By Becky Andrews
Summer break has arrived. Normally, I’m ecstatic about the guarantee of at least five sunny days a week. This year…not so much. The truth is, I feel weird. It’s like a cross between feeling like I’ve walked across a crowded room with my dress accidentally tucked into my underwear and like I just ate too much raw broccoli. Not crying, not laughing, just uncomfortable. So I’m about to spill it. I’m depressed. Yes, that kind. Thankfully my children and mortgage won’t allow me to stay in bed on days where that melancholy feeling is especially strong. But, I’m scared of this. Just knowing that there are days I would gladly forego a day spent in the beautiful outdoors to stay in bed watching bad reality television and scrolling through Facebook is reason for concern.
Speaking of Facebook. Seeing posts of your perfect bikini body standing on the shores of some exotic location, perfect children who do whatever you want without complaining, and photos of Smithsonian worthy Pinterest projects just makes it worse. I’m happy for you. Really, I am. Minus the “perfect bikini body” thing, I’ve done the same. I know you have bad days like I’ve been having and maybe this is a way of aversion therapy for you. But it just makes me dislike you for a little while.
By early spring I could tell things were different. That’s when I decided it was time to start seeing a therapist again. (Pause for collective gasp) Meaning I’ve been down this road of seeking self-awareness before. I’m four sessions in. Here’s what I’ve learned so far. If you’re struggling, I hope this helps you.
- Therapy is good-make that, essential. Thank God it’s available. And contrary to what my parents and their parents believed. Not everyone who’s in therapy is a “nut case.” Some are nuts though.
- Stop hiding, start talking. For me, painful experiences heal faster when I talk about them. It’s not easy. But on the other side of processing comes acceptance and understanding of why you do the things you do. (This is where I found out why I’ve been on a perpetual diet for the past 25 years.)
- It’s going to be ok. No matter how anxious, sad or overwhelmed you may be, this will pass. You will survive. Being happy 24/7 shouldn’t be the goal. If that’s your aim, you may wind up being a “nut case.”
- Honesty really is the best policy. With others and with yourself. No matter how you phrase it, honesty, transparency, being real, it’s very freeing. When you decide to do this, your circle may change. But it’s worth it, trust me. Life is hard enough without having toxic people around you.
- I will never be a size 4 (for longer than a day or two) and the only feeling I had at that size was hunger.
- I’m enough. Enough of what I don’t know yet. That probably takes a few more sessions.
- I make mistakes. As a mom, as a daughter, as a wife, sister, friend, and so on.
- I’m not my parents. Even though I had great parents who made their fair share of mistakes, this doesn’t mean I’ll make the same ones just because we share the same DNA.
- I’m a good mom. Not because of material things. Not because of being a room mom (something I did one year and wasn’t asked again.) Not because I once coached my youngest son’s basketball team (FYI-telling parents the only qualification you have to coach is watching Hoosiers 25 times isn’t a good idea.) I’m a good mom because I love my kids enough to show them (sometimes on a daily basis) that we are all imperfect.
- Time can’t be controlled. Yes, it’s moving too fast. Yes, my kids are growing up and becoming more independent. This can’t be changed. There’s two options. Either worry about every turn or sit back and take in the scenery. Option B is so much easier.
I’m telling you just in case you think you’re the only one having a bad day, month or year. You aren’t alone. While it’s important to remember that your situation can always be worse, it’s just as important to realize that it will also get better. Unless you’re constipated. You’ll need some fiber for that.