This hasn’t been the easiest of posts for me to write. I’m pretty sure I’ve deleted more words than I’ve written and I’m still not sure if what I’m trying to actually say makes any lick of sense either but if you’ve been in my shoes, hopefully you’ll understand.
As a mother with three teenage daughters, I’ll admit that I knew this day was coming. I’ve been preparing myself for the emotional rollercoaster, I read parenting blogs, books, gravitate towards those who have ‘gone before me’ and I’ve been trying to prepare my husband as well. Three teenage daughter growing up in society today is not going to be easy.
But I didn’t expect it to be this hard either.
I’m glad that my daughters are growing up in a society where mental health is talked about. I’m thankful that there are resources available for them when they need the help. I’m grateful for the awareness that is out there now amongst peers and teachers and others in authority. I can’t say enough how thankful I am to those who are around my children, people who can see the signs, who actively listen to what they say when they think no one is hearing them and who take the steps to ensure there is help available when it’s needed.
When I grew up, mental health wasn’t something we openly discussed. Depression, anxiety, addiction, suicide…these were all things you whispered about, things you turned a blind eye too…but not today.
Thank God, not today.
This past month hasn’t been an easy one in our household, for a multitude of reasons. Mental health isn’t just an issue, it can be a crisis and as a mom/wife/woman – I wish I could say I know what to do, how to react, what to say/not say…but I don’t. I wish I could do better. Be better. But I’m not. But this past month – I’m learning that’s okay though.
It’s okay to not be okay. This is a lesson that has been more than thirty years in the making for me. I’m turning forty this year (ack!) and I’m just coming to grips with the fact that I don’t handle stress well, that I’m not as strong as I thought I was and that all of the crap I went through growing up (rape, eating disorder, depression, suicide thoughts), all the things I learned about myself through those times I can now use to try to help my children as they face their own emotional issues.
It’s okay to not be okay. I keep telling myself that I need to be strong right now, that I need to find a way to hold it all together…but I think the truth of the matter is that I don’t have to be all that strong. I don’t have to always hold it together. That it’s okay to show my daughters that not always being okay is in fact okay.
It’s been a rough month. A month of tears and heartache and confusion. A month of deadlines and expectations and responsibilities. A month of fear and worry and sleepless nights.
It’s been a month where I’ve pulled back online and have shut my computer off. I’ve sat in my chair, blanket wrapped around me and prayed for help, for peace and for guidance. I’ve found different things to make me smile, I’ve eaten probably way too much cake and drank more than my share of coffee. But most of all…it’s been a month where I’ve looked deep into my heart and have accepted that I don’t have to be all the stuff I can’t possibly be at this moment.
Life is about moments. Moments to cherish. Moments to remember. Moments that make a difference. I could look back on all the moments that I should have noticed, all those moments that I had been a better mother I might have caught the signs…but there’s nothing gained by doing that. All I can do is celebrate all the moments I have now, on a go forward basis and be the best mom/wife/woman I can be…in this moment.
Even if I’m not okay. Because, that is also okay.
One day, this awful month will be behind me. One day, this time in our lives will be considered the past. One day, we’ll be able to look back as a family as see where we all changed – for the better.
I’m often asked how I can write characters that seem so real, where their pain is personable and it’s easy for readers to put themselves in my characters place…if you’ve managed to read to the end of this post, you’ll now know the answer to that. It’s because the pain is real and very personable to me and for me.