I have no idea what a normal mom is, but I know I am not one. Before, I was Super Mom and now I am some sort of odd hippie, zen, metal head mom. I never allowed myself to believe I was a good or even decent mom. I have six eyes watching me and all I have ever wanted was to be the best mom ever. That is what I promised my son when he was born. Realistically, I told myself I was a lousy fuck up. I don’t know what a normal mom is, but I am a mom who worries about her kids constantly, puts their needs first more often than not, and is convinced she is fucking her children up in perpetuity. I’m a Mom who knows you sacrifice for your kids.
I learned that when I was 19. I gave my daughter up for adoption, and I opened up a black hole in my heart and mind that would take me 15 years to heal. I don’t type these words for pity or praise. I had an adoption because it was what was best for her, and then I focused on making her proud, even if she didn’t know who I was. 4 years later, I gave birth to my oldest. I sat holding him in my hospital bed sobbing to my husband, “I get to take him home!”. As I rolled out of the hospital, it felt surreal holding him because I left the hospital last time empty on the inside. My life became about him and my husband. Yet, there was so much festering below the surface.
Depression. It is a word that blankets such a vast array of lives. My depression used to look like mania.
I did not like to feel things because I would rather focus on doing what needs to be done. When it felt like every cell in my body was filled with cement, I ignored it and pushed myself to clean more, plan more, or anything to keep from not moving. My friends would make comments about how much I did with the kids on top of working. I’d just feel guilty for being a working mom and not doing enough. I wouldn’t relax unless I got drunk, which started getting pretty frequent. Mania felt great because I didn’t have to fight to get shit done, I just got it done. Anxiety made me yell at myself while I did it all, and suicidality made me very imaginative while doing dishes, driving, and getting food out of the oven. Unspecified mood disorder means all of this shit happens randomly, all at once, and without notice. I just ignored it and focused on taking care of the kids and my husband.
I never really talked about being suicidal.
It happens so often, I’ve gotten desensitized to it. Actually, the better word is I think I got addicted to it. The first time I was in the mental hospital, one of the therapists talked about seeking validation through negative behaviors. Essentially, it’s like cutting with your thoughts. You get a sense of relief or happiness from overcoming it like you get a relief or happiness from cutting your skin. It never bothered me to be sitting lost in thought on killing myself.
The intrusive thoughts were what bothered me.
If I can willingly think about killing myself, then at least I have control over it. I can say, “no, I can’t do that, I have a meeting at 11 tomorrow.” When I’m driving to that meeting and I have this loud, abrupt, thought of you should drive into that telephone pole, it’s far more jarring and upsetting. I couldn’t tell anyone about the latter thought because they’d put me in a hospital or something. I didn’t need to tell anyone about the former, because I didn’t let myself do it, of course. I had that meeting at 11.
When I stopped hating myself, I started seeing that I was a human being with feelings. I realized how cruel I was to myself – my body, the way I spoke internally and externally, and the expectations I put on myself. I never allowed myself praise. Maybe 10 months ago, I finally let myself see that what I did when I was 19 was incredibly loving, mature, and sensitive. It was brave. I may have made mistakes before and after, but it doesn’t erase what I did. I make mistakes with my kids all the time, but it doesn’t erase that I love them. A good mom loves her kids. A good mom can’t love her kids enough if she can’t love herself, though.
I am teaching myself a baseline.
Buddha taught me to expect nothing and appreciate everything. Meditation and mindfulness taught me to slow down and feel. Feel all of the things I wouldn’t let myself feel. I don’t know what “normal” standards are, I only knew how to go 100mph or none at all. Buddha said, “A drowning man cannot save another drowning man.” My therapist said, “Before you help someone with their oxygen mask, put on yours.” AAA says, “You can’t pour from an empty pitcher.”
Most psychiatric practices are based on Buddhism. It is not a religion. It is a philosophy of the mind. The wisdom of the mind. Love of the mind. Acceptance of the mind. I say all of these things emphatically because I ignored almost all of this until I couldn’t take my life anymore. It had gotten to the point where I was a ticking time bomb, and I knew Dead Mom really wasn’t going to cut it for the kids.
Mental illness is not just chemicals, and we all know this. Every one of us are lump sum equations of tragedy, happiness, anger, and more emotions then there are words. Nothing I have done – medications, diet, exercise, etc. made a lick of difference until I began forgiving myself, accepting myself, and loving myself. In reality, you can include pretty much any religion and philosophies with those three ideas. These are things I would have rolled my eyes at before until I met the Mom I am now.
I’m not perfect, but I gave my youngest a Superman meditation and watch him fall asleep snuggling his T-Rex. My kids say I am the best mom ever, so I guess I did keep my promise. I think I’m pretty cool and my imagination is becoming more freed up. I cry when I need to, I take breaks when I need to, and I spend a few minutes longer appreciating everything I have. Especially because depression and impermanence teach me that I don’t get to hold on to anything long.
Previous Posts regarding suicide:
- Suicide Prevention Month – My Story Pt 1
- Suicide Prevention Month – My Story Pt 2
- No, Seriously, Suicide is Not Selfish
- Depression is Selfish
- Won’t Someone Think of the Children?
- 13 Reasons..
- AFSP – Association for Suicide Prevention
- If you are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741
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