A Year to Restore||
It’s hard to believe 4 seasons have come and gone since we brought a little human in to the world. A little human who goes from fully relying on you to a thriving, slightly more independent creature with a complete mind of it’s own! But this post isn’t actually going to be about him. It’s about me. As a Mom, a wife, and an individual. This last year I have stayed the same. Changed. Taken several steps back and then came out running on the other side.
I have written about my experiences as a pregnant girl, a Mom and a few “how-to’s,” but I haven’t let myself truly open up as to who I am, where I came from and where I’d like to go. Even though I have wanted to for some time now, I hadn’t found the courage. I just couldn’t press “submit” after I’d finished writing something that was “raw.” It seemed to me that once you put it out there it somehow no longer belongs to just “you,” and that scared me a little.
This past Mother’s Day (my first) I had a bit of a revelation. It was so eye opening and healing that I came home that night and immediately started pounding the keyboard getting my thoughts out on what had just happened…I never finished the post. Once I got to a certain point I just stopped. Abruptly, and walked away.
Sometime later I was playing on Instagram and had a like or comment from someone named “Restoryed.” There were a few things that prompted me to check out her profile like (1) her awesomely rad profile pic that showed her all 80’s out, but mostly (2) That her profile name was “Restoryed” and that very blog post I had been writing was entitled “A Mother’s Day Restoration.” A sign? Maybe, who knows?!
Aimee (Restoryed) had a link to her blog so I clicked…She had written this touching, honest and raw article about her own Mother and how their relationship has affected her life. I immediately was in awe (and a little envious) of how she navigated through those feelings with her writing and was able to put them out there for the world to see. I thought, this has to be SO freeing. But now I am ready. I know that fate has been leading me to this and it’s time to let this go in the best way I know how, writing.
I am going to be frank. I was pretty lost for about the last 8 years of my life. I was struggling immensely to understand my purpose. No matter where I was or what I was doing I just didn’t seem to fit. I had so many people surrounding me who loved me but the feeling of loneliness consumed me. I went through a lot as a very young child (which I will touch on later) that I think stripped a lot of my “self” from me and somehow that feeling came flooding back to me when I was in my early 20’s. The walls I had built around my heart somehow came crashing down. It left me feeling purposeless, sad, scared and alone.
While on the outside I was good at hiding my pain and could cover up what I was feeling with a smile, I was dying a little everyday on the inside. Having River changed a lot of that. Well, it did at first. You know, when that baby high kicks in and you are so elated and in love with this amazing thing that has taken over your life you don’t have time to think about anything else? I had that. But when the “high” wore off and reality and exhaustion set in I found myself in a very dark place.
What was I to do with this precious little human? How can I be the Mama he deserved when I was a bumbling mess plagued with constant guilt? This weird “guilt” feeling I kept having but had no idea of what I was guilty of…talk about a mess!
When I started sleep training River a flood of emotions came pouring out of me. All the of crying just intensified the uncertainty I was feeling. Am I somehow completely failing at this Mother thing too? Was I even doing a single thing right for my child? I was feeling very small, useless and confused.
After several anxiety attacks and full on meltdowns I decided it was time to be proactive about my mental health. I had to. It wasn’t just about me anymore and my son deserved so much more. I started seeing a therapist and after a few sessions I started to open up my heart. To let things out with someone who wasn’t a part of my social group or family. It was freeing. My mental state was on the mend and while I wasn’t bulletproof I was handling my anxiety and sadness much more effectively but there was something still plaguing me.
So what happened on Mother’s Day that was so life changing? I think I had an epiphany as my Mom, Mother-in-law and I sat at my in-laws kitchen table chatting about life, as we so often do, but this day was different. We were all sharing our experiences as mothers, each with our own unique story, and Mary (MIL) kept speaking about “restoration.” Restoration. What a powerful word. I kept thinking being restored would be an amazing feeling. To put back a piece of me that was obviously broken.
As we talked, the main theme was about the people who had let us down or hurt us in some way over the years. As I stated before, I had several major life stressors all before the ripe old age of 8. At the age of 5 I lost my biological Mama to cancer and after being passed around to different family members, enduring the wrath of an unstable alcoholic, drug-addicted Father and being hurt by people who should have been protecting me, I was adopted by my Aunt Iris.
I will always believe that she truly saved my life and while she saved me from a broken home she unfortunately couldn’t save me from the wounds that had already been inflicted. The wounds from losing my Mama so young. The wounds from having my innocence stripped away by older male family members and the wounds of my abusive biological Father beating my brother and me for “just being kids.” I had never truly been able to let these things go. This was what was plaguing me but I knew for my son’s sake I had to figure out how to just “let it go” (did I just quote Frozen?) and move on with my life.
So that’s where that word “restoration” comes in. While I haven’t told my MIL this but just her using that one word made something click inside of me. It was time to restore. For my family but mostly for myself. I will always be an advocate for, “You can’t take care of others until you take care of yourself.” #truth
Restoration: What did I need to do to restore myself? To get rid of the total crap that weighed on me daily so I could be the Mom that River deserved and the wife my husband so graciously married to love him the way a wife should?
While it hasn’t happened overnight and it’s taken a lot of soul searching, the last 4 months I have practiced 3 techniques to restoration:
Self reflection. Understanding. Acceptance
Self Reflection: Reflecting on the changes I have made thus far and the changes I still need to make within myself. Reflecting on the harsh wounds that I have always carried with me and being able to finally close them and move on. Reflecting on who I want to be from here and how I won’t let what other’s did to me (and I even did to myself) in the past, dictate what will happen in my future.
Understanding: Learning to understand the position of the people who did hurt me (this is hard) and moving toward forgiveness for what they had done. While I can’t change what they did I can change what I decide to take away from the experience. Somehow I finally understood that they just didn’t matter anymore and they truly only made me stronger. I constantly tell myself that it’s o.k. to be hurt by my past but at some point you can’t let it be your excuse anymore. You either rise above it or let it bring you down. I had to understand that it’s MY decision on how I let people’s actions effect me.
Acceptance: Accepting that this is my past. These things I cannot change but they shaped who I am. I can find humility in learning to forgive others and that’s redemption for myself to rise above the low things that had been bringing me down. Searching for the “what’s next?” How do I come out with clarity and and thrive from it?
I continue to work on this daily but I can truly say for the first time in my 30 (something) odd years I am in a wonderful place mentally. Fully accepting and finally allowing myself to learn the lesson of my past as not to let it dictate my future. It’s so funny how perception vs. reality can be so different. We are all SO good at hiding behind filters, uplifting quotes and pictures of our smiling faces plastered all over social media but don’t forget to work on your insides. Just know you can’t hide forever and what’s on the inside will eventually start reflecting on the outside.
So many emotions, joys, and in the words of my darling MIL, restoration, came from being a Mom. I love that she used that word this past Mother’s day as we sat at her kitchen table discussing our pasts because that 1 word changed my whole outlook on what I was going through.
Being a Mom and just simply being human isn’t about being perfect or not making mistakes. I’ve realized it’s quite the opposite. It’s about being imperfect, making mistakes but the key is learning from them, being o.k. with them, and then letting it go…seriously, JUST LET GO! Oh man, did I just seriously quote Frozen, again?!
So to wrap this up…reflect, understand and accept. Just give it a try. I want to continue to grow from here. To open my heart and let other’s in and that includes the most important people in my life. I want to be that sassy, intelligent, tough woman I project not only on the outside but on the inside too.