You can never know what someone else is going through just seeing them walk by. You can’t know someone’s struggle till you walk a mile in their shoes. I’ve had a rough year. For me, it’s been epic. I haven’t written much. I’ve been spending a lot of time inside my own little world. Not just my little world, but inside my little sphere of me. And I’m little. So it’s a small place.
I started blogging several years ago, because I had a lot to say, and I knew I couldn’t be the only one who was feeling like life was out of control since having kids. I’m not. But this year, this year I began to crack. I felt like laughing wasn’t working anymore. My sense of humor was waning. So many things I thought we would figure out as a family weren’t getting figured out. Things I had worried about and communicated still were just as fresh and real as the first time they had been brought to light.
We had a problem. Our family was wearing thin. I was the one in charge of everything emotional and sane and organizational. I had let myself be in charge of everything, and the neatly torn bundles were falling from my hands as I walked. Everything I thought I could handle began feeling as heavy as they actually were. They were heavy, and I wasn’t able to carry them anymore.
I began a journey. And it’s not funny. And it’s not something you probably come to my blog to read. But it’s where I’m at. It’s real, and it’s my story.
My realizations began when I took my son to try a treatment for biofeedback. I thought it would be a fantastic solution to medication for ADD. It was shitloads of money, so of course, it was a bit of a risk, and by that I mean, I wanted it to work. The psychologist met with us, and he said we had a lot of anxiety in our home. I mean, I knew that. But look at us! I have two boys who are busy, a very intense husband, and I have more energy than my fair share. I had tried every kind of parenting available and nothing seemed to work. Sure, I’m anxious. But only because everything could explode at any minute of my day, every single day. Everyone is nervous and edgy and anxious because there isn’t much else besides waiting for someone to blow. And after years of waiting for someone to blow and playing defense, I realized something had changed in me. And something had stayed the same.
I didn’t laugh much anymore. I didn’t enjoy anything. I was getting through. I didn’t really enjoy my time with anyone in my house, and I couldn’t really seem to get away because everyone needed to me to be there, all the time. And to be truthful, I learned that I had allowed all that to happen. I had allowed myself to be that indispensable. Sure, I knew no one else seemed to have the skills to do what I did in my hosue. But even I could see I wasn’t doing what I did with that much grace anymore. And I was miserable. And even worse, I had grown up in a house that was stressful. And for someone who isn’t anxious, I had a lot of anxiety.
And then I had my first panic attack. I felt dumb. I wasn’t that person. I am strong and happy and fun, and I can take anything, make lemonade with it… and serve it with a smile. But I had had it.
Why am I saying all this? Well, once again…. I know I can’t be the only one. Sure, there are families that seem to have it all together. Every once in awhile I see someone with kids who sit quietly and color or husbands who seem to be full of praise and teamwork. But I felt depleted of all those things. I felt alone, and I felt helpless.
And that’s where I was most of this year. Most of this year I was doing a reality check. I was finding out who I was again. If there was one thing I didn’t want to be, it was anxious. But 9 months later, I realize not only what my family is but who I am. I have looked in the mirror. It’s been really hard. I can’t tell you everyone’s journey in my family. But I can tell you that I have some difficult things in my home to deal with. I felt resentful. I felt angry and cheated. I stewed and yelled and pissed and moaned and got every bit of it out. It’s been a long trip, mind you, but I just might have been the most honest version of myself yet.
I learned I can be an enabler. I can help those around me be less than they are because I want so much to be the most helpful person I can be. I learned that I don’t have appropriate boundaries in areas of my life that have to be established—because I want to be open and loving to everyone, for everything.
I learned all the things I thought would make me a yogi of sorts were actually the things that were allowing me to be buried under my own life’s weight. I learned that I hadn’t taken care of me. Sure, we all say that as moms. But I want to say it again to you-right now.
Being a mom is the hardest job in the world. Not only does it take everything you have, but it takes more. It takes more and more and more. And if you have any challenges, it take more than more. But some moms have lost their children. Some people, many people suffer more than I do, and many less. And truly, it doesn’t matter. You can put everything in perspective each day with your worldview where you see things better and worse than others, but it doesn’t cease to make your life–your life, what you are feeling, what you are missing or abundant in.
Nothing can change reality, but many things can change the way we see it, or where we carry it. Me, I put the reality down. I quit carrying it on my shoulders. I split the burdens up a bit. I gave my kids and my husband their fair share. I looked at my family and told them they were part of the solution too. They were part of their own happiness and part of mine. And they had to carry their part. It felt weird to do this because it felt selfish. I felt selfish and mean because I thought I was supposed to do more than anyone ever because that’s what I was taught, what I had decided to do when bad things happened to me in my life, what I had accepted as my contribution to a hurting world. What I hadn’t considered was each person’s opportunity to realize their own strength, not mine.
When I put down my load, when I parsed out some responsibility, I gave power to others in my home to everything they could be. And they are all so much. I had always known they were amazing, each one of them. Because for every difficulty, each thing they struggle with, they are that much more loving and strong and intelligent and brave. For everything they are not, they are then other things they weren’t using. And me, I was killing myself trying to be everything and creating a home where no one else was given the opportunity to be as amazing as I wanted to be.
Okay, so it’s a lot of information, and I never know if what I write makes any sense to anyone. But if I cry when I write it, I know I’m being open and vulnerable and real. I know I am thinking what I want to write. And then I post it. And then I hope that one person can benefit from it. I hope that one mom can look at herself today and see her burden. We all try so hard. We all kill ourselves to be everything because we have to when we’re moms. We are driven by something that is animalistic. We don’t think about anything because it’s our children. They came from our bodies. We would give up everything we are, but we don’t have to. We don’t have to give up our souls. Sometimes we have to give up less because that’s the only way others can be more. Sometimes love and sacrifice doesn’t mean cleaning the floor one more time or driving forgotten homework to school or explaining one more time how to treat your siblings. Sometimes it means handing our children the broom, letting them fail, or letting them explain it to you. They know. Sometimes having the best marriage isn’t making sure your spouse want for nothing. Sometimes it means letting them tell you what they need. Sometimes it’s letting them want so they can find their joy. Sometimes, it’s asking for what you want so someone can make you happy too.
Sometimes things are what they seem, and sometimes they aren’t. Sometimes I have been confused, and I’m not anymore. It’s been a long year, and I have felt so many things I never wanted to. But one doctor said to me, “Christine, if you can find peace right now, you are ahead of many people. Many people never find peace. And once I found some peace in my life and was able to accept certain things, I was able to be happy.” That changed my life. I no longer felt behind or lost. I felt like I was digging for a treasure in the sand. I felt like I still could be happy again. I felt like my struggles or challenges were just that. I have never given up before, and I never will. Now I have to accept and love a little differently. And if I can find peace right now, maybe I will find that I am right where I am supposed to be. I already had the best family in the world, and now I am learning to be happy with that family, not in spite of them.
With tears today. With love. With peace.
To you today. To where you are standing, to where you are right now.