Life takes us sometimes, grabs us tightly around the waist, turns us upside down, and shakes us until we are mere shadows of what we once were. Then, just as abruptly, it sets us back in an upright and locked position, only without everything solidly locked back into place.
This is when healing and growth takes place.
Some of us heal faster than others with the kindness of strangers bestowed upon us. Strangers who find all that which we’ve lost and gift us new things we need to deal with this new “self” we’ve been gifted.
Some of us, even with the kindness of strangers, don’t heal as fast. That’s okay too. It’s frustrating but we are all on our own journey. Your journey will not look like her journey or his journey or even my journey. Sure, we can sit around a campfire, compare notes, and possibly even realize we have some things in common but ultimately, we are all on our own island, struggling to survive.
Technology has made it easier to connect between these islands and created a virtual campfire.
But it’s also made it easier for those who don’t support us to fling vicious words our way as we share and reach out for the support we so desperately need.
So we find ourselves stuck.
Stuck between needing to reach out to those like us and not wanting those who don’t understand to turn our cries for support into fodder for their attacks.
We may freeze. We may get silent, watchful, worried, allow the fear of attack to keep us from fully healing. Until.
Until we realize that it’s OUR STORY, our life, our journey. We inhale, brace ourselves, and begin to speak up. Maybe a whisper at first, but eventually it turns into a rebellious yell as we realize we are above those who would grab us and keep us down, that in order to heal, we must learn to shake off the chains of that which has held us down in the past.
It’s important for us to give ourselves permission to be that which we think others won’t let us be as we move forward. No one has the right to tell you who you are…aside from yourself. One of my favourite quotes is from Eleanor Roosevelt: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
No more complicit participation in accepting that I am anything less than ME – a mental health advocate, a Mom, a girlfriend, a woman, a daughter, a sister, and someone searching for herself in the wind.
This past month in a half has seen me be the strong one for my partner as he has struggled with sudden job loss, no income, and not knowing what the next day held. I have been the one to cheer him on as I rooted myself in an unwavering faith that we would be okay in the end.
I was the rock.
After all the faltering steps, the crushing episodes of Postpartum OCD, PTSD, and myriad of other life issues through which I completely fell apart, I was the rock. To know that I have come this far and am capable of being the solace and the strength for someone so close to me is mind-blowing. For me, this is huge.
There are no words.
As an advocate I get asked all the time when postpartum ends, when will I be myself again, when will I be able to get through a day without crying. These are the concerns I hear the most. I never know how to answer them because it is different for every situation, for every woman, and there is no script for life.
My own journey has surprised me with lots of twists and turns I never saw coming. I have conquered each one of them with various sorts of help from hospitalization to therapists to personal support to faith which has clearly evolved into something beyond my comprehension.
I know there are moms out there who feeling rocked and completely lost right now. The Perinatal Sea is a tough one to navigate but you can do it. Lean hard on the supports available to you and reach out for the ones you need as you go. Don’t let go, don’t give up, and keep steady on your course.
One day, you may just surprise yourself as you hit land and become the solid ground for someone else lost at sea.
(Photo Credit: Explosions in the Sky by Sergio Tudela Romero at Flickr)