I’ve always struggled with anxiety, but I can’t remember struggling with it as a kid. I do remember feelings of sad and other smallish feelings but none of them felt like big feelings of anxiety. I remember my anxiety started in high school and then trickled into college where it got worse and I felt like I hit rock bottom. I wasn’t mentally strong enough to handle break ups or certain situations that were given to me. I didn’t realize what was on the other side either. Now I realize those things were nothing compared to post marriage, post babies, mid pandemic, full time work, trying to manage and wear 100 different hats.
Let’s go back a few years. For as long as I can remember I’ve always had poor body image, even as a kid. It wasn’t always my body, but it was my face and every imperfection I thought I saw. The body image issues haunted me in the worst ways. I was constantly comparing myself to others- never actual skills, but always appearance. I was an am genuinely happy for people that do amazing things, but the demons come out when I feel threatened by someone whose appearance I am jealous of. It’s a horrific trait and while that sounds so vain, I hate that part of my soul. Deep down I feel threatened and jealous and those are the worst feelings to feel for anyone. I think those feelings often manifest into anger and bitterness. But for me I fall deeper into an anxious and depressed pattern. This is all pre-kids where I would consider myself as presumably selfish, rightfully so. I had no kids or family and the only thing that would occupy my mind were these damn demons. “You’re ugly. You have a big nose. Your legs are touching. You can’t post that picture because you look fat. Your ribs are huge. You are fat. Your toe is too big.” What in the actual? I was so mean to me. People who really know ME know that I have always struggled with this. I wish I didn’t but did and still do- however it’s just more repressed.
Now I hardly have time to think about me. And when I think about me it’s typically things like- I wonder if I can pee alone today or I pray I can get my running miles in. I really try to prioritize the things that make my soul happy. Sometimes it means I’m far away from the kids and sometimes it means staying in and cuddling with them. I’m making an effort to try to be present in these moments because I know they don’t last. I even try to take as many mental pictures of these moments in this season, as hard as it feels, because my kids love ME- not the me that beats herself up because she feels like a terrible mom and teacher and wife, not the me who didn’t long enough miles to get her though the day, not the mom who locks her door and cries just to get a minute to decompress from the heavy shit at work, and not the mom whose card overdrafts because she paid her Target bill.
They see the me I wish I saw. They don’t see my demons. The mom who stares at herself in the mirror and still sees every imperfection. The mom who constantly tries to be perfect and beats herself because she’s a teacher and her daughter still has accidents at school. The mom who overanalyzes everything and blames herself. I know my daughter, especially her, sees ME and watches everything I do. She even acts like me at times. Ok fine, most of the time and that’s good and bad. I try to set an example and talk about confidence and how I love myself. I really try to be kind to myself and practice kindness because speaking as a teacher, kids are freaking mean.
I hope to always have the lens of my beautiful little chaos creators. The way they see the world is beautiful. And I wish so damn bad that their little hearts minds and souls will never be swayed by society and mean kids and social media. I pray that I’m doing a good enough job helping them feel loved and safe and okay to make mistakes. I pray that I can teach them to sit with uncomfortable feelings and that’s okay because life isn’t filled with just playground boobs and candy. Jules is understanding this concept now and it’s hard- really hard. Find the things and people who save you everyday. Everyday you can be saved- it doesn’t just have to be over time. I can’t be the perown
When I write my blogs I usually like to start with my own experiences, worries and feelings and then I like to write about things that help me. This is a different kind of blog because the thing that helped me and literally saved me is my kids. They won’t ever know that, but they did and I’ll be forever grateful. I know it won’t always be rainbow and butterflies. It’s not even that now. I also know they won’t always see me the way they do now- their “perfect” mom. The things I struggle with as a mom they don’t see yet. I hope I can buy a few more years of this. I love these ages but they also bring so many challenges and as mothers we hear things from our families, friends and google about how we can do better or that are kids are just like us (and they are almost always referring to the things we hate about ourselves or the things that make them struggle). But guess what? We are learning and to be honest we are learning more from our kids than anything else in our entire lives. I went to college, got my masters, had the jobs, but nothing could prepare me for this. I even dealt with my own personal demons and clearly still do today but the message I hope to convey is that we all struggle internally and not all of us are lucky enough to be “saved.” I understand more now that this world could care less if I look bloated or yell at my kids or lose my shit or don’t fit into my pants or can’t run under an 8 minute pace for one run. I understand that life is more about the moments you spend with each other, especially our own kids. They see us how we’ve always wished we could see ourselves. I’ve prayed to feel this loved and how ironic that some days I feel like I’m suffocating. Like I’ve said a million times, I won’t always be on top and those demons will come back at times. I have a 6 year old strong as hell willed daughter that I hope one day will realize she saved me and made me a mama, the best hat I’ve ever worn.
Find the things and people that save you everyday. You don’t have to just be saved over time. We need saving every single day. It could be the person who told you at yoga that you have a great stomach and you look strong. It could be the parent who tells you you are amazing. It could even be the lady who lets you go in a traffic jam. Remember that those things that save you or fill your bucket can go along way for someone else too. Be kind, save someone and know that you can always come back the things and people that save you. It doesn’t have to be hard. Make it simple. There are no rules.
Love yourself enough to believe it.