A letter to one of my favorite clients who is the midst of loss and anxiety. Writing to her helped me see myself, helped me see the progress, the work still to be done. Working with wonderful people like this mom helps me heal myself as much as anyone else. Thank you for trusting and being open and honest, vulnerable and willing to do the work. Thank you for the the honor of your presence in my life.
Dear Mom Who Is Feeling Really Anxious Today,
I hear that you’re struggling and I know how that feels. I hear that you’re frustrated and sad, edgy and lonely. I hear you and know that it’s okay. I’ve felt that way too.
I completely understand the struggle with prioritizing and getting things done and trying to decide what can be set aside for a time. Hang in there. As you know, this will pass and it will get better. What you’re going through right now is incredibly normal. I hope you’re not beating yourself up. Dealing is tough stuff and it takes time and there’s no right way to do it and there’s no correct amount of time to deal with it.
As a mom it’s sometimes hard to take care of ourselves when we have little ones to focus on. When I really struggle I remember the airline safety rules, put the oxygen on yourself first and then take care of those around you. I know how hard that is. There was a lot of time when my kids were little that it was just me and my kid cause my ex worked a lot of hours. I would just focus on getting through each hour. I would think, okay the park and then we’ll have lunch and then it’s nap time! And I couldn’t wait for that nap time. It was the tiny amount of time in the day that was purely mine and I tried really hard to resist laundry and starting dinner and all that stuff.
My need to be superwoman was really strong. My mom was a stay at home mom and I honestly thought I was supposed to get 32,000 things done in a day. It wasn’t until my kids were older that I realized that I was just supposed to be human and humans hurt and we need naps and we need time to ourselves and we need what we need and that’s okay.
I realize you know all of this, but sometimes it helps to hear someone else say it.
I think in times like these it helps to say “What do I want?, What do I need?” Don’t worry so much about the commitments you’ve made, the responsibilities you think you have. Just focus on what’s going to help you the most. Getting quiet on the mat with some restorative poses will help you figure that out. Legs up the wall is simple, really effective and you can do it during Sesame Street. Think about the DBT (dialectical behavioral therapy) skills we talked about. Do things that will soothe your nervous system. Take long walks, do restorative poses, soak in the tub with bubbles and candles, drink green tea and sit in silence while you watch the birds out the window. Just spend time in peace and answers will come. Stay in the dialectical, stay away from black and white thinking and be radically compassionate towards yourself. Take as much time as you need and even when it doesn’t seem like it’s helping, keep doing what you know to do. Allow yourself to be human.
My father-in-law died when my daughter was about five and for a few months she seemed fine and then all of the sudden she wasn’t eating and she wasn’t sleeping and she had GI issues and I dropped everything. I dropped all of my responsibilities and I took her away for a few weeks. You wouldn’t believe how helpful and understanding people were when I was willing to be vulnerable and honest and just say I can’t and I need your help. I’m not suggesting you’re doing different, but if you’re not, know that it’s okay and asking for help will get you help.
So, hang in there and do what you know to do.
I promise, it’s going to be okay. Someday you will look back at this time and it’s not going to seem as big as it feels right now. You will shake your head and smile remembering how hard it seemed right now and how hard you worked to get through this and you’ll be so proud of yourself. I promise.
Try to relax and have a good evening.