Let’s be honest. Motherhood was supposed to be roses, giggles and happiness. I mean, that is what all the sappy movies had told me would happen, so I had built that fantasy up. I was supposed to pop out a baby, love that baby, love myself, love my body, love my husband and somehow be sexual. insert eye roll.
Reality Check, no one has that, it takes work.
It all unraveled, into PTSD.
I have attempted to figure out when my unraveling happened, but I remember the night when I had rammed myself into a wall, figuratively that is.
I was supposed to go out with a bunch of ladies from my son’s school. I went into my closet and sat in the middle of it, and cried. I couldn’t fit into anything, I still had a wardrobe that reflected the person I was trying to get back, but had no idea how. I curled up in a fetal position and sobbed. I had one friend call me, I was hysterical. I had no idea what was going on in my head, I just couldn’t focus. I somehow scraped myself together and went. I wasn’t o.k. I drank, I got drunk. I got home, and the self loathing was worse than I could have imagined. I woke my husband up, and cried. He held me, and realized, this was bigger than we thought. I just didn’t love myself anymore, and didn’t feel worthy of love. I was shaking, my head hurt, nothing was in focus.
I finally fell asleep in my husbands arms.
The next day, I couldn’t stop shaking, it was bad, everything hurt, my knees, my ankles, my knuckles, I was walking hunched over, in pain from shooting back pains. I knew internally I had been struggling, but now it was physically obvious. My skin kept breaking out into dry spots, I got these weird cholesterol deposits under my eyes, and then well, I could feel myself go into myself. I couldn’t handle the simplest tasks, and everything gave me anxiety.
My husband silently, decided to decline drinking, and slowing changed his diet. As I offered him alcohol on a Thursday or Friday night, and he declined, it made no sense for me to pour myself anything. As he declined cookies and cakes, I also stopped. I wasn’t even drinking that much, but alcohol and PTSD don’t mix, it exacerbates everything, makes you paranoid, angry, and any bit of anxiety makes anxiety worse.
My husband quietly went to the gym every morning, saying nothing to me. I followed suit, in a way, I blindly followed his lead. At first, it was just walking on the treadmill for 30 min. It wasn’t much of a workout, but progress is progress. I went back to my routine that I had when I was working at Foreign Affairs. Working out, not drinking and cutting out sugar.
Meditation was unexpected and emotional.
I watched my husband take time to meditate everyday, at first I thought he was nuts, but after 6 months, I downloaded headspace and started to meditate too. Headspace was o.k. but having to use an app was actually giving me anxiety, not decreasing it. So, one morning my husband said “we are going to a meditation seminar at the University.” I again, had blind faith and just followed him. So I just got into the car to go.
As soon as the Meditation teacher began to speak, I felt like I was the only one in the room. I had tears rolling down my face. I knew that I needed this.
We went back the very next day.
I had no idea how much meditation would profoundly change my life. The moment I had experienced my first meditation, I relived my Father’s death, sitting in the room, and having my life, my existence crash around me after he took his last breath. I was 19. I Graduated University, celebrated every milestone birthday and Christmas, Got married, gave birth to my son – all these milestones, he missed, or what I should say, I missed him.
At 11, we were living in the Philippines and he came home with a Christening gown, it was going to be for his grandchildren. He constantly told me that he would be walking me down the aisle to bagpipes in his kilt. He talked about the future all the time. So for me to get to the future without him, was incredibly painful, heartbreaking and unbearable.
I had no idea that I had been carrying that around.
From that first meditation on, I blocked off time to meditate. I get up earlier, I do whatever I have to do to commit to my meditations. Almost immediately, I started to feel calmer, like a fog was lifting. I started to smile again, started to laugh, started to have more energy.
Committing to Exercise.
My commitment to meditation brought me to lifting weights and beginning a journey of getting me back, the me that I loved looking at in the mirror. I had an uphill battle. I had gained a good 45 pounds. I had to do something drastic, I had to commit to something bigger, and more emotionally charged. I signed my husband and I up for the Tough Mudder. I am not sure what came over me, but I knew it would the one thing that would push me hard.
Every morning, I got up and pushed myself hard, I snapped, crackled and popped. Every movement was painful, every morning, I got up, and went to push myself, I worked out, I stayed true. The day of the tough mudder, my body pushed itself hard, but mentally, I was different.. All I wanted was to get across the finish line with my husband, almost like a metaphor for what we had been going through, that we were going to get through life together. We did, and it was a beautiful and exhilarating experience.
We forget as parents, that learning is part of growing in life, and if you aren’t growing, you remain stagnant. I had been writing a book, but it wasn’t really coming together. so while on vacation I wrote rewrote a chapter and sent it off to a publisher. He was elated, and encouraged me to write the full story. It was more than cathartic, it has pushed me to learn more, to be more, to run into the future, but to enjoy every second, every opportunity that comes my way. Learning lets you grow, to build on what you have learned, the more you learn, the more doors open, the more positive you become.
I no longer suffer from the grips of PTSD. I work really hard at it. I meditate, journal, exercise, eat clean, dropped alcohol, and feel better than I have ever felt in my life.
I chose to fight.
Now I encourage you, if you suffer from PTSD, to fight, because you are worth it.