Have you ever felt like you were drowning in your own tears? Walked onto the dock and but missed the boat? Lost who you thought you were meant to be? Feel like you are so far gone that you are past the point of no return?
That's how life felt for me for more than 25 years. I was doing all of the things that I believed a wife and mother of 3 sons should be doing. Going to football practice and games. Making sure they got their homework done and to bed on time. Listened to them tell me how their day went or what girl they liked. Once a month cooking that took 3 days to recover from, Homeschooling them when things were no longer working out for them in public school, making a little bit of money babysitting to help out with the bills. Keeping down the fort when my husband John was away traveling for business. There were a lot of years that I felt like I was doing most of it alone and during those times while the boys were growing up, I was trying to keep my head above water. I would lock myself in the closet and cry and my little boys would know on the door asking for mamma to get them a snack.
Anyone else out there ever feel this way? Well I did. And I wanted to know where did I go?
When did I lose my identity? I'm not saying that being a mom or a wife was something I scoff at, I loved raising those now strong men and I adore my husband who has sacrificed a lot of his own identity in the pursuit of paying the bills and supporting our children. It's just that I traded the Cinderella dream of marriage and childrearing for the young woman who wanted to be a rock star, a home interior designer (Do those still exist?) and a fashion icon. I tucked all of my little girl dreams aside and pulled up my boot straps (something my mother used to always tell me) and I got to work pouring into this incredible family that I loved. But I was drowning inside. I lost something that I didn't even know I could keep. My identity.
I spent a lot of those years depressed, on medication, gaining weight, going on a diet, gaining the weight back. I was going to counseling and still confused as to why a woman who was living such an incredible life felt like she wasn't living at all. And all of those years I felt so lonely inside. I'd put on a pretend smile and go to church and bible study and minister to other women but I felt do detached.
My husband tried to understand but how could I expect someone else to get me when I didn't "get me"? And then 5 years ago I was at my end. I thought that I had become so lost that there was no turning back and I started to contemplate leaving. Yep, I was an empty nester with no more sons to raise and now I'm home with my husband and I'm telling him I don't know "us" anymore, which really meant that I had lost myself and I was in such a huge pit of anxiety and depression that I believed that I could no longer be happy in our marriage. And I was making myself miserable. And he was miserable.
And that became a road to healing. I got a counselor, he got a counselor, we got a counselor. We both started working really hard individually on our own issues and then we slowly started putting "us" back together again. But let me back up here a minute and tell you something else that changed.
I found me again. It started with asking my Chiropractor (he saved my life a few years back-I'll share that story another time) if he knew of an acupuncture doctor that I could go to who could help me with some severe muscle pain and I wanted someone who could do cupping as I had received a lot of relief a year before when I added that into my health routine. My new acupuncture Doctor is a Holistic Medicine doctor and as we started to get to know each other he asked about my depression and I told him about my past and my present struggles and he recommed a counselor who works with CPTSD.
Let me stop here for a moment and tell you that I think it took a village of very talented people who weren't connected in their fields of expertise but I believe connected by God. I started down a 4 year journey of healing with the use of EMDR therapy. At the same time I joined this beautiful tribe of women who were being led by an amazing Master Weight loss coach who was doing a lot of work on Mindset. And the puzzle pieces slowly started coming together.
I started to see how my own thinking could change how I viewed my marriage, my health, my relationship and most importantly I started to discover the unique beauty that God had created when He created me. That my identity was not who my family of origin said I should be. That the belief that I developed from the church was a little bit twisted (not because of anything that the church did on purpose but just a lot of bible studies that maybe the broken and wounded version of myself took and twisted and said you can't be your true self because there is something wrong with you. I threw the baby out with the bathwater for so many years. I lost my identity. I lost my voice. And I got her all back, but a better version, a version who Is thankful for the road that was challenging and painful and full of scars and a lot of tears.
Oh and that marriage counselor my husband and I started to see. We like to joke and say that we graduated from there. The beauty of the story and that we spent 3 years pouring into ourselves individually and awakened to who were were created to be and also poured into becoming the couple we were meant to be. We were asked if we could bottle it up, this renewed love, and give it away to help other couples in crisis and we said, "sadly, we can't give someone something that just takes a selfless willingness to go through, a lot of crap on the river of misery, until you start seeing and believing that this person you married is so amazing and so wonderful and so completely broken just like you are and you learn to accept them unconditionally.
I have changed a lot over the past 4 years. I don't look the same on the outside. I lost some weight, I cut my hair off, I got a lot of really (as my sons would say) badass tattoos and I found my voice. Inside, I found true joy, I no longer suffer from that dark depression. I feel like I belong in this world and that I make a difference in the lives of those around me. I'm valuable because God gave me 100% value. I am 100% worthy. I am 100% love.
I'm glad I missed the boat and I learned to float in my tears. I learned to feel every emotion God created for me. I learned to yell! Yes I said yell, I was a very messy person in the process of creating the woman who learned how to find her voice. I can tell you that none of it was easy. It cost a heck of a lot of money. Every penny was worth it. It was painful at times, but I believe that creating something new has a melting process. Or it's like ripping off a giant bandaid that's been stuck on a very long time. But it was all worth it.