I’m Not Who I Thought I Was

Day six of testing and we’re still waiting for that magic second line. Got a very faint second line today which may mean that I’m going to ovulate earlier than expected.I’ve been filled with so much anxiety recently about this whole process that, for a while, I’d lost track of the drive. I distinctly remember times in my life when the passion to be a mother was the only thing keeping me going.

I’ll keep you posted!I’ve been filled with so much anxiety recently about this whole process that, for a while, I’d lost track of the drive. I distinctly remember times in my life when the passion to be a mother was the only thing keeping me going.

I’ve been filled with so much anxiety recently about this whole process that, for a while, I’d lost track of the drive. I distinctly remember times in my life when the passion to be a mother was the only thing keeping me going.

Nothing else would really make sense in those moments and I used to say “I’m so much better at fighting for someone else than I am fighting for myself.”

The first time that sentence came out of my mouth, I was proud of it. I felt noble and altruistic being willing to do things for the people I love that I wouldn’t always find the strength to do for myself. And then, a few years ago during a particularly rough time, I started to rethink my position on that.

I think, as women, we’re taught that taking care of others is better than taking care of yourself. So many books and songs center around the idea of a woman being everything for everyone, and then most often, having nothing left for herself. And that lifestyle is lauded as  “a strong woman.” And there’s no doubt that taking care of others takes a strong person. Putting someone else first takes a kind of commitment and compassion that is very rare.

Here’s what I noticed about me, personally. In my commitment to taking care of someone else, specifically my future child, I hadn’t actually….EVER…taken care of myself.

It took me a while to realize that I’d put my life on hold, my personality development on hold until I was a mom.

It took me even longer to realize why.

I was afraid. I was afraid that if I actually started living my life, developing my own routines, traditions, passions…that I wouldn’t want to be a mom anymore. That I’d prefer to keep taking care of me instead of taking care of someone else.

This holding pattern, of course, was completely damaging. I struggled with depression and anxiety, had serious trouble telling the difference between things that made me happy and things I just happened to be good at. And, about a year ago, my holding pattern couldn’t hold anymore.

I wish I could take credit for a conscious choice to do something different, but the reality is that the breaks I’d thrown on my life finally wore out on their own and I just….changed.

It wasn’t a huge change, at least not when you look from the outside. But for me, the change  was huge, and it all started with one little two-letter word.

“No.”

I started saying no.

And, at first…I was terrible at it. Not because I couldn’t do it, but because I was saying no compulsively, like a 2-year-old that had just discovered the word.

“Do you want to go out with us?” = No

“Do you want to come over and play games?” = No

“Want to come try this new dance class with us?” = Nope!

The thing is, 2-year-olds are flexing their “agency” (read = their ability to have an impact on the world around them) and so was I. Up until that point, I’d chosen not to engage in the world around me in an impactful way because I was waiting for the final piece to fall into place. And all of the sudden, I had a new skill to learn.

2-year-old agency practice is part of identity development. They’re using their external world to help them explore their internal world by way of sorting through the things they like and the things they don’t. But, before you can engage in an accurate sorting process, you have to first practice just saying “no.”

And that’s where I had to start too. Just saying no. As a way to give myself permission to say yes under my own power in the future. It didn’t take long. I got the hang of it pretty quickly. And then started initiating things I wanted to do.

It was empowering, to say the least. I’ve always been told I’m a strong, independent woman, and I never really felt that way. As an athlete, I spent most of my day doing exactly what I was told to do. As a student, my life was much the same. Being lead by the syllabus through my education, checking the boxes, and filling out the paperwork. There wasn’t much agency to be had.

So apparently, I was a little delayed.

I had no idea how much that impacted my life. How much depression that caused. How much fear I was suppressing.

When the breaks came off, I had a whole new set of skills to learn, a whole nother part of my personality to develop. I started to learn more about who I am, what I want, how I do things. And, as it turns out, the drive to be a mother didn’t go away. In fact, it got stronger, because I started to realize how much of what I learned, I wanted to pass on. I started to realize what it meant to be a role model for my child. Here’s what I learned…

Turns out:

  • I’m an introvert – but one of the fancy ones: an “extroverted introvert” meaning I like being around people but in small, controlled doses and with lots of recovery time in between. Before that, I just thought I was antisocial and somehow, also…needy.
  • I’m a feminist – meaning I’ve seen all kinds of inequality in my life and quietly, subconsciously absorbed that all as my fault, because I wasn’t as strong as everyone seemed to tell me I was. Turns out, the inequality is real, I have been oppressed, ignored, minimized, marginalized, judged, threatened, and silenced for being a woman. And it’s okay for me to push back.
  • I’m spiritual – meaning that I believe the world and universe around me is responsive to the energy I put out. Negative begets negative. Positive begets positive. This also means that part of my spiritual health includes making conscious, positive decisions about the kind of energy I allow to be a part of my life from other people. And that if I don’t find someone’s energy to be a healthy contributor to my experience….I can find another, healthier relationship to engage in.
  • I’m strong – meaning that I can endure heavy burdens, push through obstacles, reorganize when something when it starts to go sideways and adapt to surprises.

Being strong doesn’t mean I always get my way, it doesn’t mean I’m unstoppable. Actually, I’ve been stopped in my tracks quite a few times in my life. Strong means something very simple. Strong means I keep going. It’s not something to be compared to someone else. It’s not conditional on the outcome of my selected task.

Strong means I keep going.

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