So… Where did I come from?
The short story: Strength develops from pain.
In my case, it was depression, anger, and anxiety and sucking as a mom because of these things. I didn’t want my kids to remember their mom afraid, sad, mad, or misinterpreting any of these negatives as something they were at fault for. Just like you, I want the best for my kids and I knew I was far from my best. That wasn’t what they deserved! So from this desperation, I figured out how to change… And then I learned how to help other moms do the same.
The longer version:
My 4th baby was 4 months old when my husband deployed to Afghanistan for 8 months. My oldest was 6 1/2 years old.
At first, I buckled up. I’m tough. I’ve got this, I thought.
But things fell apart…
I was unprepared for the stress and emotional pain that comes from having a husband half-way around the world in a war zone. And then to keep moving, getting out of my lonely bed, taking care of my kids, was all I could do.
Another part of my struggle was that I had been the Go-To as a friend and I was used to being everything to everyone. I didn’t ask for help. Noooooo. Not this girl. Even my closest friends told me (afterward) it was difficult to tell that things were hard. I kept a smile on and did my best to show up on the outside, but I was falling apart on the inside.
It’s easiest to fall apart in private places first where we think “no one” can see, right? In my case, as a stay-at-home mom, with two little ones home all the time (the kindergartener and 1st grader got a break from me at school) there were no private places. Nowhere to be truly alone. My Littles would follow me to the bathroom and stick their little, wiggly fingers underneath the door to try to find me, “Mommy, we know you’re in there!”
My stress would bubble up to the surface and erupt at ridiculous times in the form of an ugly, angry Momster. I felt like an out-of-control pressure pot. The tiniest mistakes my kids made would cause me to go berserk and blow up. Instead of cheering them on and letting them know it was okay to mess-up, I would yell. I hated ME and just wanted to stick my head under a rock and hide from myself. Imagining how my kids felt to live with me felt like dirt.
Just to illustrate (literally, by my son), this was my Mother’s Day card that year right before my husband got home.
If you look close, Thomas writes, “My mom looks like this.”
Awww… But wait… “Honey, why do my eyes look all squinty like that?”
“Because that’s what you look like when you’re yelling.”
The light at the end of the tunnel for me, however, was that the deployment would end. If I could just hold on long enough, the broken pieces of my world would mend and things would be as they were. He did come home! In fact, he surprised me a week early. Best. Day. Ever.
But my inner struggle didn’t evaporate like I thought it would. It was great to have him home, but I had created behavior patterns (anger and anxiety) and bad habits (addicted to online shopping) that were still part of me that weren’t going to POOF! disappear.
I’ll never forget the night I realized that I was the problem – it was a couple months after he got home.
Around 8:30 at night, I was tired of playing “wack-o-mole” to get my oldest to stay in his bed. (each time he popped up to get a drink or tell me a story about the monster under the bed or that he wanted to stay up: Go to bed!… Go to bed!… Go to bed!). After the umpteenth time, I remember getting so angry that he wouldn’t just lie down and stay down that I flew off the couch and marched over to the bottom of the stairs, breathing fire and screaming my head off. I remember the rage and I remember the scared look and tears on my sweet boy’s face.
My peaceful (and shocked) husband had followed me to the bottom of the stairs, which were right by our screened-in, open front door, and was trying to gently lead me away from my son and the ears of any outsiders who might be close enough to hear this distraught, burned-out crazy lady. He had put his hand on my elbow to guide me away and help me when I turned and UNLEASHED all of my anger on him and said, “I DON’T GIVE A RAT’S A** WHO HEARS ME!!!!” feeling completely justified in all of it.
Who the heck was this?!? I had no idea.
But I knew I had a big, bad problem: ME! And I knew if I didn’t get help, I would be miserable with myself and my relationships with the people I loved most. So I reached out. (Huge!)
The first question Samantha-the-therapist asked me was, “what are you doing for yourself?”
My thought: What does that even look like?!?
Sam completely changed my life. Not only did she help me with my issues, but she changed the way I felt about reaching out for help. While working with her, I’m sure I shaved decades of heartache and hardship off my life. I felt like I learned more in 3 or 4 sessions with her, then 10 years or more trying to figure it out on my own.
My relationships with my kids improved and things were looking so good, but I wasn’t out of the woods yet.
Fast forward 9 months.
We moved to Germany and, right before moving, I got a strong impression to homeschool my kids. (Wait… WHA?!?… I know. I went from needing more time to myself to having ALL of them home All. The. Time.)
This really could be another story altogether, but I will just say I had learned not to ignore strong impressions when they come. It took me a little while to really admit or embrace this new move though, and I joke now that I was in serious denial all the way up until the first day of school when my kids just didn’t get on the bus… so… I guess we’re doing this.
Germany was beautiful and there were a lot of great things about our assignment there. But it was also really hard.
My husband was stationed at a NATO base that had very few Americans in the area, let alone other homeschoolers. We lived in a German village of about 300 people, most of which had also grown up in the area. We were outsiders. And we homeschooled. (Which is illegal for Germans.) And we’re near-vegan and Mormon. (In the land of schnitzel and schnapps.) We were So. Weird.
The weather was gray from mid-October to about the beginning of May. I didn’t realize I was susceptible to Seasonal Affective Disorder (seasonal depression) until my first winter there. I had NO IDEA what was going on until about February when I felt SO FAR from normal and ALL I wanted to do was stay in bed all day.
Gloomy. Anxious. Isolated. Feeling completely overwhelmed and inadequate. It took me about 18 months before I was only crying once a week.
So I reached out again. This time to a homeschooling mentor. A woman named Angie, who had homeschooled her 7 kids for a total of about 97 years (adding up all their ages). She was my Godsend. Angie the Angel. The first question she asked me was, “what are you doing for yourself?”
Again, I didn’t think this was about me. (noticing a pattern, here?)
Angie was the one who helped me see that my happiness was directly related to my choices. Not only with how I spent my time, but what I was thinking about. I knew, from being in the fitness and health industry for 10 years, that if I ate better and exercised I would have more energy. (hello?!)
But KNOWING is not enough, she got me to DO IT.
Not because she was the health guru, but because she saw so much potential in me. She was helping me work on ME. This kept me believing in myself AND it gave me permission to dream! At first, I just thought all that dream stuff was for “special” people – people who were more talented or smarter than I was, but I hoped and hung on and did what she said. Then little by little, I started to walk, then run, toward that potential with all my might (and I’m still running!).
While working with her, I knew that I needed to do something to help me get through the winter. So I signed up for a half-ironman triathlon in Mallorca, Spain in May. (Because that is the thought process of logical human beings.) I hit “go” on my registration in July and had 10 months to train and get my buns from zero to 70.3 miles.
This event changed my life. My only focus was the finish line. I knew I needed to work hard so that I wouldn’t die on the course, but I didn’t want to just be limping along. I really wanted to finish strong!
Visualization was huge.
I pictured the sun, the crowd, the beach, my family cheering for me, the warm weather when it was dark and cold and raining in Germany. While training, I remember running (…well, it was like a run/walk) 8 miles for the first time in my life and feeling like it was the hardest thing I’d ever done. I completed about 80% of my workouts, was eating super well and made it through the winter with no effects from the depression and anxiety that had plagued my life the previous two winters! It was a complete 180 and a total miracle!
When I crossed the finish line, I realized I COULD DO ANYTHING. Anything is possible. It’s true! The other thing I realized was that other women were trapped in mediocrity because of their own false beliefs or limited vision just like I was. There was more for them too!
In fact, I believe that women are the most underutilized demographic in our culture. We are strapped for time and struggle to be consistent because life with kids is constantly changing and chaotic. Just when we think we can start waking up early to exercise, little Wendy Sue starts waking up multiple times in the middle of the night and it throws everything off. Energy plummets. Resolve follows: I guess this is just my life with kids.
No… It’s not!! I just want to scream it from the rooftops!
Our health is the foundation of our life experience. When we have energy and vitality, our outlook shifts, our relationships improve, we are more productive at work… we have more joy.
I am here to show you a different way so you can start to spiral up and unlock your dormant, untapped potential to reach your dreams too!
Believing in YOU,
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