Apr 26 2020
We are living during a moment in time where people are displaying more and more comfortability with being vulnerable and feeling more comfortable coming forward with their stories. Maybe it’s the vulnerability of others that have given me ‘permission’ to share my story as freely as I have lately or perhaps it is the need to heal through the written word. Whichever it is I feel in control of my story (and the story I tell myself) when I share it with you.
Paralyzed and Highly Emotional
Recently, without warning, I have felt paralyzed and highly emotional on several occasions. The pattern goes a little something like this; Thayne will say something, and a rush of emotions will wash over me. In an instant, I feel deadened; frozen. I can’t breathe, and I start to cry uncontrollably. Sobbing really, and this poor man has a look of worry in his eyes as he helplessly watches me.
The morning after my last breakdown, I tried to get a run in; to clear my head. While out on my run, I could feel myself slowly (then extremely quickly) losing my steam. I couldn’t catch my breath, and it felt like I was going to faint. I stopped, slowed my breathing and started typing everything I was feeling in my notes on my phone. What came to me was eye-opening. In a matter of a few minutes, I recognized that the years of never feeling like a good enough wife or mom had a profound effect on me.
A Constant Battle
I am discovering that PTSD is a thing. Not just for those in war but for those living through a war in their day to day life. For some people, these physical responses emerge or re-emerge later in life in response to triggers and stressors.
My marriage felt like a constant battle. As a wife, I walked on eggshells in fear of upsetting him or making a mistake. When the mail came, I swiftly snagged the 407 and credit card bill so my spending wouldn’t be questioned. Most of all, I feared the interrogation every time I added a new travel date to the calendar. Every breakdown, disagreement, or argument ended in me apologizing for hurting him, for not communicating well enough or for needing to work harder at making myself better.
Past trauma has begun to paralyze me, and it’s been my reality twice this past two weeks.
In one instance, I had had a little bit of wine, and I’ll admit I was having fun! I was laughing so hard that a bit of drool came out of my mouth; I know probably TMI, but I vowed to myself to be vulnerable and tell the whole story, so there you have it. Thayne laughed with me and said, “did that just happen?!”. In that light-hearted moment, I broke down. I cried without warning. Uncontrollably. He held me, not understanding how at the drop of a dime, the mood changed.
The Need to feel fixed
And then it happened again, more profoundly
I was worried, feeling insecure about not being enough. Where this feeling came from, I couldn’t tell you, but it was intense. I felt like I was not enough for Thayne. We lay in bed for hours discussing why I was feeling this way. Without resolve, I snuck out of our bed at midnight to journal. Journalling has become my way to understand why I think the way I do. Journalling has become the way I know how I can fix myself.
Almost as soon as I tip toped out of our room, Thayne followed. I’m so grateful for him. He came, hugged me, and continuously told me I was more than enough. Thayne spent the next half hour holding me while I sobbed and reassuring me that I didn’t need fixing. He repeated “Katie; you are more than enough just as you are.”
During the walk back from my run, I figured it out. I cried because of the countless times I was told not to drink, to get a hold of myself, or to act differently (less fun, more subdued). All the reasons that attributed to how I was a bad wife. All the reasons I needed fixing. When I finally made it home, I felt the urge to google the effects of trauma on a person’s brain. Here is a sentence that explained what was happening.
“Sometimes, people can actually feel as though they are reliving traumatic moments in the here and now; their past intrudes painfully into the present, over and over again.”
Simply put, I was reacting to the trauma I encountered for more than a decade.
The Refiners Fire
We often don’t feel the effects of trauma until it’s over. The man who goes to war and wakes up screaming in the middle of the night. A woman that triple checks the locks to make sure abuser can’t get in after she’s escaped him and the humans that consistently question themselves after years of emotional and mental abuse. Years after it’s over; even after they’ve found love.
Thankfully, research also shows that we can forge new connections between brain cells, building and strengthening healthy pathways with different experiences after a trauma. The work I am focusing on now is to rewire the old and accept the love I have found.
I pray that if you have experienced trauma in your life, you can find peace in these words. And as Thayne tells me; you are more than enough. You don’t need fixing. You are in the refiner’s fire and will come out of this a little smoother and stronger but just as perfect.
Apr 17 2020
Even going to the bathroom alone was an impossible task.
I was trapped, yes trapped in a house with three kids for two weeks under quarantine. I love my kids dearly. They are great little humans. But the screaming, questions, time consumption, and lack of privacy was all too much for me. I felt I was going crazy yet I felt guilty for not having the schedule down pat. I felt guilty for feeling overwhelmed. I felt guilty about ordering pizza twice in two weeks. And more then ever I felt like less of a mom because I just needed to get out.
I can hear the voice in your head as you read those words saying one of two things.
- Yes, That’s how I feel! I don’t dare to say it out loud, or
- What kind of mom wants a break from her kids?!
Let’s be real. An honest mom would tell you that not only does she need a break from her kids, but she also wants too.
I write from a judgement-free space. in my opinion, judging others is one of the least loving things we can do to another human being. I allow you to judge me if you need to. But I also invite you to be open to hearing a different point of view.
The downward spiral of ‘mommy guilt’ started nine years ago
I have been a mom for nine years. When the twins turned six and Riley was three that I started travelling for work and began down the path of self-discovery and growth. Prior to this time, I was an overly dedicated mom. I still worked full time, but boy oh boy, did I hold myself to a high standard. I only cooked organic from scratch meals. I was present for all drop-off and pickups. Nighttime routines were always on schedule. And of course, I gave all my time to my kids and my husband. And that was just the tip of the ice burg. There was nothing left for me.
What I didn’t notice was the drip of guilt placed on me every time I needed something for me, similar to Chinese water torture. Simple things like going to the gym resulted in responses like “when they are napping, or after they go to sleep for the night”. Or the guilt I started to feel when I wanted to have a glass of wine on a Tuesday night because my husband’s policy was that the kids should only see me drink wine on the weekend. The slow infusion of being convinced that wanting or needing something for myself was a selfish act started to paralyze me and make me question my own sanity.
An awaking in the making
Fast forward to my awakening, career growth and desire to be more than just a mom. This ambition was new and came with travel, late working nights and a lot less time to be the ‘Martha Stuart’ mother and wife once felt I needed to be. Although I was determined and stood up for myself the guilt trips continued and came in the form of questioning, control, and the classic “you care more about your career than us” line that I head on repeat like a broken record. Oh, and let’s not forget the fact that I was ‘ruining’ our kids and that I was told I was an inadequate mom because of my desires and passions. The guilt I felt was so deep and so real that I started to believe like I was a ‘bad mom’.
I was (and still might be) part of the 21% of moms that feel guilty ALL THE TIME. That’s a staggering stat, one-fifth of moms live in a place of constant guilt. Here is another crazy stat, 90% of moms feel guilty daily. They feel guilty for not being good enough, whether or not they make the right decisions for the family, taking time for themselves, or letting their kids have too much screen time 😳 (the list of reasons we feel guilty keeps going).
Part of these feelings of guilt is self-inflicted. We take the judgement of others; personally. We look at the ‘perfect’ Instagram & Pinterest moms that seem to have it all figured out, and we shelf judge.
Insert “mommy guilt”
But if you were to take a close look at how social media, the world wide web, marketing ads, and the unrealistically high expectations of those around us are it doesn’t surprise me why we stumble down a downward spiral of self-judgement and guilt.
A mindset shift, a divorce, and new love
A mindset change and a divorce have brought light to my eyes. The most transformational event during this time has been that the love of my life ( a man I dared to dream about but didn’t think existed) has taught me that I am worthy enough to let go of the ‘mommy guilt ‘ I carry around. He has taught me that it is ok to want to pee in private!
This mindset change has brought an uproar of judgement from those closest to me in the form of questioning and statements like “you’re different and how can you say you need a break from your kids.”
The truth is; man or woman, mom or dad, we all need a break. Raising kids is THE hardest job one will ever have. I love my kids to bits, that didn’t change. I would do ANYTHING for them, that also remains the same. My kids don’t want or need for anything, status quo. What’s different about me? I care about me, I have let go out the guilt, and if that makes me a bad mom in anyone’s eyes then so be it! I won’t let myself feel guilty about that either.
I left quarantine one week ago; I miss my kids, but boy oh boy, do I love my guilt-free time.
My hope is that you have read this from a judgement-free space but if you haven’t that’s on you; I won’t carry that with me. I do hope you have the ability, to be honest with yourself and decide to let go of the guilt you carry.