Open House, Open Arms

Today we had a party to celebrate the journey of Tribe and to commemorate the changing of our moniker to ‘Open House’. I got the opportunity to share what the community has meant to me, and how it has been such a key part of my journey in becoming more vulnerable and admitting when I need help…

“Most things in life have come easily to me. I was the perfect match for the schooling system, thriving off the competitiveness and rewards, and the affirmation of being a good rule follower. After a slightly rocky start, I began to figure out the university system and was able to churn out essays with relative ease and graduate from Law with Honors. My first experience with work was positive, getting to work in an amazing team and under an affirming boss who was a great mentor and teacher. When the first year of motherhood came along, I was expecting a few difficulties, but apart from a brief hiccup in the form of Eli being readmitted to hospital in the first month, that experience was largely an ‘easy’ and positive one.

And then my beautiful son, Hudson, came along. We were living in shared accommodation at the time, with our great friends, Alex and Monica and their son Chase. I thought I knew what to expect from a newborn and labour because I had done it once before. Boy, was I wrong. The entire experience with Hudson challenged my every conception of myself and basically broke me. Hudson was perpetually unhappy, slept fitfully, he had silent reflux and would scream for hours as if he was being tortured and there was little we could do to ease the experience for him. He was developmentally delayed and didn’t crawl or really move until after he was 10 months old. Until that time, his awake time was mostly spent crying on his back.

It didn’t help that one month after Hudson came to join us, Monica gave birth to a placid, peaceful and happy baby called Lucas. All I had to do was look over at him cooing happily on the floor and then back at my screaming baby and it felt as if I was failing in everything. I had quit my job when Hudson was born so I had zero outlets for affirmation and it hit me so hard.

I was so used to being the one who had it together, the ‘coper’, the thriving one and it was all stripped away. There were glimmers of hope throughout the period, the birth of this blog being one, and my introduction to the concept of neuroplasticity. I became softer and more empathetic… but only after I had been considerably dark and angry for a long period of time.

In the year from hell, Monica and Alex put up with a lot from me. I was sullen and passive-aggressive, difficult to live with. Often Monica would be tip-toeing around wondering what on earth she had possibly done to piss me off. There were a few volatile house meetings where angry words poured out of my mouth before I could reel them back in. But through it all, they chose to love me, to forgive me and to this day, they are two of the closest friends that we have, despite currently living on the other side of the globe.

In late 2013 I fell pregnant again. When I was 9 weeks along, however, I went along to a dating ultrasound to have the awful, devastating experience of being told that they couldn’t find the baby. It was known as a ‘Blighted Ovum’ which is where the fertilised egg is implanted into the uterus but it does not develop into an embryo. My body thought it was pregnant and was giving me all the symptoms, but there was nothing there. Later that day, I distractedly drove straight through a red light, right through two lines of oncoming traffic, and hit another vehicle. Miraculously all of us were OK, but my little yellow car was totalled.

The response from Open House was incredible. Dave and I were hollow versions of ourselves after the turmoil of that year and the community gathered around us, bringing meals and love, and collected over $2,000 to help us buy a new car. We were due to move house in the same week that I had a curette and Hudson’s hernia operation and a swarm of people showed up with helping hands. It was absolutely overwhelming…. and so healing.

The power of Open House for me, is the freedom that even when I was the worst version of myself, able to give so little, the community didn’t flinch. It stepped in, opening accepting arms and said ‘It’s OK’.

It’s truly when we are our most vulnerable, all defenses stripped away, that we realise who we are, and who our friends are too. I really feel like our little community is at its best when rallying around people who have hit rock bottom and are (reluctantly) ready to admit to needing help.

The friends we have made as a result of this community are irreplaceable and so, so precious. I literally couldn’t imagine life without you guys. Thank you for doing life with us and sharing who you are with our community.”

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