Once a week I prepare to go to a place that most people probably never imagine themselves choosing to go - my local jail. I have been going to the jail once a week for over a decade, and it is so much a part of my normal routine that I often forget how unusual it is - that is, until I see looks of surprise, confusion, and concern from people after hearing me say, "I'm on my way to the jail," or ,"I just got out of the jail."
Whitney Storey Blog
Humans are natural story tellers. We have long histories of using stories as a way to explain the unexplainable, to teach and guide our children, and to give our lives a sense of direction and purpose. We have stories about ourselves - like, I'm a good person, I love music, I'm a natural with animals, I'm bad at math... One story I have about myself is I am a good mother. But what if I told you that stories like that, even the positive ones, can get us into trouble?
Growing up I made a number of assumptions about who I was going to be and what my life would be like in adulthood. I assumed I would go to college, meet a nice man, get married shortly after graduation, and begin my family as a stable and capable professional - a working wife and mother. Of course, things aren't that simple. It has been an incredibly bumpy ride.
As I'm writing this, we have just come out of another Mother's Day and I am thinking ahead to the next few holidays and what my family will be doing. Holidays, and family get-togethers in general, can really cause a lot of anxiety in me and in many of the folks I talk to (in and out of the therapy room). There is just so much pressure - so many shoulds, have tos, musts, and can'ts. When it comes to these rules, as I call them, who is in charge?
I love that as a culture we are embracing the idea that "it's okay to not be okay." It's so accepting and welcoming of folks with all kinds of struggles and has reduced the stigma around seeking help. But, can I be honest with you for a second? Sometimes when I think "it's okay to not be okay," I find myself meaning it only for other people. It's okay for other people to not be okay. Not me. And I have a hunch I might not be the only one.
I have a long history of being involved in the arts and finding benefits from making art by myself and with others. While I had folks who encouraged me in my practice, I also found that many people (mostly my peers) didn't understand my love of art. The stigma I felt about my artistic self lead to feelings of shame. My best friend in undergrad even told me one time, as we were discussing dating, "maybe you shouldn't tell them you're a theatre major" - as if distancing myself from the arts were possible, let alone preferable! Art fills me with life.
There are so many wonderful things about being a parent. There is nothing better than being able to watch your children grow and change, discover things about themselves and the world, and develop their own unique personality! At the same time, being a parent is one of the most difficult and, at times, painful roles. For those of us who identify as neurodivergent, parenting has another added level of difficulty.
I have always felt…out of place. Even as a small child and regardless of where I have been, I notice the things about me that stand out. It’s this innate feeling of disconnection that has motivated my curiosity. I am so curious about the world around me. If I can figure everything out - other people, myself, the environment - then I will find a place where I belong.