I’ve been thinking of you all (truly) but I can’t devour this book quick enough! I love it! Anyone else read it?
I recently purchased the ‘Secret Garden’ adult colouring-in book which I started on a few days ago. The designs are sooooooo intricate (as you can see in the book cover picture above). So, at NZ$25 it’s a bargain because it will most likely take me 10 years to finish it!
From a young girl I have always loved colouring and whenever the kids get out the felts, I love jumping in and doing it with them! At first I felt a little bit embarrassed about my adult colouring-in book, but now it’s become a “trend” and more and more people are jumping on the colouring wagon, so I don’t feel so silly.
For me, it’s simply something I can do to stop my brain from fizzing but not have to concentrate too much that I find it draining. Some claim it reduces depression, anxiety and stress levels. Maybe. I’m just enjoying re-visiting my childhood interest! And it ties in nicely with our family’s recent “no electronics for 3 nights a week” stance.
It’s difficult to find these times of solitude as a wife and mum of two young boys. In fact, the most time is a couple of hours and I usually use that time for housework. I now know I am an introvert and I now understand exactly what that means. No wonder I needed to drink in social situations! I’m feeling more and more that now is the time I reward myself with solitude. So I’ve booked myself a mental health break in a different city. Just me. No hubby, no kids.
My eldest is turning 10 today. I think I can afford a more substantial “me time”, since it’s been 10 years without it! And while the logical part of my brain is writing this, I can hear that inner abuse bitch murmuring that I’m being selfish, that I’m spending money on just me, I’m putting pressure on my husband…etc, etc.
But, as a lovely reader pointed out, perhaps she’s not my inner abuse bitch. Perhaps I need to embrace her and look at her with kindness and love. Instead of inner abuse bitch, perhaps she is Speaking on behalf of my conscience, keeping me balanced between totally giving and totally selfish.
After all, our thoughts are just that…thoughts. And thoughts can be changed. I have the freedom to choose to look at my inner voice and not react but respond.
Now there’s a thought!
I don’t know exactly what happened. One minute I was nonchalantly listening to this podcast by the guys at addiction recovery site, Since Right Now. The next minute I was experiencing a breakthrough. A breakthrough which I am going to try and make sense of below!
I grew up with loving parents and when I say loving, I mean I know deep down they loved me. But my version of love is somewhat different to their version of love. I was raised with very little affection, a lot of criticism, and emotional abuse. I was raised by two parents who were working too hard to make ends meet to have time, patience and energy left over for their daughter. There was a lot of anger in our house while I was growing up. I had two, much older brothers, and they were hitting their ragamuffin teens as I was starting school and beginning to notice and absorb the environment around me.
The overall message I received as a child, was that I was insignificant. It was openly joked that I was an ‘accident’. My mother’s pregnancy with me must have been an extremely stressful time for her because she found out she had breast cancer and had to undergo a mastectomy. What a rocky start with your third, unplanned child! Growing up, nothing I did was good enough. Anything I did right, was brushed over, if acknowledged at all. Any mistakes I made growing up was leaped on and became the focus, and I was lectured on all that I did wrong. I knew all this before becoming a parent. It wasn’t the greatest childhood, but it wasn’t the worst. What I didn’t know, was how it could be any better. I couldn’t know what was missing. After all, I didn’t know, what I didn’t know. Until becoming a parent myself.
After the birth of my first child, I had this overwhelming feeling of an exciting but scary opportunity to get it right. To parent differently than how I was parented. However, I found it seriously difficult because, I knew I didn’t want to continue the type of parenting I’d received, but I didn’t know what the alternative was! Which left me floundering. And left me repeating the very patterns I wanted to break because they were my default settings. And as a control freakish, perfectionist, Type A person, this was unsettling to the extreme. How could I get this parenting thing ‘right’, if I didn’t know what ‘right’ was?!
The very moment I became a mother, I reflected deeply on the parenting I’d received and became very angry. All the wounds I had experienced throughout my childhood bubbled to the surface to be treated. All those insecurities and fears of getting it wrong confronted me. The very moment I became a mother, I immediately felt insignificant and inadequate all over again.
Now, ten years on since becoming a mother, I have come to learn what the alternative is. I now know that love to me means affection, guidance, encouragement, security, and mistakes are ok, they are simply opportunities for growth. Becoming a mother didn’t solve my wounds from my upbringing like I naively thought, it exposed them.
So motherhood made me see myself for who I was. And it was unsettling. I didn’t like looking at myself and questioning the way I was raised. It hurt. So I turned to an escape from these unsettling and painful feelings – wine. Motherhood altered the way I treated alcohol and once I discovered its escapism, I turned to drink as a crutch whenever faced with challenges. A subtle, slow and sinister shift.
When I became a mum I grew depressed. When I became sober I grew depressed. Both are significant milestones in my life that stripped back, have exposed the same wounds to be treated. The first time, I didn’t know what love meant to me. So I followed the same path my parents showed me, that love is criticism, impatience and frustration. The possibility of treating my wounds was there, but I wanted to escape the flawed me, so I turned to drink.
In sobriety, I have begun treating my wounds, with the same love I now parent with. Parental love and self love is kindness, patience and acceptance. I don’t always, and won’t always get it ‘right’. And that’s ok, because with mistakes comes growth.
Like motherhood, sobriety forced me to acknowledge my wounds. Both sent me into a tailspin. Only this time, it is in recovery, I am healing them. What a gift.
Footnote: Also, I have also realised while writing this, my relationship with my SIL is similar to the relationship I had with my parents. She left me with the same feelings of insignificance, inadequacy and insecurity. As an adult, I found myself in a similar relationship to one as a child…I suspect there is more wound healing with this realisation!!