A couple of weeks ago I went to catch up on all the craziness of life with my lifelong best friend. We hadn't seen or really talked since well before quarantine began. It was so refreshing to see her and it felt like so much had changed. As we began to talk, she commented that it seemed like things had been going really well for me lately. She talked about my Instagram photos and Instastories about my new internship and then mentioned how it seemed I was having a lot of fun in my social activities I often post about. As we laughed and talked about it, I felt a certain level of unease. I realized that my life from the outside probably did look really great. Having a new job I love, being able to do fun photoshoots, spending time with my sweet boys, participating in lots of social activities, etc... But as I sat there across from my best friend, who knows me better than probably anyone, I felt like I was living a lie. Not necessarily because of how I may be perceived on social media, but because the things on social media were the things I'd fill my time with in order to procrastinate feeling the way I really felt. All the while, knowing that under the surface, I've always been ever a moment away from breaking down.
I felt overwhelmed. I had so many thoughts and feelings. I was well aware of what they were, but they all seemed numb as I thought about them. As I began to talk, really talk, to my best friend, the contrast of this outside life I was living compared to the turmoil going on inside me became stark.
If I'm being honest, these last few months have hit pretty heavy for me in the depression department. Probably harder than they ever have. There have been some ugly moments... and by moments, I mean ugly cry moments. My thoughts on all of this are scattered, but as I'm writing this, I'm realizing just how badly I've needed to write it. It's cathartic. It's vulnerable. It's unconventional for me to tell you that the past few months have been all I can do to pull my head above water every so often to get some air.
I couldn't tell you exactly why things have been so hard, but what I can tell you is that my mind has felt heavy, conflicted, jumbled, and on high alert. Outside factors from my personal life and the world around me, combined with my ongoing battles with anxiety, depression, sleep problems, and trauma reached a peak about a month ago and began to take a massive toll on me mentally.
These times can be a dark place. The smallest things can feel nearly impossible to handle, perpetuating feelings of guilt, worthlessness, sadness, frustration, and cause us to disassociate and become limited in our abilities; activating the cycle of these feelings, over and over again. This cycle can cause us to withdraw from those closest to us. Again, perpetuating the cycle, creating feelings of judgement from those who support us as they try to grasp to understand.
Satan knows us. I know that's a bold statement, but it's an important one to remember. I firmly believe my mental downward spiral that has gotten me to these depths began with negative thoughts and feelings about myself that can only come from Satan. I realized only a couple of weeks ago that this underlying negative feeling was that I was not valued. That I did not have value... even as a mother. I think these thoughts and feelings of not having value were long there, but for them to reach a point of infecting how I felt about myself as a mother, was like the nail in the coffin. To feel like the one role that I was divinely appointed for, I didn't even offer value to.
Being a single Mom is hard. It is SO hard. Let me just emphasize that again, for those who are not single parents. Being a single Mom is so incredibly hard! I add emphasis not to gain sympathy or assume that my challenges are harder than yours, it is my belief there is no comparison when it comes to those things. My emphasis is merely meant to express that no matter how well intended others are as they try to relate, unless they have been there, they simply will never know. Just as it is in all things we have never personally experienced.
I love my two boys more than anything in this world. I beat myself up every day for not feeling able to be the kind of mother I knew I once was. Being a Mom while trying to date, have a social life, work, and then not feel guilty about it, along with the added pressure of judgement or lack of understanding from those around you, places heavy weights in my mind. I have so many dear friends who are single mothers. They are amazing mothers. They are amazing women. They have been through unimaginable things. They are doing their best.
Carrying the weight of parenting alone can be burdensome. Let me clarify, my children are NOT by any means burdensome. What is burdensome is the guilt and shame I put on myself for not being able be the kind of Mom I grew up thinking I would be, due to my physical limitations, and uncontrollable circumstances. In addition, constantly feeling unfairly judged, and at times hearing unkind words is burdensome. Too often I find myself saying, I will never be enough. No matter what I do, what route I take, it will never be enough.
My boys were supposed to go their Dad's right after the fourth of July for their two weeks of uninterrupted summer time. They had to miss Father's Day with their Dad, (which would have been their last day with him before my two weeks of uninterrupted time with them), because he contracted COVID.
It was no one's fault, but they were heartbroken. And I was in dyer need of a break at that point. But, with COVID, the boys were required to stay home and we all needed to quarantine for two weeks in case we had been exposed. So for our two weeks of uninterrupted time there was no school and no outings. I had also just started my internship and had to miss the first team meeting due to quarantine. It felt like the cards were just not in my favor and like everything that could go wrong, was going wrong.
Somehow I barely made it through those two weeks. Let me re-emphasize, I LOVE my boys to pieces. And I always want them. But, part of being a parent is knowing your limitations and understanding how to manage them in order to be at your best for your children. I had hit mine well before the added chaos broke loose. The two weeks of quarantine and onset of symptoms hit and their Dad still was not recovered.
In short, what was an added week and some change, turned into a total of five weeks without seeing their Dad. Then finally, last Thursday the boys were able to be with their Dad again.
I wish I could say all of this chaos and last minute changes of plans didn't phase me and life went on as normal, but it didn't. I was in survival mode for those five weeks, probably even a little bit before that if I'm being honest. I had approximately three anxiety attacks during that time, my house was a compete disaster, I was in bed even more than usual, or out trying to distract myself from the reality of what was going on.
When the moment finally came that the boys went to their Dad's. I sobbed. I sobbed because it felt like in the midst of so much turmoil going on around me, my window to try and gain my bearings finally came. I was surprised however, when an overwhelming feeling of shame and sadness came over me. I wished so badly that having my boys be with their Dad wasn't what I needed as I began to gather myself together. Why could I not just be okay? Why could I not just figure my crap out?
After I dropped Everett and Carter off to school the day their Dad was picking them up, I watched as they walked inside and thought to myself how lucky I am. How lucky I am to have two beautiful boys who had just been so patient with me as I struggled the last month trying to navigate all these events that were so out of my control. They bore it beautifully. They inspired me. I am certain God sent me so many tender mercies, many of which were through my children; as Everett bore his testimony so sweetly, the Sunday before they left. It was so powerful. So profound. His pure testimony gave me the comforting feeling that God is and has been aware of what was going on. He is aware of me and He is proud of me.
No matter how I feel, I have not been doing this alone. I am certain God has been with me. That somehow, in the midst of all of this, in the midst of feeling like a worthless mother, my boys have still been getting what they need. The spirit resides in our home. They are learning about Christ and building a relationship with Him as they learn to rely on Him, just as I am constantly learning to do. I have been blessed with the exact parents I have who, for as much as I complain about having to live at home, have played such an essential part, for my boys.
We will not always be able to do what we always thought we could or would, or even have been able to do. There are times we will feel cracked or broken. As result of this feelings of uselessness, unworthiness, valueless, or insignificance often ensue. I can promise you, those feelings are not from God. God will help us in discovering and overcoming our weaknesses and He wants us to push ourselves, but when it comes from Him it comes in a loving manner that will inspire us and lift us. Any negative thoughts, or negative comments from others is bred from Satan. He wants us to believe that during our weakest moments we are unloved, unworthy, and unvalued. He wants those negative thoughts or judgements from others to knock us down even more and solidify our already negative thoughts, knowing that it will hinder you and I. Harsh or cruel thoughts and words will never inspire, lift, or motivate anyone, how can they?
These last two weeks I have been doing everything I can to get things done, be in my scriptures, work on my mental health, and try to get my life to a place where I feel more capable when my boys come home. I want more than anything in this world to be the mother I always thought I would be; while I know that isn't possible to the extend of my imagination at this time, I know I can be the best mother I can be with God's help, and that is okay. And for those sweetheart boys of mine, that is enough. I am enough. I have already seen that, somehow, in my darkest moments, I am still enough for them. It's through Everett's sweet, random, but ever so sincere "I love you's" and hugs throughout the day, or Carter wanting to play or just be with me; telling me the night before he left he wanted to be with me all the nights. I am so blessed. I am going through a rough patch, but I am blessed. I know my Savior sees and hears me. And I know because of Him, I am going to make it through.
I know so many of my posts lately seem to go this way... talking about my current struggles and ending with an acknowledgement of how I know it's going to be okay. I don't want that to undermine the truth of it. My posts always end this way, because in my heart of hearts, I know it is the truth. And somehow, writing it out always helps me come back to this simple truth; there is hope in Christ. Remembering this is the single most important thing I can do for myself when I'm dealing with these things. I hope through my posts you can feel of my sincerity in being vulnerable by sharing these raw pieces of my life; that you can know you are not alone, and as perfect as the lives around us may seem, they never are. We are all on our own unique journey. But the thing we will always have in common, is the hope that remains available for each of us through the Savior and through His grace.