There is nothing as soothing after an honest, raw blog than someone telling you they needed to read it. I was honored and touched, so thank you, fellow survivor-mom. She spoke to me about how she put her “survivor stuff” away when she had kids. She began hearing the things we’ve all heard when we travel down the mommy road: “It’s not about you anymore;” “Being a mom is always thinking about another little being first;” “It’s like you don’t even matter the second those little eyes look up at you.”
Cue the violin, the harp, and the intimate, selfless, mommy fade-out/baby fade in. End scene.
There are a disturbing number of issues with this, but for survivor-mom starters if we fade out, it also means that we’re no longer talking about how our experiences impact our present, though they do. Take being pregnant: I had “all day sickness” for seven months. I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes, I was on twice weekly monitoring and I still had an emergency C-section (but only after an entire weekend of labor). You take a woman who didn’t have control over her body at various points in her life, and you plant a baby. Let’s just say that stuff comes up. Yet, the one in three of us that have experienced it aren’t talking about it. After all, the second after baby-fade-in appears, we fade out.
Last week, the survivor-mom that approached me said she was crazy, must be, because her mind told her the most insane things. She thought she was completely losing her mind. Some of the examples she gave:
- When my son doesn’t comply, I just picture myself hauling off on him. That just can’t be normal!
- I should never have been a mom. I’m too damaged and I’m not over it and I’m just going to screw them up.
- I have to love myself first or I can’t possibly love my kid? But, then, should I just give him away?
After some time talking, I shared with her that our minds are full of crap. I can’t take credit for this idea, some folks have been trying to convince me of it for some time. Many meditation masters truly get this. We cannot believe the ramblings of our mind. They don’t represent us well, they are usually someone else’s voice (or voices) and they are relentless and cruel.
I remember once confiding in a mentor I cherish, “I think I’m incurably flawed, insatiably needy, and untouchably broken.”
I said it. I’ve felt it. Sometimes I revisit it. But can’t we agree that is complete and utter rubbish? I have a pretty amazing life and I cherish every smidge of it. If I’m that messed up, that doesn’t give much credit to all the amazing folks who choose to hang around me, does it? Why would they waste their time hanging with junk?
Survivor-moms need folks who are daring enough to share these dark places. In camaraderie, we can stare at the lies we’ve believed, and deflate them. We can say, “you’re not alone, me too.” We can “fade in” from time to time to tune ourselves up a bit. Sisterhood is for all of us, all parts of us. The haunted parts too. (And, for the record, I understand that moms who aren’t survivors play these mind games too).
What is true? You deserve love and belonging. You did then, you do now. If you want help putting that belief to practice, see Kate’s amazing post from Monday here!
You deserve love and belonging. It’s true even if you cannot believe it, and know you’re not alone. Talk about those haunted parts of being a mom too, the ones we wish we didn’t exist. If you need a place to start, it’s here: support, strength, sisterhood.