All those times I told you no

Perhaps a more proper title might have been, “why anxiety keeps me at home” but we all know I like to have something that’s a little more catchy. But getting to the point, this is an apology for almost always saying no. My sadness has won. It’s won for years. Anxiety told me, no and so that’s what I said to you.

We moved here a little over 9 years ago. I had these hopes that I’d maybe left the anxiety and sadness back home with the old house and the old life. I was bitterly wrong. And despite a valiant attempt at being a social butterfly, including starting a MOPS group, I quickly lost to the monster that anxiety is. I think it started to creep back in when I got pregnant with Dexter.  I had this embarrassment associated with having a fourth. The stigma of another unplanned, but much wanted, baby. I remember when my friend Emily told me about her little Matthew, it was a relief to be able to finally tell someone, who I knew would be happy, that I too was expecting. I kept Dexter a secret for a while and when I finally did tell I felt each and every time someone looked at me poorly for adding another to my family. It was like a mounting hill of shame and anxiety seeds. A full field, waiting to bloom into something that looked like the shell I was and occasionally still am.

When my MOPS group fell apart, that probably didn’t help either. Because as each friend disappeared from my life, another anxiety seed sprouted. And when the one friend I really wanted, didn’t show up to our pizza date, I began to lose all hope I’d had to ever be apart of the social circle I’d so badly tried to infiltrate. I stopped letting people in. Even the kind Emily who kept me from feeling like I was a lost mother. I just stopped and I stopped saying yes. I made excuses not to go. I stopped returning texts. I never picked up the phone. I said no, to everything and everyone. For years.

I said no to the parties and to the play dates. I’ve made excuses not to show up.  And despite my love for shooting families, I admit, I’ve spent years hoping people would cancel but always glad they didn’t.  When I got pregnant with Dixon, I hid it for a full 20 weeks. Afraid to be excited; my anxiety stole the excitement of that baby bump. I was afraid people wouldn’t want him, they’d be upset he was a boy. That people would think I was crazy for wanting a fifth. I cried when my beloved friends threw me a baby shower. Because my anxiety told me I wasn’t good enough for a party. Thank goodness for my friends who saw my worth. Thank goodness someone loved me enough to celebrate me and my to be born son even knowing how anxious and unworthy I felt.

But even after that,  I still said no. To everything. To meals, I could have used after he was born. To help on the first day of school. To playdates and lunch dates and all those things. And people stopped asking and I felt relief but then I felt lonely and then my anxiety told me I wasn’t worth it all over again. I had regret. I have regret. For all the things I missed. For not calling my brother, for not saying my peace. For not taking my mother’s group, for not fighting for my place. I feel regret for not riding the rides, for not dipping my toes into the ocean. I regret not learning new things, for not taking the photographs, for not learning how to truly sing. For so many things.

But mostly I have regret for the no. I said no for no other reason but anxiety and self-doubt. And I am sorry. I am sorry I told you no. I wanted to go. Deep down, I wanted to go to your party. I just couldn’t. My inner worth told me I wasn’t good enough and I was too worried I might embarrass you or myself.

I won’t say no anymore. Please ask me again. Sure there may be reasons I can’t go but please, invite me again. Help me beat this monster. Remind me. Remind people like me that I can go, that I am wanted and that I have worth.

I won’t say no.

 

 

 

 

 

Hi! I’m Gail, the voice behind Mimicking Motherhood. I started blogging after the birth of my 2nd child as a way to connect with far away family. Things have definitely changed since then. Now, mama to five, this is a place to help connect with other mothers, who feel like me.I love to make and write all while trying to figure out how to be myself in the world of anxiety and depression. Glad you stopped by.

Why me time is time for them too

I have mostly been a “stay at home mom” for the last 17 years. Mind you, I’ve always done something on the side to bring in extra money. When we were first married I sealed envelopes. For awhile, I made pageant dresses. One Christmas the kids wanted a Wii so bad they could taste it; I spent hours and hours sewing tiny felt food sets to list on Etsy. I have been a photographer for 10 years. Shooting full-time at least a couple of those years. The last five or so, I’ve freelanced from home specializing in social media, WordPress, and graphic design. All while handling our house; paying the bills, being the taxi driver, doing my very best to keep it clean and everyone’s laundry done; homework and school, and well, everything but the bulk of the income. I think it’s been 15 years since I sat down. Literally. I ain’t eating bonbons here people.

But what I wasn’t doing was taking care of myself. I’d spent every moment making sure everyone else in my house was happy but rarely, if ever, did I take moments for myself. I went to baseball, lacrosse, all the school things. I made sure everyone was fed, physically and emotionally. I took care of everyone in my house and much more outside it. Between photography, and Fiverr and the little social life I had, I was stretched thin and by the beginning of 2016, I was tapped out. Totally empty, bucket dry.

My bucket was dry.

2016 was the year of hell. If you’ve read this blog at all, I’ve been pretty candid about it. And while I write about a lot, there are a lot of things I have left out. To protect me, my family, but mostly my kids. March was the last straw. Looking at myself in the mirror was a thing of nightmares and every time I passed my reflection, I looked but I didn’t really know who or what I was looking at anymore. I was lost inside that girl. I explained it to my therapist like this; I was pushed to the middle of this shit show ocean  on a raft and then someone cut the rope and all the people who were supposed to be taking care of me stood at the bank yelling “how can we help you” but because they couldn’t “hear” me, they did nothing or something else that they thought would help but wasn’t really helping. And there I was, a shell, on the raft alone. Everyone meant well. They mean well; but because I couldn’t say, “gosh please do my laundry and get these kids out of my house”, they shut the door and moved along thinking I was okay and I wasn’t. And it felt lonely.

And then, I realized the thing I’d been saying to Devlynn all this time, needed to happen in my life.

You can only change yourself.

YOU CAN ONLY CHANGE YOURSELF.

And so I did. Err, I am. I am changing myself.

For years I’ve avoided a therapist. I get sick of talking. (I know, crazy right from the exhibitionist writer.) But the therapist has helped me to see that what I was thinking was abnormal and weird and bad, is totally normal and human and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. She’s helped me to find “love” in the things that I hate, with a burning fire. She has made it okay for me to not only find my voice but use it. And use it I have. Even when it hurt someone’s feelings. I know now sometimes you have to hurt people’s feelings so they stop hurting yours. I’m TIRED of people hurting my feelings.

And so I go to therapy, every week even when it makes me feel stupid or little.  And I see a psychiatrist now too and she has me on medication. And I don’t like it but I know it’s helping and when I talk with her next, she’ll help me figure out if I don’t like it because it’s not helping the way it should or if I don’t like it because the assholes in my head are telling me weak people take meds and bad people see therapists. And the reality is, she’ll probably want me to take more. But I will say no because I have a voice but you read that already.

But probably one of my biggest changes has been that I am taking care of myself. Depression and anxiety took my ability to shower some days. Yes, SHOWER. It was all my energy to shower, then lotion and blow out my hair. So I didn’t because I needed that energy to take care of everyone else in my life. Honestly, I needed that energy to breath. Because I was having trouble filling my own lungs with air. There were days I forgot to even breath.

I’m showering now. I have to because I smell terrible after I work out. Alone. Without guilt. And I love working out. It started with an hour on the elliptical and then turned into cardio and weights thanks to my brother-in-law the personal trainer. I also meet every few weeks with my friend AND nutritionist who is helping me get past my food stuff. And I have a lot of food stuff. I have learned about eating for me between the therapist and the nutritionist. I enjoy the food instead of shoving it in my mouth and hoping I remember to do it again in a few hours. I am 2.8 pounds from my original goal. And 12.8 from my new goal. I lost 4 inches around my waist. That’s huge to me. And my biceps? Amazing and my triceps and shoulders are coming along. And my core will follow as soon as I master the burpees. The best part is I can look at myself in that mirror again and actually see me. I am in there. I am in that woman with the blue hair and beautiful tattoos and I am in that woman who’s got stretch marks proving she carried 5 kids to term and lost a few along the way. My cheek bones are fucking amazing and I am full of energy. And my friend said she saw it. And I believe her.

I believe her. I am in there. It’s me.

I got my family photos done this last Friday. We’d had them done before and I wasn’t happy with them. Probably because I wasn’t happy with myself and well, let’s be real here, I’m a control freak. But I walked into these photos with no expectations. No posing, sitting. Loving. Holding. And being a family. My friend Kat? Well, she took the most beautiful and amazing photos of my beautiful and amazing family.

And I am in there. It’s me. I’m beautiful in there. Despite the scars that I know people see. I am not ashamed of my sadness or my chemical imbalance. And that’s what it is… fucked up chemicals in my brain. I am worthy of all the love. I always have been. I just waited too long for someone else to tell me. I just needed to tell myself.

I am worthy of all the love.

And so are you.

I got a job today. After a year of applying. It’s perfect. I can take my kids and I can still shoot and craft and I can still go to baseball. It’s fucking amazing. And at the perfect time.

And so I’m lucky. My raft kept me alive… my raft and the voices calling me. Even when I couldn’t tell them what I needed. Hearing it kept me afloat.

I am worthy.

And so are you.

And taking care of me? Will help me take care of them. So they’re lucky too.

 

 

 

Hi! I’m Gail, the voice behind Mimicking Motherhood. I started blogging after the birth of my 2nd child as a way to connect with far away family. Things have definitely changed since then. Now, mama to five, this is a place to help connect with other mothers, who feel like me.I love to make and write all while trying to figure out how to be myself in the world of anxiety and depression. Glad you stopped by.

And the praying continues

My phone blew up yesterday. I had to turn it off. I am sorry for not responding. I eventually will. And I realize how rude it is to read and not respond but the unfortunate reality of my state of mind is that I cannot do it. And the well-meaning, “I am still praying for you”? Salt. Horrible, bubbly salt. Stop it.

1.)Someone who hides malicious intent under the guise of kindliness

2.)A person who is “two-faced

1-“Hey I just met the nicest girl.”

2-“Yeah I saw…I know her, she hurts guys just for fun, her kindness is fake.”

1-“Jeez..what a wolf in sheep’s clothing”

My life, in a nutshell right now. A wolf, hiding under the sheepish shape of God and religion. A wolf who’s hatefully posted for weeks only to recoil when a kind young man, befriended them. The tone changed when I boiled over. They didn’t see the weeks of Tweets. The drive-bys, the Instagram photos of stalking work. They missed when they lied online about who I was and what they were going through. They don’t hear all the lies this person believes and uses as weapons against me. They didn’t see all the passiveness shrink away when called out on it. When I got called psychotic for looking at this person public Twitter when they have found ways to look at my private Instagram then tweet passively about how “fake” we were. So, eff you. For taking a side. Fuck you for picking the villain and not the victim if you were so inclined to feel you had to choose. God is not real. If he was, I wouldn’t feel shunned time and time again. Shunned when I didn’t sign your rule book. Shunned when I didn’t provide free services. Shunned when I had unanswerable and uncomfortable questions and shunned when I need someone to lift me up. God is not real. And religion is just an excuse to sing the praises of forgiveness instead of digging into the real problems. I am done with praying. Stop praying for me. Praying doesn’t work.

It’s people, not God that do this. I know that he wasn’t going to reach down a redirect crashing airplanes but everyone speaks of hearing him and I cannot. All I hear is silence and I see pain. All the time pain. I see babies who die and children who get cancer. I see bombs and angry and mean. This wolf in my life who can’t think of anyone but themselves. Who stole my memories and my peace. They live in the God bubble. It just makes me want nothing, ever, to do with God again. You don’t have to be a part of a church to be the good. I can be the good. I am not this monster.

I am so fucking angry right now. So incredibly angry. I am angry that my tiny problems balled up into this. That I let the “it could be so much worse” trap me into this corner of not trying to get it out and now, I have this enormous, ungodly demon floating around me all the time. Each silver car that passed made me shiver only to find out that the silver car was traded for another; convenient. Afraid to go out, afraid to do anything. I am angry that my kids’ lives got turned upside down and that everything I loved, changed and now looks different, feels different, smells different and is different. That I am the outsider in the circle and while the volumes of people reaching out make me feel loved, I am so hardened that I cannot accept it or permit myself to believe that they love me. How can anyone love me….. how do you get the words “well at least someone does” out of my head. How do you accept that people love you when this kind of thing happens in your life? How do you prevent the wolf and the illness from winning? Because they’re fucking winning. The wolf, a pathetic clone of what they thought was me. Ill-proportioned words and bravery, staggeringly hidden under the guise of “say it to my face” and “do you have something to say to me” but only in an audience and not one and one. That’s fear, whether wolves believe it or not. Running, fearfully from the store, knowing I was coming. Passively tweeting, that’s fear. Lying is fear.

Winning. What’s the prize? What do any of us win in this? A poverty of peace. A poverty of love. Instability. We all win fear. We win angry and we win sad. Surely you can’t believe anyone believes your painted words. Surely you have to realize how words mean nothing and actions mean everything. And you can’t fix smudges all the time.

Please stop telling me you’re praying for me. I don’t want to hear it anymore.

 

 

 

 

Hi! I’m Gail, the voice behind Mimicking Motherhood. I started blogging after the birth of my 2nd child as a way to connect with far away family. Things have definitely changed since then. Now, mama to five, this is a place to help connect with other mothers, who feel like me.I love to make and write all while trying to figure out how to be myself in the world of anxiety and depression. Glad you stopped by.