New Year, New Chapter

happy new year

Here we are, another year comes to a close & a brand new year begins. I think, personality, there is no better opportunity to feel a sense of renewal in your life.

A lot of people scorn the very idea of making new year’s resolutions. And whilst I’m not screaming “new year, new me”, I really like thinking about what goals I have for the upcoming year as I reflect on the year that has just gone. In fact, I like to try to predict or manifest the changes I’d like to see.

Last year, I knew 2018 would be a year of personal development – and personal development does not come without it’s woes. You don’t grow through things that make you happy, you grow through what you go through. 2018 hasn’t been a bad year, but all the same, it’s pushed me to change.

The year before, I knew would be a year of change and it really was.

But this upcoming year, I don’t feel like there’s anything big happening. There’s things I know I would love to happen, but I haven’t got any “this is the year of” motifs. I just feel a sense of calm.

Now, I’m not saying in psychic! Don’t worry. I just believe in the law of attraction enough to know that you manifest what you’re thinking about. It’s not as fanciful of dreaming up the winning lottery ticket, there’s no instant results, but that subconscious has a secret way of making things go a certain way.

I think 2019 is going to be a steady, calm year. I think big decisions are going to come up though, so we’ll see what happens there. I do think I’ll be moving into a house at some point – and that’s going to be stressful! But that’s the only big thing I can imagine happening next year. If anything, I’m trying to get ahold of the reins in my current life. I did therapy this year but I need to develop the skills I learnt through Cognitive Analytical Therapy. I forget. I don’t make time for myself. I get too stressed, too overwhelmed, too upset too easily. I want to work on that. I want to get the hang of looking after myself. Because where parenting is concerned, I know I’m doing my best to meet all of Reuben’s needs, but I neglect myself all the time. And yes, sometimes it’s because I’m too tired to do something for me, but I know I’d be less tired if I felt looked after. Heaven knows, nobody is looking after me… not on earth, anyway.

Four years ago, I was an insomniac on antidepressants, totally dysfunctional and struggling every single day. I’ve come so far. I don’t allow people to treat me badly. I know the difference between a healthy coping mechanism and an unhealthy one. I am a mummy to a gorgeous little boy. I am stronger, more resilient and very thankful. And when I falter, I don’t falter for too long. I don’t have any dirty little secrets where the shame is eating me alive; I’ve beared them all and it’s been ridiculously hard to, but I did it. I’m at a part of my journey where I no longer define myself as ‘in recovery’. I’m not ‘recovered’ either, I’m still learning, but I’m not defined by who I was then. The version of me that was, feels like an old friend I sometimes think about (and feel sad when I do) but cannot relate to anymore. I have dreams, still. And I hope one day I will love again. But I have plenty of time for that, don’t I? What’s meant to be will be & all that jazz.

Do you have new year’s resolutions? Let me know in the comments below if you do, I’d love to know. Here are mine:

  • Learn to look after myself better (body, spirit & mind).
  • Be more present in my parenting!
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff.

I just want 2019 to be good to me though, I really do. I hope I’m in for some nice surprises, less loneliness & more laughter!

Thank you for reading!
With love, Rebecca ♡

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Festive feelings.

What a lonely Christmas this is going to be.

I keep trying to put on a brave face and remain positive, I am determined to make the best out of it and really enjoy my day with Reuben… but it’s still just going to be me and Reu.

And today, a wave of grief hit. I found some of my Nana’s socks that I must have borrowed and never gave back. They were in the back of my drawer, fluffy, and still smelt like her laundry detergent and her home – over four years after her passing. I put them on and I wept.

I haven’t cried about my Nana for a long time. I remember when she first passed I cried all day every day. And then it was every other day. And then it was once or twice a week. To say I was heartbroken was an understatement. It absolutely crushed me. But there was a shift a few months after she passed, and following the birth of my brother. I decided I wanted to make her proud. And I also decided that I was in no fit state to have a child of my own, I was extremely broody and dreamt of motherhood (have done since I was 15 in fact) but I realised that the depressed insomniac on antidepressants needed to make every area of her life more stable before she had a baby. But that’s, that’s quite a tangent I went on, isn’t it? Oh dear.

Anyway, it’s been a while since I cried. But these socks, they really brought it home.

And Christmas? Christmas is creating such an ache in my heart because it screams family and festivity. It screams of indulgence and religion too (but I’m not religious). But here I am, knowing full well it’s going to feel like just another day for the most part.

Well, actually… I’m going to try my best to enjoy it. I could really enjoy Christmas Day but there’s a possibility I will be crying wreck when the day comes. That’s what happens when you run out of family.

Not that they’re all dead mind. Some I cut off, some I don’t like and some just don’t want me around.

I envy people will close families.

Because as much as I adore my online community of friends that I genuinely do care about. There are days when you really notice how alone you are.

I know, I know, I’m not truly alone, I have Reuben. I know this. It’s just that we can’t exactly strike up a conversation and he’s very independent. If I try to play with him with his toys he looks up at me, eyebrow raised, until I move away. He is the sweetest little boy though, I do my best to laugh with him all day long.

Today in fact, I turned the TV off after breakfast, because I’m doing a little experiment. I’m trying to see how much more I do, and how much more Reuben plays, if the TV isn’t distracting us. I’ll probably turn it on around dinner time though.

That’s the thing though, it’s such a distraction from all my thoughts and feelings. When Reuben took his nap (and he’s 95 minutes into this nap), I got studying and got through all the online activities – well not all some I labelled ‘irrelevant and annoying’ and blatantly dismissed them – so I’m now up to date. Hey, I got 14/15 questions right on the survey I just did about the week’s studies and I’m impressed with myself.

But back on point, it’s Christmas and that makes my heart heavy. But I’m going to do my best to have a lovely Christmas with my Reubs.

We will play Christmas music and movies, have the fairy lights on all day long, eat lots of food and I’ll try to stay off my phone as much as possible (I like taking pictures but then I get distracted by notifications and then I end up scrolling – it’s a trap!). I’m going to love seeing Reuben open his presents and completely ignore the contents! Haha. No but seriously I think he’s going to love them… and probably the balloons I intend to buy, since the ones from his birthday are pretty much stress balls at this point.

On a very soppy note…
Reuben is my link between heaven and earth. I had a psychic reading done in December 2016 where my Nana told me she was sending me my baby back. I was told he’d make it. And so, when I look at my sweet boy. And people tell me he’s an old soul, that he’s been here before, I just know in my heart that he is. His eye colour is settling but sometimes they go the colour of my Nana’s eyes and that always makes me a bit emotional. And even if people think that I’m silly for believing this, I will still believe it. That little boy, saved my life, and keeps saving my life, and although I know he’s his own person… he’s still my link between heaven and earth. And I intend to give him a wonderful childhood.

I think he must have heard that; he has just woke up! Time to give him cuddles!

Thank you for reading!

With love, Rebecca ♡

Shadows.

I held my son to my chest, and I felt my heart swell with love. It’s almost overwhelming sometimes; the way I feel such a pang of deep sadness intertwined into that pure, unconditional love. It’s especially strong when I stand at my bedroom window, as the light of the day fades (or has faded) away and I look out at the city lights. There’s some strong feeling that takes my breath away that I have tried to articulate time and time again, but have failed each time.

This time of year has always been my favourite. It’s cold, it’s dark a lot and I find it comforting. It’s not necessarily nice being outside when you’re freezing, but I love warming back up, getting cosy. Christmas lights and hot chocolate make me infinitely happier. But this dark time of the year reminds me of dark times in my past, of haunting memories, and it seems as though the ghosts of that trauma seem to hang in the air.

And when I look out at the city lights, it’s like I can feel an older version of myself when I look out and I can feel her hurt and sadness. I suppose, psychologically speaking, the feel of the air and the night which is so different to any other time of year, is a reminder. A trigger, if you will.

But I remember that she is a younger version of myself, and she was absolutely heartbroken to find herself so destroyed, but she found the courage to fight. She had this dream of being a mother and it was all she wanted. She knew one day, if she kept going, if she worked on getting better and healing her heart and mind, she might one day have her baby in her arms.

Flashback to the 21st November 2017, when she was in labour. She looked out at the night sky, knowing that she’d fought very hard and finally, finally her dream was about to come true. And no, it hadn’t happened in the circumstances that she wanted it to. But she felt euphoria, she felt the world shift. She was a little afraid but she believed that her baby boy would make it. Why? A psychic reading done the year before had proven invaluable when her Nana told her she was sending her, her baby back, and that he would make it. There was a feeling in the air that night too. Like there were still shadows and it made her feel deep sadness too. Luckily, by the time her son was in her arms and her head had stopped spinning, the dawn had arrived and she watched the sunrise. The world was new. Her heart felt healed. She was so, so happy.

But she had not healed.

I have not healed yet.

I have healed to an extent, but trauma is still being carried deep in the pit of my gut. I still feel that haunting, of memories, that should be gone but they won’t be forgotten. How can they be forgotten when there are so many things that I associate with them? From things such as the fresh, cold night air to the way some stranger might walk, from a song she might hear whilst shopping to people in her life that serve as reminders. That’s how trauma works. You don’t have to be thinking about it, it comes to you.

So maybe I’ve figured out why I feel such joy and such sadness when I hold my child and look out of my bedroom window. It’s such a beautiful view, but it’s more than a ‘bittersweet’ feeling. That word doesn’t do it justice.

Never in my life have I claimed to be perfect, or innocent. But I know that there’s a fire about me. And I’m sure people still think I’m a pushover, and there’s people who think much worse of me, but…

Through all the grief, anger and trauma, there is still courage , compassion, and hope.

So, those shadows may stay but… So will the resilience. And the memories may never fade… But the determination to create a life I love won’t.

Tonight, I held Reuben to my chest and we were looking out of the window when the skies were deep purple, and the city lights flickered, and I told him…

“These days are special. These lonely days of just you and me, they have taught me I am strong”.

I gave him a kiss and told him “I love you” and I was crying a bit when I did.

I was told that because of my mental health, that I wouldn’t be a good mother. But that person was wrong. I have struggled with my mental health this year, especially when therapy was opening up badly stitches wounds, but I have never let it affect the way that I parent. I’ve even felt like I couldn’t cope being alive anymore, but I’ve held on and asked for help, because I just would not leave my baby behind. Mental pain can physically hurt, and I have suffered… But I’m starting to understand why things are the way that they are.

This may have been a little unconventional for a blog post, but I feel that it’s something I need to talk about.

I’ve figured out why I feel so much joy and so much pain when I look out at the city lights and night & now I can accept it.

Thank you for reading,

With love, Rebecca ♡

Letting Go: Mama Standards

I wanted to blog every day this month, for no reason other than it was a goal I set myself. But for the last two days, I couldn’t.

Now I have decided that I don’t blog when I don’t have Reuben. This is because I really struggle with my mental health when he’s away from me. It’s become apparent that’s it’s more than parental separation anxiety, although that does play a part, it’s also the weight of depression. But I don’t want to talk about that today. I don’t want to dwell.

Today, I’d like to talk about how lovely it is when Reuben comes back and I’m so excited to be back on parent mode. I can give 110%. I can be more patient, more loving, more energetic – and that, dear parents everywhere, is why taking breaks is important.

I didn’t stress at all this morning. I thought “we will be ready when we are ready and that’s that on that!” because I realised there was no point in rushing around just to go out to the shops and back, what a waste.

I made sure Reuben was napping before I started to get ready and I took my time getting ready when he did. I had the changing bag and buggy sorted by the time he woke up which made it really easy.

He woke up around 12:45 so we went straight to the Asda cafe for some lunch. I gave him half a ginger bread man to nibble on (which had gone a bit soft – but I like it like that more) and we made our way there.

I ordered my favourite hot sandwich and chips with a diet coke, and for Reuben I got him the chicken nuggets meal with carrots and sweet potato waffles.

For once I wasn’t scrambling around, I always get a bit anxious in these situations but I felt like I was managing it well. I have read that when we suffer with anxiety, we think it’s really visible to the people around us, but apparently that’s not true. So I tried to reassure myself by remembering that. It’s just hard when you think people, the older generations in particular, are watching you, critiquing you. And I wish that was paranoia, but I’ve had a comment or two thrown my way at the worst of times. I do get nicer comments too though, or at best, nothing at all!

So we finished up our lunch… Don’t worry I was holding the plate! In fact most of the time I just passed Reuben bits of food so he didn’t have the option to send things flying. You need to do that, in a public place, I think. It saves a lot of trouble to the waiting staff!

Then we did our shop, which I have posted a haul video of on my new Facebook ‘Aspirebelievemama’ page (self promo alert!), and once home and settled, I put Reuben down for a nap. He’s currently sleeping now. And I opted to do this instead of studying because tomorrow I will be studying my ass off. I have promised myself that. Cleaning can wait until tonight, and speed cleaning is enjoyable exercise I like to do every other day or so.

I feel like I’m finding the balance on days like today – you’ve got to let go a bit, when you’re a parent. It’s taken me 50 weeks of motherhood to realise that.

… Yep, I really REALLY need to invest in a camera. I have fallen out with Android, to my dismay, so you might find that I upgrade to an iPhone next year! I just think Apple are a bad company for creating expensive products that break so easily, need replacing often and *breathe*… if you can’t beat them, you’re supposed to join them, right?! Unless anyone’s got any android recommendations?

Thank you reading!

With love, Rebecca ♡

The Attention Seekers

I’ve been very “real” in my blog posts lately.

It’s a part of the healing process.

It’s me saying “hey I’m fed up of hiding” because it’s more exhausting covering up mental illnesses than it is dealing with them.

But mental illnesses are so common, so many people have them, but the stigma lives on.

You may think because of depression memes, that there’s more acceptance, but they’re just not useful because people throw around these words like they don’t mean anything. But some terms such as “being triggered” have become invalidated, to the extent people don’t want to use that term anymore.

The point is, whether it’s a teenager, or a 40 something year old, the problem with ignorance is that it lives in every generation and socio-economic group. And we all, including me, belittle our struggles in order to feel safe letting out or feelings.

Because let’s face it; anything and everything you say can be used against you. You can be a squeaky clean person with the reputation of an angel but the moment you speak out? Oh no, now you’ll be treat differently.

I’m lucky. I speak out and I get support from the vast majority of people who see what I put. There are like-minded kind people on my Instagram, for example, who offer nothing but kindness if I admit I’ve been struggling. There might be people who don’t like me speaking out about it, but they’re yet to tell me.

But I know some people don’t have that kind of community/support group to fall back on if they need reassurance and encouragement. They’ll be called “attention seekers”.

Now, I’d like to clarify, there’s a difference between people without mental health illnesses using buzzwords to get attention and people with mental health illnesses asking for help.

And truth be told, it’s hard to tell. Are they masking actual MH illnesses with jokes? Or are they just joking? Either way, it’s good to check in.

Because let’s say someone has been hiding their depression, it takes a lot of courage to speak out. If that’s attention seeking then good! I’m glad they’re seeking that attention because they need love and support.

I guess what I’m saying is, it’s better to be on the safe side.

It’s annoying when you catch someone pretending to have one, because for some stupid reason, they think it’s cool. Or I don’t know; I can’t imagine why you’d want to pretend you have a mental health illness when genuine sufferers are hiding in the woodworks fighting to stay alive. But it’s best to check on the people you know and care about, because they might be genuinely needing help.

You don’t need to play therapist. You just need to know how to be a friend. It’s the little things you can do for a person that matter. Such as:

  • A catch up, maybe over coffee
  • Helping them out (babysitting, housework, Grocery shopping)
  • Inviting them out (even if they say no, asking them will make them feel cared about)

I hope you enjoyed reading this post!

With love, Rebecca ♡

November!

Hello November,

I love this month. I mean, there was always something about November that I loved. But this year, its not just home to Bonfire Night and the festive season kicking in, it’s also Reuben’s 1st birthday too!

I mean, I’m all kinds of sad that Reuben is growing up but first birthdays will do that to you! This the marker that my baby is no longer a baby. I mean, he will always be my baby but he’s nearly walking and is starting to cause mischief. So, he’s really officially becoming a toddler on that day.

I’m also going to slowly start decorating for Christmas. Last year I put fairy lights and the Christmas tree up in time for Reuben’s arrival because that’s what I wanted to bring him home to. I want this to be a little tradition so I’m going to make sure there’s decorations up for his birthday.

Wow, I am already emotional realising that it’s very nearly one year since I welcomed my little one into this world with a fierce and healing kind of love. I’m so excited to see him open his presents (and take interest in the wrapping paper in boxes, not the gifts hahaha!) and play with balloons and bubbles. It’s going to be lovely!

A personal goal now is to blog more frequently, find more time to study and not get my knickers in a twist over the housework building up. It’s overwhelming but it always takes a lot less time than I think it will.

So, hey November, be good please!

Thank you for reading!

With love, Rebecca ♡

For the mama crying on the bus.

And that would be me.

Not that anyone could tell I was a mother. But I’ve been hurting a lot lately…

From now on, all quests for love are cancelled. From now on, expectations created by social media for myself can vanquish. From now on, comparing myself to everyone is a habit that can, quite frankly, piss off.

I’ll take care of my son, of course I will, but I’m also taking care of me again now.

I have to remember what I learnt in therapy this year: The balance of caring and being cared for. from the way she helped me recognise I need to give myself the love I keep trying to give everyone else, to the way she made me realise that the expectations I put upon myself as a mother are unrealistic and exhausting. From the way she made me realise my past is nothing to be ashamed of and wasn’t my fault, to the way she highlighted my good points and made me realise ‘maybe I’m not such a terrible person after all’. Yes, all that. I need to remember the cognitive analytic model and the premise of self care to get better. I’m feeling a little bit more hopeful now. I’m going to be okay.

The truth is, right now, I’m not okay.

I’m depressed. I’m suffering. That’s a really strong word to describe how much you’re hurting, I know, but it’s apt. I am trying to push myself days where I can barely function for the way that I feel. I am teary eyed in public as I push away intrusive and suicidal thoughts, wondering how I could possibly even think of it when I have a little one to raise. There’s no way I’d take my life, by the way, please don’t panic. I know it’s an intense emotion that I have to just ride out. That doesn’t mean it isn’t scary to feel like this though, like when exactly did I start feeling so bad?

Well, this seems to have been slowly building up for a while but this month has been really rough and this past week has knocked me completely. I’m off balance. At least, that’s how I choose to see it. I’m struggling to get back up, but I will. I’m hurting, but I won’t quit.

And that’s the problem with talking about mental health, isn’t it? You’re worried about people saying the things you just don’t want to hear when you’re struggling. Cliches and ignorant comments, people assuming you’re a danger to yourself or worse still – if you’re a parent – that you’re a danger to your child. Which isn’t true. Not necessarily. Not in my case, for sure.

I should probably make a good guide on what things are good to say to someone who’s struggling, but probably one of the worst things is when people tell you to focus on your child. Maybe it’s just me, but it has the insinuation, that you’re not. Here’s the thing: every bit of power and energy that I have to carry me through the day, I spend trying my best to be the best mother I can be on that particular day, even if it means I have absolutely nothing left for myself when the day comes to an end. That’s not healthy, I know, I have to take care of myself too. But that’s why that comment is infuriating. Because I AM focusing on my child. And as my friend, Emma said (who’s also a mum to a Reuben): “our kids give us the encouragement/motivation to get through it, but they do not end our pain”. Okay, that wasn’t the exact quote, I’m not even sure it was paraphrased correctly, but that was the long and short of it.

As mothers, as parents, our pain still exists and what we feel is still valid. And most of us, try so hard to not even let our kids see how much we are hurting. And it’s exhausting, ’cause no matter how much you want to cry in the shower (cause you need a shower too), you can’t. You’ve got washing to do, the high chair needs cleaning, the shopping still needs doing. There’s no “I can’t be bothered” about parenting anyway, so when you’re struggling with your mental health, everything is so incredibly tiring. And yes, some things can wait if you’re really just needing to sit, but not forever. Who else is going to do it? In my case; nobody.

And here’s the thing, I’m giving my all to get through this time in my life that I’m finding difficult. I’ve felt like this before, and that’s probably why it’s terrifying sometimes to know I feel this way again, but I believe I can get through it.

I’ll live until I feel alive.

Right now, yes I’m close to tears all the damn time, and I’m finding it hard to be hopeful, to be happy. I’m struggling with intrusive thoughts. Everything is overwhelming and lonely. But if I just keep doing my best to take care of myself and be patient with my emotions – I’ll start feeling better. That’s how it works.

I’m not okay, but I will be.

But yeah, I’m going to spend quality time on me & Reuben. I’m going to spend time doing the things I need to do and the things I want to do. I’m going to stop waiting for the next chapter of my life, because I should be appreciating this chapter for what it is. I am grateful but I need to spend a little less time thinking about what my life should look like. My heart feels shattered, and I feel quite dead inside, like I am exhausted from all the things I’ve been through and how hard I’ve found this relatively calm year. I hurt knowing there’s people out there who hate me. I hurt knowing people who actually hurt me, have gotten away with it, and that they flaunt about pretending they’re great. But the worst people, are the best at being good. Am I worried that these people might read my blog? Maybe… but I think it’s unlikely. And I also don’t care what they think, and if they would laugh at what I’m saying.

Tonight I am sitting in my brand new pjs, with a mocha in a xmas cup, dinner in the oven & I dyed my hair a little earlier on. I am excited for Reuben to come home so that I can give him the biggest cuddles and kisses, and sing my way through our bedtime routine with off key renditions of ‘twinkle twinkle little star’ and ‘wiggly woos’. Life isn’t as bad as I feel. The days aren’t as dark as they seem. I’m still capable of feeling excitement, joy and optimism, so I’m not as far gone as I think.

“This too will pass.”

Thank you for reading,
With love, Rebecca ♡

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