June 3, 2010

Let Go/Be Still: The Art of Balance

Let Go/Be Still (Intro)

I think it's safe to say that I pretty much hit rock bottom in the first couple of months of this year. I don't have a moment where I'd say, "Oh, that's it, that's the worst that it got" because I pretty much felt like hell all the time. I do know that my mood plummeted after Christmas and our wonderful trip to Texas (which I never blogged about - but I still want to, even though it's six months after the fact).

My first trimester of my current pregnancy sucked. (No surprise there. I've never met a woman out there who had a fun first trimester.) It was pretty unexpected to end up pregnant in the midst of a major depression, and to be honest, more than anything I felt extremely overwhelmed. It doesn't mean I wasn't happy. (I was. Am.) But it was hard to see that things were going to get better and that we were going to be able to handle having two children so close in age. Most of the time, I felt like I barely had a grip on parenting one child; now we were going to have two?!

My anxiety level was also sky high. I was terrified of losing the baby. I don't have a history of miscarriage, but even so, I am very well aware of how pregnancy can have a tragic end. I had the same fears with Charlie, only these felt amplified. Additionally, because I have several friends who are dealing with infertility, I was scared shitless to tell them that I had gotten pregnant unexpectedly. I really thought they would hate me and never want to talk to me again, even though I knew that they weren't like that. In general, my anxiety level had been pretty high since Charlie was born, so these fears almost sent me over the edge.

And then there was the birth to consider. I'd been collecting books about VBAC for months, and I had "find midwife" on my to-do list, but I didn't feel there was any rush. And then all of a sudden, I had to face the thought of giving birth again. And my only experience with birth was a hellish one. I was so scared.

So Roy and I decided to keep the pregnancy between us for awhile. We needed some time to mull it over without all the weird and annoying things people tend to say when you're pregnant, like "How are you feeeeeeling?" every time they see you. I had no desire to share the news. It just felt like too much to handle on its own; how in the world would I be able to handle it if everyone knew and wanted to talk about it?

When the all-day nausea and exhaustion hit, I found myself at a complete and total loss. I had no idea how I was going to handle Charlie, all the ickiness that comes with the first trimester, depression, and everyone else's expectations (including my own). I cried buckets. I was very, very low. But I was in therapy, and that gave me hope.

In order to just make it through each day, I let everything go. I focused on making sure Charlie was getting his needs met, and when he went down for naps, I went down, too. Most of the time I didn't sleep. I just laid there in silence with my thoughts, and then eventually my thoughts melted away. I was resting. Not at peace, but just being still.

I let the mail pile up, the mess accumulate, the laundry stay undone. I put my thesis way on the back burner, and I didn't force myself to do anything I didn't want to. Some days we holed up in the house because I just couldn't physically handle going anywhere. My attitude eventually became "the world can wait." And actually, truer words have never been spoken. Because it really can.

Even though I felt like shit, that process of letting go of all that extra stuff was very liberating for me. I'd spent so much precious time trying to find a balance and trying to accommodate everyone else's needs and desires - while pretty much putting mine aside. Feeling so awful gave me permission to take care of myself, but more importantly, it gave me permission to take it easy on myself. I came to realize then that pregnant or not, it was ridiculous to expect myself to be able to be perfect at being a good mother, keeping a clean house, maintaining a happy marriage, and having time for my own life - all at the same time.

I don't think balance exists. Not the way we tend to define it, anyway. I think it's an illusion that society would like to see us work towards, but like perfect happiness, it's unattainable. There's nothing wrong with leaving the dishes undone for the night or leaving the clean laundry in the basket so that you can read a book. Society would have us believe that we need to fill up every second with productivity, because if we don't, we're lazy.

Well, I call bullshit.

I no longer work towards finding a balance. I still have a to-do list. I still have goals. I still have a schedule that I like Charlie to stick to. In the depths of my soul, I am one of those people who is way too hard on herself and who will always feel the tiniest bit guilty for pretty much everything. But I've taken a step in the right direction by realizing that I'm done with trying to be Supermom/Superwife/Superperson. I am a good mother and a good wife and a good person. And that's enough. It has to be. There's no room in my life for being a martyr.

I am so much happier now that I'm embraced this simple truth about life. The world can wait, and I'll do what I can when I can. Oddly enough, it took a journey to the depths of hell for my healing to begin.

As I write this, the house is an absolute mess. Charlie has been on nap strike the past couple of days. My to-do list is taunting me. It's been like this for the entire week. Any one of these things would have sent me over the edge two months ago. But here I am, writing away on my laptop, feeling perfectly content.

Because finally, after such a long time, I have figured out the art of balance. And it has nothing to do with my to-do list and everything to do with letting go of what ultimately doesn't matter. I've got an amazing child asleep (finally) in the next room, another little cutie on the way, a wonderful husband, and a great support system. And I've got myself.

Nothing else matters.

1 comment:

Crazy Daisy said...

this post is beautiful Leslie. your honesty, perspective and complete openness about where you are/were, is wonderful. thank you.