I have a show coming up.
This show, not to spoil it, is a deep dive into the early years of motherhood. I make fun of all my expectations of motherhood and how ridiculous I must have sounded. I look at how motherhood is medicine for the ego; nothing will ground you more in your reality than a brutally honest toddler. It’s a story of survival and addresses one of the harder seasons of my life.
I have been asked why I wrote the show,
and if rehashing the really painful parts of my life have had a negative impact. I genuinely don’t feel that way, especially after a show. I get the impression that culturally we believe that if we have stopped talking about something, that’s a sign we have moved on. But actually, if we think about that, it’s talking about these things that help us process them and add a new layer of healing. It’s the very reason therapy works, going to therapy doesn’t change what’s happened, but talking about it and learning from it is what aids in the healing process.
I am not ashamed of my struggles.
I know that is a rebellious act in today's society, but I am not ashamed at all.
One of my best friends of over a decade is pregnant with her first child. She knew me before I became a mother, she has seen my journey, she has picked me up off the floor, and we have laughed about my struggles along the way. Laughter is the best medicine.
I watched a TEDTALK this week which informed me that laughter activates the same parts of our brain that sex and connection do. It is also a painkiller and this I can personally vouch for.
The Show: Priscilla Queen Of The Disaster
We speak often about the transformation...
...she is about to go through in becoming a mother. About how my life got turned right upside down, (not unlike the fresh prince of bel air), and how I wouldn’t even recognise myself before I had kids. I’m positive we all have the opportunity for transformation, and it might not look like becoming a mother for everyone, but it was my catalyst for sure. This transformation is not often seen as a positive one, and yes there are parts of it that are not. But overall, I would never choose to go back to the person I was before them.
How Your Story Sets You Free - Heather Box
The hardest part,
for me, was losing an identity that I wasn’t even sure of to begin with. That’s a whole new level of loss that I don’t quite know how to articulate. However, the flip side is that there was no bigger instigator for radical change in my unhealthy habits and thought processes than staring into the eyes of my beautiful 9-month-old boy. I knew in my soul that something needed to change, for him. That is when I started therapy. I was told by my therapist that it’s often the reason many people start therapy, for someone else. Which I suppose makes sense for people who have low self-worth; investing in your own well being purely for yourself is quite the leap.
But that one change, seeking therapy, instigated by a little doughy 9-month-old, is a huge reason I am beyond grateful to have had these children. They not only added to my life in the most significant way, but they forced me into showing up in the world as the best version of myself. Because that is the very least I can do as their mother. To heal the parts that needed healing, and to learn how to regulate my nervous system and emotions so that I no longer reacted from a place of trauma or a wounded inner child, but from a safe place. Because if there is one thing I have learned about kids, it is they do what you do, not what you say.
Coldplay - Fix You
So yes, children arrive and your world explodes.
Yes, you lose identity and there will be people who won’t recognise you because you won’t recognise yourself. You may even lose a few people who can’t accept that children are now part of your conversation. But what will remain will be true and beautiful, albeit with some painful struggles along the way.
So why did I write a show about all this? Because although it takes courage and vulnerability to share your story, both the funny and the difficult parts, sharing is how we connect with others. If one person comes out of this show and feels a little less alone, even if it’s just for that night, or feels truly seen as the human mother or parent that they are, then it will have been worth it.
Priscilla Queen Of The Disaster
After each show, I am not re-traumatised...
...by the content of it, I feel empowered because it reminds me how resilient I am. I also feel incredibly proud, proud of my little trio (or quartet if we include Pepper the pug), because my family not only survived, but we thrived. Whilst I would have wanted to protect my children from everything in the world, it is not possible. Raising children in a bubble can’t be the goal; giving them the tools to deal with the shit that life throws at you sometimes is what my job is.
So yes, we’ve all had first-hand experience of the shit, but we also have the knowledge that we wholeheartedly have each other's backs, that we can stand in the eye of the storm and come out of it together. That on the worst days we can still laugh and gain first-hand knowledge that survival is not only possible together but inevitable. That despite the shit show that was 2015, we have a beautiful, loving, wonderful, flawed, nowhere-near perfect family. It is not broken, or less than, it is whole and wild, free and chaotic. And I don’t think that is in spite of the struggle, I think it might be because of it.
This is why I share my story.
When I am standing offstage, waiting for my cue to go on and perform a deeply personal one-woman show, I am filled with anxiety and excitement, and the thought often crosses my mind: why have I done this to myself again?
And I only get the answer when I am leaving the stage, having laughed, cried and gone on a journey with the audience. The answer is…because this Susie, this is where you feel alive.
NEXT SHOW: 11th March 2022 - Harlow Playhouse - TICKETS