29tolife

Just another WordPress.com site

Archive for the category “gratitude”

A Mother’s Love Will Transcend Mental Illness

Mother’s Day is quickly approaching and for all of us– whether you have a great relationship with your mom, or you don’t, or she’s passed away or still with us– people take the time to reflect on the power and love of moms.

I think that’s a good thing, because none of us would be here without our mothers (we literally couldn’t live without them for 9 months), and I’m told that becoming a mother is a unique experience that infuses you with a love you’ve never experienced before, but can’t imagine living without once you’ve crossed that threshold.

Mother’s Day is emotional for a lot of people, and for very different reasons, and it should be.

It gives us time to be thankful for not only the women who brought us into the world and cared for us, but all of the women standing in the gap when maybe our own biological mothers couldn’t be mentally or physically present.

It gives us an opportunity to show love to our friends who are mothers and to let them know, “You’re doing a great job, keep it up.”

I tend to feel strange about Mother’s Day because of the situation with my mother. I’ve spoken about this before on this blog, but I want to reach out to children of mothers struggling with mental illness specifically.

Mother’s Day can be difficult, but try to be present and show your love the best way you can. Even if it’s just saying to your mom, “I love you.” Or, “Thank you.” She still needs to hear it.

When I was younger, all I wanted was for my mother to be fixed, healed and back to herself. I wondered if there were ways I could give her a push. I wanted her problems solved, her pains eased, and I wanted to go back to having a normal life. I cared about her, but I cared about me. I cared about what I felt I was lacking because my mom just couldn’t do it anymore. She couldn’t leave the house, she couldn’t put on her nice clothes and be her old self. She was selfish, I was the child. Why was she putting me in this awful position? I still needed her. I was robbed.

Now that I’m older, I can’t imagine how difficult that must be. For your world to change, to know you have a teenage daughter and a husband and a grown daughter far away, but you are out of gas. You can’t keep up with the life you built for yourself, and maybe that life somehow became a prison. What is it like to not feel like you have a support system to start trying to let people know something’s not right before getting swallowed whole.

I think of arguments I’ve had with my mother and they were always about me and my loss and my anger and what I needed from her. I think of moments where I didn’t try hard enough when she was trying to be present, and how much that probably hurt, because on that day, it was probably the very best she could do, but I was still mad, and that effort wasn’t good enough, because only good enough was her going back to normal. But my vision of normal may have been the hell that broke her. Keeping that up for me and for my father and for everyone else, may have just been too much.

I was very jealous of friends who had close relationships with their mothers, and knew it would be a miracle to ever get my mother out of our house to go to a tea, or spa, or fancy brunch.

I’m madly in love right now (it’s about time, right) and I think of marriage often. I think about my wedding day and I also think about feeling a sense of emptiness on one of the most happiest days of my life, because as I’m getting ready, I will have a circle of women friends and family I hold near and dear, but my mother will be missing from another major life event because of her paranoia, depression and anxiety.

I get sad thinking about my father having to support his child in this moment, but not be able to share it with his wife together as happy, proud parents.

Because it’s Mother’s Day, I don’t want to make this post about me and the loss I feel. But over time, I do feel like I’ve come to accept things for what they are. Keep in mind this has taken nearly 20 years. I accept and understand the fragility of all of our emotional and spiritual well being and there are things we may never ever know about the people we love, the past traumas hidden deep, and burdens our loved ones shoulder to protect us.

I do believe that my mother gave all she could give to me prior to her illness and what she gave me was enough. She got me to 16 and in some ways, she still has me. It’s just different now. I had so many women throughout my life step in and nurture me, guide me and cheer me on, no matter what state I lived in.

They may have been older than me, they may have been peers, they may have been mothers or aunties of my friends who I connected with or who saw something in me to give me some special love.

We are a community. So if you are a child of a mother who has a mental illness, or even dealt with issues around substance abuse, or maybe your mother is incarcerated. These circumstances will make you feel self-conscious about who you are, it will make you afraid that you will become your mother and manage to hurt the people you love the same way her circumstance hurt you, it may even make you ashamed or even over protective of your mother and you stress yourself out over what the world may perceive your mother to be or not be.

Having that struggle is okay. Don’t avoid asking yourself all of those questions, don’t ignore being angry about what’s happening to your family. All of your feelings are real and valid. But it is on you to figure out how to heal and it is on you to actually take the necessary steps to heal.

Now as an adult woman and being a friend to other women and hearing the stories of their lives, there’s absolutely no shame in our moms who struggle. Yes, their struggle is more visible, but they still struggle. Part of my mom’s illness is probably directly connected to her wanting to appear strong and in control and I see that in her when I visit.

I know so many women who have dealt with great losses, who have endured mental and physical abuse (almost always by people who should be protecting and loving them– never creepy strangers as we are led to believe), and have suffered in silence for years and years. Then the expectation is that they forget and carry on as if nothing happened.

They carry this pain while fighting off their own insecurities and the ones tossed at them by society. All of this secret pain happening is happening in far too many women. So it makes me think of our mothers and our mothers’ mothers who lived in very different times. They didn’t go to or couldn’t afford therapy or even luxurious vacations or spa trips. They had to really live with their pain. Swallow it, and be expected to smile, take care of children, grown men and not nurture their own spirits.

The neglect of a woman’s spirit has serious consequences to families and to society.

Our mothers paid in pain so maybe we’d at least have a little less. In their deepest hopes lies our happiness and success, even if they never come close to having it themselves. The generational emotional sacrifices mother’s make can’t even be quantified. Mothers can look down the road and see what’s ahead and they sacrifice themselves to make our journey a bit easier. They know what it is to be a woman, they know the burden.

I know my mother loves me. I know she worries about me and I know she wants me to be happy. She always asks about my health, if I have enough money and if my love life is good. No matter her condition, she’s always asked about what I NEEDED.

Gaining this deeper understanding makes me realize that a mother’s love can transcend mental illness just as it can physical illnesses or distance. We may never know the toughest decisions our mothers had to make to save us, to keep us alive and to keep our spirits alive so we could thrive and know something better, even if their lives are a reminder of the importance of our self care and our mental health.

Advertisements

Happy New Year, Going Solo Ain’t That Bad…

I can’t completely say I have the blues, but this year, I’m not super excited about the new year in the way people are expected to be and I’m not feeling like 2014 was just so horrible that I’m bidding good riddance.

I’m in an interesting here-nor-there kind of space. 2014 was a good year for me. I started grad school, I started a new job, I got some traveling in, I saw places I’d never seen and had some pretty great experiences with family and friends. I hope the blessings continue, I’m hopeful, but just not going crazy about it.

However, while yesterday, I was just feeling sad for no real reason, today, I’m just on a contemplative tip. While some of my friends have suggested that I shouldn’t be alone tonight, I kind of want to be. I don’t want to be at a noisy party, and I don’t want to be at someone else’s house.

I want to kind of be by myself, send up a prayer of thanks, have a glass of sparkling wine and take my butt to bed.

I think I’ve figured out the reason why this year I’m not pressed to have an outrageous New Year’s Eve is because the last three years, I made it my business to not concentrate on the fact that in New Year’s 2011 I was having my heart demolished and ending an engagement.

I’m not saying this to have a pity party or bring myself down. I don’t feel that way at all, I feel good about myself, and I’m glad I didn’t marry the person I thought I was supposed to. However I do realize something. The last four years haven’t been about celebrating a New Year, it’s been about being strong enough to get through the day and distract myself from a really difficult moment that happened to happen on a day that’s all about hope, where the future meets the present for one moment and we can truly leave the past in the past.

In 2012, I was all about not remembering the previous year. So, I went to a big party with some dear friends, wore a bright yellow, plunging neckline va va voom dress, with the shoes I was to wear with my bridal gown and plowed my way through the night basically giving the middle finger to a really difficult year. I was willing myself to be happy. I gave myself no other choice even if I didn’t feel that way inside.

In 2013, I thought I was healed enough to actually spend New Year’s with a date. Again, I pulled out a lovely dress, rented a hotel suite and partied the night away with a date who I got rid of shortly after Valentine’s Day. Once again, the way I celebrated didn’t line up with my reality, it was me doing what I thought I was “supposed” to be doing to prove to myself I was ok.

2014, I finally got it right. I wasn’t thinking about how to distract myself from the disaster of 2011, I embraced being with family and partied into the night with some of my favorite cousins at a simple house party. I had a ball. It wasn’t contrived. I was hugging and kissing people I truly loved at midnight and it was a great thing to share and celebrate.

I think the main reason why I don’t want to go anywhere or I don’t mind being alone this year is because how I feel is honest. And I like how that feels. This year it ain’t about nobody else, it’s about me being honest about my feelings, and that in itself is a gift. Knowing who you are and what you need and learning how to articulate that so others can love you how you need to be loved, there’s something to that.

I’m truly not trying to be non-social on one of the MOST social days of the entire year, yet for some reason THIS year, doing my own thing really appeals to me. I’m not afraid of my own company and celebrating low key and alone doesn’t make me pitiful or lonely, I just want to reflect in a more individualized kind of way.

I love friends and family and I love spending time with them. But in 2015 I want to be even more honest with the people in my life and particularly with myself. I want to tell people when they’ve hurt me or offended me without fear of their reaction. I want to not fear telling people I love the truth for fear they won’t like me anymore. I want to not fear that once a man sees the real me, the sometimes confident, sometimes self-conscious, cluttered house with books and clothes everywhere, not always put together me, he’ll lose interest.

So I want to be at home, alone this year. I don’t want anyone to judge me for it, but even if they do, I want to not even care, because that’s what will make me happy.

I want to make a delicious meal, drink a great wine and watch documentaries tonight in one of my favorite pairs of yoga pants. I want to dance to Beyonce’s 711 and give God thanks for this beautiful little life of mine and ask him for strength to get through the tough times, but the smarts to recognize the good in everything and take moments to slow down and just appreciate things and beauty and really hear music or taste food or just let my body move or let myself love and be loved if that’s what’s in the plan this year. To get better at ignoring doubt and trusting who I am and more importantly who God is. I want to pray for the peace and happiness and health of my friends and family and hope they feel loved wherever they are when the clock strikes midnight and that the feeling stays with them all year long, and they are reminded of it, when times get tough.

However you celebrate lifers, do it safely and in the company of those who love and appreciate you. Happy New Year!!!

Post Navigation