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.

Dear New Year

Try as I might, I am never going to be one who successfully follows through with resolutions. I have, in years past, been the crazy fat lady at the gym, determined to eat better and work out more because she read that doing those things would help cure her depression. I have been that woman who stores the “positivity” posts and joins all the happiness groups because this is going to be the year that I finally make it into the village everyone is talking about. No one wants Wednesday Adams in their village after all.

Like most people, I’ve failed by March. I’m sitting at my desk, munching on Oreos and loathing myself just like I was four months before. New Year’s Resolutions are just not for me.

2016 was profoundly sucktacular. So much personal and public loss, I found myself wishing for the New Year and when the midnight bells rang and nothing felt different, I realized I was just kidding myself to think that a calendar date changes anything. New Year, new things. It’s just bullshit. The date only changes, we don’t. Not that anyone literally things with the New Year, we’re instantly new. But over the years, I feel like I’ve just lost the hope in new beginnings. And I am not sure I want to be that person.

This year I hope though that I can find ways to change. Instead of resolving to be thinner or happier, or to wish that the flip of a calendar would make it all new, I am going to set goals for myself… goals that don’t just come from the new year, new me mentality.

I’d like to write more. Really write. And no like this. I want to find my voice and instead of whining about why I feel sad, I want to make a difference in the mental health community. The first step though is probably taking care of my own mental health. I want to find a way to treat my sads with something other than medication. And I want to be brave enough to say to the people who say things like “Zoloft takes care of that”, that medication isn’t for me. I find value in my unmedicated self and while I am happy it works for you, comments like “drugs take care of that” aren’t helpful. I am clearly putting my vulnerable self out there for you, I am trusting you and you’re making light of it. I am gonna tell people how much that hurts, rather than deleting, retracting and feeling embarrassed about my own chosen path. I am going to stop apologizing or feeling embarrassed

I am going to stop apologizing or feeling embarrassed about being empathetic. This will be a hard one. I know it doesn’t make sense to people the profound sadness I feel when a child dies, a child I don’t know and that it often sticks with me for months and years after. I cannot turn off those feels without taking out parts of my insides. I can’t say goodbye and the thought of losing someone else is unbearable. It takes my breath away. But I also feel the happy too. I will be the first to celebrate your new life. I am always happy for a wedding, a baby, an achievement. And while those feelings are acceptable, the sad feelings often are not. And we’re supposed to feel for people. I just happen to feel harder than some. It shouldn’t be embarrassing to mourn with the mourning.

The heavy stuff aside, I really want to try new things. The kids have begged to start a YouTube channel and so an “uh oh, I forgot to cancel that membership that is for a full year” mistake means I can use the Skillshare classes to learn video editing and help the kids get the channel they want. Of course, I’ve tried to break it to them that we will likely not the 4million dollar FUNnel Vision family but it could be fun and it will help me to have memories of all the things I know I will always want to remember. I am also excited to have a new tool under my belt. Not that it will be easy to learn but it will be fun to try. I admit, though, I have no idea where to start. And we have no idea what to call it.

I’m ready to let go of the past friendship. The end of last year was tough for me and I found myself wondering where my village was. Well, my village moved on while I stayed still. I’m sure my members got tired of me or grew beyond me and I just couldn’t let go of it. Today, I am going to start saying goodbye to them. It’s okay to have seasonal friends. Someone once told me that. It’s okay that they don’t meet my needs anymore; I clearly stopped meeting theirs too. And that doesn’t mean we hate each other or I have to worry about so and so not liking me anymore but I can choose to focus my energies on people who reach back when I reach out. So old friends, thank you and see you later… because maybe goodbye isn’t the right word.

I really, really, really want to help my friend Laura grow Day’s for Girls. I’ve not felt so excited and passionate about something in a very long time. With each liner and each snap I feel like I am helping someone who truly needs it and she, in return, without even knowing it, is helping me. I am so excited to pack up these bags and possibly send them with my child to be delivered to girls her own age. That she’ll get to see the fruits of our labor and learn that no task, no matter how small, helps people who need help. Laura will perhaps end up thinking I am a crazy person but I am so excited to be involved. I can’t wait to write more about it too!

I want to break outside my Fiverr bubble. The last couple of years I have worked mostly there and let me tell you, making 10.00 a gig isn’t the greatest feeling. While I am not a “professional artist”, I have some talent and it’s worth more than 2.00 an hour. I don’t know where I will do, maybe a stand alone store or etsy but I am gonna start branching out and stop doubting that I know what I am doing. No one started out knowing how to do everything and I am sure that I will stumble along the way but someone is gonna like my stuff enough to buy it. I hope. And I started making these dolls that I am excited about. Hilary, Harry, Carrie… even a potential Donald although I feel he may never sell. He is stuffed with misery I hear, ha ha ha. That was a joke. I am good at these things, I just have to remind myself that they’re good enough to sell and my time is worth it.

 

So that’s it. That’s my Dear New Year letter. Sounds like resolutions I realize but trust me, it’s not. It’s goals. Do-able goals. What are your 2017 goals?

 

 

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.

Getting in the picture

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I won’t even tell you how many photos my computer holds. Albeit the most current years have fewer. I seem to take fewer. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve gotten better or if it’s because I haven’t the same interest I used to. Regardless, there are a lot. I have well documented all the parts of my family that I love. Each child. Each home. Each milestone. I have a photo of it. What I don’t have is any photos of me. There are simply just none.

I admit, I am camera-shy but I am regretting, incredibly, that there are no photos with my newborns and I don’t have anything to remember the walks and the crafts and the holidays that I was a part of. It sometimes feels as if I was never there. And that’s not the best feeling.

Photography. Sometimes I miss it. I never totally closed the doors on my business. I keep it “open” for my beloved annual preschool shoots and the few holiday session I do. I take a few families here and there. I miss talking to the people. I miss the connections. I miss that stuff but I am terrible at business and I was failing miserably at it. I think for the most part my clients love their photos but I can’t help but worry that I ruined their memories.

I’ve been looking for a personal photographer. I have contacted several people who either don’t have the time to fit us in their schedule or charge extra for more than 5 people. Absurd. My family is 7. It seems crazy to charge more for people who actually live in my house. It’s not as if we’ll break off into family units. We are a family unit. Just one. Needless to say, I’ve chosen not to book that person.

But looking for a photographer is hard. I have a limited budget. Not because I don’t value photography, I do but because I am a family of 7 on a limited budget and I want the very best I can afford without having to sell a child. And I am nervous that I am going to have photographer’s eye and miss that it’s my beautiful family and only see the pink panty and posing flaws of my last family sitting (which mind you was before Dixon was born).

It’s a lesson in letting go. It’s hard to let go of what I have in my head. I want my photos to look how I feel. Which is probably hard to capture when you subject has resting bitch face.

I probably should just pray for the photographer now.

If I ever find one.

Mom’s ought to be in the photos, right? I gotta make this happen.

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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.