I never realised I had an anxiety problem, but I have lived with it for years as I thought it was normal. I suspect it was triggered when I was 19 and had a terrifying melanoma scare. 16 years ago I opened the door at 9pm to my Mum standing there. It would not have been odd except for the fact she lived 600km’s away and didn’t tell me she was coming. Instantly I saw in her eyes something was not right. ‘The results came back today, it is a melanoma,’ my mum said trying to hold her voice steady.
I had just arrived back into Sydney after traveling around the world. There really was no time for this crap, in two weeks I was starting my Visual Communications course at Billy Blue in North Sydney, I had a life I needed to live. But, the fear filtered in and dispersed through my veins. I was scared, my Mum was scared. We were all scared.
Over the next few months I was given a sneak peek to the start of a cancer journey. Painful diagnostic testing, dye injections, x-rays, more flesh removed, survival rate chatter, poking and prodding, an operation and a doctor point blank telling me that people die from Melanoma and I could as well. Finally, at the end of all that, we got an all clear. The cancer, had not spread into my blood or organs and I got a lucky escape.
What I didn’t anticipate was, the anxiety from my life being under threat staying with me and subconsciously dictating my thoughts and actions from there on in. It laid dormant while everything was smooth sailing, however, there is nothing quite like becoming a mother for the first time to throw a firebomb into the anxiety house.
At 26, with my first baby, I was so mentally unprepared to navigate the overwhelming feelings of love I had for this little lump of flesh, you know, that all consuming, feels like you’re drowning, immense wash of love that sweeps in? It brainwashed me and I couldn’t regulate it, so my love festered and turned into anxiety.
Throw in mum life, mum guilt, unrealistic expectations, self judgement, outside judgement and no wonder some of us fall. I bumbled along, sometimes fine and sometimes not, until my son was born three years later. I had already been weakened and now I had a baby that was hugely unhappy, unsettled and never slept, like ever, and the physical and mental exhaustion relentlessly kept layering in.
I blamed myself for my unhappy baby. That I wasn’t good enough, that it was my fault, that I wasn’t doing all the things as well as I should have. I wasn’t reading to him enough, I wasn’t cooking good enough meals for his solids, I wasn’t ‘bonding’ with him enough and I loathed myself for it. Programmed by society to be a ‘perfect mother’ and its unwavering high expectations that if I didn’t do ‘all the things’ and manage the juggle with a smile, I was a failure.
It is quite obvious to me now, six years later how I free fell into severe and relentless PND from that place. But again, for a short while I hated myself for getting PND as well. What I know now though, is, we aren’t robots and of course, we will break at some point if our needs aren’t met as well. The funny thing is, I wasn’t walking around fully conscious that this is how I was treating myself, it was a funnel of subconscious thoughts that I can now reflect back on and piece together. People used to say to me all the time that I was too hard on myself, and I never really got that.
So, the beautiful thing is, after the breaking, comes the awakening, and in time, I systemically put myself back together and felt grateful for my PND experience. It taught me so much and through the adversity I found my purpose, and once that comes everything feels light and beautiful again for the law of polarity lives well and true in stating that everything that exists has an equal and exact opposite.
For the next few years as my babies became children, I thrived and built my business and life from a strong foundation of inner peace and strength but I didn’t realise I wasn’t fully healed. On the outside I was, but on the inside I had much learning to do. Another firebomb was thrown at me and I found out I was unexpectedly pregnant with triplets. As one triplet faded away at 8 weeks, my fear around having two babies and severing back into PND grew stronger and stronger and I blacked out into another depression. (I shared a lot of my story in my Facebook group Remarkable Business Mums, if you want to pop over and join us, just click here.)
Twins has always been my worst fear. I was one of those mums that just thought it would never happen to me and if it did, I would be totally screwed. One baby is hard enough, but two? I couldn’t deal with it.
For a good 20 weeks I was convinced I had screwed our lives. I said it to my husband many times. I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I was in such a dark space of fear that termination danced into my mind…. To undo, what I have done. Like a magical life eraser. But, I couldn’t and it wouldn’t be, so I despaired.
Twins said to me double the work, double the nappies, double the crying, double the expenses, double the whinging and double the PND. There was no way anyone could convince me otherwise so all I could do was cry, persuaded by my fear that a repeat of PND and life destruction was imminent.
As the pregnancy progressed, I hid from my babies. Didn’t attach to them. Moved my hand away from my belly. But then came a day, when I was about 20 weeks pregnant that my inner work started to kick in and a tiny crack of light came into my mind and allowed me enough space to finally be able to forgive myself for feeling the way I was feeling… Maybe I wasn’t the worst mother in the world, maybe instead of being so harsh on myself, I could chose to love myself instead and I entertained the thought, that perhaps I am already enough and everything would be ok.
It was in this moment, I heard it.
“Don’t you know? We’ve been sitting right here listening to you cry and witnessing your torment. We are here to teach you. To hold a mirror up to your biggest fears, and make you confront them. This was never about having two of us, it was about you, and as soon as you embrace you, peace becomes.”
I realised in that moment I had still been defining myself from my PND experience, and whilst I thought I had healed, there were still some microscopic tentacles controlling my self worth and I had been limiting myself.
My mindset changed that day and instead of thinking ‘what if it goes wrong?’ I flipped it and thought ‘what if it all goes right?’ I felt the fear start to slide away and leaned into the thought that maybe everything would be ok, and maybe I am far more capable than I even realise. That maybe I had unwittingly been giving myself identities of ‘not being enough’ and trapping myself in these beliefs of low self worth when really, all the time, I have always been enough.
And, you know what?
Airen and Emilie are here now, at the time of writing this they are 10 weeks and they just so incredibly amazing, and believe it or not, ten times easier than my singletons. #mindblown
They have changed me and everything that I thought I knew about myself and I can see now, they were always meant to be.
I am no longer afraid to stand up for what is right for me, like telling the biased nurse that I am happy with formula feeding and not thinking about it for another second or feeding into the guilt that I ‘should’ be breastfeeding. Formula feeding is the best choice for me, and my family. Because, it isn’t just about my newborn twins, it is also about me, and my husband, and my daughter and son and what is best for everyone.
I have a new found self worth and no longer seek it in other peoples opinions or validations, and it is funny how the people who are threatened by this fade away and reveal who is true in your life. I learned to let go of what other people thought of me, and focused more on what I thought of myself and invested in relationships that truly made me happy and let go of ones that didn’t.
I realised that through fear we see different perceptions and not all of them are true, it takes careful sorting and questioning to arrive at the real truth of the matter. My fear told me that history would repeat itself but in fact, my twins are the happiest, smiliest, sleepiest babies out there.
I implemented the art of surrender and allowing things to come and go in and out of my life without attachment or withheld emotion and stopped trying to control everything. Maybe I’ll be the best twin mum ever, or maybe I’ll end up in a straight jacket…. who knows! But, I will trust that I am exactly where I am meant to be, am experiencing what I am experiencing for a reason and that there is always a purpose for the highest good.
I appreciate that self care is not selfish, and I no longer self-sacrifice for my family or children, it is ok to put me first because that then flows down into my family and makes everyone happy.
I don’t judge myself on what I ‘should’ be doing, and more importantly, I don’t feed into other peoples judgements of what makes a ‘perfect mother’ to them. In the past, I would have felt guilty for being away from my babies working, but now instead, I choose to be proud of myself that I am the breadwinner and I have built a business that supports my family and my husband can have a turn being the SAHD.
I accept that I still have moments where I break, get tired, lose my shit and where the anxiety gets the better of me but I know now, life is not meant to be a perfect run and instead I hold gratitude for learning how to mend myself back together each time I fall.
I’m not hating on my body for not bouncing back, instead I am in awe that it has just created two tiny humans and being kind to it, and so what if it doesn’t breastfeed them as well, it has already just grown things like tiny fingers, toes, hands, faces, two hearts and two brains!
I have learned to never assume what I am, and am not capable of again, because at the end of the day, you never know until you’re in it giving it your best shot and what if you have a big amazing life just around the corner with the most beautiful blessings you could have imagined but it passes you by because you didn’t master the courage to face your fear?
For the most part, I’ve learned to allow self judgement and insecurities to pass quickly and I screen who I allow to have credibility in my life. I also delegate what thoughts, fears and events gain my attention and recategorise or delete based on worthiness. For a reformed catastrophic thinker where fear and anxiety demanded attention first front and centre this has been so freeing to master.
Most importantly, I have faith and trust that my children chose me for who I authentically am, not who I think I ‘should’ be for them.
I can see now, the fear had me playing small. It was labelling me. Compacting me. Disguising a different side to me.
The whole time, there was this completely new version of me waiting to come out and I never realised I was so capable or I could thrive from a new baseline.
We do this all the time though, right?
Stay small because we think we can’t do something.
That we aren’t good enough, smart enough, pretty enough.
How ever you wrap it up, we are consumed by the fear of failure so we play safe.
But, by doing this, what are we missing out on?
Who are we missing out on becoming?
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