Becoming a mother changed me in ways I didn’t expect. It made me look around the world and see things differently. I could see parents in a different light now that I was living that experience. I was one of those childless people who had all sorts of opinions on what parents should and shouldn’t do. Then I became one and saw how much of a slapping I deserved. Lucky for me, I kept those opinions mostly to myself (unless I was talking on my high horse with another childless high horse sitter). Everyone is entitled to an opinion but are we always entitled to blurt it out? Especially if it’s about something we have no personal experience in? Just a question to consider.
I guess I had always thought that it’s a mother’s job to look after everyone, perhaps that’s your understanding too? I saw it as a kind of martyr position where you piously give and sacrifice out of love and in return you are elevated to saint status. So how’d that work out for me? Pretty well at first until I found myself exhausted, depleted, living in frumpy tracksuits, shoving crappy food down my throat so I could rush back to my duties, out of touch with friends, my spare time was spent beached on the couch in TV zombie land. To top it off – my recognition of saint was not being received!
When I found myself in the throws of post natal depression, I made the decision to go and see a hypnotherapist. I was a little surprised that I wasn’t told immediately by my therapist - “Look at you! Hair a mess, track suit city, looking exhausted – you must be working so hard looking after your family!” No, no – instead she had me stand in the mirror and take in my image. Baggy t-shirt, hair unbrushed, bags under my eyes – she said to me gently “what do you see?” It was hard, very hard but I saw what she saw. I said “I see someone who needs to be taken care of. Someone who needs some love and attention from me”. I’ll never forget that lesson – where I was able to see the truth past the projected image of martyr and saint.
Being hypnotised was not what I thought it was. You are completely conscious the whole time, aware of what is going on but deeply, deeply relaxed so that you are able to find the under current of truth that is quietly flowing under the irritating mind chatter that bangs on in your head all day long. It required me to put aside a good hour or two to commit to facing my post natal depression. And yet – I had a 4 month baby and a 2 year old at home that needed me. What to do, what to do? I made the decision to choose me in this circumstance for the sake of my family. My capacity to nurture them had reached an all time low and it was time to do something. Michaela was breast fed and struggling with the bottle, leaving her for a couple of hours with hubby and breast milk was beyond terrifying. So I resolved to go and leave my cellphone on in case of an emergency – it probably wasn’t going to ring…..right? So here I am in deep relaxation uncovering my fears, needs and wants and “BEEP! BEEP!” goes my phone. I decide to ignore and keep going and here it goes again “BEEP! BEEP!” Something’s wrong, I have to check the phone . My therapist is very understanding as I break trance, apologising and reaching for my phone. Hubby has texted twice to say baby has woken up, is screaming and wont take the bottle, can I please come home. I apologise again and again as I leave the therapy room to rush home to baby. I notice the strangest thing at that time, my therapist is smiling gently at me but there is something she is witnessing that she’s not saying. She isn’t telling me that “it’s ok and she understands” but she isn’t mad at me either. Something is happening here that’s not being said but I am in too much of a rush to get to my baby to work out what it is.
Halfway home in the car I get another text from hubby. I pull over and read it “Don’t worry, took her for a walk in the pram and she’s now asleep”. I start to cry. I’m hopping mad at my husband for texting me to come home instead of just taking care of things. I just needed a couple of hours to deal with my depression and he couldn’t give me that. I breathe in, I breathe out and I realise the truth. The reason I am crying on the side of the road and not still in the therapy room has everything to do with me not being committed to me. I left my phone on, I chose to rush away to save the day instead of slowly considering some other options for hubby.
I realise what it was that my therapist was sadly smiling at. She could see me sacrificing myself, cutting off my own lifeline to help and pushing down my needs yet again. It wasn’t something she could tell me at the time. I probably would have thought she was being a bit cold hearted and trying to guilt trip me if she had. I’m glad that in hindsight I was able to see what happened. How I sabotage myself again and again.
This is a pretty extreme example to demonstrate my journey to overcome issues of self worth. It was a pretty shit situation to be in. Not wanting to be away from my 4 month old baby is completely reasonable and so is wanting to carve out a few hours to myself to address my post natal depression. There are times when choosing what’s best for me is also choosing what’s best for everyone. If I couldn’t choose me when it came to taking care of my mental health, what’s the likely hood I was going to choose me when it came to finding time to brush my hair, choose healthy food, getting some exercise? It’s a pretty big step to take, to choose yourself and not feel guilty about it. It’s a journey in releasing thoughts patterns and beliefs that tell us that being selfish is the worst thing you can ever do, that other people’s feelings and well being is more important that yours. I’m not saying that I’m going to do what I want at the expense of others. I’m saying that I’ve given up waiting for my martyr medal or saint certificate and instead I’m investing some of the love and attention I give to others in myself and
Because I AM worthy.
Love Bron (worth knower)