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 ♡

Advertisements

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 ♡

The Extended Insta Post #1

I’m awake way past a reasonable bed time once again, and why? Well I’m sure that many of you will understand the desire to get in some me-time. And there is always the realisation you must pick between getting the nightly chores done and seeing to yourself. Sometimes (*ahem* all the time!) you find yourself procrastinating too.

I finally sat down with some hot orange dilute, a cold-and-flu tablet and my brand new notebook at 23:17 tonight. That was my me-time today; writing a journal entry for what I want in 2019. I felt eager to write something in it because I bought it on impulse knowing I couldn’t afford it because I was sad. I do that kinda thing a little too often, I think we all do.

I have spent the best part of the day trying to catch up on laundry (there is now a mountain of washed laundry residing in the travel cot as well as a mountain in the laundry basket awaiting their transfer to the washing machine), keep my newly clingy baby – though i hate using that word it’s true – entertained & I have made a start on the deep cleaning of the kitchen. I have washed the Christmas dining set ready for use and cleared out the cupboards. I’ve found an alarming amount of things that needed throwing/donating/recycling hiding in there. And I’m not yet done. The bottom half of the kitchen will need cleaning tomorrow. But why am I writing about this? Well, it’s because I’m proud of myself. I’m going to bed knowing I made my baby happy and the place is clean and if that’s not a win, I don’t know what is!

I even tried to study today, and it didn’t work out because Reu is a little harder to settle lately, but I did make a start and I have an action plan. I am genuinely interested in actually reading the chapters of my textbook (except the methods book that accompanies it, what a load of boring shite that is) so that does make it easier when I do find the time to study.

The truth is, lately I’ve been really trying to find the balance between motherhood, housework, studying, and finding time for myself. I thought since I literally have a 24 hours break from parenting every week, I would have plenty of time to accomplish everything, but I’ve discovered it’s not as simple as booking in appointments of self care or studies. I’m a human being and sometimes I just don’t feel like it and then I find that I’m often just too sad when Reu is away to be productive. If I am productive then I haven’t taken the opportunity to rest, and if I have rested then I haven’t taken the opportunity to be productive. But I’m slowly finding that it doesn’t have to be one or the other; I don’t need to plan everything. Because somehow, it always gets done and then it’s there again tomorrow. So why worry?

Like I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve been feeling very nostalgic about this time last year. That pang of sadness I keep getting when I look out of my window and see the way the lights look at this darker time of year, isn’t fading. I know it is my heart clinging onto a time when the world felt as though it had been renewed. I had this brand new baby and I was a brand new Mama. It was an incredibly special time. I acknowledge that it makes me feel wistful and melancholy, and I accept that – it’s okay to feel sad.

The sadness is easily outweighed by the big sloppy kisses Reuben plants on my cheeks, by the sound he makes when he cuddles up to me – he loves doing this thing where he sticks his arms by his sides when I cuddle him and he tenses up (I think he’s stretching?) and makes this “uuhuhmmmm” giggly kind of sound. It’s delightful. The sadness also doesn’t overshadow the way I have felt my heart heal recently. I have started to move on from certain things/people that I were grieving for; certain songs don’t hurt. I have been healing from these experiences and that’s an incredible feeling.

And yes, lately, I’ve had bad days and weeks with my mental but that’s okay, I got through that too… It got kinda scary but luckily I wasn’t alone when it all came to a climax and I couldn’t hide it anymore. I’ve learnt it’s okay to reach out. I’ve learnt more about the people around me recently too because of it.

And on that note, I bid you goodnight!

Thank you for reading,

With love, Rebecca ♡

I Love Being A Mother But…

I love being a mother but I don’t love being alone.

I love blogging but I don’t love that it’s about readership no matter how much you convince yourself it’s not (it does sting a bit when you put effort in to writing and taking pictures and nobody reads it).

I love taking photographs but I don’t love that I know my semi-decent attempt at photography is rubbish compared to the next blogs’ who inevitably has a better camera, and better things than I do.

I love sharing things online but I don’t love that fight it or not, you waste time scrolling through things that harm your mental health so slowly you barely notice until the little things (like someone posting a viral text post about what friendship should be) makes you want to launch yourself into outer space.

I love being inspired by lifestyle photo posts but I don’t love that I somehow forget about what’s behind the camera and the editing that made that person’s life look so perfect – just because what? They’ve got a better bedroom than I have? (Seriously, why does my brain think “better bedroom/clothes/baby announcement = better life”??? Can it not?)

But mainly I love being a mother.

And I love that if I believed in myself, I could do amazing things and be happy (probably) but instead, I am afraid.

Life has made me question whether or not I’m a good person, and furthermore, it has made me question whether I deserve the good things in life; love, family, materialistic things that I crave. I hate to be all ‘woe is me’ but you know, I really have been through a lot and it’s left me with a bit of a complex if truth be told, and not only have I become incredibly insecure about myself but I have become very defensive about protecting who I’m trying to become in my healing process. I want to maintain the person I said I was when I was feeling better than I am.

Every mother is afraid, to some degree, of speaking out about her mental health. I’m sure it’s the same for fathers, and in fact, worse because of the heightened stigma with men and speaking up about how they’re feeling (thus the higher suicide rate in men compared with women – see here). I think I’m pretty good about speaking about how I feel but I’m definitely scared of telling a professional about how I’m feeling, for the fear that they will equate my mental health with my ability to parent. And when people mention Post Natal Depression, I’m just like “hey it’s not that, it’s the depression, ptsd and anxiety that didn’t disappear when Reu was born as much as I wish the joy could have cured me”. And there’s no shame in have PND/PPD either, I think it’s the fact I think people dismiss that struggle that has always been going on.

There’s a part of my brain which is constantly telling me I‘m not good enough, still ugly, still fat, that I get on everyone’s nerves, and that nobody cares (when I post stuff online), and although I know it’s a vicious bi-product of what I’ve been through and it’s wrong, it is so loud when I am struggling. Knowing it’s wrong and irrational doesn’t silence it, only the support of others does. And I can practice self care and battle through the tears as much as I want, but along with every coping mechanism I learnt in therapy, they are merely weapons in battle. Sometimes it barely feels like a battle at all, sometimes I feel like I’m fighting for my life; that’s mental health illness, and grief for you.

I guess what I’m trying to say, in a very long winded way, is that my mental health is not good lately:

I love being a mother but I don’t love being alone. Sometimes keeping yourself strong for so long, without feeling you have anyone to lean on, becomes mentally exhausting to the point you feel like you can’t anymore.

Reuben is saving my life over and over again.

I don’t feel like I can keep fighting sometimes. I am feeling so broken lately. So exhausted. I feel as though I’ve been screaming out for someone to notice how much I need someone to really be there for me and unsurprisingly, telepathy and hints hasn’t worked.

Today, I burst into tears and had a panic attack in front of my Dad and his partner. Struggling to catch my breath, pain strangling my chest, I told them I am struggling, that I am not coping, that I am suicidal. I was so scared of how they’d react as I did but I was there, feeling like I was dying already. I haven’t had a panic attack in years. I hope I made it clear, as I want to make it clear to you, I wouldn’t leave my son behind… but that doesn’t mean feeling this way isn’t incredibly painful and scary. I am hurting inexplicably. And I am terrified that if I tell the doctor they will want to take my son away from me.

But somehow, I have been managing to parent with love and patience DESPITE feeling this way the moment he is asleep or is at his Dad’s. And somehow, despite being teary eyed and losing my appetite, I’ve still managed to do everything I am supposed to do (and often that little bit more) to take care of my son.

But I’m still afraid I will have the ‘inadequate mother’ stamp upon my review as a parent, and that the implications will be too much for me. And despite people saying that no doctor and no social services worker will take my child away for that reason, that’s why I haven’t gone to the doctors yet.

But tomorrow, I am going to get an appointment and no matter how scared I am, I’m going to tell them how I’ve been feeling.

I’m doing my best but I don’t feel okay. And I could literally write for hours about what’s wrong but that’s where I draw the line – you don’t need to know and this post is already 84 years long. So if you made it this far, congratulations, you’re officially amazing!

Please take care of yourself & thank you for reading this post!

With love, Rebecca ♡

I’m Unmotivated

From talking to people I know, to reading people’s social media posts, it’s evident that a lot of us are struggling to stay motivated – so I’m not the only one, which is comforting, but it is a problem.

Maybe it’s because of the weather. Or, the more probable explanation, in my case, is the fact I am overwhelmed with pressure. Pressure, that I put on my self to get this and that done, and do it perfectly, and juggle all the balls.

Well I’m sorry, but I’m gonna have to break it to myself that I need to chill the 🦆 out!

When I write a list of the things going on in my life, I realise there’s not that much there and the reason I’ve made such a mountain out of a molehill, is because I expect far too much from myself.

Have I forgotten that I’m a one-man-band? It’s simply just not possible to do it all, not in one day anyway!

If I want to do the shopping and take Reuben to the park – or just be out for the day in general – I can’t expect a spotless house that night. Getting out and about as a parent is tiring and you don’t get a rest when you return. Suddenly there’s 53 things to do and the house is an absolute pigsty, then your child is in bed and you have to drag your exhausted carcus around tidying and cleaning. Or you leave whatever you can until tomorrow. Either way, it still has to be done.

And I’ve realised if I want to study, I can’t clean. If I want to clean the flat, I can’t go out. Or I can, but it’ll have to be a quick, cleverly timed trip out. Because there’s meal times and nap times that play a role in how you can both be ready to get out at a convenient time.

For the longest time, I was so angry at myself for not being an up and out in the morning person. Everyone else seemed to be doing it just fine, especially parents on the school run. And then I realise; what does it matter if I’m not able to be ready early in the morning? Who cares!? And that sorted that one out for me.

But lately, I can’t be bothered studying, or cleaning, the laundry is constantly getting on top of me. I’m putting this off, and that off. I’ve become the Queen of Procrastination – Case in point; writing this instead of getting on with nightly cleaning chores.

*big inhale, big exhale*

So, I guess what really matters is how I respond to this lack of dopamine in my system?

Well, first, I’ve got to understand why without being angry with myself. And since I’m barely taking care of myself like I was earlier this year, I’m going to say that’s a reason. Secondly, I’m overwhelming myself with unrealistic demands for how much I should get done a day. Thirdly, it’s because I want to focus on Reuben more than I want to do anything else.

So what’s the solution? I need to take better care of myself to increase all the happy hormones, stop putting so much pressure on myself and also, I think some kind of weekly rota or clearer time management would seriously help!

So that’s what I’m going to do – starting tomorrow, of course. Tonight, I need to sleep! Tomorrow is another day…

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 ♡