.
The weird thing was that since I accepted my self fully and loved hard into all the things I had seen as embarrassing flaws (cellulite, wobbly thighs, stretch marks, things I see as endlessly boring immaterial things now),
it's now one of the very things the Ex ( I really need a cool name to reference him as, as I will be mentioning him here and there - significant role that he played in my life and all that jazz) whose opinion I had spent years measuring my sense of self worth against - is actually quite vocal now about how this derriere, the very one I felt so low about being around him with when I thought he wanted to have more taught toned dimple free options on offer down at his local gym, is actually the very one that he claims is his all time favourite. Really. That's a direct quote.
This may be a clever ploy of his. But I'm not fussy and I cant be assed with games. I'll take it.
Let me rephrase that.
I'm going to Lap. That. Ish Uuuuuuuuuuup.
You know it.... (insert the iconic Black Panther movements symbol of the raised clenched fist. And you've officially joined me on the level).
But this part of the post isn't about the Ex or his opinion. Its about how I feel about me now.
How good, great, enthused, excited, ecstatic, I feel right now about me as a person.
I feel like this whole focusing on my ass thing was actually really pathetic. Like how much time did I waste as a 20 something year old focusing on something soooo lame???
Like helllooo, what else do you bring to the table Yo??
Your going to over look ALL them other traits you have (and we all have plenty) just to focus on that one thing you've got in your head isn't measuring up?? To what exactly?
What is it you are measuring yourself against?
And if its somebody else. Just stop. Its not worth it.
We each bring things to the table that are unique to us.
Our only job is to fully own them. FULLY. Yes?
Granted, this small victory of loving on my ass, literally, isn't exactly the kind of thing I'm going to add to my CV or write home and tell the olds about, but on a feel good levelling up on a soul deep kind of level, its up there.
I know y'all ladies are feeling me and know exactly what I'm talking about.
And why did I share that exactly? Cos it's another point of reference for me.
I don't care what the Ex thinks despite how much weight his opinion once held. Or anyone else.
I don't give any one else that kind of say over my body, choices or decisions.
And I sure don't care whether cellulite is attractive or not.
Or if wobbly thighs are deemed ugly or sexy.
I don't care because I don't measure my worth based one or two miniscule aspects of my over all being.
We are all so much more than any of those things.
This new found ability to recognise the expansiveness of my own being.... it all contributes to the joy I feel when the opportunity arises for me to forget for a night the responsibilities that come with adulting, let my hair down, and just have fuuuun.
Getting giddy. Getting jiggy. Getting straight wild. In a wholesome way.
It comes from a place of empowerment not a place of destructiveness.
Its all harmless reckless fun and its liberating AF.
Naturally, I've saved the best for last.
Its never ending right? It was my constant companion until I did the work to let that story go.
I never second guess myself as a Mum now. Ever.
I consciously say to myself 'Gosh my kids are lucky to have me'. And I mean it. Cos I sure know the blessing it is to have them and hear them call me Mama. I look at my kids and I think never has a truer statement been said.
And I feel perfectly valid in saying that because I know how it feels to not have each other.
A year and a bit ago I made what seemed like the only loving choice to make at the time and I asked for my younger two to go and live with their paternal Nana for two school terms. Something I will forever be so unexplainably grateful to her for doing for them. For us as a family.
Meanwhile my eldest child at the tender age of 12 had to mother me back from the darkest parts of pure raw grief.
Which let me tell you right now... its dark and its lonely and it aint pretty.
But she did it. All on her lonesome. She pulled me back when no one else was around to see the extent or depth of my sorrow and despair.
Lets just call her my earthly Anahera (angel) from here on in.....its an understatement on epic proportions but it will suffice for now.
It was a really hard time in our families life and I'm forever grateful for my mother in law being Mummy when I couldn't.
When they did come home though I recognised our fractured family dynamics needed strengthening. My kids needed me more than they ever had before.
Nothing felt stable or safe. I was the one constant that was left and boy oh boy was I equally in need of them.
We did what we needed to in order to get through.
That meant me reducing my hours right down at work and homeschooling them.
That meant sleeping together in one room.
That meant lots of walks and adventures amongst nature.
And now a year on we’re in a new season of our lives where the kids are back at school, we’re comfortable with our families evolved dynamics and the kids know that theres safety and stability in the constant never ending fluidity of love their Dad and I have for them.
So there’s really no point in me wasting time feeling bad about anything is there.
Theres no point in me staying home from a night out with the girls just to prove that sacrificing one night out of 7 days of the week makes me a better Mum.
Cos it doesn’t.
The every day decisions us Mums make for our families 7 days a week, 24/7, that’s what matters most. Its time we started embracing that and living by it.
I have another gig I might be going to this weekend.
Its always a decision I make on the day, depending on how I feel and how my kids are doing. Obviously gig going isn’t at the detriment of my kids well being.
But nor is it at the cost of my own.
I no longer weigh up my decision based on what others will think or say.
Cos surprise - haters gonna hate. Without fail. And if you don't give them dirt to throw they'll make up a nice pile of lies to throw around for you.
So you do you boo. Go out anyway. Dress up anyway. Have those wines anyway.
I for one freaking love surrendering to the beat of the bass knowing that music truly is medicine for the soul.
I love that through connection with other happy like minded gig goers is that sweet feeling of mass communion. Like God is looking down on us, smiling, content that even for just several hours, we are all so infectiously happy.
I love how empowered I feel embracing my body, letting it move how it wants to, expressing itself the only way it knows how, which on a good day, is actually quite spastic. Im not entirely sure how I have friends who want to be seen in public with me. But they do. And I love them for it.
And for all these things I've let go of, and for all the freedom I now find in turning up at a moments notice to a live band or a festival, you can be sure I'll be attending a whole lot more of them.
This isn't a form escapism - its the purest form of surrender.
God is good. All the time.