Reaching Out for Help

In this fast paced world, where there can be multiple things (or children) screaming for your attention at the one time, it’s crucial to reach out for help if and when you need it. 

Nearly two years ago, I was actually so miserable, disconnected and feeling alone, that I took steps to leave this earth. I fervently believed that death had to be easier than what I was experiencing here and that my children would somehow be okay without me. Madness? Yes, I see that now.

As a write this, I’m wondering if any of you will now be condemning me as a mother and declaring me not worthy of having children.

So what happened?  Did I change my mind?  Not really.  Let’s just say that the universe intervened and I realised that my place is here, alongside my beautiful kids.

You might also be asking if I actually love my children?  The answer is an unequivocal, “Yes”.  I love them with every fibre of my being and they know that.

So how could I contemplate leaving them?  I actually thought they might be better off with a new mum.  A mum who wasn’t tired much of the time, cranky and lost.

Thank goodness I am no longer in that same fragile state. Yeah, I still get tired and cranky but I no longer feel that life is just too hard to bear.

I’m actually nervous about posting this piece.  I’ve only told one friend and two practitioners about that ever so dark blip in my mothering journey but I feel I have an important message to share.

I get it that everyone has personal challenges and that life is really busy for them. But for someone to contemplate checking out there must have been outward signs.  Do I have good, close friends and family?  Absolutely. And did I talk to them about all of this? Not entirely.

Sure some people knew I was not in a happy space but I actually did not want to trouble my two closest friends, with the absolute seriousness of what was going on.  I figured that they had enough to worry about.

So what is my message?  I’m asking you, if you’ve read this far, to look around your own group of family and friends.  See if there’s anyone who might need some help, a break or an ear to bend. Don’t just dismiss them as someone who is down and not much fun to be around.

For goodness sake, reach out to them.  And I don’t mean by text. And please don’t ask a parent how they are feeling in front of their children (people are very good at putting on a brave face).

Go out for a coffee and talk face to face.  And if you feel inclined to help in some way, don’t just ask, “Is there anything I can do?”  If you see that they are not coping in some way and may need a break, INSIST on them accepting your helping.  Make it easy for them to say yes.

I’m actually blown away by the absolute kindness of a new school friend (another sole parent) who has offered to mind my kids for an upcoming weekend. My first reaction was that I couldn’t possibly do this but she was quite clear that I had no choice. “You WILL be having a weekend off.  And I WILL nag you until you choose a date.”  Bless her.

This will be my second weekend off without the kids, for fun and not study, in nearly 10 years. Hallelujah. I am feeling very, very lucky, supported, grateful and blessed.  And I’m looking forward to either returning the favour or paying it forward.

This seems a bit trite to tack on the end of this piece but if you are feeling that life is just too hard, please take the step to talk to someone about it.  I actually chose, the non-medication route but if that is what you need please go and talk to your doctor. There is no shame in saying that you need help.  It actually takes more courage to admit that you need it. You might also like to check out Beyond Blue at https://www.beyondblue.org.au.

For me, kinesiology helped enormously. If you called to work with me, please feel free to phone me for a confidential and extremely non-judgemental chat. I have stood where you are standing and I’m so happy to say I have not only survived but am now beginning to thrive.

 

Stopping the self abuse

I do believe one of my biggest life lessons is to stop being so bloody hard on myself.

To a vast extent I have achieved this, mainly with the help of a lot of soul-searching, personal development and kinesiology.

The funny thing is, that before I became a mother I actually thought I was doing okay and my self-esteem was in the healthy range.  But after becoming a mum, and setting myself impossibly high standards, my healthy self-esteem bottomed out as self loathing.  So how did such a major shift happen?

A lot has to do with expectations.  I expected that I would be the perfect mum after seeing myself as  both a good daughter and a good partner (please note that I didn’t say perfect).  I didn’t realise at the time, that this was pure craziness and impossible to achieve.  So instead of thriving as an indie (solo) mum, I just beat myself up every time I fell short of being perfect.  Silly, I know.

Did I hold other mothers to such high standards?  Of course not, so why did I make an exception for myself? I think it comes back to being both a perfectionist (and now, thank goodness, I’m a former perfectionist) and a Virgo desperately trying to hang on to control in the face of domestic chaos. As a new mum, all of a sudden I had this precious being to nurture and protect. Loving her was so easy but when my little darling did not get the recommended amount of sleep, I automatically assumed that I was doing something wrong.  A trying case of post natal anxiety did not help either. And could I make my daughter sleep more? Hell no, and hence my ensuing despair and self recrimination. Just writing this I can feel the former tension rising in my body.

Three years later and after the birth to my beautiful son, it was declared by one of the midwives that I had split abdominal muscles.  So in the weeks and months following his birth, I dutifully did the recommended exercises to try to rectify the issue.  Try as I would, the muscles did not get much closer.  Instead of celebrating this and the fact that I had a carried and delivered a healthy, bouncing boy without any drugs or intervention, I criticised my body for letting me down.  It was just another case of personal, and this time physical, failure and opportunity for me to be harsh to myself. Did it help?  Not in the slightest.  In the end, after about six months of religiously doing the exercises, the hospital staff just advised me to let them go.

Fast forward another five years and I have just recently had my unruly locks permanently straightened.  As I was sitting at the hairdressers and surveying the result I stopped myself from thinking, “Great new hair but shame about the face.” Instead I sent myself a loving thought.  Some self kindness at last.  Hooray.