I’ve been having a lot of guilt. Not for the reason you would think though. I’ve been having a lot of mom guilt. It shouldn’t even be a thing for me right now, right? But it is. It’s bad.
I had the most amazing break overnight this week, thanks to some incredibly generous people. And I can’t wait to tell you about it. But until I can, I’ll just Say it was what I didn’t know I needed. And I’m super grateful. I literally slept for 11 hours that night. That’s more than I normally get in two nights. I thought that when I got home I would be so rested and ready to take on the world again. But that’s not what happened.
I came home after this little getaway to basically run full speed into a brick wall, at least that’s what it felt like. And it wasn’t the 9 3/4 brick wall from harry potter. It was solid. Or I’m just a muggle. Nerd joke. It was all of a sudden the harshest reminder of what has happened over the last few months and where I’m at in my life. I don’t know why I haven’t had a moment like that for a while but it felt like, hey welcome home to single parenthood and the trauma of losing a spouse to suicide, here you go, good luck.
And I feel so guilty. I feel guilty that for the last few months I haven’t enjoyed being a mom very often. I’m tired. I I am overwhelmed. I crave silence and solitude and I don’t get it very often. I love when people take my kids for a few hours a little too much. I need breaks from them often.
It wasn’t always this way. When Winnie was born, I enjoyed every second. I’m not exaggerating. I wanted to be with her 24/7 and I never got mad or annoyed. Seriously. And Denny was the same way. It was so fun and easy. Even when it wasn’t. It was for me. So many people told me, they’d never seen someone take to motherhood as naturally as I had. They’d never seen a mother dote on her daughter as consistently and sincerely as I had.
My mom died while I was pregnant with Piper and then I had a scary birth. Not that there needs to be a reason besides pregnancy, but I think those contributed to me getting postpartum depression after she came into the world. I struggled. It felt severe to me but now looking back it was pretty mild depression compared to many of my friends who suffer from PPD. There was no psychosis or anything but I just felt numb and blah. Every day was the same and I cried a lot about missing my mom.
About six months after Piper was born I finally was hit with the realization that life isn’t meant to be that way and that this isn’t normal. I jumped into therapy. And when I say jumped… head first and cannonball off a 100 ft diving board buck naked. I started going twice a week. Voluntarily. My therapist said this is very uncommon. I’m cool like that. I actually did the homework she asked me to do. I worked my tail off.
I also changed up my meds. I was terrified to do this because any of you out there who have done anti depressents/anti anxiety/anti psychotic/ etc meds (What up my people), you know it’s a beast. Finding the right cocktail is the most frustrating and terrifying thing. It took me a few years to find the right combo and I had been doing so well on that concoction for at least 5 years. I didn’t want to mess with that. But obviously it wasn’t working. So we adjusted and THANK GOD (genuinely, I thank Him), it took. It helped a lot.
This was last November that I started this wild ride. And I’m so grateful I did start it then. Because, ask anyone close to me, by the end of February and early March this year I was a changed woman. I was doing so much better. I wasn’t overnight a happy giddy girl who got a pony for her birthday (I actually don’t want ponies, but thanks). But I was so stable and secure and feeling confident and whole again because I did work my behind off. I missed my mom but in a healthy way. I worked through so much of the trauma of my life thus far and was doing so well. I was enjoying my kids and having fun with them. We were going to the zoo and to the park and getting outside and doing things. I loved my days with them again. It was hard. 2 kids is way harder than 1. But it was mostly so fun and I was content and happy.
I can’t imagine where I’d be had I not been doing this therapy and working so hard.
Then March 23rd came and my whole life came crashing down once again but so much harder and faster and more violently than ever before.
I had a moment about two weeks ago where I was sitting in our rocking chair with both girls insisting on sitting on my lap. I squeezed them and felt this rush of gratitude. I felt like weeping. I just love them so much. They have saved me. They are beautiful and smart and healthy and sweet and all that is good in the world despite what life has thrown their way. And I felt so grateful. I realized in that moment, that I hadn’t had this feeling very much since Denny died. I’m constantly checking the clock for bedtime or nap time or when someone is going to come pick them up next. I have my headphones in a lot of the time listening to podcasts trying to get things done and get my mind off of the hard stuff. Some nights I want to go on a date and leave my kids with a babysitter so I can have some identity out of being a mom and have some fun with an adult I like spending time with for a few hours. I want to have time to sew and so I turn on the tv to distract my girls for a minute while I cut my pattern out.
I feel guilty about all of these things.
I feel guilty that I have thousands of messages that I haven’t responded to, some as old as April. Some needing support and resources. Some on the edge of making a terrible decision. Some messaging me five times a day for weeks at a time trying to get my attention. I get overwhelmed. I don’t have time to sit down and respond. I want to. But I can’t. It’s also emotional obviously to be talking constantly to people who want to take their life, who had their loved one take their life, etc. I shut down and can’t respond to any. I have had friends come into town and I never work out a time to see them. I have made commitments and bail. I have a particular speaking opportunity coming up that is giving me all sorts of anxiety and I don’t think I can do it.
I have so much guilt. I’m trying not to but I feel it so much.
Even on the worst days, I do have dance parties with my girls. I snuggle them several times throughout the day. I get them fed and usually that includes some produce and protein. I don’t have the tv on ALL day. I do talk to Winnie and learn about her incredible talents and her wild imagination. I baby talk with Piper while intermittently trying to teach her how to say words or what things are. I usually have at least a few message exchanges that either feel like I’m helping someone or make me feel loved by what they said. I shower. I even exercise sometimes. I’ve made a few home cooked meals in the past few months. I keep my house pretty clean. I play with the girls. I do crafts with Winnie. We go to church most Sunday’s. We run errands and do chores. These sound minor but they are successes to me. They make me feel like I’m doing something right. And most days I don’t fall apart or cry. That’s huge.
I don’t know if the feelings I’m having could technically be considered “depression.” It is probably more likely that it’s my anxiety causing me to feel this guilt and the need to keep going and not take breaks. It’s also probably just a part of how I grieve. I mean I know it is. I did the same things after my mom died.
But when people tell me I’m so brave, a hero, incredible… blah blah blah. That’s so nice of you. I really do appreciate it. And somedays I do feel brave. But other days I just feel guilt. Most days I just feel guilt. I just wish I could do more, feel more, give more. I wish I wasn’t numb most days. I wish I could respond to my messages and keep up on things. I wish I could make money for my family. I wish I could be more consistent with posts and videos. I wish I could be more present with my girls. I wish I could be a better friend. I wish I could have more fun and take care of myself more. I wish I could do all of the things that I want to do.
But that’s how I know I’m still grieving. Because some of these tiny things feel impossible. Some of these things that are normally easy feel like I’m carrying an elephant up 3 flights of stairs.
This post isn’t inspirational. It’s not about how empowered I feel. And it’s not going to help you realize you can do anything. But what it is… is honest. It’s real. It’s truthful. It’s a weird time in my life. It’s a whole lot of fog and not a lot of clarity. It’s mostly normal days with some really bad ones and some great ones mixed in there but all with a heaviness over them. It’s the reality of being alone here. Not by choice. That choice was taken away from me because of addiction and mental illness. It was taken away from me because of abuse put on Denny as a young child. Here I am driving the struggle bus that I didn’t even know I was on.
Thank you for your support from loved ones and friends and strangers who feel like family. Thank you for helping me feel strong when I’m anything but. Thank you for encouraging me on my best and my worst days. I couldn’t be more blessed to have the support system that I have all over the world.