I’ve experienced such a huge change in the last several weeks. Not only in my parenting and my dealings with Ryder, but in the whole wholeness of my life. My outlook, my attitude, my experience of every single day has lightened.
What caused it? How did this happen?
I don’t really know. Perhaps one thing, perhaps a combination of many things. I can’t say for sure. I’ve changed enough things all at once and had such a fantastic result that I can’t pinpoint which one it was that made the difference or.. if it was the perfect combination of all of them. Believe me, I have tried so many things in the past, I would have told you that a change of this magnitude wasn’t possible.
So what did I change?
First, I started corralling my negative thoughts. I realized that once I had a single negative thought, I tended to dwell on it, and drive myself deeper and deeper into anger, frustration and negativity. It was like the negative energy multiplied itself within my mind. What I started doing was noticing every time I had a negative thought, or something bad happened I would acknowledge it, the negative thought or the bad thing, and then let it go. If it was a particularly stubborn thought or mood, I would physically visualize myself stepping off of a dark, negative path and walking back on a bright and positive one. The visulization seemed to really help. Don’t stay stuck in the negativity – go back to positive.
Next, my husband read me an article about the power of placebo, and how it has been proven that in most studies of anti-depressants, placebo was just as effective or more than the actual medicine. This was pretty astounding to me, and I thought about that – the power of placebo. I thought and thought about what that meant, and came to the conclusion that our belief that we will get better must be the actual impetus to get better. So I started making everything into a placebo. “Because I’m going to therapy, I will get better.” “Because I’m wearing this new necklace, I will get better.” “Because I’m yelling less, I will get better.”
Anything and everything I could imagine became a placebo. “This new almond milk coffee creamer is going to help me to get better.” The combination of banishing negativity and making everything into a placebo helped me to fend off any ideas of staying mentally unwell, even if I had momentary relapses into anger or yelling. Even if I had a terrible day.
I recently read the book “Rising Strong” by Brene Brown. What an eye opener on some really key points, for me. I don’t really feel like I’ve ‘fixed’ anything that she talks about – but I most definitely am more aware. She mentions that all human emotions must be felt and processed, and that instead we like to avoid them – to push them down or numb them. Our reaction to those unprocessed emotions can be, among other things, something called “chandeliering” – reacting to any sort of emotional stimuli as though it’s incredibly painful – so much so that you ‘jump as high as the chandelier.’ As soon as I read it, I recognized this as the perfect description for what happens when I ‘lose my shit’ at my kids. I don’t really know yet what it is that I have been pushing down and repressing. I haven’t gotten that far yet. Perhaps that’s a job for Therapy. But simply being aware that it is happening has helped.
Then there is the therapy itself. It’s funny, because I continue to feel like I’m not DOING ANYTHING when I go to therapy. We talk, and we laugh, and I cry a little bit, and she says things that make a whole lot of sense… and then I leave feeling a little lighter, and a little happier. But that’s about it. Nothing earth shattering, no deep delving into my past or my childhood or my darkest fears. It’s really not like you see on TV at all – for me anyways. It’s kind of like sitting and talking to a buddy of mine over coffee (Oh! Next time I should bring coffee!) while we talk about how hard it is to be a mom. And she’s totally on my side.
Staying calm, and keeping my emotions out of the tantrums I face with my children. That seems to go hand in hand with feeling better, happier and less weighty. I don’t know if one causes the other, or if they are just so intermingled that they can’t be separated, but I don’t get sucked into the maw of crazy when my kids start to go nuts. I feel like a raft, floating on top of it. I feel like I’m able to pull them out when they calm. I feel like I am centering in the middle of their storm, and that is such a powerful feeling – it helps me to stay there.
Another big one? I stopped looking at my kids like blank bodies, faceless little people that needed, wanted, demanded and exhausted me. I started looking into their eyes again. I started drinking up their personalities and reminding myself all of the little things I love about them. I started telling them those things. I’ve been relishing in the joy that is being their mother, and the genuine gift it is to have children such as these. Even in their struggles, they are gifts.
In the end, I’m not really sure what did it, but it feels like this is a good plan: get positive. Get grateful. Get joyful and excited. Do whatever it takes to get that way. It doesn’t have to be big, or exhausting, or physical. It’s just a matter of putting your brain there over and over and over until you find what works. Exercise? Fresh air? Great music? Perhaps, like me, it’s therapy, and mental training, and new almond milk creamer. Perhaps it’s realizing that you ARE enough, you ARE good at this, and you WILL get better.
I feel so much better. I feel so much lighter. I feel shiny again. I want to help you feel that way too <3