I Thought I Was Falling Behind...
If you have been following me and my blog for a while, then you'll remember that I only just started prioritizing my own healing journey about a year and a half ago.
It was a big scary step for me.
For one, I didn't know where to start. Do I go big and start taking on a bunch of things at once or do I take small, methodical steps?
But the bigger, scarier thing for me was would my family be ok if I stopped the hyper-vigilant micromanaging?
I had to take step back and assess the big picture. To look and see that the darkness was slowly lifting. That even though the hard moments and hard days were still there, that they were fewer and farther between. It was time.
It was time for me to face the pain and darkness that I had been ignoring, pushing deep down for the past three years. It was time for me to look in the mirror and say "You cannot keep treading this cold water any longer."
You see, for so long, I didn't think that I could take the attention, time, and energy away from my family and focus it on myself. I wasn't sure that I could keep doing what I felt like I needed to AND make the time for my healing. So I just didn't.
And it wasn't that anyone ever set those expectations out for me. They were my expectations that I put on myself. Out of fear, mostly. Out of fear of what MIGHT happen if I didn't.
And what was truly happening inside might have shocked many people. I think I did a really good job at putting up the front that I was still thriving. But those closest to me probably knew the truth. The truth was that I was just barely treading that water anymore. I was slowly shutting down. I had lost myself.
So reluctantly, I made an appointment for my first therapy session. I found someone that I had followed on Instagram for a while whose vibe and presence seemed to be what I thought would be a good fit for me.
I talked about my fears. About my grief. About my pain. I talked about how I feared that talking about MY piece of this experience would take away from what my husband had gone through. There were so many moments during these early therapy sessions where I would say something and then immediately realize how ridiculous it actually sounded. But I wasn't met with shame or laughter. Instead, I was met with validation. And holy shit did that feel good. I continue to have monthly appointments and strongly strongly encourage everyone to get therapy - even if you think you don't need it. Just try it...you may surprise yourself.
And even though I was having the appointments and doing the work and having the conversations, I still felt like I was stuck. I didn't realize the work that was happening deep down inside.
Fast forward to 2023. I did a really big thing. It might not seem like a big thing but for me - it was everything. I booked a trip to Calgary to go see my sister for my birthday. Just me. It would be the longest that I would leave my family and have time just for me since 2018. But that wasn't really the big thing. The big thing came in the lead up to that trip. Prior to this, I had gone on short weekend trips by myself. But I would always micromanage every little detail to account for my being gone. I would plan activities for the kids, make sure all their laundry was done and that the house was clean, make sure the fridge and pantry were stocked. I would also gently nudge family members to stop by or check in. And then when the trip finally came, I would constantly (and probably annoyingly) be checking in. I would go away but I wouldn't really be away.
That all changed with this trip.
I packed my bags and I went.
While I was sitting in the airport lounge, it hit me. It hit me that I hadn't "prepared" like I normally did. And then the panic set in. I worried. I analyzed. I made up scenarios in my head. So instead of letting all of those intrusive thoughts set in and ruin the start of some much needed "me time", I just sat with them. I acknowledged that I felt that way and that it was ok. BUT - I then reminded myself that my husband is a loving, capable, and resourceful dad. I reminded myself that he takes care of our kids every day. I told myself that if he needs something, he will know where and how to ask for help.
Do you know what happened after that? Those intrusive thoughts went away. They tried to creep back in a couple times but I was ready and able to push them out. And the couple check in phone calls I did make to check in, things were just fine!
It was one of the most gratifying feelings I've had in years.
This is all to say that if you are willing to do the work, the progress will come. Sometimes it won't be obvious or grand, but it will be there.
Don't compare your healing journey to someone else's. It won't look the same. It won't have the same timeline. It won't have the same bumps or twists and turns. Your journey is just yours. It will be beautiful and painful. It will be messy. But it will be all yours. And it will be something that you will be so proud of.
Take care of yourself and be kind,