A new year is upon us. We may not be ready to leave the one left behind; or, we may be grateful to let go and never look back. For some of us, this was a wonderful year. We achieved recovery. We worked incredibly hard, we saw the light at the end of the tunnel, we grieved, we cried, we conquered. And for some of us, the cloud of darkness hasn’t lifted as we are still in the throes of our battle with a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder.
The new year tends to make us want to set goals, both realistic and not. We attempt to define the best version of the person or mom we want to be. She, most often, is not the reflection we see in the mirror. This realization can lead to feelings of guilt, shame and defeat which perpetuate cycles of depression and self-loathing. But, trust me when I say, you are already enough, mama.
Instead of viewing the turn of the year as a fresh start or a new beginning, we spend time beating ourselves up about all the things we didn’t accomplish, the days we couldn’t get out of bed or the number of times we lost our patience. We relive the failed medication trials, the sleepless nights and the panic attacks. We dwell on the things we may have missed due to our illness and we question our strength and our resolve. We question if we were meant to be mothers at all.
But we cannot live in either the past or the future; therefore, we must learn to accept wherever we are on our journey. We must embrace what we are capable of right now and truly believe that whatever that is, it’s okay. We need to sit with our emotions, good or bad, and acknowledge that both are part of the human experience. In doing so, we learn to sit with our anxiety, discomfort or pain and experience even greater joy when good times arrive again.
So, enter this new year day by day, or even moment by moment. Set appropriate boundaries and expectations for both yourself, and others. Ask for, and accept help, professional or otherwise. And perhaps, most importantly, do what you can to care for and love yourself for, without self-compassion, all other efforts are futile. Know that we often discover purpose in our pain and through this, you will learn so many amazing things about yourself. I know how hard you tried, mama. I know how hard you’re still trying and how you worry that you will never be able to NOT try so hard again. But you have it in you. This new year may not be without its trials, but you will overcome. You are enough…strong enough, brave enough and loved enough. And, you are never, ever alone.
-Written by Alexis Bruce