Not too long ago, I was preparing my children and my husband for a life of misery with me instead of taking the steps needed to bring on change. What I said to my husband went something like this: “I’m giving you the permission to leave me one day. It might not be soon, it might be in 10 years but I know everyone has a threshold and I will understand when you hit yours. Who would want to be married to this? I wouldn’t want to be married to this.”
I was in a whirlwind of confusion. Terrified that I didn’t have it in me to do the hard work I knew would come along with change. I didn’t know where to start, I didn’t believe in myself, and the weight of my problems was crushing. Looking back, I’m thankful that I reached a point in my life where I finally realized that I not only needed to change but I wanted to change.
My chronic exhaustion was my most obvious symptom and it seemed to be something I could live with when I was younger. I recognized that my energy level was low compared to most others about the time I was in college. This was not a huge surprise as I was forewarned by my physical therapist mother throughout childhood, but I always thought she was being overly dramatic and I was convinced she was trying to add a pessimistic tone to cramp my carefree lifestyle (perhaps a familiar storyline for first-generation American teenagers with a foreign parent[s]).
But as reality would prove, she was right. I was able to push through my lifestyle even though I relied heavily on naps most days. And while I was in my 20’s, a nap was easily available.
It wasn’t until I had children that I was forced to face the truth. Even with young little ones, I was able to convince myself that my issues weren't “that bad.” Mothers can sneak in naps as their babies sleep. Hell, it’s even encouraged! But as my youngsters grew, so did their energy level and their attention spans. I couldn’t deny the reality that I shouldn’t feel this tired at my age and my children soon would no longer accept long days indoors as a form of parenting.
Since I was feeling tired all the time and trying to suppress a constant aching pain, the first thing I lost was my patience. For those of you who have a child (or multiple children), you know that parenting without patience is like a superhero trying to save the world without any powers. On top of that, I hadn’t yet discovered I was a chronic mouth breather, which was only perpetuating my anxiety and my thick negative reel (or internal voice of self-judgement). Sprinkle that with postpartum depression and you have a recipe for a mega-disaster.
I lived this way for years. Most of my family and friends wouldn’t even suspect this was my life because I prided myself on keeping it together on the outside. As someone who has always loved fashion, putting on a cute outfit, having a vivacious laugh and a couple of cocktails was all I needed to keep up my façade. Unfortunately it was behind closed doors and only in front of my husband and children that my real basket-case persona would start to take center stage.
Finally years later, I found myself with a one-way-ticket to rock bottom (a.k.a. giving my husband the permission to leave me). No longer in denial, I was fully aware and ready for change but I was completely lost on where to start. I was lost for many reasons, but the first and largest realization I had to make was that I was the only one who possessed the power to heal myself.
This was a huge hurdle because I was told for most of my life that my healing would come from an external source and more importantly, I believed it. It wasn’t until I broke that thought process that the self-healing pathway was laid out in front of me. There I was, at the bottom finally ready to take my first steps, staring up at the tallest and coldest mountain, getting ready to climb...in my bikini. Lost doesn’t even begin to describe it.
I once described it to my sister as:
I am fully aware there is a fiery fate in my future and I’m constantly met with the paralyzing fear of “do I have it in me?” Right now I am living on a micro patch of perfectly curated grass. I have a great view of a majestic mountain that I stare at while I tan in my bikini and enjoy a cold margarita. Deep down I know I have no other option but to climb that mountain but I am still considering sunbathing as I sip on my drink doing my best to ignore the world around me scorching and burning. If I could keep my back to the inevitable looming disaster, I might just order another margarita. This might be hell, but at least I know what to expect and I wouldn’t have to suffer through all that hard work to start climbing. Plus! I don’t even know if I’m going to like the view on the other side!
So after that glimpse into my head, you are probably wondering where I am now. Well, I’m happy and relieved to report I have gotten off that small patch of grass, put on hiking clothes and have started the climb. I am still very much on the bottom half of the mountain, and the perfectly curated patch of grass is still visible enough to contemplate going back for just one more margarita, yet I’m far enough up the mountain that it gives me strength to keep on climbing.
It was difficult to navigate my first steps. And I’d love to share that story with you in detail, but another time, another blog. However, some amazing breakthroughs I’ve discovered thus far are:
My physical pain and chronic fatigue are my most apparent issues, but I am not able to even address it without working through my emotional trauma.
My negative reel is something I not only have to recognize, but also have to quiet down.
I need to learn how to talk to myself kindly so I can coach myself out of this because no one can heal me except me.
There are times when I’m motivated and times when I’m not. I will fall off the wagon and I will most definitely be getting myself back on again.
And finally, I know that we are not meant to do this alone.
This year I plan on sharing with you how I loosen my grip on my pringles and 5 o’clock cocktails and eventually replace it with fruit, veggies, and water. I am going to start a cleanse where I shit out worms (no really) and intentionally start building a healthy foundation to discover how I got here in the first place. I will be honest with my ups and downs, as I lose and find myself as a stay-at-home mom and ultimately find the balance between who I am and who I want to be.
So I invite you to come along with me on my healing journey. My hope is that something I share will resonate with you and help you move forward on your healing journey.