Remember the fun and exhilarating feeling of doing something first as a child? I can still remember the first time I heard my brother call me “Sissy” even though I was around five years old or losing my first tooth before a cousin who was six months older than me feeling on top of this world cool (joke ended up on me for a lifetime of retainers and braces) or the first time I passed one of my teaching licensure exams. Growing up doing something first seemed so exciting, so fun, like there was only up from there and nothing could change the excitement.
I was the first of my friends to get engaged, get married, and have a child. Such exciting moments were all our firsts. The first time getting to experience what we have watched in the movies, dress shopping with wine, twirling around in veils, and swapping stories of stretchmarks and maternity tops.
But what childhood does not prepare you for is doing things first as an adult can come with the feeling of isolation. My life was changing, my life was shifting, and unfortunately, it also changed and shifted friendships and relationships. Who was I starting to become? How was my new role as a wife and a mother going to eventually change who I was before the moment I said I Do?
After having Thor, I remember thinking that I have never felt so alone while constantly surrounded by another person. As I was thinking about diapers, formula, and how many pacifiers I should pack in the diaper bag for a walk, my friends were still planning weekend trips, nights out around the town, tailgating, and traveling. The invitations out became few far and few in between, and my texts started going from all day, to daily, to weekly, to group messages for large life moments.
Going from a social elementary teacher to a stay-at-home mom was not an easy adjustment, and honestly took me a few years to fully grasp the new me, the 24/7 mom me, the Sabrina that came with a schedule of naps instead of the schedule of bar crawls. While I knew I would still have time with my friends, it was hard to get a glimpse into their weekends while I was sleep-deprived and would have killed for a night out.
I remember hearing once that you have friends for a “reason, a season, and a lifetime” and starting to come to terms with all aspects of that saying and knew the only person I could control and grow was me. To let happiness in, I needed to be happy myself and I needed to realize that lives change, people grow, and that it is okay to take two separate roads to travel.
In January 2017, I experienced a heartbreaking and both mentally and physically hard miscarriage, which opened our eyes to moving to start fresh in a house with more of a future for our family. We moved further north and were now 1 ½ hour from my family and 45 minutes from Bryans, in a much smaller town than we were used to, but we were excited to make it our small town. Little did I know at the time that this small town was exactly what my heart, my mind, and my soul needed.
Shortly after moving, I met a woman at the library who introduced me to an organization called MOPS (Mom of Preschoolers). She sold me hot breakfast and childcare, and honestly, after that, it was a blur because I was sold. MOPS met twice a month at a local church and was a group of moms in all different seasons of life, from pregnancy to mentor moms were there to help tired moms see that there is life past diaper changes and sippy cups.
During a MOPS meeting, we watched a short clip (VIDEO LINKED HERE) about a 3 AM Friend and instant tears and constant nodding the entire time I watched. Annie F. Downs talks about the concept of friendship and letting others truly in to see the real YOU. “The closer you let people in, the more they get to know, the braver you have to be, and the freer you are.” I related so much with Annie as she describes the fear of letting people in completely for fear of them leaving or not accepting you for you. I started to wonder if I even accepted myself. Did I come to terms with everything that happened? Did I allow myself time to grieve, or did I put a smile on my face and call it a day? I needed to let people in to free myself of the weight I carry on my shoulders.
After losing my second pregnancy and finding out my dad was losing his life to a terminal disease, I would often wait until everyone else was sleeping to have my breakdown, to have my moment of tears because, just as Annie states, “I wouldn’t know where to start if I needed to tell them that it wasn’t great.” I felt as if I needed to be able to put into words how I was feeling to have someone be there and help at that moment. Now, seeing things from the other side and two years past the anniversary of my dad’s passing, I can see how incredibly wrong I was in thinking that I needed to suffer alone in any aspect of sorrow.
Annie had a friend ask her who her 3 AM friend and I remember sitting there pausing thinking about how I would rather sit alone and suffer than feel like I was bothering someone by showing them my moment of weakness, by telling them that I needed them at that moment in my life and that they were the person that I knew could help me, even at 3 AM.
I recently came across a website, SoulScipt, and fell in love with the sweatshirt saying, “Your brokenness is welcome here.”
Instantly adds to cart.
SoulScript’s mission is “we give you the words when you have none. When you don’t know what to say to a friend walking through a miscarriage, hard season, breakup, health diagnosis, or anything else…. Let her know you love her, see her, and that even if you can’t take her pain away, you’re there for and with her”.
Mic drop moment right there!
Everything I felt, everything I was looking for in myself and others, was finally right in front of me, and I felt that in my soul. I know what it is like to feel as if I am suffering alone; I know what it is like to feel like there are just no words that can describe this moment in life; I know what it is like not to have the words to explain how broken you feel on the inside, and if you too are in a moment, if you too are broken… I am here.
Jordan Lee Dooley is the founder of SoulScript, and she states, “I walked through the hell of two pregnancy losses in a row and came face to face with my own brokenness in a way I'd never ever experienced. I noticed people often express their sympathy by saying, "I don't know what to say," or "There are no words." Jordan helps give all of us the words to say what we don’t know what to say finally, and I am thankful for that.
We all need a 3 AM friend; we all need to know that it is okay not to be okay. As you are reading this, I want you to know that “Your brokenness is welcome here” and that if you need someone, anyone at 3 AM, 3 PM, or anytime in between, I am here.
We will all have different firsts, and as we have children, they will all have different firsts. As a parent, we constantly remind each other that children will reach milestones at different times and that it is okay not to do something when everyone else is doing it, so why is it so hard to remember that as we age?
Adult firsts are a lot harder to handle, and many people may never be in your shoes or understand what you are going through, but what I have learned is that they will understand even less if you are not willing to let them in to see the true you in the first place.