Who in the hell is that?

Drew and Me

My Drew. Gosh, he was the cutest baby. When I was pregnant with him, they thought something wasn’t right with his kidneys. I saw the ultrasound techs face and knew. Kevin thought I was disappointed that he was a boy. I wasn’t. I knew by her face, we’d get a call.

We did. And a level two ultrasound. But he was fine. Is fine. Thankfully.

This is my favorite photo of the two of us. Even though my posture is off and I have wild hair. You can see I am happy and healthy. That I love where I am. Who I am. What I was. I made that Mei Tei. I was finally falling into motherhood. Accepting that it was what I wanted to do, even though I’d felt like I had bumbled my way through it up until then. We were babies ourselves when we’d started our family. I never realized how much I’d miss those days.

I started to lose myself shortly after this. We packed up our whole life and moved to Pennsylvania hoping this would be a fresh start and our home. It’s been challenging at best. I’ve lost as much as I have gained. Maybe more. Sometimes I find myself thinking that the move here was the biggest mistake of my life. Kevin has tried to help me see the silver lining but it’s hard to see the joy when you’re so muddled up in the sadness. He reminds me that all that happened could have happened there. I tend to disagree.

I lost myself here.

It started with my friends. The fall out of a mother’s group, I watched one by one as we parted ways. I felt ashamed and shunned, my church shortly followed and eventually my faith. Which I am coming to terms with and learning to love my new-found ability to question everything. Even when it makes people uncomfortable. But once I’d lost most of my friend base and my church, I started to let myself go too. In about 5 years I gained 50 pounds. Putting me at a weight I am too afraid to even say. I can’t figure out how except maybe sugar but it happened. And I stopped letting people take my photo and I stopped letting anyone touch me. I could barely look at myself. I wore the same ratty clothes and I never left. When I did it was in a long sweater and I hid in the corner, hoping no one would see me there.

There is almost no record I existed the last 5 years.

And in that five years, the demons in my head, they won. Over and over, telling me that I sucked at everything. Everything. Parenting, loving, crafting, talking, friending. I put the camera down, the paint brushes. I stopped trying. The demons told me I was unloved and unlovable. Sometimes they still do.  I heard in everyone’s voices I was a bad mother and a bad friend. A bad child and a bad sister. I was a bad wife. I wasn’t worthy and I wasn’t pretty and I wasn’t kind or smart or helpful. I was worthless.

Worthless.

I let bad people tell me that too. I still do.

Worthless. I can hear them as they mock my lack of a job. Not knowing how much I carry. And it’s a lot. I just chose not to prove it to you. I take care of everyone. Everything. Thanklessly. Always.

But I am taking the steps to reclaim my worth. And I’ve lost so much weight and gained so much strength. And I did it the right way. With diet and exercise. The scale tells me I am working hard. So do the measurements and the feelings inside. But when I look in the mirror I see the same sad, chubby, ugly girl and I think, “who the hell is that?” I still see the wrongs and none of the rights.

That's me! Sunflower fields

Brains are cruel things sometimes. My body image is so tied up in this idea of what broke me that all I can think is I must have just been a hideous monster for what happened to me. Comparison is the thief of joy and to be pushed aside for something so truly ugly, well, it does a number on you. And no amount of weight loss is going to fix it. And I don’t know how to change it inside my head.

How do I see the beautiful people tell me I have? How do I see the arm divet without wondering if my arms are really that big or if it’s just the camera angle? How do I convince myself that I am worthy and beautiful and kind and smart? How do I love myself?

How do I start to love myself?

How do I stop listening to the demons? I can feel happy and then, bam, the sad comes back. I’ve covered myself in armor trying to avoid the triggers and yet, they still creep in, reminding me. There will always be this hole. It’s unfillable now. And I want to stop thinking about it and wanting. I want to stop wanting and worrying and thinking and reverting back to the old girl, April’s girl. I want to be new… and shiny and happy and in love with myself.

I just want to be whole. I want to look in the mirror and not question what I am seeing. I want to stop worrying and just go with the flow. I just want some happy, more often and less this. I don’t want to have to work so hard not to feel so sad. Happy shouldn’t be so hard. Even though I know it’s worth the work. Happy should be easy. I know my happiness is there… the work is removing the rest.

“Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.” — Helen Keller

 

 

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.

A question of karma; what did I do

Forgive me for I am not acting myself
But these bees in my breath have to come out
Well you give me no reason to doubt your word
But I still somehow still have my reasons
I’m sorry, I don’t mean to scare you at all
I’m just trying to drain all this bad blood

This week was a tough one. I find myself going through waves of highs and lows. This week, I spent fighting my way out of the low tide. I didn’t win much but I kept fighting. I am still fighting. This morning, I ran the water as hot as I could and cried the same primal cry I’d had in April, remembering what’d I’d lost this time last year and what I’d lost this April. Sometimes it feels like the sad is winning; even though I am fighting with everything I have. Even though there is so much more sunshine than there was. Sometimes, the clouds steal my sun. There was so much rain this week.

I felt so alone.

I visited with the psychiatrist in charge of my medicine trying to muster up the energy to overcome the embarrassment I felt, for wanting something else. Something in addition to the anxiety meds. I wasn’t brave enough and left without anything else. I immediately regretted it. It was just so hard to say when I am really so not into meds. But I can’t always decide if the sad is circumstance or truly depression. But what does it matter? I need someone to help me with my sad. I looked at the therapist after, lungs full of words but my mouth closed down because some weeks, this one especially, I feel ashamed of the feels I am feeling.

Instead, I said, in the middle of the war, what did I do? What did I do to deserve this?

But no one can answer.

No one can tell me why I have this August shaped hole in my heart that cannot be filled. And why it’s paired with a hole that is shaped like April and many other months before. No one can tell me what I did to deserve all this.

Instead, they say nothing. I did nothing or literally nothing. When they say literally nothing which hurts more than saying something wrong. Because when people say nothing? It feels like you don’t deserve their time, their words. It fills the August shaped hole with worthlessness and the April shaped hole with despair.

What ever did I do to feel so worthless? Why are my good days so tainted with despair?

I want my sunshine back. To fill my arms with it. To get the rainbow at the end of this storm.

There is no rainbow for me. Someone else got everything I wanted, without any of the work.

Mental illness. I guess. Is that why I have such good weeks and then such low ones? Is it mental illness or is it me?

The summer is almost over and it seems like it passed in a blur. We didn’t do anything we wanted and still, it was gone in a flash. I added a second job to the first new job. Both I am still so excited about but I confess, the logistics of it all are scary. Sometimes it just feels like they’re not enough hours. I know there aren’t when I look at my paper list of to do. I was already busy. But I can’t say no to either. Both could be so good. But I with school starting soon, I am just worried how I will get it all done. I am not Wonder Woman and let’s face it, help is hard. Really hard.

We’re looking to move away. Well, at least I am. This isn’t home anymore. Was it ever?  A reminder of something pops up at every corner. But still, the thought of going away makes me so sad that the lump in my throat feels like it’s the size of Jupiter. I don’t think I can deal with much more change. But I don’t think I can stay here.

Tomorrow is Monday. I hope tomorrow I get my sunshine back. I’m looking for it. It’s there. I just need to find my footing in all this mud.

 

 

 

 

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.

My brother, Kevin, we share a father and so much more

Kevin and WestinYesterday was my nephews 4th birthday. I can remember how excited Kevin was when he found out Westin was a boy. That he was father to a son. Kevin and I had just started really talking again and I was thrilled to be a part of the group of people he was eager to tell about his tiny, new son. When Westin was born I just remember thinking how much he looked like my own children. My own boys. Both the kids do. We shared those genes, Kevin and I. They’re strong.

Kevin and I shared a lot. A love for art, for our children. We shared, unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, mental health crap that was and is sometimes, just unbearable.  We also share a biological father.

He unfortunately also shares Kevin and I’s mental health issues. Every story, from every person I’ve ever talked to about our father, has been riddled with angry and mean and hurt. Most of my own memories share those same feelings. And most of the good memories I have of him? Involve Kevin and Sam, my brothers. They include my step mother’s warm, and inviting family in Fort Morgan. But him alone? I only remember fear and sadness. I remember feeling what it’s like to be unwanted, unloved and abandoned.

I imagine his path of destruction started before my mother. But for me, her story was the beginning. His hatred and meanness. I can remember how the car door looked as he drove us to my Gramma E’s and left us. We only saw him for a short time after that. He left us broke. He left us broken. My mom tells me he loved me. I was his one. I am his only daughter, the oldest of four. I don’t know those feelings though. They got swallowed up by the sadness and the fear of him. Those feelings are overcome with those of being left, and unwanted.

In my preteen years, I had some time with my father, I don’t regret those days. I have some smiles and joy in that I met my brothers. I’ve mentioned my deeply joyful memories of them acting like the Bushwackers or sitting in the back of our father’s old gray car, singing Damn Yankees on the way to RC Car races. And Bubba the big white bird and Chris, my step mom used to make this food that I can still remember being so good. But Nyle? I remembering him taking my door when he thought I was smoking. I remember him, sitting in the rocker, arms crossed, ready to pounce when I’d come home from being with a young, black boyfriend. That’s what I remember. Fear. Of a man, I so badly wanted to want me. I remember wishing I could just go home.

He destroyed me. Ripped down my walls before the cement even had time to dry. He broke my mother and later my stepmother and my brothers. Kevin and I share that. I think Sam and Matthew have the same feelings but Kevin and I, sharing this profound depression, felt it different. Feel it different. I think we both suffered years of wondering why we just weren’t enough for him to love.

It's amazing how much destruction one person can cause

I’ve spent the months since November blaming our father for Kevin’s suicide knowing full well no one person can make a person do that. But his behavior did contribute to it. I don’t know how a parent can do that to their child. I would have so much preferred he just walk away instead of playing tortuous peek a boo. Lucky for me, I have a Dad. He wanted me, even when he didn’t have to. Sometimes parents pick you. Some of us are lucky in that.  I don’t know that Kevin and Sam ended up with that. I think they have a family who loves them but the shadow of our father was just always looming, it was always there.

When Kevin died, our father wasn’t mentioned in the obituary. I understood why. But wondered how it made him feel. I don’t really know why I care. I want to be furious with him. But mostly, I still feel sad he missed out on us. Me, Kevin, Matthew and Sam. And now? He’s missing out on Devlynn, Davis, Drew, Dexter, Dixon, Rylee, Westin, Cameron, Casey, and little Ritter. He did that to himself though. I can’t make up for his bad choices. None of us can.

Yesterday, on Westin’s fourth birthday he liked a photo of my newest nephew. My immediate reaction was to take down all the photos of baby Ritter. I don’t want to share him with this man. Not that he can do much destruction by liking a photo but I don’t want anyone else to be in the wake of it all. Especially my little Ritter.  I won’t though. That empathy is there. Hoping he’s changed. That he can see the destruction he created in just not making good choices. And I do see, that without that chapter in my story, I wouldn’t be who I am today. And who I am is good. His lack of parenting made me a better parent. His lack of love made me love harder. His destruction taught me to rebuild and rebuild bigger and better.

There is always some good in every bad.

Lessons you can take away from evil and hate-filled people. I’m learning to find that instead of getting lost in the sadness. That reminds me of “The Neverending Story”. See? That made me smile. I found some happy there. I’m really working on that.

I’m also learning that in destruction, there can be great joy and happiness. That only you can prevent being rebuilt. It’s an amazing feeling when you figure out you really are in control of it all. You can choose to make it or take the breaks. I don’t want any more breaks. I’m taking it back. All the happy I can. I am finding the beauty in the destruction.

We are walking October 1st in honor of Kevin and all those who’ve lost to the sadness. I would love for you to join us or donate to our cause. 

We are joining the community of nearly 250k people walking in hundreds of cities across the country in support of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s mission to save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide.

 

Click here to join us or to donate.

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.