My Dear Addye, With All My Love, Susan

Hello, dear readers of Butterfly Confessions. Lauren of My Postpartum Voice here. I’ve recruited some of Addye’s friends to write posts for her blog while Addye babymoons with hear new little one. This letter is the first guest post and it’s written by the fabulous Susan of Learned Happiness. If you’d like to submit a guest post to be published while Addye is babymooning, email me at mypostpartumvoice (@) gmail with “For Butterfly Confessions” in the subject line!

Without further ado, I present Susan’s lovely words for Addye…..

 

My Dear Addye,

You and I have been friends for 3 years, now.  And in that time, I have watched you transform into a wholehearted woman.  You took chances with your life and made huge leaps of faith – faith in yourself more than any one person.  You have learned to be honest with yourself about who you are and who you want to be.  Your integrity has been hard-fought and is well-deserved.  You honor me with your friendship.

You said when you married Bert and took his name that it was the beginning of a new life – one written by you and you alone.  One that speaks to all you hold sacred and points to a fulfilling life with your family.  And this baby?  Is a part of that new life.  I can see it in your eyes – in the way you look at him and hold him.  I have experienced the hope brought by a new baby birthed in joy and a sense of calm.  It renews the spirit.  And I couldn’t have wished a better birth experience for you.

SusanQuoteRemember that no matter how good your birth (or how much you love that amazing tiny man), having a newborn is a special kind of torture.  The nights are long and the days are even longer.  And no matter how happy you are, it’s okay to be exhausted.  It’s okay to be emotional.  And it’s okay to still need help.  This is not a test of your spirit.  You are not being graded on how gracefully you weather the fourth trimester.  There will be beautiful moments and there will be unbearable ones.  And your tribe?  Will be standing beside you for both.

I hope with all of my heart that the darkness you fear is blotted out by your joy.  But if it’s not, if it all becomes too much, you are armed and you are never alone.

With all my love,
Susan

This Christmas…It’s a Special One For Us Indeed

The holidays are always hard for me to get through for varying reasons, as I know they are for a lot of people, particularly those of us who live with mental illness.

The one thing that I’ve been focused on amidst all the frenzy of the holiday season and my own erratic moods is simply being grateful that life for the boys and I is not what it was this time last year. Bertski and I weren’t together and it was our first time navigating the tricky process of splitting the holidays with Alex. I hated it. It was lonely…I felt awful that I had contributed to my boys not being able to spend the holidays together, with both of their parents. Christmas was especially difficult for me, and also for Brennan. He kept asking when Alex was coming back, why Alex and Bertski were in Philly and not with us, and I kept fighting back tears and despairing thoughts. I felt hollow, emotionally cold, my mind was dark, and I just wanted it all to be over with. I was angry…bitterness had started to settle in my heart.

This Christmas, however, things are COMPLETELY different. If you’ve been reading along these past months, you know this. Instead of trying to navigate the ups and downs of co-parenting while forging lives independent of each other, Bertski and I are finally finding our way down a path that allows us to be parents AND a couple, building and living a family centric lifestyle-a first for both of us.

This Christmas I also find myself being grateful to say goodbye to life as a single mother and preparing myself to experience the holidays in the years to come as a wife. I don’t regret having to learn the ins and outs of parenting and how to balance the responsibility of it on both of my shoulders. The past 5 1/2 years have taught me a significant amount about myself…about life. It changed me into a new person, someone capable of doing things I didn’t think I’d be able to handle on my own.  I’m grateful for the life I lived as a single parent, but I’m also ready to say goodbye to it. I’m ready to move forward with someone not only willing to share the responsibility of parenting, but also willing to build a life with me. That’s huge for me. I’m used to people walking out of my life and removing me from theirs in one way or another, for varying reasons. I don’t always blame them, but it’s always left me feeling abandoned and unworthy of so many things-like having a family and a partner. To have someone see the value and worth I see in myself and decide to embrace and cherish it, cherish me, is the one gift I’ve begged for since I was a child and never received-until now.

When Bertski asked me what I wanted for Christmas, I told him I wanted nothing and it was the honest truth.  There is nothing material he would’ve purchased at a store that would’ve meant more to me than the gift of love I’ve found in our family and in my friends this year-my heart is too full to hold in anything else.

I hope that if you find yourself feeling lonely or down for whatever reason today you will be able to at least find one thing you can fix your mind on to get you through today and even into the new year just a few days away.  I hope that no matter what you find yourself struggling with in life today, that at least in one way, no matter how small or trivial it may seem, you are better than you were last year. Take some time to reflect on what that one thing make this day a special one for you, one that allows grace and gratitude to abide in your heart…it’s working for me :)

Merry Christmas y’all. Now…enjoy the brilliant weirdness that is Cee-Lo Green’s Magic Moment. Seriously.

It’s Hard to Resist the Hope Burning in My Heart….

Something major happened to me this week.

Something that’s changed everything.

Just when I was going to give up…

Hope was reborn within my breast…its dying embers reignited by possibility…

My heart has been blown wide open by it…..

Exposing a love that occupies every crevice….

Permanently engraved and imprinted, I see now that nothing will erode its presence.

It scares me….

Excites me…

Invites me…

To lose myself in it, even if only for a few moments…

To be rejuvenated by it…

To be healed by it…

and to be fortified by it for the journey that lays ahead…

I’ve tried resisting…trying to maintain a level of sensibility…

but I think….I think for today…

I will give way and let it wash over me….

Yes, today…today I will let my heart drink of what its been longing for.

My One Word: LOVE

I mentioned yesterday that I didn’t pick any resolutions this year, choosing instead to focus everything around one word.

I first got this idea from My One Word.

In 2011 my word was “COMMITTED.”

My word for 2012 is “LOVE.”

Confession: I was going to write about my experience with my word from last year and my hopes & ideas about my focus for this year….but can I be honest and say that I’m really tired from a long day of running errands? Can I also say that I’m having an incredible amount of fun playing & dancing with my boys…and getting to know the new potential “love” in my life to write tonight?

I will share. I promise. You know I will. But right now I just want to live in these moments I’m having tonight because I need them. My boys need them.

I just wanted to at least let you know what my one word was because  I promised I would… I can’t leave ya hangin :)

I hope you’re enjoying your evening as much as we’re enjoying ours….

Tis the Season…For Love & Light to Win

Confession: I was supposed to write this post yesterday, but I got caught up in

  • Wrapping gifts I didn’t buy until Thursday
  • Sleeping
  • making HOMEMADE PopTarts for the-boys-who-won’t-eat-anything.
  • Sleeping
  • Wiping yards of snot from Alex’s nose
  • Cleaning
  • Trying to keep my emotions in check
  • Having theological debates on FB with legalists who claimed my heart ain’t in the right place if my behind isn’t in CHURCH on Christmas morning.
  • Having a dance/rock & roll/headbanging party complete with air guitar and fist pumping

It was a busy day, but the best one I’ve had since Monday night…when Alex spiked a fever of 103 that stayed til Wednesday WHILE suffering through an ear infection and lung congestion.  I hated this week and the way it made my life just ooze out of me. I’m so tired it feels like I’ve been pummeled with Chuck Norris’ fists.  The stress of it  triggered my BP which led to mood swings and a mental nosedive into a low. We won’t even talk about the side of holiday blues that edged it’s way onto the plate as well. (Me+ Holidays=Depression)

But I will talk about the fact that when  I woke up yesterday, I felt strength I hadn’t felt all week. It pulled me out of bed and helped me face the day…and Christmas.  It helped me quietly shake off the stress of the week and live free. I was able to laugh and enjoy the shenanigans that come with parenthood.  The reality of how different life is this Christmas still lingered, but I was able to avoid it’s gaze and focus on the good stuff….

…like LOVE. That strength I felt when I woke up? It was love. I could feel it emanate from deep in the center of my heart and start to spread itself to every corner, every dark place inside of me. I read somewhere this week that Christmas originated out of a week long festival or celebratory season of light’s victory over darkness. You know, the winter solstice stuff. While I choose to take this time of the year to celebrate the birth of my Savior, I can totally relate to celebrating light’s beating the crap outta darkness. Who wouldn’t? Yesterday that’s what I felt: God’s love for me shining bright and pushing back the darkness I had found myself in all week long.  It enabled me to take care of myself yesterday (on Self-Love Saturday) , something I’d been unable to do all week.

Wherever your source of love & light comes from, I really hope it finds you and fights for you when you need it to this holiday season. The holidays are rough to get through, especially if you’ve lost a loved one, are living with an illness (mental or otherwise), or have a loved one who is. Take heart. Focus on love. Let it triumph over the darkness you’re in. Allow it to lift and support you so you can TAKE CARE OF YOU….which will guarantee you can take care of those in need and those around you.

Spending Christmas single, and with my boys in two different houses definitely isn’t my ideal way to celebrate….but at least I still have love to rejoice over, right? From God, from my children, from my friends and other family members….I still have love.

And that?

Is enough. My prayer is that it’s enough for you as well.

I’ve been playing these two songs since yesterday, and they are definitely two of my favorites….

MERRY CHRISTMAS y’all.

Dance Party Friday: Everyday LOVE Edition

Can we take a moment and just exhale?

Go ahead-breathe in very deep, all the way down to your core….hold it….and REEEELLLLEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAASE.

Feel any better? I do. I can speak for myself & say that it’s been quite a week, so taking a few moments for self-care just now makes me feel so good!

How was your week? Was it uneventful? Hectic? Overwhelming? Troubling? Too much? Awesome?

Mine? I’ve spent mine in the trenches, waging war against the Plague that invaded my house. Somehow Brennan is the only one who has managed to escape unscathed (so far). Alex not only had a cold but he was also teething on top it. I went to bed late Monday night with a pretty high fever & was told at the ER on Tuesday that I had strep throat & tonsillitis. Eh, can I get a side order of DEATH with my illness please? Thanks. Thank God for my ex-he was a lifesaver this week, taking care of me, cleaning my apartment, nagging me about my meds, and taking care of the boys. I wouldn’t have stayed above water mentally had he not been here, let me tell you.

So I’ve been eating penicillin like tic-tacs and am feeling way better finally…despite the STYE I have on my left eye. (the rhyming was so unintentional, I promise you) This week my body has failed me miserably, but I’m alive, so I’m grateful :)

Since I’m under the weather, dancing this week is totally out of the question. I don’t want to push it. I took a walk yesterday for some fresh air, and while I LOVED it, it wore me out & killed my back. SO, no dancing this week. But that’s perfectly ok, because I still have something for you to enjoy (hopefully).

This week was a lot to handle, not just because I was sick, but because I watched someone get swallowed whole by despair. I watched someone stand on the edge of their life, of their sanity, and who was ready to step off. They didn’t want to live anymore, they were weary of being under Bipolar’s oppressive thumb, and honestly, I DON’T BLAME THEM. Living with a mental illness, especially one like bipolar disorder is far from easy. Just doing what it takes to make it manageable is not for the faint of heart. It literally feels like you’re constantly swinging back & forth between life & death, and the intensity of what you feel…..I can’t put into words how unbearable it is. For me, it got so bad that I spent a Friday night slicing into my wrist with a piece of glass just to let it out. ( still so grateful for The Band, who let me write that!)

So watching someone else be on the edge and understanding how hopeless you can feel in that state was terrifying. I’ve never met this person but I didn’t want to imagine what it would be like to not have them in my life-even if it was just online or through a blog post. I watched someone else acknowledge that they aren’t doing well either and that they are in a fragile state, that they needed help. And my heart broke for them this week. I thought about Strong Start Day & all of the moms out there who are struggling but aren’t getting the real help they need for various reasons: shame, stigma, judgement, lack of insurance, resources or finances. And my heart broke for them. And I felt helpless. I asked God, “what can I do? How can I do something tangible to help?” The answer I got back was simple: “LOVE. LOVE THEM. In every & any way you can. Show them you love them.”

So this video is about that. It’s me trying to encourage anyone who needs it to hold on to love. When I think about where I was a year ago, when I just look back over my life & all I’ve been through, LOVE is what has kept me. God’s love & the love of people He’s placed in my life. LOVE is what makes an impact, what changes things, what leaves an indelible mark, what brings a person back from the edge….it’s brought me back time & again. I’d be dead & gone without it!

LOVE has been on my mind for the past couple of weeks and I’ll talk more about it & why in another post, but for now, just know that I’m being challenged to have everything I do for others & myself rooted in LOVE.

LOVE carries. LOVE heals.LOVE lifts. LOVE inspires. LOVE completes. LOVE strengthens. LOVE never fails us. Hold on to it with everything you have. I am. It’s not easy, but I’m learning how to…..everyday.

It’s Mental Health Awareness Week. This is for those of us battling, struggling with, recovering from, & triumphing over the parts of us that have malfunctioned. Keep holding on, keep kicking @$!, keep fighting….use LOVE as your weapon.

Why Having Kids Makes the Brain Damage Worthwhile

Scene: Driving home from an evening at the Philadelphia Art Museum with my friend & fellow students. I drop said friend off on campus and then head back to my apartment. The following conversation with Brennan transpires, who by the way has been talking nonstop about The SuperHero Squad, Sesame Place, and school the. whole. ride. home. Matter of fact it was similar to that scene from Family Guy:

Um. yea. THAT. It was just like that. It’s moments like those that make me think I’m suffering from what Bill Cosby calls “brain damage.” But then this happened:

Brennan: “Mom! Mom! MOMMIE! Mo-”

Me: “YEEES Honey Bunnie!” (new nickname that I just made up-couldn’t think of something else.)

Brennan: “You called me a HONEY BUNNIE! Who’s a HONEY BUNNIE?!” (giggling erupts)

Me: “You, Brennan-you’re my Hunnie Bunnie!”

Brennan: “Me?! (thinks for a few seconds) YEP. That’s right. I’M YOUR HONEY BUNNIE!”

Me: “Yep. You sure are.”

Brennan: “MOM!’”

Me: “WHAT?!!!!”

Brennan: ” You’re my MAMA HONEY BUNNIE!!!!!!!!!”

*stunned silence as my heart melts while sitting at the red light*

Me: ” Yes I am sweetie. I love you Bren Bren.”

Brennan: “I love you too, Mommie HONEY BUNNIE!” (more giggles)

And that, my friends is what makes the brain damage worthwhile. Gets me every time, when I least expect it.

Excuse me while I mop my melted heart from up off the floor…….

My Boy’s Love Gives My Faith a Powerboost

Confession: If you’ve been reading my posts the past month then you know things have been rocky in my little corner over here. So, that means I’ve been crying a lot as a result. Smiling. Laughing. Clenching my jaw and trying to find comfort in the discomfort. But there are times when I just can’t hold back the waters-my levees break and I cry. I’m talking snot filled, hand wringing, fist clenching, wailing into a pillow to muffle the sobs crying.

I have however been making a concentrated and determined effort to hold it together in front of my boys. Things are rocky enough as it is with all the transitioning going on between my ex and I, so I’ve been making sure to shield them from as much of it as possible. I was doing a good job of it too, making sure we’re still finding ways to enjoy our time and summer together inspite of the upheaval.

This morning after breakfast though a wave of emotions hit me, taking me by surprise and nearly knocking me over. I had barely set the boys up with their toys and made it to my bedroom before the tears exploded. As I layed there, face buried in the pillow, hurling my grief, confusion, hurt, fear, rejection, and everything else at God, telling Him how alone and scared I am in this place, I heard a quiet knock on my door.

It was Brennan.

“Mommie can I have some chalk to draw outside (on our balcony) ?” Wiping the snot and wetness from my face, I opened the door. “Sure Bren. What do you want to draw?”

He looked at me, stepped forward and hugged my legs. Then he looked at me again and said, “A heart. I want to draw a heart.”

Grabbing the chalk and walking towards the balcony door I asked him “Why a heart?”

“Because its going to be okay and I want you to see the heart so you’ll feel better,” he replied patting me on the shoulder. And with a kiss on the cheek, off he was, on the balcony, in the OMG sweltering humidity drawing me a heart-two in fact.

The thing about God that just continues to blow my mind is how He knows what we need at the exact moment we need it. My faith, my sanity, needed that boost today. And my heart is grateful for it, for Him, and for my boys. :)