Let it go

“Let it go. Let it go. Turn away and slam the door… I’m never going back. The past is in the past…” 

I have a beautiful life today. It is so different than anything I’ve ever had before. It is full of feeling and love and warmth.

Last night, after bathtime, my son took my hands and started spinning me around and singing a song, Ima Y’kara Li – my mommy is precious to me. I know this sounds cheesy but as he spun me around, everything around us started to get blurry and all I could see was his beautiful sweet face smiling at me and singing a song about how much he loves me and feels loved by me.

I realized that it is ridiculous to let myself get hurt chasing love from my parents, when I have a beautiful family right in front of me who need me at my best. I am not my parents.

And I am not the person that I used to be. I am a completely different person, living in a completely different world. I used to live in an emotional war zone and now I live in an emotional garden of eden – everywhere I look there is someone safe to love. I need to keep reminding myself that I have to leave the past in the past.

I thought that maybe now that I am getting stronger, I could have a relationship with my parents without getting hurt but I can’t. They won’t let me. It sucks. But I have to go back to no contact. It’s what my new family needs and protecting them is my Prime Directive (#startrek).

“Mommy, precious to me,
Precious mommy.
My precious mommy,
Loves me very much,
Loves me very much.

I will smile at you,
I will smile,
I will sing a little song about you,
Because I love you,
I love you.”

somebeautifulart

Happy(?) belated mother’s day

For mother’s day, PostpartumProgress.org posted a letter to new moms each hour.  I love this idea and these letters. I’m posting my letter to new moms here. Of course, I’m late because …what is time anyway…“It’s always tea-time.” 


Dear new mom,

Hi sweetheart. I know that we haven’t met or haven’t spoken much but I love you. Your struggle, whatever shape that takes, is valid and all too real. Becoming a mother doesn’t come easily to anyone (no matter what they say).

Two years ago I sat down in a postpartum depression support group and as we went around the circle introducing ourselves, one beautiful mom recited her typical script and said “Hi! I’m A and this is my baby E. She’s six months old and everything is going really well!” Then she looked around the room at the two psychiatrists and the rest of us with our tired eyes and added, “Well, I guess things could be better…”

The mask that we often wear when we talk to other mothers is a huge barrier to getting support. If we had met in the park, we never would have known how much we really had in common, and how much we could help one another.

So on this mother’s day, my advice to you is this: be open.

Be open with other moms that you meet about how hard it is to become a mom. They will empathize.

Be open with your loved ones. They will help you.

Be open with your bathroom door (not like you’ll have a choice).

And most importantly, be open with yourself.

Becoming a mother was the most transformative experience I have ever had. I will carry the scars forever (both physical scars and my new diagnosis of bipolar II). But I will also carry the pride that I faced the biggest challenges that my life could throw at me and am coming out the other side. And every time that I dance with my beautiful 4 year old and 2.5 year old, I feel thankful that I took every resource that I could find (including postpartumprogress.org and ppdtojoy.com) and fought against the demons.

Just like the pain of weight lifting (kegels) gives you the reward of stronger (bladder control) muscles, the pain of my postpartum and antenatal depression and anxiety is making me a stronger person and a much better mother than I ever would have been.

It took me over a year to realize that there was anything wrong with how anxious I was feeling after my oldest daughter was born. I was not listening to myself. I was not open with myself. And I was not open to others telling me that something seemed off… until I had no choice but to face it.

When you become a mother, some people will say that your heart opens up and flows out of your pores. I think that for me, it felt more like my heart opened up and exploded all over my face.

Please try to be kind to yourself. I know that it seems impossible. Just try to try.

With love,

Lyla

me and my baby
me and my baby

Wet pet

They say that your children will be your best teachers.

Today I was reading One Fish, Two Fish to my two year old. He stopped me at the page with the sad wet pet. “O no- he is so sad.”

Then he proceeded to talk to the picture, “you sad because you are all wet? You have your hat, don’t be sad.” Then he kissed the picture and pet it gently and whispered, “it’s ok. Shhh. You don’t have to be sad.”

Then I had an epiphany. (In my head) “Omg, my son is consoling somebody who is upset. He is trying to cheer him up.” Maybe this is how it is actually supposed to work. Maybe there is no benefit to being sad. Maybe it’s not a stupid or cruel thing to try to cheer up someone who is crying.

I guess I always think its a bit suspicious when my husband tries to console me or cheer me up when I am crying. Maybe that’s a weird thing to be suspicious of.

Where I came from (crazy upside down land), I think people were just ignored (at best) when they cried. I mean, if you give your family members help or attention when they cry then they will just cry all the time. Right?

Maybe people cried so often that it wasn’t something that shocked me. It was no surprise to come home from school to find a mother or a sister or yourself crying on the kitchen floor. Trying to console one of them will just get you yelled at (and blamed for the crying). So suppressing empathy is really a basic survival lesson.

Which brings me back to the beginning. Have I failed my son by not teaching him basic survival strategies for crazyland? Or can I take his empathy for the wet sad pet as proof that I am in fact creating a different world for my children than I had.

And can I learn from my beautiful boy that this is actually how it should be.

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50 positive things…why not?

write 50 positive things about yourself

So, I went on facebook for the first time in an eon and I saw this (↑). So, I’m thinking let’s give it a try. Can’t hurt. Right? I hope this doesn’t backfire.

*disclaimer, i think the nature of this post is going to get a little boring on us…50 is a lot..

1. I used to have a nice rack.
2. I will soon have a nice rack again.
hmm.. this is hard.. I’m not quite sure where to start.
3. I am trying to be kind to everybody I meet.
ok. that worked.
4. I have an ereader.
that’s a possession, not a quality
5. I am working hard in my ballet class, even though I look like an elephant when I dance. (mental image: elephant in tutu…giggle)
6. I worked really hard in a few crossfit workouts this week.
7. mmm…crossfit… that counts for two items. I sweat a lot!
8. I shower and try to brush my teeth every night before bed.
9. I try to be kind to my kids and sensitive to their fears.
10. I try to see things from my kids perspective and act accordingly.
11. I am doing a good job at work. I don’t think that this project would be as far along if I weren’t here.
12. I am a kinda good project manager. I think.
13. I am loved.
14. I am trying to eat more natural foods.
15. I try to be conscious of conspicuous consumption.
16. I try not to waste too much plastic.
17. I sometimes find creative solutions to problems.
18. I am good at organizing files.
19. I can type well without looking at the keyboard. (but i can’t spell for shit)
20. I am trying to improve the way I present and see myself (hair, clothes, style) to more reflect the way that I would like to be. ie. more authentic and capable, less homeless lady who doesn’t own a mirror.
21. I am trying to be authentic in everything that I do.
22. I am trying to be nice in everything that I do.
23. I try to reach out for help when I see that I need it. (ie. therapy, pills, therapy, support, dinner)
24. I am trying to be my own hero even though i am my own dragon. i want to rescue myself from myself.
25. I think that I will try anything once. (note: I may be totally wrong.)
26. I try not to gossip about people.
27. I try to be open and easy to talk to. (when i’m not cutting you off or playing devil’s advocate with all of your ideas.)
28. I am trying to be a better person. A better wife. A better friend. and a better mother. (if you stick around long enough, you might get to see)
29. I am doing the things that I need to do to manage my ‘mood disorder’ the best that I can.
30. I am trying hard (really hard) to protect my kids from suffering because of my mental illness.
31. I clean my kitchen daily.
32. I try to do laundry for my family.
33. I try to help my family create routines to make things easier.
34. I am trying to be a better friend to my ex-boyfriend (husband).
35. I am trying to be a better friend to my sister who I love.
36. I am trying to be more loving toward my mother-in-law who is teaching me how to love.
37. I try to be there for friends who are dealing with postpartum depression or struggles (but it’s really hard when I’m drowning in my own…)
38. I am enjoying my children.
39. I am working on helping my daughter learn some confidence that I forgot to teach her while I was modeling trying to be invisible and avoid all conflict depressed.
40. I am trying to expose my kids to things that I don’t know much about but I think they will enjoy.
41. Maybe I’m a little bit pretty. (when I’m not crying)
42. I am learning with my kids. I am taking ballet. I am teaching myself about classical music. I am learning how to ice skate better. I am learning how to learn and showing them (i hope) along the way.
43. I try to expose my kids to what I think is right for them and not what toys’r’us happens to be selling.
44. I am trying to make my kids birthday parties that they will enjoy, without worrying about what other people will think.
45. I focus on teaching my kids to love each other and care for each other and build their own friendship.
46. I seem to have creative ways to use everyday objects. (ie. glass jars)
47. I am actively looking for experiences and challenges that will help me grow on this journey.
48. I want to try hard things just to show myself that I can try them. even if i don’t succeed. i think that i can win by giving it my all.
49. I am overcoming the legacy of my damaged parents.
50. I am not – I will never be my mother.

I really wish that I didn’t end with that one. But I probably shouldn’t edit it because it is actually honest. This entire list can sort of be summarized by item #50. But it’s the whole list of positive things that I should focus on.

I’m going to try to focus on the 49 items and not defining myself by who I am not.

really?

I wrote this post about a month before I hit rock bottom. A window into my descent…

If it really takes a village to raise a child, why the hell am I doing this alone with my husband in the middle of a city??

I think I figured out why there is so much postpartum depression these days. It came to me as I was cleaning yogurt off the kitchen floor while my son dropped cheerios in my hair.

I'm so tired

We modern women are raised to believe that we can rule the world. We go out and get an academic education, we cultivate our egos, we are reminded to stand up for ourselves and not be anyone’s servant. Then we get pregnant… we get to be a real princess, our husbands cater to us, we spend lots of time rubbing our bellies with our feet up… then childbirth is this rough, real, animalistic act that we are completely surprised by and are supposed to pretend fits in with our civilized view of ourselves and the world. But pushing that baby out was on a whole other level than running a friggin marathon. So, we dig deeper than we know we can, or we don’t and we let the doctor’s take over and remove our baby from our bodies. From that point on, nothing is civilized. Something has changed. deeply. We can’t just hand the baby to someone else and go out to a party. It just doesn’t work that way. But no one admits this so they either do it and pretend that it’s fine and ignore their baby’s real needs, or don’t go out because that’s what their baby needs and they disappoint their husbands, or get left behind, alone.

Life after baby is not like your old life with a cute baby on your hip. your whole world is upside down and everyone thinks that this is fine. It’s fine that you need to call in a favour to go to the bathroom, even though you went this morning didn’t you?

Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids. I love them even more today than I ever have .. but I can’t keep denying my own needs without a day off. THis job really is 24/7 and it’s hard to know what that means until you feel your hair/rats nest and eventhough it’s been a week since you washed it, you’re just not sure if tonight’s the night because you’d really like to go to the bathroom alone, or maybe just sit for a few minutes alone. quietly. and maybe if you shower, the noise will wake the kids and then, not only will you not have gotten your shower, but now you have to put them back to sleep again. really, you should probably just lie down quietly now while you have the chance.

I’ve been denying my own needs my whole life and i’m ready to start feeling my own feelings. but i can’t do that with all of these chains on me… i’m just not sure where to go with this. i feel so much anger. but then i hug my kids and they are so sweet and lovely and they make me feel a bit better. but then i look at my husband who i used to love so so much and so deeply and he is just so confused… he can’t even act like himself, i’ve completely broken him.

Maybe this sounds like the ramblings of a crazy person but maybe i’m crazy. i swear i’m not writing this to make me sound crazy, it’s just what’s in my head and maybe i’ll delete it in a minute, or maybe i’ll post it… because, probably no one is reading this… what do you do when you’ve had all the therapy and all the medication and all the time and you still feel like this?