I see you

Anxiety, panic, depression… All of these tend to make you feel extremely unstable. It makes you question things you might not in a normal state of mind, it makes you feel a little crazy, and more importantly it tends to isolate you. A few weeks ago I was at the gym, after work, when I started to have feelings of an oncoming panic attack. I texted one of my friends, who I work with, that I could feel the panic rising in me. She did not respond by text, and at first I thought “how rude”. Instead I look up in the mirror as I’m lifting weights and see Holley walking up behind me. We talked for a little bit, she told me several times that she didn’t know the magic words, but then magically she said them.

“I see you” 

I can’t even say in the moment I realized how wonderful those words were, honestly I thought they sounded silly. These past few weeks I’ve been ruminating on those words and how phenomenal those three words can sound when you’re in a very unstable mindset. Within those three words there is no judgement, no fixing, and no shaming. Within those three words there is compassion, validation and stability. Linguistically, such a simple statement but emotionally, it has such a profound meaning! 

Frozen

Movie flavor of the month for my daughter, frozen. Its got princesses, a snowman and a reindeer so kylie is happy. I don’t mind, I love the movie, great music, amazing cast, wonderful storyline….except one thing I noticed the other day (oddly for the first time). In the beginning when Elsa is dealing with the “problem” of her magic the trolls tell her and her family that she will need to learn to control it. 👏🏼 Yes I agree with this, trying to find that healthy balance of acknowledging, embracing and using the power with responsibility. Then as her power inevitably grows it becomes a bit more unstable. The words in the song change to “conceal, dont feel, don’t let them know, make one wrong move and everyone will know” …. my heart broke hearing these words. Again, not quite sure why this time out of all the times I’ve watched this movie these words hit home but ….wow. (I would like to side note, I’m not judging the parents on their choice to parent… of teaching her to conceal this. I would like to think that they were doing the best they thought they could offer to their daughter, after all The phrase is “hindsight is 2020” not beforesight or duringsight) anyways, as the movie progresses you see that Elsa struggles to control her power even after she sings the beautiful “let it go” song. In fact she struggles the rest of the movie until she experiences an act of true love that allows her to feel safe and therefore increase the stability of her powers.

More importantly I feel like the topic of Elsa’s powers seem to be a huge reflection of mental health and the misunderstanding of those with mental health diagnosis like anxiety, depression, etc.  When Anna meets Elsa at her ice castle it reminds me of what a panic attack can feel like. There’s a sense of losing control (Elsa), a sense of never regaining that control again, and a feeling of isolation/wanting to isolate. There’s the person on the outside trying to help but not knowing what to do (Anna) and they can sometimes get caught in the unintentional “crossfire” of the panic attack. In the end they realize that love can melt the ice, and when Elsa finally embraces her powers the ice is shown as a beautiful thing. 

As many of you have listened to my podcast episode on Adult Conversations and have read my blogs you know I tried/still try to “conceal, don’t feel” all the grief for a long time. But just as it happened to Elsa in the movie I had little outbursts of the pain at “random” or “spontaneous” times. I held it in for so long that my “Diet Coke bottle was ready to explode” (inside joke on the podcast). So by concealing and not feeling the “problem” it didn’t just go away it actually grew and caused further issues down the road. Now, I’m not saying you can’t get away with concealing and not feeling for a time (and occasionally it’s necessary for your life circumstances) but listen to your body, if you are paying attention your body will tell you when it’s had enough. 
I want my message to be clear, wherever you are at in your healing/grieving/hurting phase please don’t conceal and dont feel. Instead reveal, feel and let someone know so that you don’t have to feel isolated or feel like you have to retreat.

Working on my self control re: social media

I have now officially been limiting my social media exposure to 30 minutes combined of Instagram or Facebook per day for about a month. You may be asking why I chose to limit my time with it instead of “total depravation” for a while. 

 

Several factors are at play in this decision 

1. My ex thought the solution to an “overindulgent” problem was to completely take whatever the stimulus was away, as I have learned in many years of therapy, that was a form of manipulation. 

2. Going along with number one I firmly believe in a parenting style of: if you can’t teach self control with whatever the present stimulus happens to be, You could be opening yourself and your child up to a future of hurt, confusion and possibly years of therapy (although, that last one may occur regardless and is not a bad thing (I LOVE therapy) but I try to limit how much my daughter will need therapy because of me) 

3. Maybe it’s my rebel nature, but I don’t like to just follow the trends, if someone tells me not to do something (or I try to tell myself that) I want to do it 1000 times more. 

4. Also at play is the “life is too short” theory. Why take something away from my life that, although it can be negative sometimes positivity can be found on social media and there have been moments that have helped me stay sane especially as a mother using social media.

 

 

It has been an awesome experience and I will continue to do this but here’s what I’ve learned so far. At first, I felt like 30 minutes was not long enough, mind you that’s 30 minutes total of being on Facebook or Instagram each day. Inevitably when I first started, each day I would “time out” before noon. But as the days have gone on I’ve made it all the way till 7 PM before I hit the mark of 30 minutes. Sometimes I almost feel like it’s too much time. (Never thought I would say that) It has helped me to focus on what I’m looking at and try not to multitask. It has decreased my impulse purchases, damn Instagram knowing what would interest me, they are good! But I’ve also found most of the products I have purchased were very poor quality, very often I was disappointed. It’s helped me to stop aimlessly looking at social media when I should be focusing on just being with my child, my hubby, my friends, etc. It has decreased the frequency of the “aimless grabbing my phone” moments, although I still find myself reaching for it, I feel like that’s a harder habit to change and will take a bit more time to change. (I also don’t think that it’s just social medias fault. Just technology and instant gratification at work, minor issues to tackle *can you feel the sarcasm*) You may be wondering why I chose 30 mins… honestly no clue, just a number. To be clear, I am not saying that this will work for everyone. A big life lesson I have learned is that there is LITERALLY nothing that is “one size fits all”. That is hard to swallow sometimes, as it makes it a bit more of a challenge because you can’t [always] just lose weight like another, or change your habits like another did…but there is also freedom and joy in the journey of figuring out what works best for you. Also, in figuring out what doesn’t work. While “depravation” doesn’t work for me it doesn’t mean it can’t work for another. 

 

I’m not quite sure what the next step is so I will continue this current path until I can determine what to do next. 

C sections vs “natural” birth

OK, first of all, I had a c-section with my first and I’m proud. Did I chose this route? No. Did I want to give birth vaginally? Honestly, not really it scared the hell out of me, but I knew Kylie needed to come out one way or another. In my life as a mother I’ve encountered many who hate on c-sections, you can sense their disdain the way they talk about birth. It fires me up inside.

1. I don’t think anyone gets to choose a c-section just because, there is typically a health related reason! (Even if there isn’t a health related reason, just like everything else in motherhood, if you didn’t make it you don’t get a say in how it’s brought into this world. Keep your judgements to yourself) In my case, if I would have been born 100 years prior, there’s a good chance Kylie and I wouldn’t have survived birth. My body was not dilating even with all the drugs to help, therefore it was absolutely necessary to have doctors assist and cut her out.

2. C-section is not by any means “an easy way out” I am pretty sure I still have some PTSD from my C-section. Being awake while they cut a child out of you is panic inducing and terrifying. Not to mention the shaking that can occur while your body essentially goes through shock as you come out of the anesthesia. Then the nurse says “its time to hold your baby and try to nurse” as you think, “ummmm hello have you heard of shaken baby syndrome?!” But actually the nurse is right, it’s soothing to hold your cute little pumpkin.

3. This whole conversation of c-section vs “naturally”…don’t get me wrong I’ve said it too, thank you society norms. ( I also know that “naturally” can regard drug free, but for this point I want to talk about vaginal birth) But guys, saying you gave birth the natural way, can, to some people, induce an embarrassment and shame that their body couldn’t bring life into this world through the way “it was meant to be”…I’m definitely speaking for myself here. When I went into the hospital to be induced, they sent me home the next day because even though id been consistently contracting for 1.5 months, my body wasn’t taking the drug seriously and no dilation was occurring. When the nurse told me I should go home, I cried and immediately shamed myself.

This time around my doc gave me the option for VBAC or scheduled c-section. I really thought about this. My decision, scheduled c-section. Upon first writing this I felt I needed to give a reason, but I don’t owe anyone a reason for what I choose for my body. Again, just like in all things motherhood in my opinion, if you didn’t create it you don’t get a say in how I raise it. As mothers we are constantly trying to fight against the boxes society keeps putting us in. Can we just love on one another regardless of birth stories?! To be clear, I have nothing against those who choose not to use drugs or who give birth vaginally. Seriously, regardless of how your baby came into this world, can we just love each other? Or as my mother taught me, “if you have nothing nice to say don’t say anything at all.”

Social media pregnancy and real life pregnancy

No one can prepare you for the exhaustion in pregnancy. No one can prepare you for the crazy hormonal roller coaster you ride in pregnancy. No one and nothing can prepare you for how your body will react during pregnancy even if you have already had kids. The body is an amazing thing but there’s only so much we can be expected to do on top of growing a tiny human. My first pregnancy I was working full time and trying to work out when I could but felt like being on my feet for 10 hours a day was enough. My first pregnancy wasn’t terrible but I didn’t feel great, I never felt 100%, and I ended up on bed rest for the last month and a half due to family emergency. This pregnancy I was working out five times a week for the first few weeks and then I traveled… then hit the sickness. I have yet to fully recover from this constant sickness. Just getting out of bed some days is all I can do. In my first pregnancy I heard about having a “fit “pregnancy and how to have a belly only pregnancy. It is plastered everywhere. Now After having My first child I want to scream every time I see the word “fit” pregnancy. First of all, sans pregnancy, not all work outs work for all body types. Second not all pregnancies allow you to have a Pinterest perfect or Instagram perfect “fit” pregnancy. Third is it not enough that I’m keeping my toddler and myself alive?! Why does society have to put this pressure on women who are just trying to bring a new life into the world? This is the worst time for women to be worried about their weight, about their figure or about how they eat. Don’t get me wrong it’s important to try to stay active and to eat healthy but you’re also pregnant. I feel like there needs to be lots of grace given because a pregnant woman should be focused on supporting themselves and their tiny human. (Im talking to you pregnant women, you need to give yourself grace, you are doing an awesome job!) That will look completely different than the person who’s doing 20 pull-ups on Instagram or the person who has two kids near the age of 5 and has lost tons of weight. Not saying you can’t do 20 pull ups while pregnant but I’m saying there is an unreal expectation out there and I’m so sick of it. I know part of this is my problem, aka I could step back from social media for a while, haha, that’s so much easier said than done. Being a stay at home mama can get lonely. I believe there is always a time and place for all things but I plan to decrease the amount of time I spend on social media and therefore decrease this destructive distraction. I do believe there can be a happy balance achieved with social media but Im struggling to find that right now. I personally don’t do well with my goals unless they are sustainable and for me totally staying away isn’t sustainable. I plan to find that healthy balance.

Train tracks

For some reason I’ve been thinking a lot about the candles my mom and I used to make for Christmas presents. They were the kind you would roll up and the wax was in a honeycomb pattern. The only color and smell I remember is purple wax and it smelled of lavender. I remember Christmas smelled of cinnamon mainly in our home. I remember the warmth of my home in the cold MN winter. I remember all the Christmas décor, most of which was hand made by my mom. 

I remember the first Christmas after mom had passed my dad refused to help put the Christmas tree up. Dad was Jehovahs witness and they don’t celebrate holidays like Christmas as its origins are pagan. While mom was alive all the presents were from mom and dad but the décor went up because mom and I put it up. So, as a grieving 16 year old I put the tree up myself for the first time. I set up chairs around the tree so I would have a make shift scaffolding supporting me as I strung the tree with lights and ornaments. My dad sat downstairs watching tv and stubbornly not helping. I know that being Jehovahs Witness was such an integral part of dads life and for that I’m extremely proud of him. (of course it’s only as I have aged that I have become proud of him for continuing to stay so strong in his faith in the face of adversity) But only now, now that he’s gone and now that I have had many years to sit on this do I wonder if Christmas reminded him of the incredibly painful loss of the love of his life. Mom LOVED Christmas and so did I. That Christmas, after losing her only a few months prior, I clung to normalcy as I wasn’t ready to face reality. Maybe dad needed normalcy too, but instead of Christmas he needed to stick to the faith that saved him. 

I know everyone grieves differently, shit I know that a person grieves differently for different people, theres no manual or strict order to the process. This is a great example. This could have also been an example of when emotions and loss tore a family apart. Thankfully it was not. We were grieving like we were on two parallel train tracks that only intersected to cross paths and go different directions. Thankfully my dad and I only grew closer as the years went on, we didn’t talk about mom often but we continued on our parallel tracks and supported each other each step of the way. 

This is infant loss and miscarriage awareness month. Knowing I have no experience in this except through friends. Knowing everyone grieves differently. Knowing that grieving the loss of anyone is awful. Knowing that even though I have a lifetime of experience in grief I don’t know what the “answers” are to any of the grieving questions. I hope we all can be more observant to those hurting today and know when to step in. Know when to shut up and just be there. Know when our own shit will get in the way so it’s best to remain on the parallel track. Know when to ask what the person needs. Grieving sucks. 

14 years

Monday it will be officially 14 years since my mother left this earth. The outward wound may have closed but the evidence of the traumatic injury to my heart is still ever present. Since its been so long since Oct 7, 2005 this day is no longer filled with only sad memories or thoughts of “what if”. Now I can see positive things in the mess of sadness, it’s like being able to see clearly after taking claritin. Now I can look back fondly on characteristics I inherited from her, for instance, my ability to strike up a conversation with most anyone. I distinctly remember being at the dmv with my mother when she started talking to a stranger. I was so embarrassed. I couldn’t fathom talking to stranger as if I knew them…then. Now…I’m the one striking up the conversation most days. Thank you mom for this gift.

Now I can look back and focus on my mothers affinity for laughter which I inherited. Her laugh was one of her best qualities. Her laugh was infectious, you had no choice but to join her when she started to laugh. I’ve had a few people at various times in my life comment that my laugh reminds them of my mother’s, honestly, what a huge compliment. Thank you mom for this gift.

Now I can feel at ease that my father is no longer suffering, missing the love of his life on this day. I can rejoice that he is with her and I can only imagine how joyful the reunion must have been when he joined her in heaven. Thank you mom and dad, for everything. Till we meet again ❤️