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Next Life, NO Kids: I Don't Like What I See

February 12, 2015

I Don't Like What I See

After my youngest was born, I suffered with horrifying and debilitating postpartum depression, OCD, and Agoraphobia. The not so holy trinity. 

I woke up every morning feeling defeated and I went to bed every night feeling like a failure. I hated my life, and I hated being a mother, but I couldn’t tell anyone. I was way too tough. I had made my way through so much shit, and had used those experiences to help support others. I was the supporter. I sure as hell wasn't going to admit my losing battle with sadness.

No fucking way. 

I knew I had the tools to fix the way I was feeling; I just had to dig deeper. Looking back, it’s clear I was struggling to admit, even to myself, the amount of pain I was actually in. There might be worse things than knowing how strong you are, and feeling weak, but during those months it was the worst.

Next Life, NO Kids - I Don't Like What I See #Mommitment

It was as if I was a prisoner in my own mind, searching relentlessly for the key to let myself out, and refusing to believe I hadn’t just dropped it somewhere - like between the couch cushions. 

I spent the first few months suffering in silence; making excuses for why I couldn’t show up for plans made. Of course I was still making plans! I’ve always been a social butterfly, and didn’t want to set off any alarm bells. Besides, I was FINE.
Next Life, NO Kids - I Don't Like What I See #Mommitment
The days were long, and resistance to taking medication for the depression led me to Google. Google led me to the world of honest blogging. I found one about dealing with depression in motherhood, and another hilarious blog about motherhood and the acceptability of imperfection. 

I couldn’t believe the honesty; the way the words struck a chord deep inside me, and quieted the voice whispering, “You’re the only one. No one will understand. You’re broken. You’re fucked.” 

I reached out to thank both bloggers, and I was shocked when they responded. They both told me that my connection (and others like it) was the reason and motivation behind their courageous honesty.

I felt inspired for the first time in what felt like forever. 

I’ve always enjoyed writing. I have journals and notebooks galore, full of bad poetry and angst, lining bins in my basement. Writing has always allowed me process, and supplied information about the emotions I may not even know I’m feeling until I read it back.

So I started a blog. 

I only knew one other person who blogged, and she might have been the only one who didn’t offer a condescending chuckle when I announced the news. I didn’t care though, because I knew I needed it. I needed to connect and I needed to feel useful again. 

It started as a humor blog – a “mommy blog.” I bitched about my children, vented, and invited people into the conversations occurring daily between my ears. Blogging made the days go by faster, and allowed me to step far enough away from my insanity to actually laugh again. I'm so grateful that none of those posts ever went viral. Having witnessed the torturous negative attention, judgment, and hate directed at fellow mommy bloggers, I thank God every day that none of my ridiculous ranting was targeted. I was still so fragile, and lost, and terrified. I know without a doubt if I had received comments about what a terrible mother I was, it would have ended badly. It would have fueled my self-hatred - my fears that my kids were better off without me.

I would have killed myself.

Through my writing process, I’ve learned so much about myself and my life's purpose. Blogging here about getting sober sparked the birth of the Sober Mommies community, and sent my life in a whole new, glorious direction. Some of my most valued lessons have been through making mistakes, and some have been through listening to and watching others. I have also learned a lot, through observation, about the person I don’t want to be. 

I’ve been swinging on an ever-expanding pendulum that has allowed me to experience different levels of comfort, try them on, change my mind, and start swinging again.  I don’t imagine change for others looks much different. I’ve tried to be gentle with myself throughout the process, because I’m human, but I've definitely kicked my own ass a few times for ignoring a gut feeling. 

It became clear to me recently that I have embraced and invited much negativity and noise into my life. I didn't realize what it was at the time, because my ego was all, "Everyone else is doing it. Don't you want people to like you????" 

Obviously, I do.

Starting and promoting #Mommitment and asking people to join me by committing to intentional kindness has opened my eyes. Making the commitment has caused me to look around and take stock of exactly what I'm doing here. 

I have become a follower. I have always been outspoken when it comes to "the under dog," injustice, and/or unfairness whenever I could, and yet until recently, I have kept quiet about things I didn’t feel comfortable with. I didn't speak up because I didn't want to "rock the boat," miss out on future opportunities, or burn bridges that I may want to cross someday. I justified my silence, and let others confirm I was doing the right thing if I ever wanted to "make it as a writer."

The switch has been flipped, I've turned attention back to me, and I don’t like what I see - how I've allowed other people's ideas and opinions to affect my focus and cloud my judgment. I lowered my standards at some point; to fit in and try to appear way cooler than I am. 

I’m so not cool…as in trendy. I used to love that about me.  I do love that about me.

At some point it started to matter more to me how others see me than how I view myself. I haven't been completely true to myself, and what I know is right. I've compromised and made sacrifices to be "in" with certain people I thought I wanted to be like. I forgot that who I am is enough, and that those who don't agree aren't my problem. I'm trying to get back on track, but still feeling the pull of negativity; even though I know it's not the path I want to be on. 

Next Life, NO Kids - I Don't Like What I See #Mommitment

Since I got sober 15 years ago, my willingness to change has been motivated by all sorts of self-induced, intolerable pain. The amazing part is that through the years my threshold for that kind of pain has lowered tremendously. I know I don't have to let myself fall as quickly or hit as hard as I used to. I can make changes NOW. I don't have to wait until I feel worse. 

I had to get to this place emotionally to remember why I started writing in the first place. It wasn’t for fame, fortune, or even attention. 

I just didn't want to wish I was dead anymore. 

I didn’t even know if anyone would ever read my words, but have been forever changed and humbled by the connections made by releasing them into the universe. Because I have been honest about my struggles here, I have had the pleasure of receiving thankful emails like the one I sent to those honest bloggers years ago. They have meant the absolute world to me. I have had the incredible opportunity to speak for other women like me; who may not feel comfortable, ready, or able to voice their truth - our truth.

Those connections are the reason I write, along with my love of it. I'll most likely never "make it big," or be on the couch across from Ellen, and that's okay.

I just want to look in the mirror and like what I see.

Click here and join The Mom Movement and make a commitment to try and show compassion instead of judgment.

Next Life, NO Kids

Whether you love what you just read or hated everything about it, let's connect and talk about it! I'm always open to honest feedback. Come be social with me!

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At 2/12/2015 , Anonymous Scott said...

Bravo. I get sick of all the negativity I see all over the place, too.

At 2/12/2015 , Anonymous Mack N. Cheese said...

you are brave and strong! and I love that quote about the drawbacks of being brave and strong. I heart you.

At 2/12/2015 , Anonymous Phyllis said...

We just don't got time for that negativity. I love you. You are strong, brave, and a forerunner in all things with the biggest heart.

At 2/12/2015 , Anonymous Next Life, NO Kids said...

I love you so huge. XOXO

At 2/12/2015 , Anonymous Next Life, NO Kids said...

I heart you double. XOXO

At 2/12/2015 , Anonymous Next Life, NO Kids said...

Thank you, Scott! It's so exhausting. :(

At 2/12/2015 , Anonymous Sandy Ramsey said...

Wow, wow, and wow! Julie, I love the brutal honesty in this. It is incredibly freeing for you, I can tell. It is so easy to get sucked into the negative BS and I can't stand it either. I usually just walk away from it and come back another day. I am guessing if I had started blogging in my younger years I would have loved the drama but since I was busy drinking and stuff....oh, well...you get the point. You are one tough cookie, my friend, and I'm happy to know you. Even if you won't be on the couch across from Ellen.

At 2/12/2015 , Anonymous Next Life, NO Kids said...

You're so awesomesauce, Sandy. I'm really glad to know you, too. XOXO

At 4/09/2015 , Anonymous Mummy R said...

I'm on the run now but I thought your blog very interesting and I will be back to catch up with your story. I love the honesty.


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