A Breakdown at Disney World and a Visit with my Therapist!
This morning I took out my deck of daily affirmations and I drew a card. It was blank, which meant I could create my own affirmation for the day. The affirmation I chose was "I am patient".
We were given the news this week that the teachers would be going on strike so today the kids are home. I have a ton of work to get done so I invited some of their little friends over for a playdate so they could be kept busy.
Of course this comes with its challenges, such as non stop noise, potential fights between the kids etc. (point in case- I just had to get up and stop an argument between the boys and the girls as I was in the middle of typing that sentence). But the fact that I am even able to sit here and type this blog while there are 5 children running around my house makes me incredibly proud; a few years ago this would never have been able to happen. You would have found me in a corner in fetal position rocking back and forth trying to keep the sanity that I barely had.
You see, my postpartum depression came with a very special side of anxiety and rage. If anything remotely chaotic happened around me it would cause me to see red and feel like my mind was spinning. Anything that overstimulated me would make me feel out of control, and therefore I would lose control. It was scary.
The truth is, sometimes I still get triggered.
While we were at Disney World this past fall I was triggered and sucked back into the anxiety/rage cyclone. It was the end of our third day at Disney and we were sitting on the curb of Main street waiting for the fireworks show to start. We were all hungry so for supper we decided to get some hot dogs and fries and I also got two lemonades and a rootbeer.
Layne had just woken up from a nap and was still groggy when we sat down to eat. He asked for something but through his sleepy mumble I couldn't understand him. He tried to ask a few more times but I still couldn't understand and he was getting whiny. Then he began to cry and became unconsolable.
Suddenly in the middle of Main street, standing in front of Cinderella's beautifully lit up castle, I began to feel the anxiety creep up. I took some deep breaths, I tried to comfort Layne while hanging on to any sense of calm that was left in me, but he continued to wail louder and I started to feel myself lose control. I felt like everyone in the crowded street was looking at us. I felt like we were annoying all these people who had come to enjoy a magical fireworks show. I could no longer hold back my emotions and I broke down. Layne was crying. I was crying. My sister was trying to help but Layne wouldn't go to anyone. He only wanted me. My husband sat there helpless. My daughter was watching me, scared and confused and wondering why I was crying. Finally Layne pointed to the drinks and I realized that Layne was trying to communicate that he wanted lemonade, not the rootbeer I had given him. This whole debacle was over lemonade. *Face palm*.
Eventually we all settled into our spots on the curb and ate our hotdogs and fries. Harlow sat beside me and hugged me every few minutes.
She asked me why I was crying and I very honestly told her, "Sometimes mommy gets very overwhelmed and when that happens my body reacts by crying." She responded by saying "That's like sometimes when I get upset my body reacts by yelling." I told her she was exactly right. Our bodies need to find ways to let out our emotions.
When we got back from our vacation I had an appointment with my therapist. I told her about how I felt ashamed and guilty for breaking down in front of my kids like that.
The conversation went like this: Therapist: Why did you have a breakdown? Me: Because Layne was crying and I felt triggered by it. I hate when I can't get him to stop crying.
Therapist: Why did he need to stop crying? Me: *silent. not really knowing what to say* I guess I hated the fact that I couldn't figure out what he needed.
Therapist: All he needed in that moment was you.
Me: *starting to cry*
Therapist: Tell me what happened in your house when you used to cry.
Me: I was always told to stop crying. Therapist: As were most of us. There's this misconception in society that crying is a bad thing. Your parents probably told you to stop crying because that's what they were told as children when they cried.
Me: I felt so ashamed that my kids saw me cry.
Therapist: Your kids SHOULD see you cry. As parents we need to demonstrate to our children that we are allowed to express our emotions. It's healthy.
Me: But what about the rage I feel? I have no idea why I feel rage when my kids cry uncontrollably. I wish I knew how to stop feeling that way.
My therapist went on to explain to me that all of our emotions basically follow a neural pathway into our brains that trigger a reaction. When I was going through postpartum depression the pathway led to rage/anxiety/fatigue etc. I now need to break that neural pathway and doing that requires creating a new pathway. The next time I feel triggered by my kids whining or crying I need to stop and think about what a better reaction would be than to breakdown or lose my cool. The more I practice using the new neural pathway the sooner I'll forget about the old, destructive neuropath. This works for all behaviours and also our mindset. This is exactly why people practice daily affirmations. By telling yourself you are confident, happy, positive, grounded, successful, etc. you create new neural pathways in your brain that begin to believe these things to be true and therefore you begin to act those ways. It's just like the saying goes, "Whether you think you can or you think you can't, you're right"! Basically, your thoughts become your reality.
So what's your reality?
Are you struggling to feel confident, full of energy and positivity? Try using some daily affirmations! Write down an "I am" statement each morning when you wakeup and read it to yourself. And if you want to take it to the next level, you can always join me in changing neural pathways by joining my February "Self love is the the new Black" accountability group! We will utilize daily affirmations as well as offer motivation and encouragement for self care. There will be fitness and nutrition that will encourage you to love on your body, including special "valentines day" recipes that will leave your mouth watering! You can sign up by sending me an email via the "Contact us" form! In the meantime, check out these self love affirmations and practice using them each day!