In the past few weeks I have noticed small slivers of time where I wasn’t thinking about my PPD/PPA. It always seemed though, that as soon as I recognized that I wasn’t thinking about it, it would creep back up and I would begin to obsess once again over how I had lost myself.
But in the last few days, that obsession turned worse before it got better. I suddenly began to have overwhelming anxiety over not actually knowing myself. I seemed to have an identity crisis. I began to wonder if this is who I will always be, a purposeless, anxious, worried mom who likes to put on a façade and pretend to have it all together. I suddenly began to wonder if I had any depth at all. Its funny the things that your mind can think when it begins to function on its own. These “intrusive thoughts” are far less scary than the ones I had at the beginning of my battle, but they still frightened me.
I have been trying to be totally honest about my thoughts and feelings with my husband, and doing said lead to a conversation last night that made me really start to feel better. Matt has this fantastic way of calling me out on things without making be feel bad, judged or embarrassed. He just really can cause me to think about how I view myself. Last night was no exception as he began to ask me questions about trust and defining myself. He recanted to me a story that he had heard on the radio at work about a woman who idolized her family, defined herself by motherhood and held herself to all of these ridiculous standards. She loved God, but when it came to the one most important thing in her life, her family, she didn’t even trust Him. She wanted to have total control, she wanted to call the shots and she was always okay with God as long as things were going her way. She put being a mom before her husband, herself and God and hadn’t even realized it until she had to face tragedy.
This woman is me, or was me up until 4 months ago and I don’t think I even knew it. When I became a mom I put pieces of myself aside and turned to God a little less. Then with each subsequent child it only seemed to get worse. I became a little more anxious, a little more controlling and a little less me until suddenly I hit rock bottom and with the help of some serious hormonal imbalances experienced the worst 4 months of my life.
At the start of all of this, to say that I wasn’t angry with God would be telling a lie. I was mad that He allowed this to happen, that He didn’t miraculously heal me and that He would let me feel so awful. I went back and forth between days of crying out to Him, begging Him to rescue me and days of completely shutting myself off to Him. I would pray with all of my heart and I would turn away just as fervently. And then when I realized that He was trying to get me to change through all of this, at first I got even more mad. What was wrong with me?? What had I done to deserve this “punishment”??
The answer of course is nothing. I didn’t do anything to deserve this. But God wasn’t going to allow me to suffer for nothing. God wanted me to grow, to change and to trust Him completely. But in my previous state, I wouldn’t let Him break through the surface. I was okay with how things were going and didn’t want to invite Him any deeper. Why? I think that I was afraid that God had a different plan than I did, and that maybe I wouldn’t like it. Or perhaps its simply the fact that I have serious trust issues in normal relationships and trusting God with my LIFE was too much.
In order to get to me, He had to peel back the layers. He had to remove everything that I used to define myself, everything that I put before Him.
We willingly left the home that I constantly took so much time to clean, organize and decorate. While it was the best decision for our family financially, our home had been my “job” and when we first moved back in here I felt like I had lost it. I soon realized that I took so much pride in the appearance of our home that I was beginning to let that define me.
But it wasn’t enough. Even though Matt and I had trusted the Lord that moving was the right decision, I still put everything else that was my responsibility before Him.
So He allowed my ability to care for my family to be stripped from me. I couldn’t take care of my kids by myself. I couldn’t clean, I couldn’t cook or do laundry or bathe them or even shower myself. I couldn’t do ANY of the things that I was so in love with doing. My husband willingly took on all of my jobs and I just existed. I was a shell, empty and purposeless. I was lost.
And now He is helping me to rebuild myself. He is helping me to learn that being a mom is only one aspect of who I am, but that God has called me to be much, much more than that. He has a plan. and if I trust Him, it will be so much better than mine.
I can be a wife, a mom, a daughter, a friend, a student, an employee, a volunteer, a runner, a PPD survivor, a writer, an editor, and a homemaker.
But the ONLY thing that I need to define myself as is a child of God.