Cold cups of tea

I grew up in a big family. I’m the oldest of 4 and we constantly had lodgers and students and foreign exchange kids come through our doors. I was most definitely used to noise. I moved to a new city after getting married and was not prepared for how quiet my life suddenly felt. I got married before I started university, so right off the bat I was that weird student who married young. We were the youngest in our church by a long way, and it wasn’t until 6 months after we were married that we met another couple at a similar life stage.

From Loneliness to Vulnerability by Rhianne O'Rourke - Blog for Christian Women

I also hadn’t factored in getting pregnant quite so quickly after getting married. After just one year of Uni I dropped out to take care of our baby full-time. I can clearly remember going to my first toddler group and sitting there with a cold cup of tea in my hands, a screaming baby, and a huge sense of ‘what on earth am I doing here?’


Looking back, I think that part of the problem was that I suffered from ‘Disney-itus’. I had idealised marriage and babies and I thought that I would feel a sense of contentment and ‘happy ever after’ when I had a prince of my own. Disney neglects to show life after marriage!

Life began to get fuller after baby number 2, we made a few friends by this stage and our church community was growing. I found a sense of identity and community when my peers started to have babies – finally someone I could talk nappies with! Then came baby number 3.

Singing animals and perfect hair

My youngest baby cried… All. The. Time. I’d feed him and he’d cry, we’d go for a walk and he’d cry, he woke in the night often and cried… My health visitor figured because I’d had two other babies, I wouldn’t need much support – clearly I’d know what I was doing by now. I had built up this identity of being a sort of ‘super mum’, and it was being demolished, night after sleepless night. And I cried, in the shower, when my husband was at work and the other two kids in school, when I was tidying the house after everyone had gone to bed, but never in public, never to the mums who I had coffee with or in the soft play centres we took our kids to. I tried to keep up the Disney shine of singing animals and perfect hair. I was desperately lonely. I could sit in a crowded toddler group making polite chit chat, eating cake and smiling, but on the inside I had never felt so invisible. I had totally lost myself in the haze of 3am feeds and nappies.

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Take a sip

My breakthrough came one rare evening when I was with a few girlfriends watching the movie Sex and the City 2. The character Charlotte had spent the movie trying to convince herself that everything is fine, even though her youngest daughter cries all the time. When finally seeing her struggle, her friend Miranda takes her out for a drink. Miranda encourages Charlotte to tell her her struggles with encouragements of ‘take a sip’ (of her cocktail) and Charlotte finally confesses out loud how hard being a mother is. Miranda encourages Charlotte that it is normal to find it hard, and that it is totally ok to speak that truth out loud. Seeing these women on the big screen being brave and vulnerable gave me the permission I desperately needed to finally admit how hard I was finding it. It was such a liberation. As I took a sip of courage and shared my struggles it gave my friends permission to share theirs. There is so much healing in the words, “You too! I thought I was the only one!”

From Loneliness to Vulnerability by Rhianne O'Rourke - Blog for Christian Women - Pinterest

Vulnerability kicks loneliness to the curb

I began to find that I didn’t feel so lonely anymore. A by-product of vulnerability was that I was now known, fully and without having to disney-fy myself. I hadn’t realised that one of the reasons I felt so lonely was because I hadn’t been able or willing to actually share myself with people. I’ve since read the fantastic books by Brené Brown, who talks a lot about vulnerability and authenticity – I’d highly recommend them. If reading isn’t your thing, look up her phenomenal TED talk called ‘The Power of Vulnerability. Brené says, “True belonging is the spiritual practice of believing in and belonging to yourself so deeply that you can share your most authentic self with the world and find sacredness in both being a part of something and standing alone in the wilderness. True belonging doesn’t require you to change who you are; it requires you to be who you are.”

The vulnerability it takes to be who you are is huge but the rewards of taking that chance are bigger. Vulnerability kicks loneliness to the curb, because vulnerability allows your authentic real self to be seen.

So, brave women, take a sip, let yourself be seen, scrap the Disney princess and embrace the raw, real you.

From Loneliness to Vulnerability by Rhianne O'Rourke - Blog for Christian Women - Pinterest

Meet Rhianne

Rhianne is mum to 3 boys, adventurer, board game enthusiast, community builder and, along with her husband Steve, training to be a vicar in the Anglican Church. She is passionate about helping people find authentic community and speaks into issues of loneliness and social justice.

You can connect with Rhianne here on INSTAGRAM 

From Loneliness to Vulnerability by Rhianne O'Rourke - Blog for Christian Women

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