I needed it.

I had no idea how much until it happened.

For months now I’ve been taking care of myself as best I can — which is pretty damn good considering this is what I do for a living. I’ve been prioritizing my needs and being more and more honest about where I am and how people can help.

I’ve reached out.

I’ve set boundaries.

I’ve slept.

I’ve given and received comfort.

But last night something different happened — I broke.

One of the ways I care for myself is with regular baths. A few times a week, after the kids are asleep or even in the middle of the day I fill the tub with water that is probably way too hot for a normal human and I soak. We have a crappy tub, to be honest. I’m not a small person and it’s never deep enough, but it’s the best I can do.

I bought one of those overflow drain covers to try and get a few more inches of depth. At first they worked, but the suction cups hate my tub for some reason and now they leak. I bought a new one. Same problem. I looked online for something I could plug the hole with and found nothing but people raving about how amazing these drain covers are.

They aren’t.

Last night I was tired in body, and in spirit — tired just all the way through. But I knew I’d just gotten a link to a new moon class by Chani Nicholas and I thought a nice bath while contemplating my place in the universe to her super-soothing voice would be just the trick. I ran the water, I watched the bath bomb fizz and spin, I set up my laptop on the counter, I even had a notebook ready should inspiration strike.

But all I could hear was the water slowly draining away through the cover. The sound reached out to me, crawled under my skin, and lit up every single battle that I’ve fought lately. It laid all my pain bare. The fears, the struggle, the exhaustion, the doubt, the insecurity, the powerlessness that comes with parenting were all somehow wrapped up into that sound.

I tried to move the cover. I took it off and put it back on. Eventually I begged this inanimate object to just please stop. Then I gave up, ripped it off of the tub and flung it. I got out, wrapped a towel around myself and sobbed.

Ugly, snot bubble sobs.

Scream until you cough and nearly throw up sobs.

Fall on your knees and rock with a towel shoved up to your face sobs.

I cried while I got dressed. I came downstairs and sat in the quiet for a long time, over an hour, sometimes wiping a tear away and sometimes just sitting. Eventually there were no more tears to shed, they had all come out.

I put on a movie and half watched it while I let my mind just stop. I let myself just be empty. I let myself be done.

This morning my eyes are crusty and swollen. My head is reminding me how much water I lost last night. I feel scooped out and hollow. But what got scooped out was the pain, the rage, the fear, the exhaustion. I needed to cry it all out. I needed to break so that I could let it all go.

I needed the freedom that comes with allowing myself to not be okay. I don’t have to have all the answers. I don’t have to hold it all together. I get to be human, too. I get to fall apart. And nothing will crumble if I let go. Nothing will dissolve in my tears.

I won’t actually cry forever once I start.

Sometimes I need to remember to cry.

Now I need to find a way to plug that drain so I can take a damn bath.

The Mom For Moms. I write about motherhood, mental health, and race, not always in that order. graemeseabrook.com | bit.ly/themomcenter

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