Tag Archives: self

The Pieces of Me

In all this talking with Mr. B lately, I’ve been thinking about those pieces that, taken as a whole, make up the person I am. These are the words that float around in my head and, when someone asks what makes me Me, they are the words I use (in no particular order, of course):

  • Mom
  • Wife
  • Reader
  • Writer
  • Nature Lover
  • Woman
  • Daughter
  • Sister
  • Driven
  • Friend
  • Optimist (though I’ll always be working at this one)
  • Music Fan
  • Lifelong Learner
  • Dreamer
  • Creative
  • Doer
  • Happy

But, as Mr. B and I continue to chat about such things, I realize I’m not really honoring my whole self. I’ve been falling down on the job when it comes to being an authentic version of Kimi Joy because I’ve been neglecting some of the things I know make me the best version of myself.

For the last several years, it’s been easiest to focus on being Mom (“Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom.”). And, if I’m being honest, I’ve let the other things fall away and, to a certain extent, fall apart.

Let’s break this down a bit:

I define myself as a “writer” but — until recently — I don’t write. I hadn’t even tried, bemoaning the disappearance of my muse. And I’m just recently finding myself nose-deep in good books, realizing how much I’ve been missing making friends with characters the world ’round for the last few years.

And Nature Lover Kimi Joy? She spends far too much time inside the four walls of her house — when all she really longs to do is be outside, barefoot and free.

The other night Mr. B commented that I don’t seem as driven, as dedicated, as I did when we met. Granted, when I met him I was training for a marathon and had a very specific timeline and goal. But — he’s right. I thrive on goals and improvement and measurement, and I’ve not taken the time to truly sit down and think about where I want to be and how I’m going to get there.

Let’s not even get started on where I’ve been lacking as a wife/partner, friend, sister, daughter … because that’s when it starts to hurt the most.

All this to say: I think we all have ideas in our minds of who we are — words, phrases, concepts that help us form our definition of ourselves. These are the parts of ourselves we should be nurturing because they are our Core. And I’ve been doing a piss-poor job lately.

Kimi Joy Picture

Can we talk about wearing maxi skirts all day every day, please? #authenticself

The words above? They help to make up the person I aspire to be — the person I want to be on my best days. They give my ship an anchor.

To be sure, I don’t believe I’m a fully formed, complete individual yet. And I don’t believe this list makes up the Whole of who I am or will be. There will always be a part of me that’s changing, that’s growing, that’s reaching toward the sun.

I will always be imperfect. And I am not yet Done.

But I do know who I am — I just need to get her back.

 

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An Admission — and a Soapbox

I feel like I should start this post by admitting some things about myself — true confessions style. So, here goes:

  • I am a do-it-myself, charge-on-through kinda gal, and I hate asking for help.
  • I have a terrible fear of failure, of disappointing people and of not being “enough” — whatever that even means.
  • I talk a really good game when it comes to “happiness is an inside job” and “choose joy,” but some days I struggle to see the glass half full and recognize all the good I have in my life.

Now that that’s out of the bag, let me get into the real reason for randomly interrupting your social media and blog scrolling today: depression and anxiety.

The other day I shared a post I saw on someone’s social feed: “In my deepest darkest post-partum depression, I would have personally never called a phone number. If John or my doctor never reached out, I would have never even known. It really can be a lonely hole. Watch the people you love and don’t be afraid to speak up.” (Source)

When I shared that — and commented my agreement, it didn’t mean I think suicide call lines are a bad idea — they are so important, and we should have even more resources like this available. What it meant to me was, I personally wouldn’t have called a phone number. On my saddest, darkest of days, I would not have picked up a phone to dial a number to talk to a stranger about what I was feeling. Because … (see bulleted list at the top of this post).

If Mr. B hadn’t talked to me in loving but honest terms about what he was seeing (“You just don’t seem happy anymore.”) or my therapist didn’t encourage me to share my real feelings even though they made me feel like a failure as a mother or my friend didn’t call me to make sure everything was OK when she saw me struggling, I probably never would have even considered post-partum depression (and anxiety) as what was going on with me. I mean, after all, it was several months after Little Man was born — how could it possibly be post-partum depression?

Even now, after writing this post in my head 1,000 times over the last few months, it feels weird to see it in black-and-white. It still feels like I’m going to be judged for it, like it reveals something nasty about my true nature, like there’s something wrong with me. Like maybe, just maybe, I’m not a good mom or wife because some days I feel completely overwhelmed trying to do it all. And, damn it, shouldn’t I just be happy because I get to hold my living, breathing, thriving, beautiful children when so many other moms — myself included — had to bury theirs? Maybe I’m not feeling as hashtag-blessed as I should be?

When Mr. B first started talking to me about it, I admitted that there had been a couple of times I thought to myself “I could just get in the van and drive away from all of this.” I never got as far as trying to figure out where I might go — although a nice, comfy bed and eight hours of sleep may have been at the top of the list. And, no, I didn’t really want to leave my kids or my husband — I honestly, truly love them and the life we’ve built together. It was the cloud of depression talking; it wasn’t me.

So, why am I sharing this? Why now, when I’m starting to feel happier and healthier (at least emotionally) than I have in some time?

#blessedIt’s because we have got to do something about the stigma attached to mental health in this country. I shouldn’t feel like sharing this puts at risk everything I’ve worked so hard my entire life to have — no one should. I want to build a home — a world — for my children where their emotional, physical and spiritual health are all considered important. I want them to feel confident and comfortable enough to admit when they’re struggling. And if the first step to that is admitting that some days I stumble and other days I fall, then that’s what this is.

This is my admission. It is not a call for help or sympathy (although a little empathy always goes a long way), as I’m finding the help that works for me. We all struggle and we all need help sometimes. So check in on your people every now and again. And, for crying out loud, remember to be kind — it’s the most important thing.

(Here’s some more info about post-partum depression in easy-to-ready and -understand terms.)

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True Confessions: ‘Me’ Time Edition

True confession: I still struggle — a lot — to make time for myself. It’s funny in the not-so-funny-way that ridiculous things are because I’m the first person to tell a friend to take time for herself. I’ve been known to say “you’re a better wife/mother/employee/etc. when you make yourself a priority.” And, even, “you can’t pour from an empty cup.”

Why, then, is it so very hard for me to take my own advice?

It’s not because I have an unsupportive husband. Rather, it’s quite the opposite. Mr. B consistently encourages me — sometimes even “forces” me — to take time for myself. And it’s not because I have a lack of things I’d like to do: I miss running; I love reading at a coffee shop while drinking a mug of green tea; I enjoy taking long walks and listening to nature; I regularly wish I had more time for writing; and I have some really great friends I don’t spend enough time with.

A big part of it is that I so love being with my family. I’d choose a night chasing Dottie around the playground, followed by hanging out with Mr. B on the couch over a night out any day of the week. They’re my happy place; they make my soul come alive.

Part of it is guilt. I’m away from Dottie — and Mr. B — every day all day long while I work. By the time I get home after picking Dottie up from daycare it’s 6, if not shortly after. Then, we eat dinner. That leaves us with about an hour to play, wind down and get ready to put Dottie down for bed. We’re pretty well limited to the weekends to squeeze in as much family time as we can. Every second we have together is precious.

I wrote earlier this year about finding my “fringe hours” in order to better fill my cup with things that fulfill me. As you can see, I’m still struggling with it. Yes, my family fulfills me — but there are other things that are equally important to making me … well … me. 

I’m s…l…o…w…l…y getting there, with Mr. B’s gentle (but sometimes not-so-gentle) urging. The other night I went to a concert I’ve pretty much been waiting 20 years to see: Ani DiFranco.* When Ani walked on stage, I actually got chills. As the night went on, I felt myself come alive. That part of me has been in hibernation a long time, and I was so happy to welcome her back.

That night was a reminder that I am a person outside of my family, outside of my job. It was a reminder that every part of me works together to make myself whole — that includes the part that’s a mom and a wife. It also includes the part of me that sometimes likes to sit at a bookstore with my laptop, a cup of tea and no interruptions. It even includes the part that likes to dance the night away.

Does that mean the guilt magically disappeared? Or that I’d suddenly rather go out than rock my screaming toddler until she falls asleep before spending the evening on the couch with Mr. B?

No. It doesn’t. I am a work in progress — we all are. But, I’ve already felt the changes that one night out made. I can only imagine how I’d feel if I could squeeze out a little time here and there to fill my proverbial cup.

Cup quote

*I should note that I never would have gone to the concert if Mr. B hadn’t bought the ticket for me and followed it up by literally pushing me out the door Sunday night.

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