To Say It Out Loud~
It's late. Everyone else is asleep. I should be in bed too as I've been so bone tired and worn down. But I can't sleep with all these thoughts and worries whirling through my head. And as much as I want to sleep, I also need to say what's bothering me out loud. I feel I need to out myself, to express myself because there's this part of me that is not being expressed or acknowledged or shown. And I am tired of holding it in, of saying nothing because every night I stumble to my bed heavy with exhaustion and a brain that hurts, too tired to sit down and write what I know needs to be written.
For at least 3 weeks now, I have struggled with a strange anger and sadness and guilt and, I think, depression. I think I may be in a depression because I have cried everyday for at least three weeks. Crying is not unusual for me as I cry when I feel overwhelmed, angry, or tired. But the fact that I have yelled at my kids and cried at least once everyday for the last 3 weeks is a red flag. It's a sign that I am off, depleted, and in need of some serious solitude, nurturing and healing.
So I do all this work to try to make myself feel better, to try to make things better, to try to figure things out: Maybe it's hormones? Maybe my chronic fatigue and anger and sadness are due to not enough sleep? Maybe I'm not moving my body enough? Maybe I'm not eating the right foods or drinking enough water? Maybe I need more vitamin B in all forms, and on, and on and on as the mind spins. You get the idea. So I try to fix and do all the things I know and can think of to do to set myself right, to clear this constant fog in my brain, and to eradicate the sadness and edginess that seems to descend upon me daily. And then I feel guilty that I feel the way that I do, that I have gotten to this place in which I do not feel like myself, which, of course, only adds to the weight I feel and does no good whatsoever.
I wonder how I got here? I wonder why I feel depleted despite all my efforts and care to maintain my health and wellbeing. I wonder why I am not enjoying my life more. And then I look back over the past 10 years and I realize that all the hard has just added up, that all the tired and constant challenges have caught up to me.
Nothing in motherhood has been easy or smooth or empowering for me. From my highly idealized beautiful, peaceful natural birth in which my slippery newborn was placed on my bare chest, to the reality of a c-section and the trauma that followed, none of it was what I hoped it would be. In fact, I had quite the opposite experience. I remember being in complete shock after my son was born and feeling like a failure. I remember crying my eyes out in total fear and sadness alone in the recovery room. I remember that I felt like I had failed to protect my son from such a traumatic medicalized birth. But there was more to come. Many hours later as I lay in my room with my eyes wide open, scared-deer like, I still had not got to hold or smell, see or touch my baby yet. When I finally did get to see him and hold him, it was a relief, but that didn't last long as they whisked him away to NICU to do tests. I came to find out later that he was born with a coarctation, a narrowing in his aorta, that would require transport to Denver Children's Hospital (we were in Colorado Springs), and immediate surgery to repair his heart. What a shock. There was no time to rest or recover. It was survival time. And like the warrior that I am, I rallied. I gathered my things, pumped milk and tried to come to grips with what was unfolding for us as a family. This was not an easy way to begin life as a family.
Liam had heart surgery on day two of his life and after 12 days in the hospital was in good enough shape to go home. It was a relief to go home, but I was also scared out of my mind. Liam stayed on oxygen for the next 6 weeks. And for the next 6 weeks we carried an oxygen tank with us everywhere we went. We didn't venture out much, and I certainly didn't go anywhere without Jason's help. Then there was the 7 weeks of agony of trying to establish breastfeeding after nipple confusion. It was painful, heartbreaking and frustrating, but I did not give up. I cried a lot but kept trying. And finally, after 7 weeks, we got it. I was relieved. At least I got one thing on my birth wish list, and I prayed and worked hard for that one. And I nursed Liam until he was 4.
I am pretty sure that I suffered from post-partum depression, but I never saw anyone for it, and I certainly never admitted to it. I figured I would pull myself out of it and just kept going. I eventually did, but I don't think I've ever been the same.
And then we moved , I left the little yoga studio, Luminous Lotus Yoga, that I had created all in the hopes of financial stability and in support of my husbands 'great' offer. That felt like a loss for a long time. But I eventually found my way to YogaOasis, which I already knew about through the Anusara community and because I'd traveled to Tucson for Anusara gatherings and trainings prior to moving here. I made my way in and found such an amazing Yoga community to be a part of, and I was grateful to have that in my life and still am.
Life went along and we settled into Tucson. Later on down the road I had the unexpected experience of two miscarriages, one right after the other, when we were trying for our second child. That was yet another difficult and very emotional experience. It was more emotional and hard than I was prepared for, but I cried and I healed.
A few months later I found out I was pregnant when we weren't even trying. Surprise! My pregnancy was sweet, and I loved every minute of it the second time around as I did the first. I went into Lila's birth with a Doula, who was formerly a midwife, with very high hopes of that idealized, peaceful, natural birth. But it was not to be. That was yet another difficult birth that nearly cost Lila and me our lives. After 30 hours of labor and an hour into pushing, my uterus ruptured, and what was close to being what I hoped and imagined sharply turned into what I was not prepared for: an emergency c-section. The chaos that ensued was yet another utter disappointment.
I was put under and Lila came out not breathing. By the time I came to, disoriented and feeling physically wrecked, I found out she was down in the NICU with Jason by her side but was okay. I was certain there was no way we would have yet another traumatic birth, but we did. The good news in all this is that Lila came out strong and healthy and suffered no brain damage. I came out of it alive with my uterus, and I did not bleed out. I was physically hammered by the experience and could not even sit up let alone move from the bed to the wheelchair. I was disappointed and dismayed but surprisingly emotionally stable because I'd been through this before. I spent the next 3 days waking every two hours to pump milk and waited patiently for 3 days before I could hold Lila. I stayed by her side and placed my hands on her to let her know I was there. And me and sweet Lila spent the next 11 days in NICU. And poor Liam wondered why I wasn't home yet and Jason did his best to take care of us all. Again, this was a very difficult start for us as a family of 4. Going home was a relief.
Within that timeframe, around the time Lila was 4 months old, we lost both our houses to foreclosure despite our best efforts to hang on to one. So we moved to a new house, and it was actually a great house and a good move and so we began again.
Liam was 5 and began kindergarten at the school down the street. At this time, we were already dealing with sensory issues, or what I thought were just sensitivity issues, and saw our first signs of aggression and anxiety in Liam when he was 4. I just thought these issues were due to Liam being a very sensitive kid and having a hard time adjusting to having to share us with his new sister. Some of that is true, but I came to find out later that this was not a passing thing, nor was it everything.
In the mix of our new life as a family of four and our new house and watching our little Lila grow, we then came up against tooth decay as we watched Lila's top 4 teeth crumble. At two years old, she had her top two teeth pulled and we did our best to save the other two. But the other two teeth continued to deteriorate, one got infected and both were eventually pulled. I again wondered where I went wrong. Was I not feeding her enough of what her body needed? Was nursing her at night really the cause of tooth decay? Or did her teeth just come in that way? Apparently, according to the grumpy old dentist we saw, it was due to my nursing her at night, which I think is bullshit. And still her teeth are soft, and so I've been researching and learning what dietary changes we can make to help her keep the rest of her teeth, at least until they fall out on their own.
And so for the last 5 years at least, things got steadily worse. We have worked hard and struggled to find answers and help for Liam. It's taken us a lot of therapy: family therapy, occupational therapy, and psychiatric help to figure out that a lot of Liam's issues, the separation anxiety, the oppositional defiance issues, and sensory issues really stem from anxiety. It's been a hard road and the usual way of dealing with behavior and parenting doesn''t work. Hell, sending our kids to school isn't even an option at this time. So we are still trying to figure a lot out. And unfortunately, no one really has any answers or one right way to help us deal and heal. I honestly don't think anyone really knows about how to help all these 'nuero-divergent' kids. I kind of think that whatever therapy works for one kid doesn't necessarily work for another with such issues. It's all a guessing game, and it's really the parent's who have to figure it out.
So as I look back over what I've just written, I realize it makes perfect sense that I am where I am. It makes perfect sense to fall down to the ground in need of a break, to let the river of tears fall, to crave a quiet cave to retreat into. It makes sense.
It started to make sense the other day when I read this article by Jami Ingledue, "10 Things Parents of 'Normal' Kids Should Know." (I will post the link to the article below.) As I read through that article, the tears came pouring out. I shook my head in agreement and disbelief that other parents and families are struggling the same way we are. I realized that indeed our situation is hard and not the norm. It made me realize that yes, all the hard, all the tired, all the difficult has caught up to me. I don't know why I thought I could stay ahead of it, that I could will myself and my family forward by my own determination and strength alone. I can't. Not anymore.
I am in a place now of repair and healing. I am in a place where the bare minimum of self-care will no longer do. I am in a place where I realize some therapy might do me a whole lot of good. I am in a place now, where I realize that I must come to a place of acceptance and really, really, really focus on the good and beautiful things in my kids, myself, my family instead of on all the shit. I am in a place now, where as I say I have been opened and wounded by these things over the years, that it is indeed possible to heal, to come back to life and to thrive again.
Now, where to begin? I guess it starts with getting out of bed and deciding to just be okay with my best effort for the day, to not focus on where I am messing up or failing. It starts with me deciding and choosing to be much more forgiving and compassionate toward myself and my family on the days that don't go so well, and to be really willing to begin anew every single day, to let go of what happened yesterday. It continues with therapy and trusting what we feel is the right way for us as a family, whether or not that jives or makes sense to anyone else.
From here on out, I release me and my family from feeling like we have to do anything. We can cancel and change our plans as we need to. And I can allow myself to feel how I feel without the added weight of regret or guilt. That's a lot for sure, but it's also quite necessary for me and my family's healing.
So as I close this, the only thing that I ask as I share this stuff publicly is that you refrain from giving me more book titles to read, or advice, or suggestions on what to do. Just let me share it because I want to, not because I am looking for someone to give me the answers to my questions or to fix or change things for me, for us. Thank you. And thank you for taking the time to listen via reading this. Thank you for allowing me to just place this all in the light of the sun.
With Great Hope and Determination,