Puddles of milk, from the
non-leaking leaky sippy cup lay spilt on my freshly mopped floors. The entire contents of our snack pantry have been strewn about the kitchen, courtesy of my toddler. From the other room, I can hear my named being called, over and over; a fight is brewing between my two oldest. While dragging the (now crying) pantry bandit, I go to see what’s wrong. Trying to defuse the unnecessary altercation, I quickly lose my cool. Our smoke alarm goes off, with a blaring reminder of forgotten dinner, now boiling over on the stove. Turning the stove burners off, I close my eyes and sink to the messy kitchen floor, thinking, I am not okay. Quickly pushing away my thoughts, I decide this just isn’t my day.
This is a scenario that has played out for me many, many times. I’m sure you have experienced this, too. Everyone has “off” days, where nothing seems to go right. But, what happens when those off days turn into not-so-great weeks, months, or even a year?
It’s okay to not be okay.
Sleepless nights and long, hard days, I know all too well. Working two part-time jobs, and never knowing when I’ll actually get paid. In and out of family court, dealing with an ex-husband who hasn’t seen our kids in almost four years. From health scares to family issues, you could say the past year has been a not-so-great one for me. I’ve spent what seems like a lifetime pushing my own emotions aside and ignoring my internal red flags. The stress of suppressing my feelings manifested in me physically. Not only was I on edge all the time, but I was also sick. My husband knew I wasn’t okay, and even my kids knew. The jig was up, I could no longer hide it.
Tired of sweeping everything under the rug, I let the words escape my mouth and told my husband, “I am not okay!” My sanity, stretched thin, felt like it could snap any day. We all have a breaking point, and I had officially met mine. Guilt and embarrassment flooded me; admitting this to my own husband felt like I was asking to be checked into a mental institution. I needed the reassurance that my feelings were normal. With compassion and understanding, he hugged me and said, “It’s okay to not be okay.”
For me, being vulnerable is hard. As mothers, our natural instinct tells us to hold it together, remain strong, and not show any weakness. Much like my house, life can be messy sometimes, and I’m learning it’s alright to admit it. The everyday pressures to provide a safe and secure environment for our families can take a toll on us physically and mentally. Setting emotions aside and ignoring our internal cries for help has adverse effects, and everyone will suffer from it in the long run.
How do we cope, when falling apart?
A therapist once told me, mothers are like an oasis to their families. A mother pours out and gives every ounce of herself, but in what way does she get refilled and recharged? His point, simply put, was to take care of yourself. Self-care is a huge topic that is rarely taken seriously. Self-care doesn’t make you selfish; we all need a little time to adjust, defuse, and replenish ourselves. However self-care looks for you, take that time . . . make the time. It is important for you and your family.
Mama, you are not alone. We all go through our “I’m not okay” days. It’s normal and it does get better. I encourage you to be open and speak up. Trying to hide issues is only a hindrance; your loved ones are a safety net for your well-being, so take advantage. Take the time to find quiet solitude, be still, and know that it’s all going to be okay.