“Why am I this way?”
A question I have been asking myself, and pretty much anyone who will listen for as long as I can remember. Negative self-talk just happens to be the way my anxiety and depression likes to remind me it’s still hanging around.
Becoming a mom, one of my biggest fears was that I would pass on or even “teach” my anxiety and depression to my children. I’ve shared before that I am not the Mom I thought I would be. I know they see me have bad days, and I often wonder what their little minds think. Especially before they were able to communicate their feelings clearly. When I do have a bad or very anxious day, I try to talk my littles through how I’m feeling. I try to share with them that I am overwhelmed and that it is okay to feel our feelings. I also want (and try so hard) to teach them that there are healthy ways to combat those overwhelming feelings too. They see and hear me do daily affirmations, they see me go outside for a breath of fresh air, they watch me share my story.
This also means they see me at my worst. They see my tears, my frustration and sometimes even my meltdowns. Sometimes it happens before I even think about them being present. I try not to dwell or focus on this, as it can become consuming, but you can guarantee that the thought is always in the back of my mind.
“Why Am I this Way?”
Those were the words out of my 5-year-olds mouth that quite literally, broke my heart. It had been a particularly rough day. I can’t even remember why now, but I do remember I was very ready for bedtime. My son was struggling to fall asleep, and after I had been in his room for a drink, a prayer, a song, to give just one more hug, and to make sure all his stuff animals were in his bed – I’ll admit I was frustrated. That’s when I heard him say it.
“Why Am I This Way?” he repeated, in a defeated voice that I know all too well.
My kids often repeat things I say that I am not particularly fond of. A “bad” word, a silly name, maybe even a secret I was trying to keep. But nothing prepared me for hearing my baby, this perfect human being that could not be more wonderful, repeat my own negative self-talk. Ouch. Once I got over the initial shock, do you know who I immediately thought of? My own Mother. How many times had I said that to hear, how many times did I break her heart. How many times did she pick all those pieces up off the floor?
I walked into his room and scooped him up into the biggest hug I could possibly muster. Just maybe, if I squeezed hard enough, I could will all the love I had for him to come out through my pores, and soak his little body in it. Maybe that would fix it. Somewhere among the shuffle, I had forgotten how absorbent his little mind and heart was. I had caused the exact thing I was so afraid of.
This is the stuff they don’t tell you about. When they say Motherhood changes you, these are the moments I think they are talking about (whoever “they” are). Sure, there are the obvious things, your body changes, you become hyper-aware of everything, you’re exhausted in ways you didn’t even know possible. But these moments that knock you down, are the same that teach you to get back up. These moments cause you to grow, which can be really uncomfortable, I know.
I’ve got work to do. I can’t take back all the times they’ve seen me meltdown and the times they’ve heard me say that awful phrase. But I can move forward, it’s not too late to fix this. I can keep my chin up and try to do a little better tomorrow. I’ve been having him join me on my affirmations. We’ve been decompressing (instead of stressing) during our bedtime routine. I’ve probably gone overboard on reminding him what an awesome little dude he is.
And there’s a good chance, those nasty words might pop into my head or come out of my mouth again. I would love to say they won’t, but I’m just gonna be real here. Fighting Negative Self Talk is my biggest battle. Healing from anxiety and depression and loving myself is a work in progress. I share a lot about self-love, and my gosh am I trying, but there are days it just doesn’t happen. Mental Illness is never something that is going to go completely away for me.
But just maybe, his little voice repeating those words will pop in too, and it will be enough to remind me that he’s always watching and listening and that he is perfect just the way he is, and if that’s true, maybe I am too.
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