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Some conversations really hit home, and the other day I had one about parenting. I cried and cried as I shared my heart, my love for my kids, and my struggle to get it all right. At one point my friend paused and said to me, “You don’t tear yourself up inside do you?” I didn’t even have to think about it.

“Always,” I blurted through tears. Always. And it’s true. I tear myself apart every day. I rethink and regret. I analyze and I worry. Every single day. 

I’m so hard on myself, and I think it comes from a deep-seated fear of missing something. I grew up in a home of denial. Instead of self-awareness and accountability, my parents chose themselves, constantly blaming everyone around them. They built walls around their egos without any regard for me because their narrative was more important, and it didn’t include the words, “I’m sorry.” 

It stung then and it still stings now. 

I grew up feeling abandoned because my emotional needs weren’t my parents’ priorities. I’m not even sure my needs were on their radar. So here I am, broken from it all, and it still stings. 

RELATED: Abusers Stole My Childhood, But Love Owns My Future

I don’t want my kids living in that pain. I don’t want them lying in their bed at night wishing someone would care enough to say sorry. Care enough to change. I don’t want them to feel invisible like I did, so I pick myself apart. Desperately trying to hold myself accountable for every word and action. Every tiny little mistake. Terrified of hurting others by ignoring my flaws, I look for them endlessly. Careful to hold myself accountable for every little word and deed.

I grew up desperately needing to hear I’m sorry. I craved accountability. The problem is I’ve overcompensated. I’m so scared of living in denial that I apologize for things that aren’t even my fault. On more than one occasion I’ve tried to address issues with someone only to end up taking it all back and apologizing in the end.

After it’s all said and done, I sit there stunned because I seem to throw myself at the feet of blame. I can be convinced so easily that it’s all on me. That I misread every wrong and somehow I alone must be at fault. And though I sit there in shock and awe after it, seeing the absurdity of my all too eager surrender, I still manage to hold on to the twisted guilt. 

This is the impact of trauma. The crushing weight of emotional abuse and neglect, and it’s so painfully heavy.

I try to live a life of accountability. I weigh my parenting actions throughout the day in an effort to spare my kids the same pain I endured, but I go too far. I pick myself apart endlessly, and I live in shame, weighed down by the lies of my broken childhood. The lie that I’m too messed up to be loved and to love others well. The ever-present whisper that says I’m too flawed to ever be a good mom. 

I can’t seem to escape this tainted filter that I see myself through, but my children don’t see me through that same lens. They’re not phased by my little imperfections because they know I’m safe and their needs come first.

RELATED: Childhood Trauma Made Me Crave the Simple Life I’m Living Now

My therapist once said sometimes you have to mother yourself. To do the things for yourself that you needed as a child, and I think this is true. I’ve raised my kids to know that their feelings hold value, and it’s time I do the same for myself. The pain of my past has left deep wounds, but I am not a product of my childhood. I’m a cycle breaker. I have chosen change, and I am worthy of the grace I so freely extend to others. You are too!

So if you’re like me, stop tearing yourself apart. Stop dismantling yourself. You can’t teach your kids how to love if you’re constantly tearing yourself down. We are not perfect mothers, and past trauma can make that terrifying to accept, but perfection isn’t achievable, so we need to let it go. Real accountability takes balance and surrendering ourselves as the scapegoat and living in constant guilt and shame isn’t it. So go easy on yourself today, mamma. You’re doing a good job loving and don’t forget that you deserve love too.

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