New me, new meds

After two years of trial and error, a lot of failed self-care and a break down in the doctor’s office, I finally did it.

I got medicated.

I’ve officially been taking my anti-depressants for six weeks now, and honestly? Why did I not do this sooner? I’ve been so much calmer. I don’t snap as quickly. I say yes more often. Rage is not my default reaction anymore. I can’t say that I’m happy, per se, but I’m laughing authentically again. And I think that’s really the end goal. I needed something to get me out of the hole. A ladder, a boost up to the first step. Now it’s up to me to find ways to climb the rest of the way out.

I’ve been writing again. Sort of. This is the first blog in a while but I’ve been jotting things down. I’ve been bullet journaling, and using my planner more. Turns out designing and organizing my planner is actually really soothing for me. I never look at it once it’s filled in but the process is really calming. Something about beautifying a blank space. I’ve been reading but not letting myself get completely lost in it. I want to start yoga again but I’m a bit worried that I’ll start in on some negative self-talk because it’s been so long since I’ve done yoga that I’m nowhere near where I used to be, and back sliding is a trigger for me. Also, there’s the pregnancy which makes things more complicated. I want to be able to move my body, I know it’s good for me and baby to move my body, but I’m just so tired. It’s much more exhausting to be pregnant with two kids at home than it was the first time around. So I’m taking baby steps. Learning what brings me peace and what doesn’t and acting accordingly. Or at least I’m trying to.

Maybe it’s the pregnancy, maybe it’s the meds, but this is the first time I haven’t been feeling overwhelming guilt when I take time for myself. I have a history of taking the time and then beating myself up over it but things seem to have shifted. I’m not pushing myself at 100% all the time. I can take an hour or two in my office working and not feel awful about it, and then I take the kids outside and not spend the whole time dreading it. It’s strange, but in a good way. It’s like I’m getting back to the old me again in some ways. I don’t think I’ll ever find her again fully, but I’m accepting that. Slowly. For today anyway. Like I said, baby steps.

Weight

She sat alone in the dark, rocking her child back and forth.
The child was heavy in her arms.
The weight felt foreign, an extension of herself that didn’t quite fit.
It had demands that she never quite felt she could meet.
Before had been easier.
The physical connection had been a reassurance, an innate confidence in his moods, his needs. Every kick had emotion, every roll an intention.
Now, the physical touch drove home the separation.
His needs were no longer hers but a mystery.
A puzzle she had to piece together.
This tiny creature loomed larger than life in the dark.
In daylight, her face and her scent were all he would accept. 
By nightfall he both desired and detested her comfort.
And she was exhausted. 

As she rocked, she thought about the child beyond the door.
The one who seemed so mature compared to the child in her arms.
The one who desperately wanted to be the child in her arms.
The one who wanted to be both grown and little, yet didn’t manage to be either.
This child had also been an extension of herself.
Their bond had had time to be nurtured, there was confidence in glances, in sounds and gestures. She was familiar and comfortable and comforting.
Until she wasn’t.
Suddenly this child had become a new entity.
One with feelings that couldn’t be processed and thoughts that couldn’t be expressed and needs that desperately needed to be met. 

And she failed her. 

Again and again she failed her. 

As the new weight pressed her down, she could feel it pushing on the child.
Sometimes the weight was too much and she pushed the child to carry it. 
Such a large burden for a child who wanted to be small. 
No matter how she tried, no matter how much of the weight she shouldered, she could not lift it completely off the child. 
So there was guilt.
So much guilt it was suffocating. 
The weight sat right on her chest.
Constricting.
Some days it was all she could do to breathe.

As she rocked, she breathed. 
Back and forth. In and out. 
She felt the weight in her arms finally relax. 
She heard laughter beyond the door. 
Tonight, she wanted to join the laughter, to find out what was hiding under all that weighed her down.
But the door was so very far away and she was so very tired.
So instead, she rocked back and forth, matching the motion to the inhales and exhales.
Looking at the light that leaked around the door.
A door that seemed like so much more than a door.
There was life behind that door, one who’s pressures she resented and who’s memory she clung to.
A life that used to be hers.
One that she may never fully find again.

The weight of that loss settled in amongst the others as she sat alone in the dark, rocking her child back and forth.
The weight of her new life.
One she was not certain she could carry.

Easter Magic

Motherhood is hard. We can all agree on that. However. Some days it’s hard in different ways. Sometimes it’s not just hard in a “I need to get away, I can’t handle the pressure anymore, if anyone else cries or screams, or stop listening, I’m going to lose my cool”. Sometimes it’s hard in a “I just want to sit on the couch and eat nachos and watch tv, but instead I have to create some fuckin’ Easter Magic up in here.”

But you always do it. You always create that fucking magic. You get your ass off the couch and you write that note from the bunny and you bite that carrot so it looks like the bunny ate it, and if you’re really brave you make powder footprints around your house (spoiler alert: I’m not that brave. Or that masochistic. Who do you think is gonna clean that mess?! The bunny’s not gonna clean shit.) And then you deal with sugar loaded toddlers who are so overstimulated and then you deal with the inevitable sugar crash, and you smile and you play and wonder at the magic of it all.

Except sometimes it doesn’t feel like magic. It feels overwhelming and overstimulating and you know you have to keep your cool because you want them to feel that magic, you don’t want them to remember holidays with a tarnish on it. So you hide in the back and you take timeouts in the bathroom to breathe because if you have to wipe one more chocolate handprint off your couch or calm one more crying toddler who’s been told he’s had enough chocolate or if you hear Mom come play with me! Mom, can you get this? Mom, do that! Mom! Mom! Mom! you are going to lose your ever-loving shit and then no one is happy and that makes you feel even worse. So you smile. And you drink coffee. You put on Easter cartoons and you ignore the chocolate handprints (might as well just clean the fucking couch once instead of over and over). You think back to your own childhood and wonder if your mother ever felt like this. And then you make plans to discuss all of this in therapy in two days 🤣

Holidays are when I miss myself the most. When I feel the loss the hardest. I know others who are grieving their loved ones, and I’m sympathetic. I’m grieving myself. I’m not sure which one is harder. The one where you know you won’t even see them again, or the one where you are scared of that exact outcome. These are the days that I force myself to confront my deepest fear – what if this is it? what if this is how I am now? What if I never go back to being patient, or having fun, or able to play? How am I going to be the parent that I want to be if this is all there is? What do I do then?

Seriously. What do I do then?

That bunny owes me some chocolate.

How a Children’s Show Convinced Me to Go Back to Therapy

I was reading an article today on Scary Mommy, and the author was talking about how much she loves the show “Bluey”. She had all these amazing things to say about it. Now, I’ve watched A LOT of kids shows, but I’ve never seen this one, so I thought, ‘Why not? Let’s check this shit out”.

Guys, she was right.

It was like seeing the parent I want to be – and used to be, not that long ago – play out on the screen in front of me. No life lessons shoehorned in, no weird tie-ins to “learning”, just pure unadulterated play. With both parents equally. There was so much joy, and fun, and pure imaginative play that every ECE dreams about.

So why did it also make me feel so sad? The author I read wrote about how she used it to inspire her own parenting. I want to be that parent. It made me feel like all of my shortcomings were on full display. This was everything I wanted for my kids, for myself, for my marriage, and it was all playing out in front of me and it just made me feel jealous, and disappointed in myself for not being able to provide that for my kids anymore.

I tried so hard today to be more like that. I let them have water play, and let L. sit right on top of the coffee table and feel the water on his whole body. I took G. to the park and pushed her in the swing and let them run wild in the mud.
I also yelled because G. tried to steal her brother’s chocolate by pouring it in her bowl when he wasn’t looking, and then shoved it in her mouth when I called her on it, and I didn’t stay to cuddle as long as she would like at bedtime because all I could think about was the mountain of stuff I needed to finish before I could finally sleep tonight.

I ‘m trying to keep perspective. I’ve been telling myself “Baby steps”. I can’t change everything all at once, I can’t fix what’s wrong in my brain with 12 episodes of Bluey and a trip to the park. But I’m trying, at least. I’m not letting myself drown in these thoughts of “you’re not good enough. You’re going to give your children issues because you have so many issues. you’re a horrible mother because you yell. you make G. feel like shit and she’s going to resent you so much growing up and she’s going to have self-esteem issues and anxiety because she can never predict which version of me is going to come out of my mouth”.
This is the first time I’ve ever verbalized this. It’s been in my head for a long time, but this is the first time I’ve ever written it, and acknowledged it flat out. I’m scared of how my illness is affecting her, what damage I’m doing to her. I don’t want to be that mother, the unpredictable one, where you have to walk on eggshells because you never know how they’re going to react. I want to discipline with love, be firm but fair, but I’m struggling with that line.

So maybe that’s why I’m watching Bluey. I’m going to try to be more like that. Let them interrupt the dishes. The worst that’s going to happen is that I’ll forget about them and they’ll pile up and then I’ll have to spend time doing two loads instead of one and then I’ll stress about how the kitchen looks and how the house smells and then I’ll just turn turtle and ignore it all until it’s just a crushing weight on my anxiety. That’s not so bad, is it.

Or I could just spend five less minutes scrolling the Netflix screen trying to find something to watch after they go to bed and do it then, when the exhaustion hits from trying to parent and work and yoga and school and it feels like it’s impossible to move my body even just one more inch. It’s doable.

I know, mentally, that these aren’t real reasons not to do things. My life won’t all fall apart if I decide I’d rather make a fort than fold laundry, or if I play pretend with the kids instead of forcing them to clean their room. I know this. Things always get done, eventually. However, knowing it doesn’t make it feel less real, or make me feel less overwhelmed at how much there always is to do.

The only thing I took out of my sessions with my first therapist was “You can do anything for 5 minutes. Even if you don’t get it done, at least its started and you can give yourself permission to rest because you’ve made that start. And usually, once you start, you’re more motivated to finish. So whenever something feels overwhelming, just do it for 5 minutes.” It’s been my life saver. I’ve discovered just how much I can actually get done in 5 minutes – and honestly, she was right, I’m usually invested enough after 5 minutes that I just finish it. Maybe that’s the answer then. Play for 5 minutes, no distractions, just play. Or clean for 5 minutes, right after they go to bed. Find 5 minutes, and just do one thing that needs attention.

I think I’m going to stop putting it off and find a new therapist, if a children’s show brings up all this.