Three years ago, I was laying in bed with my baby girl (the one who never slept), and I began to think about another season of life. The one in which I became the mother of a critically ill child.
When our Mild boy was sick and in the year(s) that followed I slowly began to lose my mind. Me. An MBSR student and yoga instructor. An incredibly mindful and peaceful woman. Me. I morphed into an incredibly anxious woman. At the time of those bedtime snuggles, I had not yet really talked about me – or embrace the anxiety part of her - with the world. Everyone knew about our chapter with a sick baby, because I became an advocate rather quickly for a campaign around premature birth. It was easy to hide the anxiety behind the advocacy. But behind the mask, I crumbled.
Behind the mask, we all crumble.
Three years ago, as I snuggled that second miracle babe, I recognized something. Isolation isn't safe. My mask wasn't needed. It wasn't welcome anymore either. Interestingly, the moment the mask began to come off, I was able to seek help. Help for my daughter - who was struggling with the beginning signs of autism. (She already had all the signs of sensory integration differences! Her first diagnosis was SPD.) And help for me. Five years after the crisis with my son, I was still battling near-constant worry and the autoimmune/neuroimmune disease CFS. The two combined were taking over my life.
Three years ago this month, I walked into a Christ-centered recovery program.
Hurts, habits, hangups... I had them all. I am so incredibly thankful for this diverse group and community that embraced and empowered me at the same time. I lost my worth in not being able to protect my baby. I found what restored that sense of worth again was being able to tune into my strengths and my faith, that strengthens me.
Did I ever think a recovery program would lead the way into a healthy mothering experience? (And a healthy life!) Absolutely not. I'm not an addict - and I thought recovery was only for those dealing with bigger challenges. Note to self: Anxiety is a bigger challenge if it's running your life. As I said goodbye to isolation - a two-plus-year long process if we're honest - I said hello to the brand new life. This new life is incredible! Even on the hardest days, I am boldly and bravely me.
I am mask free.
My wish and prayer is for you to be the same. It's really wonderful out here. I promise.