So for almost 2 years now I've been writing posts for this blog. I have had fantastic intentions. Really. And sometimes I miss the mark without really realizing it.
I think the problem was that I was standing in the dark, talking about the light, yet had never really seen it.
Let me explain.
I have lived in this world where things are black and white. Right and wrong. This or that. And as much as I have been able to find that place where I believe that any mistakes a person made with their children, they did the best they could with the information they had at the time (hence the name of my blog), I don't think I was really, fully living it. I thought I was...but now I see it differently.
I've come to see something I never saw before. I think it's the truth...the "light", so to speak.
I'll start by telling the truth about myself, and that will make what I say at the end make a little more sense.
You see, sometimes I get overwhelmed being at home every day. I don't drive, and I live out of town. The only thing within a 20 minute walk from my house is the post office, and a convenience store. I have no friends here, and my only contact with other adults is through Facebook. (Sad, I know.) I do see my husband a few hours a day, but it's after he's worked 12 hours a day, and he's all talked-out. So I spend my days surrounded by my kids...and only my kids.
I sometimes feel like I want to run away. I want to just put on my shoes, my coat, and run* as fast and as far away as I can go. But I don't. I don't run away because my kids would think that it's because of THEM that I lost my mind. And really it's not them. It's me. Me. It's me who has become lost and overwhelmed. It's not their fault. Not really.*(Reality...there would be no "running" involved, unless a dog was chasing me. I've had one too many kids to be able to run anymore, and just don't do it unless it's a life or death situation.)
Sometimes I want to hide in my bed, under the covers, with the bedroom door locked. Just so they can't get to me. But I can't. I can't. They need me to get up with them, get them fed, get them dressed, and interact with them. Because they're just little. They are still completely dependent on me.
I have lost my cool with them before. I have yelled at them. Yes, even I have yelled at my kids. Mrs. Says-She's-Perfect. And I don't WANT to yell at them. I don't want to see that look on their faces when I yell. I don't want to be THIS mother. THIS mother is not the person I really am. THIS mother is a woman standing on the edge some days, who WANTS to jump just so it'll all go away. But at the exact same time I just couldn't.
There are times that my kids want to climb up on my lap, and I just feel anxious. I am just touched OUT. I have been holding them, and hugging them, and touching them, and BFing the little one...all. day. long. Some days I am completely fine. Other days I wish I could just slip out of my skin because I can't handle the touch of one more person. Any person.
Which brings me to my husband. There are times he wants to be intimate, and I just want to drop kick him in the throat for even suggesting it. And it's not that I don't love him. It's not that I don't find him attractive. And it's not that our sex life is lacking in any way. It's just that sometimes I feel like he's just one more person that wants something from me...someone else who wants to touch me! GAH!!
I never used to feel like this. For a long long time I really was one of those people that were THE attachment parent, just completely taken by the love of where my life had taken me. I never yelled. Ever. And I was just thrilled to get the kids a drink four hundred times a day, and listen to their endless stories about Dora and Boots. I was happy with things exactly as they were. I was just in awe of them. They were absolutely perfect, and anyone who said otherwise could kiss my arse. (Clearly they were crazy for thinking my kids were loud and crazy and overwhelming...)
It was like that until I was about half way through my pregnancy with Little Daughter. My hormones went insane during that pregnancy, and so did I. Afterwards things got slightly better, but only to the point that at least I wasn't a screaming maniac anymore. But I've never gone back to being that person I was prior to that pregnancy. And it's not that I didn't plan to have her. We planned her. She's always been wanted, long before I did get pregnant again. And it's not as though she's ever been hard to deal with. She's never ever seemed like a person who made "more work" for me. Ever. She's been an absolute pleasure, right from the start.
So what happened? Why did I go crazy, and STAY crazy??
I tried talking about it with my mother (maybe that was my 1st mistake), and she told me that it's "normal" to be like this because I have three kids. Certainly SHE would have been this way too...which, I guess, is how she judges what's "normal" or not (how she would have reacted). She told me to "get over it", because living in "LalaLand" (her word for the happiness I lived in prior to becoming crazy) wasn't normal in the first place. She said that THIS is how everyone is. She said I worry too much.
Suddenly I was worrying about worrying on top of the rest of it.
So instead of asking for help, I tried to suck it up. I tried to just swallow that anger I felt. I tried to pretend that everything was lovely, even though I had days when all I wanted to do was just leave. I tried to just bury my feelings, because I was being selfish worrying about myself in the first place. (I have kids that need me to worry about them. What kind of mother sits around worrying about themselves?! A horrible one.) Time went on, and the un-like-me version of who I'd become just stayed. Over time, it just became who I was.
Recently it's all just come to a head. I can't do it anymore. I can't live like this, and I can't deal with my life normally. I can't look at my children for another day and know that I'm being anything less than the mother I used to be, to them. They deserve that person. They deserve better than this...than ME.
I looked up PPD, thinking that possibly there could be something there...how long does that last, anyway? Apparently not 2 years. I guess it's not that.
The very worst part of this is that I have felt completely ashamed and alone for a long time. Because this isn't who I am. THIS isn't the person I am!! The person I am believes that children should be treated with kindness all the time. They should feel safe every minute, and never be afraid. (Especially never ever afraid of their parents.) Children should be held as much as possible, and our job is to love them every second of every day. Children should never be yelled at. Children are a beautiful gift and should be treated as such.
And it's not that I don't believe those things. But I've seen the light, as I said. The truth is not the same as that make believe world where children crap rainbows, and mothers have a never ending supply of patience and overwhelming joy of just because they are a mother.
The truth is that my kids crap CRAP, just like your kids. And everyone else's kids. The truth is that sometimes it all gets to be too much. We get lost along the way, while taking care of the people we love more than life itself. And then we feel this enormous guilt when we aren't thoroughly over-the-moon happy every second of the day. Because a GOOD mom would be!!
The big picture here isn't hard to see. It's not that I don't love my children entirely and completely. Of course I do. Of COURSE I do. I love my children more than anything in the world and would die without them. I would kill for them. I would give anything to make them happy...and I have given up everything I ever was to try to make that happen.
I am failing miserably.
I'm going to post a link to a couple of sites for you to read more about exactly what I'm talking about, and help explain it a little better.
Sepia: Homeopathy’s Wise Woman
After finding all of this information and having that so-needed conversation with a kind stranger, I've had a very deep "ah ha" moment.
Every time my children scream/screamed in the night and I go/went to them, I deprived myself of sleep. It took a chunk out of my soul*. I still do it, and always will, because they need me to. (Doesn't change the fact that it's taking a chunk of me every time I do.)
(*using the word "soul" here because I don't really know another word to describe what I mean, other than that one.)
Every time my children screamed in unison and made my head feel like it was about to explode and I kept my cool, it took a chunk out of my soul.
Every time my children screamed in unison and I yelled back to stop, it took a chunk of my soul.
Every time I have swallowed my own feelings for the good of the kids, it took a piece of me.
Every time I did not, it took a piece of me.
Every time I pretended it was all okay when I really just wanted to reach out and beg someone for help, it took more.
Every time I tried to talk about it and I was silenced and had my feelings left invalidated, it took more.
I am now to the point that I feel like I've had holes punched into me. I have holes in me...many many holes. I feel like I have no more to give...but I have to. *Oh...that's another hole.*
Knowing that this can even happen has shown me something I never knew before...something I never would have seen, otherwise.
I now understand it when I have a mother tell me that she screams at her 4 year old son 20 times a day, and she's proud of it.
I now understand when a mom tells me that she 'HAD TO' leave her baby to CIO, what she means.
I now understand how a person could leave their newborn with their parents for a weekend and not feel horrible about it.
I now understand that these people may not be these bad, intentionally mean people so many people assume they are. They are not even necessarily people that just don't know better, like I prefer to believe. Maybe they do know that what they're doing is wrong (or less than ideal)...but they are just so full of holes that they are doing the best they can..even if compared to that "perfect" image, they're doing a piss poor job.
Maybe they started out with holes. You know? Maybe they came into motherhood with holes, and never even knew it until they had children.
Maybe they are just made of something less virile, and the holes get punched out of them easier, or faster, than some other people.
Maybe instead of suddenly telling someone that they're a horrible person for spanking their child, we can tell them that we're sorry that they feel like they have to do that. Maybe we can find some kindness for them...understand that maybe doing that makes them feel like a piece of shit. Maybe they wish they could do better, and by talking about it, someone will hear that silent cry for help. Maybe what they need are some other (more peaceful) options, and less judgement. Maybe we could just set down those stones and lend a hand? Just because some of us can stop short of hitting our child, doesn't mean that everyone else is going to be able to. I imagine that the people that spank/hit their children have more holes than I do. My heart hurts for them.
Because I know that after I raise my voice at my children, I am judging myself more harshly than anyone else ever could. I know that in those times I lose an extra large chunk of myself. Self-inflicted punishment, because I am not the mother I wish I was.
What needs to be done is some healing, I think. Some coming clean and facing the truth. I think that it's only THEN that a person can go forward and try to change things. (Until then, the day is about guilt and trying to hide the truth.) We can't fix what we do not recognize.
I have ordered Sepia (free), and will try to see if that is the answer to what I really believe is a mixture of depression and feeling like I'm not living my life the way it was meant to be lived. I don't know if it's going to work, but it's a legal option to fix me. I am still BFing Little Daughter a million times a day, so whatever I choose has to be both legal and something that won't hurt her. I have chosen not to approach my Dr. because I don't want anything in my body that will go into hers that is not 100% natural. This is my problem. Not hers.
I have high hopes that this will help me be able to turn things around...to finish what I started by talking about it. Being honest about this has already improved things. Since I spoke to that woman online last week about how I have secretly felt for a long time now, I have raised my voice to my children twice (which is a great improvement). I feel like just SAYING it somehow freed me. It released some of that pressure of having to just PRETEND all the time. And being honest about the fact that I'm NOT always happy with my life as it is, has made me appreciate it more now than I have since I was pregnant. It's made me look at myself and ask myself what I can do to make ME happy. Because it's become very clear that I have done absolutely nothing with MY life in five years. Since the day I got pregnant with the twins. Every day for five years, my life has been completely devoted to them. And the person I am...the person I am outside of my roles in my home...that person has been STARVED.
I coloured my hair. I bought some kick ass heels. And I'm going to go out for dinner with a couple of girls I know that I haven't hung out with in years. No husbands. No kids.
I've come to realize that I am a caterpillar that needs to keep moving forward if I ever want to be more than a worm with paper wings taped on my back.I'm not looking for friends when I write this. Nor am I looking for enemies. The reason I had to write this is because it's not just me. It's not just those few friends I have. It's not just those few women in that group. It's many of us. Many of us who are too afraid to say the words, to look less than perfect, to allow ourselves to feel the feelings we keep bundled up inside ourselves because both fear and guilt keep us from saying it.
This is something that needs to be said. I can't go another day letting someone out there believe they're alone in feeling like this. You're not alone. Not by a long shot.