There was once upon a time that I believed I could handle just about anything. Physically, I’d wager that I can withstand more pain than the average person. However, I’ve lived decades still trying to navigate the nuances of emotional pain. I’ve been handed my fair share of both, but despite some impressive lessons in psychological tug of war, I somehow manage to lose the battle. Every. Time. The optimist would tell me, “Well, look at this way – you’re not in a mental hospital!” True. My husband tells me, “Everyone feels that way.” Or, “you’re too hard on yourself.” God, I hope so.
In my last blog post, I revealed some very intimate details about the emotional turmoil I wrestled during my last pregnancy. It was a hard thing to post. Even my husband didn’t know how deep the feelings ran. He texted me after the post went live and told me, “I didn’t realize it was that bad for you.” I’ve gotten so good at hiding my emotional instability that I had trouble revealing the truth to the person closest to me. I’m always afraid that if I let my feelings out, I’ll be condemned for it. I know where that comes from. I still have trouble reconciling that realization with the truth that I’m not alone in thinking many of the things for which I condemn myself. That’s why I ultimately decided to publish the truth about my pregnancy. Because there is someone out there that needs to hear that they’re not alone.
“…I’m not alone in thinking many of the things for which I condemn myself.”
I still grapple with the inner demons that tell me I’m not good enough. I’m not a good enough parent, wife, writer, photographer. I’m not skinny enough or pretty enough or rich enough. I’m just not …enough. I see the angel sitting on the other side of my shoulder telling me, “But you’re not as bad as most. You don’t beat your kids. You don’t neglect your kids. They get good grades, they’re respectful in school, and they love you. You’re tough. You have published photographs and poems.” But there’s always that little monster on the other side that’s telling me that it’s not good enough.
Today, I had to get out of the house. Right now, I’m sitting in a beautiful vineyard in the mountains. The birds are chirping, I’m planted on a rustic patio set with the resident dog sprawled next to me, sipping a glass of fantastic red (I recommend the Hellbender Red), and more than occasionally getting distracted by the view of the pond (complete with Canadian geese and their goslings),the rows of barren grape vines and mountainous backdrop bursting with the new greenery. By the way, sláinte! to the management, who after learning I had escaped from a house full of rowdy children to write, let me stay past posted hours to enjoy the quiet. Thank you! But if I didn’t have such an amazing husband, it’s quite possible I would be sitting on a third story porch railing, clumps of hair drifting from the top of my head to the concrete below, rocking precariously back and forth as police negotiators attempted to lure me from the edge. I exaggerate a bit (maybe???). I kept feeling like I was a bad mother for leaving my husband to take care of all the kids on his only night off this week. (God love him, he is the most fantastic man on the planet!) But I have to forgive myself for it.
I think, sometimes you just have to let go of that inner demon. You have to let go of the criticism. Get to a peaceful place and connect with what rejuvenates you (be it skydiving, exercising, or wine tasting). I knew where I was mentally. I needed to reconnect with nature and get to a place of serenity. I’ll go back home soon – not quite at a place of enlightenment, but no longer at the edge of insanity. I’ve backed away from the edge.
Now that I am off that “red line” and can see things outside of a tumultuous emotional state, it’s easier for me to realize that maybe I am being too hard on myself. I can at least band-aid that psychological wound. It just takes me stepping back off the ledge and then I can reflect: if I’m worried about being a bad person, odds are, I’m not one.
Lesson of the Day: Don’t beat yourself up for getting close to that edge. We all do.