Tag Archives: Finding Myself

Shifting From Dark to Light

African sunrise Pictures, Images and Photos

While we were dating, Ben and I often went hiking on the beautiful Alaskan mountains. One particular morning found us at the top of Flattop a little after sunrise. I remember observing the gradual shift from dark to light as the sun’s rays spread across the land, leaving a kaleidoscope of shadows.

These last few days I’ve been reflecting on that scene in connection with my newly found happiness.  For years I suffered under a cloud of despair: Seeing my future as hopeless and desolate.  Looking back through time, I can only remember brief stints of joy splattered on a canvass of bleakness–my existence.

Up until a few months ago, before I recognized the need of intervention–in the forms of therapy and medication–I would wake with a rising sense of dread.  The kids would watch hours of the Wiggles so I could sleep through the pain of severe anxiety and depression.  When they engaged in normal child activities, the screwed up wiring in my brain produced reactions of intense and irrational irritation and anger.  My husband was terrified to come home because he did not know what Amber he would find: the cheerful and supportive wife or the desperate and despairing wife.  Multiple times a week I would have meltdowns complete with tears and dreary announcements of our future.

Under the guidance of a wonderful practitioner, I received the help I needed.  After finding the right dose and mix of medications–to treat the clinical depression and anxiety–I saw a noticeable difference.  The manifestation began by waking up full of hope and excitement for the day ahead of me, followed by joyful anticipation of the transition our family will soon make when Ben begins medical school, and capped when I no longer dreaded my husband’s long work week but looked forward to any time we had together.

The medication precipitated a symbolic sunrise in my life.  No longer do I dwell in darkness; rather, the shadows are carefully dispelling under the gentle caress of the sun’s rays.

No longer incapacitated by mental illness, I am peeling away the layers and finding the person I have always been: Compassionate, optimistic, and happy.

Thank you all for supporting me through this painful journey.   Your patience, kindness, and friendship has meant so much to me.

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Filed under Depression

On Being a Stay-At-Home Mom

I struggled for a long time with what I thought being a stay-at-home mom meant.  I visualized a day full of baking, putting together puzzles, reading story after story, and, of course, creating art and making crafts.  As many of you know, I detest baking and abhor having to participate in making arts and crafts.  And, with my recent health problems, floor time is very challenging.

In my mind, this makes me atypical; which, in turn, makes me feel highly uncomfortable with my new profession.

It doesn’t help that I don’t fit into any mold.  We live in an apartment, my husband works two full-time jobs, we have one very old vehicle, and our food budget is meager.  I struggle with chronic anxiety and depression and can barely keep our tiny space from imploding from the chaos of two kids.  Not the suburban bliss most people picture (or at least I pictured) when thinking of moms staying home with their kids.

So, when I hear women saying “I’m not the stay-at-home type” I can relate.  At least if their definition is the same one I’ve always used.

What am I to do?

Change the definition.

As with parenting, there are all sorts of moms who decide to stay-at-home.  I have to believe that not every mother delights in the typical homemaking (a word I really dislike) pursuits.  We all have talents and interests, outside of mothering, that spice up our résumé.

Some of my interests include helping the low income, minority, and mentally ill populations find the healthcare they need, continue on to higher education, and apply for jobs directly related to their individual talents;  fitness and helping women and men find their inner beauty and perfect their own healthy body image; and pursuing life long education by obtaining a masters, followed by Ph.D, in some area of expertise and conducting and publishing research in premier journals.

My talents include reading to and teaching my kids all sorts of things beyond picture books; incorporating exercise–whether it’s walking or aerobics on DVD–into our daily schedule; and managing our finances so we do not go over our budget.

These talents and interests make me, me.  Even if it makes me an untraditional SAHM (another term I dislike).  I’d much rather do what I always wanted to do (stay at home with my kids) my way than stay within some defined boundary and feel miserable by not staying true to myself.

What about you?  (I’m sure you can relate this to your own life and whatever profession you have. You don’t have to be a mom to feel as if you are an outlier.)

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Filed under Reflections

A Slow Healing Process

I thought I was pregnant last month.  I had all the symptoms: nausea, vomiting, headaches, frequent urination, etc.  Setting aside my reservations, my excitement started mounting.  How could it not?  Sickness is a good thing, for me, in determining a viable pregnancy.  I felt the phrase “the third time is the charm” might apply this time.

Except it didn’t.  Because I started my period a couple weeks later–right on time. (And, to confirm this, I also took a couple pregnancy tests.)  With the nausea, vomiting, and all the other lovely things that now accompany me constantly.  You know, without a pregnancy.

To say I was angry is an understatement.  Ben and I thought for sure all my symptoms meant the one thing we really want–another baby.  Instead I was greeted with the mother of all cramps and her crimson venom.  Once the bleeding started, I texted Ben telling him that I did not want to have any more kids.  I was done with pregnancies, done with fertility stuff, done with everything.  He called me on his lunch break and let me talk.   And cry.  Because I cried a lot.

When he came home that night, he held me.  He let me vent without saying one contradictory word.  He let me rage against my body, my period, and against God.

(Have I mentioned I married the perfect guy for me?)

*****

Andrew is learning to climb on and off furniture.  As I have taught him many times that the safest, and most effective, way for him to climb down is feet first, I must now let him learn the painful lesson of not following my guidance.

When he starts crawling off head first, I tell Ben, “Let him go, he needs to learn by falling on his head.”  Which he has, slowly.  It can be hard to watch him fall, but I know it is the only way he will learn.

*****

Right now, God is letting me fall on my head.  I don’t know what I am supposed to learn through this process, but I do know it is mighty painful.

This recent period was a frightful reminder of my miscarriages.  (Two! In the same year!.)  It brought me to the lowest depths of depression I’ve been in since I can’t remember.  Along with the sadness, I embraced bitterness.  A bitter person is not good company, as Ben has unfortunately experienced.  I’m not proud of the person I’ve been over the past couple weeks, a big reason this space has remained unoccupied, however I understand, and Ben understands, the complicated emotions that assailed me over something that I’ve had once a month (besides pregnancy) since I was 14.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I have had some recent revelations that have forced me to evaluate many parts of who I am and who I want to become.  While I don’t intend to be vague, I am still figuring out the different pieces and at the moment cannot adequately articulate what they mean.  But, if you’ll be patient with me, I feel ready to write about them one at a time.

Yeah, I guess that means I’m back.

***Image via FreeImages.

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Filed under seemingly bold

Motherhood Ease and Taking A Break

I wanted to be a mother since I was a little girl. However, in all my imaginings I didn’t anticipate the anxiety that accompanies this occupation.

There are many mothers who I admire; most of them seem to easily bear the mantle of motherhood. When I observe them, I see how comfortable they feel with their role and how they adjust naturally to changes.

I wish I felt that way.

I love being a mother and I adore my children. Recently, I’ve started daydreaming of having a big family again. A huge step for me since the miscarriage.

However, I don’t feel qualified. I see this in simple things.

When Ben leaves for work, I am gripped by this terrible fear of being left, alone, with the kids. I think about the hours I have until they are down for naps and then until they go to bed. I dread meal times and bath times and almost everything in between. So I plan lots of activities to fill the voids–library visits, aerobics, shopping trips, and appointments. I don’t prefer play groups because it means I must visit with other mothers who probably are much better at being a stay-at-home mom than me.

If the kids start to cry, I become rattled. I tell myself that I cannot comfort them and that the crying will continue for hours during the day. A lovely relic of the heavy duty colic I survived with both kids.

I spend half the day chasing after Emily and the other half cleaning up the messes she has made. Sitting down and playing with her rarely happens as she is too busy getting into the things to have anything to do with puzzles, blocks, or any crafty thing.

As a woman with a degree in family science (with a heavy emphasis on child development), I know what I need to do to encourage my children in their intellectual growth. Thus, when these things aren’t done, I feel the failure even more significantly.  And it scares me.

I crave comfort in motherhood.

*****

My life is in chaos.  I don’t mean that lightly.  The family has yet to adjust to Ben working two jobs.  I’ll freely admit that I am struggling with it.

The hardest part is being responsible for everything.  Sure the dishes can wait…for me. If I don’t clean, no one else will.  It’s not that Ben doesn’t want to help, it’s that he can’t.  His burden is our finances while mine is the household.  Hefty responsibilities for both of us.  We share what we can while doing our bests to fulfill our sole obligations.

I am taking a break.  I need time to organize my life so I don’t feel overwhelmed by the slightest setback.  I don’t know when I’ll be back; it could be a couple of days, a couple of weeks, or couple of months.

Perhaps this break will stop the unsettled feeling I have.  I’ll let you know when I get back.  Until then, know that I will read here and there, and that I will think of all of you during the absence.  Hey, as the saying goes, “absence makes the heart grow fonder.”  Or maybe that’s intended for a different context.  Yeah, that’s a bit awkward.

Anyway.  If I’m not back before the holidays, I wish all of you the best.  I’ll see you when I see you.

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Filed under Shooting Straight

A Spectacular Failure

My plan of posting daily was foiled by sickness and travelling.  We are home, thankfully safe and sound as inclement weather wanted otherwise, but the sickness is pervasive.  We are all busy living in a haze of congestion, chills, and fevers.

Before I stopped, I had published every day, except one.  A decent record, for sure, but did I really do what I set out to accomplish?

Yes.

Writing daily became a habit.  I set aside a block of time for myself, nightly, to sit and write.

Posting was more enjoyable.  I wrote on a variety of themes, allowing my creativity to flow.

Giving myself a break each day provided me with the escape I needed from the incessant worries that accompany motherhood and solo parenting.

And no.

I am not satisfied with my writing.  Many days, the posts seemed more like stream-0f-consciousness writing rather than organized, coherent, and cohesive thoughts with few grammatical and punctuation errors.   My time, like so many people’s, is extremely restricted.  If I choose to sit and write, I also choose to ignore the mess and continue living in a chaotic household–something I am not okay with.

While I did go outside of my comfort zone in small ways, I still kept within the confined zone.  Struggling to find the perfect word choice/combinations, appropriate tone, and correct word usage has placed more than one important piece inside the drafts folder.

I did not find that niche of which I am looking.  The subject that defines this place.  I also found myself in a vulnerable position of confronting a truth I have been avoiding.  A truth that will lead to more time and effort in order to receive adequate help.

I managed to break through the fog I had been living in by trying the NaBloPoMo challenge.  In the process, though, I found another fog that will take longer to navigate.  Something I’m not exactly prepared for but understand the necessity of facing it.

Perhaps I should dedicate this blog to figuring out pieces of myself as I venture further and further into motherhood and wifehood.  It seems to be heading in that direction anyway.

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Filed under Reflections

Practically Speaking

Writing is a good way for me to search deep inside and figure out exactly who I am.

I thought that in writing about my non-womanly likes (and dislikes) would help me to stop comparing myself to other women who do enjoy crafts, baking, and romantic stuff.  Honestly, I compare myself to these highly talented women quite frequently.  It’s time that I recognize that though I have different interests, I am not less girly.

It worked.

In connection with this, writing out my thoughts also forced me to look at the logical side behind my words.   Since I am a very practical person, there usually is one.

For instance, my aversion to baking isn’t necessarily that baking isn’t fun, it’s that baking requires too many dishes and too much of my attention.  With little ones running around my feet (or hanging on my pants screaming), I can’t devote that much time to one item.  Also, as the resident dishwasher (literally we have no dishwasher), thinking about washing those dishes later in the evening is quite undesirable.  Especially if I want to make an edible dinner for my kids at some point before bedtime.

As for crafts?  They probably are fun, but my hands are so dry–no matter how much lotion I rub on them–that the very thought of touching paper screams paper cuts.  Cringe.  Even sewing and painting require me to be near textures that make my hands shrivel up in fear (and dryness).

(Romance is a topic of an entirely different post.  Though I will say this, it’s all my father’s fault.)

Just goes to show, you learn something new about yourself when you take the time to investigate.

15 Comments

Filed under All About Me

Who Are You?

Sometimes I find myself wondering who I am.  More specifically,  who am I to you?   In this space I am a featureless person who occasionally posts life altering moments–at least for me–but mostly whines.  At least that’s how it feels.  Which leads me to wonder,  what kind of person do you think I am?

I cannot write funny posts.  I try and fail miserably.  My humor does not translate on-screen.  I think it’s because I’m sarcastic and, in real life, am usually poking fun at myself for things I’ve said.  Hey,  if I’m going to stick my foot in my mouth several times a day I might as well laugh about it!

If you were to hang out with me for a few hours–or even minutes–I wouldn’t even mention the woes I am experiencing.  I might say something and reference it to my miscarriage in a very matter-of-fact way because that’s how I am. For real, I shoot straight.  (That’s actually how I talk.)

The conversation would probably be centered on you as I ask you a million questions.  I enjoy getting to know a person in depth and can ask some pretty awesome questions–granted that I feel comfortable enough asking them.  Talking about myself is something I actually avoid.  It’s not as fun.  Unless I can share a lesson I’ve learned that might help you in some way.

When you read my words here,  can you picture a determined woman?  Who cares deeply about social issues?  Who researches how to be the best mom?

I tend to relax in a unique manner,  by watching shows or reading books that make me think.  Sitcoms and love stories tend to irritate me so I stick with things I like.  Shows like The Universe, Gangland, and The First 48 are my top picks.  It isn’t unusual for Ben to come home from work to find me conked out on the couch and The Universe playing in the background.  Heck, the only books I’ve read lately have been my Astronomy textbook from college and Ben’s Biology textbook.

I’m not all serious.  I have a playful side that comes out when I’m with my family and around Ben.  I smile and giggle very often throughout the day as I watch Emily and Andrew play.  My family blog is devoted to how silly my kids are and how much they make me laugh.

Here, though, I’m a different person.  This is my place to ponder, analyze, discuss.  Even if there has been limited amounts of that lately.  I enjoy the relationships I have developed with so many of you; the bloggers I have surprisingly connected with.

Yet.  I feel a change coming.  A shift.  These past few months have been emotionally and physically taxing.  I have evaluated myself–my passions, my dreams–at a deeper level than ever before.  What I found was a person that I am still discovering.  Not necessarily a new me,  but a different me.  Perhaps someone I buried once I graduated from school, thinking that part of me was over,  who is emerging when I most need her.

I realize this post is dancing in and out of subjects.  Confusing as it might be, it accurately describes my mind at the moment.  I hop from thought to thought, subject to subject, trying to maintain some sort of rhythm.  Presently, the pattern alludes me.

But.

I feel closer to recognizing it.

Do you feel your blog fully represents who you are?  Or, do you feel that a one-time meeting would provide a person adequate time to really get to know you?

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Filed under Uncategorized