Some of my loyal readers may have noticed that my blogs have been few and far between in recent months. Probably the exact opposite of what you expected when I chose to give The Thinking Branch life recently. The plan should have been to ramp up the writing to help the community on the branch grow. To give you guys more things to read. More things to think about. More perspective.
But sometimes life happens.
If you didn’t know already, we welcomed our third baby in December. Everyone around us has questioned our level of crazy and informed us of how full our hands are with three kids under age four. But even in February (two months into the running-on-fumes craziness) I had felt happier than I’d felt in a while. I loved the crazy. I loved watching our family dynamic evolve. I felt like a GOOD Mom in the way I was able to balance it all. In fact, I VIVIDLY remember a conversation with my sister telling her that I felt “complete” with our baby being here and that I just KNEW I was on the track I was meant to be on.
But as I was skipping along my track of contentment out of nowhere a freight train came barreling at me from the opposite direction.
For six long weeks it pushed… and pushed… and pushed me back with force. I wasn’t sure what it was or why it showed up, but it was frustrating, sad and incredibly scary.
My brain was taken over by some ugly monster with tentacles that wrapped itself around my whole being. It had hidden ALL of the perspective that I usually write about. It made my spirit and my creativity (usually bursting with color and light and fun) completely disappear. I felt like I was in a pitch black underground tunnel, aimlessly running around trying to find a door, and one was nowhere to be found. All of that “completeness” and “love the craziness” was outside of those walls with no doors and I no longer felt it. Instead I felt trapped in a body that had a different mind.
I had a similar experience when I had my second child. The sadness. The feeling lost. But it didn’t NEARLY match up to what this was.
I would look in the mirror in the morning and I hated who I saw. My mind would tell the reflection that she was disgusting. That she looked old. That she was nothing more than “just a mom” anymore.
Other days it would attack me with a feeling of fear. One time, in fact, it brought an army of anxiety while I was folding laundry; suddenly making me feel like something bad was going to happen. I broke down in tears for an hour-and-a-half (no joke), but I had no idea why or what I felt I needed to protect myself from.
When my husband would walk in the door at the end of the day, I felt completely disconnected from him. I was mad at him for no reason and I half-assed any kiss or hug. I had no love to give him, because I couldn’t love myself.
During family time at night, the kids would be having fun tackling their dad on the floor or playing a board game or having a dance party. And all I could do was sit stoically on the couch and watch. I had no desire to have fun.
One day I woke up feeling poised to put up a fight against this evil mind guy that was screwing with me. I told myself, “Ok I feel good today. Let’s do this.” I got dressed and put make up on like I had somewhere to go. I had fun things planned for the kids. And the morning went completely awry and it just triggered a hurricane of sadness, helplessness and frustration. I found myself calling my best friend in hysteric tears while I laid on the floor in my bedroom in a desperate cry for help.
I was just SAD. Lost. Defeated.
Disconnected from everything that I loved.
And I couldn’t shake it. Even though I KNEW that none of these thoughts were the real me.
While all of this is happening, my heart was absolutely begging my mind to stop the madness. I could HEAR and physically FEEL it frantically running around above that underground tunnel trying to create a hole for me to climb out, yelling to me in desperation that it was still there and it was trying to get me out, but my mind kept blocking it.
And my biggest fear? That this was going to be my new normal. My husband would leave me because I wasn’t the same person. My friends would distance themselves because I wasn’t the same friend. That my kids would remember their childhood with a depressed, anxiety-fueled Mom.
I felt embarrassed and I felt weak.
And I couldn’t do a thing about it.
But with the relentless support of my saint-like husband, my family and the few people I confided in, my heart has found a way to break ground, pull me out of that tunnel and back into the “old” normal.
I feel alive again. My husband walking in the door is a highlight of my day. I have dance parties with my kids. I am laughing. I am smiling. I am enjoying my friendships again. I am excited about the day. I am grateful for my life. I feel creative. I feel empowered. And most importantly, I’m starting to look at that girl in the mirror every day and see her strengths, her beauty and her worth.
I don’t know what kind of postpartum, absolute nonsense was conducting that freight train. Or what sort of master plan those hormones onboard had to pin me down, but it was evil. And like nothing I’ve experienced before.
I know I’m one of the lucky ones that came out of it in a short amount of time. I know that not everyone does. I’m filled with a lot of heavy emotion thinking about that again, but a relieving one too knowing that the freight train from hell got the hell off MY track.
And now that “I” am back I realized how much “I” missed “me.” I missed my soul and my spirit. I missed my relationships. I missed my family. I missed the life that I had before. And because I have committed to a life where I look at struggles as the deliverers of life lessons, I truly believe this struggle came to me to help me appreciate these things on a deeper level.
Raising three young kids isn’t easy, and it doesn’t come without sacrifice. It’s really easy to get all “woe is me” in the tough moments, but now I can instead appreciate the fact that it’s no longer the way it was during those six weeks, and that I’m lucky to have the life I do.
My hope is that when that freight train went off my track, that it just died and didn’t pick another one. But if there’s a freight train coming at you, I pray that it’s quick and weak. I pray that you know you’re not crazy and you’re certainly not alone, and I pray that your heart will shine some light in your dark tunnel and pull you out. When it does, I hope you discover that there was a hidden message on board the whole time and that it’s something that will bring you peace and positivity in your days ahead.
This post was first published at The Thinking Branch on May 25, 2016.