When she is starved, a woman will take any substitutes offered, including those that, like placebos, do absolutely nothing for her, as well as destructive and life-threatening ones that hideously waste her time and her talents or expose her life to physical danger. It is a famine of the soul that makes a woman choose things that will cause her to dance madly out of control–then too, too near the executioner’s door. – Clarissa Pinkola Estes
I’ve used this exact quote on another post entitled Dancing Out of Control that was about me and the me I used to be and I apologize for re-using the quote but I think it’s appropriate here.
A few weeks ago, I answered some people who wrote and asked about it, that I was not going to do another Britney Spears post. I did one a while back and deleted it because it wasn’t what I was all about. I ranted about psycho celeb sighting and the obsession with these people and their very bad, un-role model like behavior, but then I calmed down and put it all away and vowed not to reopen it again.
But then today I read my latest copy of “The Week”, which is one of my favorite magazines, and they had a summary of stories about Britney and her hair shearing incident.
“The Week” is one of my favorites because they present their topics with quotes and views from various publications (both hard copy and internet) so you get a few different view points on each topic. In the Britney story, some thought she was acting out and, like an out of control brat, needed a time out. Some thought she had no other way of expressing anger. Some just see her on a long steady decline to oblivion.
As someone who was once a lost and confused 25 year old young mother (same age Britney is now), I had to turn back and look at just how lost and pretty crazy I was at that age and how screwed up my life was. I wasn’t rich which was a good thing because god only knows how out of control I COULD have gotten. But there was one thing that was very clear about my behavior: I was a hurting unit.
When I was pregnant with my 3rd child I was 25 years old. My husband was not happy that I was pregnant again (of course it was all my fault) and he spent the last months of my pregnancy not talking to me except to tell me how much he hated me and bringing over to the house an 18 year old girl to play video games. I never felt so lost and alone in my life.
On Thanksgiving weekend he took my two sons to his mother’s house, two states away, I was due to have the baby any day. Over the weekend I cleaned the house and straightened everything up. I was proud of how the house looked and thought he would be too.
When he came home on Sunday he looked at the house and said sarcastically, “What did your mother come over and clean?” He left the two boys with me and headed out over to the girlfriend’s house. A few hours later I started bleeding and having contractions. It was rainy and cold and I was alone with two little boys ages 5 and 16 months. I was frantic and crying. I had never bled in my other two labors and now the blood was coming so fast I was afraid of passing out before I could get someone to take care of the kids.
I dialed people frantically but could not find anyone. I was convinced we were all going to die. I was ready to call the ambulance and the police but I had this reluctance to “bother” them (I never liked to bother strangers). Then all of a sudden, he came home. He looked at the trails of blood on the floor and asked me why the hell I didn’t clean it up (didn’t ask me if everyone was okay). Our downstairs neighbors came home to watch the boys and he took me to the hospital.
He didn’t speak to me the whole way there. I was obviously ruining his life what with the medical emergencies and childbirth and all.
After they hooked me up to the monitors, it was clear the baby was in distress. I was in a panic and thought I would lose him. I wasn’t allowed to move while they poked and prodded at me while I had strong contractions. My loving husband stood against the wall like he was waiting for a train while his wife was besides herself and his baby boy was in trouble. I never hated anyone so much in my entire life, but I was in labor and powerless. And he knew it.
Because it was a third delivery the baby all of a sudden came quickly. He was born with the cord around his neck but within minutes they could tell he was okay but we had to stay in the hospital a few extra days. I had horrible post partum depression and did nothing but cry.
He would come to the hospital and hold the baby. I would try to make small talk but he would say he came to visit his son, not me. It hurt me to my core.
He picked me up at the hospital without a word and refused to talk to me or help me with the baby once we got home. I was weak and tired but tried to get him to pay attention to me. He refused to talk to me. It was me and the 3 boys in a 4 room apartment and I was desperate for some conversation. He kept walking away from me. It was difficult to keep the boys from seeing his disdain.
Without thinking of how weak I was, I ran out of the house sobbing and angry. About half way down the block I was dizzy and sick. I had to turn around. I got to the top of our stairs and I collapsed and couldn’t move. I rapped weakly on the door and after a time he opened the door cursing me out and telling me how f’d up I was.
I was starving for affection, attention and someone to love me. I felt like my life was out of control, I was out of control. He kept threatening to keep the boys if I left. I couldn’t leave and I couldn’t stay. I would occasionally fly into rages, occasionally go out and drink too much and other times sit sullen and depressed on my bed. For the next couple of years my emotions were out of control. I was a mess. A complete basket case.
I finally found the courage to leave. Between the time my last son was born and when I left four years later, he had two more affairs, a lot more abuse and too much control and criticism. And yet I was being held up, constantly, as the crazy one.
When I got out, I didn’t trust anyone and didn’t know what love or caring looked like. I was just out of my twenties and I was as tired as if I was an old lady. I thought rehab or jail would be a respite. Some place. Any place.
I had felt empty and sad all my life. I swung between sad and pathetic out of control behavior and angry want to kill the world behavior.
Eventually I stopped and realized I had to straighten up and learn the healthy way of being. I had to work through the pain of the past and get my act together. Not for me, but for my boys. I didn’t want them to grow up thinking their mother was a mental case and I certainly felt like one. All of the time. I had made poor choices and they continually came home to roost. One day I just had to say enough is enough.
It is not easy being young, being a mother and feeling out of control. I’m sure it’s even harder with the whole world watching.
The Week wrote ” Psychotherapists are still wondering what to make of [Britney’s head shaving].” Some think its a cry for help or the beginning of a nervous breakdown..
As a former therapist I can’t analyze or diagnose her because I don’t know her, but as a former out of control twenty something, I know that it hurts. I know that the feelings are so overwhelming and confusing that you feel you need to DO something. And to be honest, I understand her beating the hell out of the paparazzi car. They were getting gas for goodness sakes. I’m annoyed getting gas without anyone harassing me. I would be beating on someone too.
I don’t profess to KNOW what is wrong with Britney but as someone who was once out of control and now is happy and healthy and strong and confident, I have to send some hope her way. As someone who adores my now-grown sons (and they are all close to me) and who was once i
n danger of losing them to a big loser, I only hope she stops the slide before it’s too late. And as someone who writes daily posts I can only ask that the world just back off of her and let her get her act together.
I don’t know if I would have been able to get my act together had I been scrutinized by the whole world. My own family’s comments and my ex’s comments (knowing what a LOSER this guy was and yet he was coming off as better than me) and his family’s comments were enough for me. They hurt and they were private, not public. I hurt so much and then I was held up to scorn and ridicule on a very small scale and it hurt more than I can put into words. Still I hung back, did my work, cared for my children and listened to people wonder what was wrong with me for several years until it was clear that I was on a new and different and healthy path.
I put a new life together.
I got over the hurdles.
I moved past all the garbage and the hurt and the rage and learned to be a mother to my kids. A good mother. A healthy mother. I learned to put a life together that is good and wonderful. It IS possible and I wish it for Britney and any other young mother who is hurt and confused and lost and alone.
I didn’t want to write about Britney but I feel for her. She’s a child and she needs some room to grow into the person she was meant to be. She’s hurting. She needs some time and some space. Let her be.