Sometimes it’s hard to see you because the place you’re in is so dark and hidden and you don’t let anyone in, not even yourself. You want to die, and while that’s not the best option, it’s going to be hard to convince you otherwise.
If you told anyone, they would try to guilt you out of it. You know those friends who will remind you that you have a daughter and a husband who love you and would be sad without you. But all you want is someone to stop looking at you as responsible to someone else and actually talk to you. You want them to see how much you’re hurting and take it away.
Once you became a mom, you weren’t just one woman anymore, and that’s part of the pain. You didn’t ask for the traumatic birth or trouble breastfeeding or the shame from family to go along with it. You didn’t want to feel like a failure for not doing everything organically, without medication or formula. You didn’t know you would sometimes hate being a mom but feel like you had to keep smiling and laughing through the excruciating pain. You didn’t understand why your body and now your mind has failed you, but now that it has, you’re done.
You didn’t ask for this. No one does. But I want to tell you what no one else will.
You. Not just you as someone’s mother or wife or employee, but you as an individual matter.
I see how much hurt you’ve endured, but I’ve seen how long you’ve chosen to stay. That matters, too. As much as you want to die to make the pain go away, you also want to live. You want to see your baby girl grow strong and become an independent thinker and self-starter like you want to raise her to be. You want her to stay a mama’s girl, because Daddy is cool but she looks at you like you’re the center of her world. Living for her is not enough, though. It might keep you another day or maybe even another week, but you have to live for you. I know you were meant for greatness. You have so many ideas and dreams and you want to be even more than you’ve already become.
You don’t see it now, but who you are and what you do make an impact. Whether you see it today or not, that impact is immediate for the people around you, for your co-workers, for your husband, and for the strangers you meet every day. Your ability to smile through the pain doesn’t help you, but your still holds a power that you can tap into once again.
So why stay here? The world is not kind, and often that cruelty and shame is aimed at women and moms. You have these expectations for yourself that don’t fit what you can do and be right now. That’s why you’re suffering. I think it’s more about permission to fail than pushing through to the next day.
How do you forgive yourself for not being the mom society expects you to be? There’s no one answer for this. Acceptance is daily. It’s celebrating the small things you did right and remembering that the things you did wrong can always be better tomorrow. Acceptance is the constant reminder that you will never be everything to everyone, but you are the best mother your daughter can have. Acceptance is setting boundaries to not give 100 percent to everything when you only have 15 percent of you to give. It’s also the ability to say when you can no longer function at 15 percent and need more support than you’re willing to admit now.
It’s OK to not be OK. But it’s what you do with not being OK that matters. Dying would make the pain go away for you, but it makes you go away, too, and I have a feeling there’s some fight left in you to stay here. It’s OK to ask for help. Counselors seem out of reach or out of touch because of your previous experiences or the judgments you think those therapists will have about you. The question you have to ask yourself is, “Is it worth continuing on alone or feeling like death is my only option?” If the answer is no, the next part is not easy. You have to take the risk of telling someone about your deep pain. Be honest. Choose someone who will open their arms instead of panic. Choose someone who can make the call for mental health support with you so you’re not alone as you talk to a stranger about feeling like this. Choose people who you need right now more than they need you, so you step onto a new road of healing instead of the painful road you currently walk. When you make these hard and painful steps, you choose yourself. You are making the conscious decision to let others in and considering staying not just one more day, but a lifetime. This new path is not just based on survival, but it’s the embrace of hope and moving forward. It’s the vulnerability of allowing people to see you as you wanted them to always see you. It might not be the best of circumstances to be seen, but it’s out there and the blank slate of feeling so empty only lends itself to be written.
So as you sit there in your own hell, just know that I see you. It’s not OK now, but it can be. You don’t always have to hide in the darkness, but you have to do it for you. Stay for you so it’s not just temporary and it’s not because you’re somebody’s someone. If you’re willing, take the chance to explore that life could be beyond good and actually be great for you and those you love and care for.
I hope you stay. I see and feel that small ounce of life left and I’m hoping you feel it, too. And when you stay, live. You deserve more than what you’ve had before, but facing death at rock bottom means there’s a chance it’s better tomorrow than what it was today.
You matter to me. And I hope you live.
Resources and information for PPD:
Twenty-four hour National Suicide Prevention Lifeline hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).
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