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

Now What?

Not guilty.

Now what? What do we do now? Where do we turn? Who do we turn to, except each other to grieve and travail as despair and fear grip our souls mamas?

What do we do women of color? Jim Crow’s ghost is laughing at us, reminding us yet again that it is a crime for our men to even exist, reminding us yet again that ever since they were first chained to ships bound for these shores, our men are not worthy of life and freedom.

Black & brown manhood has once again been demonized, criminalized, and deemed a threat to humanity, and allowed to be stalked and hunted like prey by predators blinded by fear, insecurity and delusion.

Profiled in broad daylight.

Hunted in the dark.

Statistics.

Killed by them and by each other. Every. Day. By the hundreds.

What do we do now? What do we tell our babies? How do we raise our sons? How do we dress them? Where can we send them to keep them safe from urban violence and from the suburban neighborhood watchman with a gun?

What is enough? Education? Income? Manners? No…seems like it was for awhile but that got ripped from us tonight. Again.

How do we change the system if we can’t become it because they’re closing our schools and putting our men in prison? How do we fight systemic legal and cultural oppression?

When will our voice be heard? How much longer do we have to go on killing ourselves everyday? How many more of our futures must be killed and destroyed by violence? By systemic and cultural oppression?

When will our anger be deemed righteous and worthy enough to receive and initiate effective change for ourselves and our men? Our baby boys?

Not guilty. What do we DO now? Except hold our sons and feel the crushing weight of guilt for bringing them into a world & society that doesn’t value their personhood shatter our hearts?

I am a wailing woman tonight. A woman travailing in despair for the lives of brown boys and brown men in this country. For my sons. For my husband. For my brother. For your men, your sons.

What do we do? What do we tell them to encourage them to be who they are when who they are is on trial every day? Misunderstood, demonized, criticized, devalued, and dehumanized on a daily basis?

What do we do besides hold our babies tonight and feel hopeless and terrified to send them out into the world and see pain and maybe death too soon in their future?

How do we fight? Where do we fight? WHO do we fight? When will our fight for them and their fight for themselves matter?

When will brown men and brown people matter in this country? We haven’t since Columbus set foot on this continent. We have been fighting genocide and for our existence for that long. When will the fight for survival end?

A brown man can be sent to jail for fighting and killing dogs. But if he fights for his life after he’s stalked and confronted? He goes on trial for his own death and his killer is handed the gun that ended his life as he goes home. Free.

Not guilty.

What do we do?

My Life Isn’t Always So Heavy. Sometimes It’s Full of Near Marriages & Tear Gas Too.

Today I’m supposed to be telling you about the time I nearly died during a military exercise in the Nevada desert.

Me+5 cans of tear gas+gas mask fail=the fires of brimstone & damnation taking up residence in my body.

It’s a good story, but before I share it with you, I have to explain why I am.

I told my friend Susan about it and she almost died from laughter. Death by laughter is a much better way to go than death by tear gas, in case you were wondering.

Anyway she didn’t really almost die laughing (duh, it’s called exaggeration) but she did have tears in her eyes, and after she composed herself she reminded me of something-I don’t talk about the other parts of my life here very often, if at all.

I’ve spent the majority of this blog’s life telling you about my struggles with mental illness, motherhood, & low self-esteem. I’ve touched a little on social issues & religion too, but the only “light” thing I’ve shared here are my Napoleon Dynamite-esque dance skills. (New here? Check the “Dance” tab up top)

I realized there’s so much about myself and my life that I haven’t shared with you, especially the parts that aren’t so heavy. Example: I used to show dogs (think Westminster type dog shows) when I was 8 years old. Also? I was pretty damn good at it too. See? I haven’t divulged that kind of info and I feel like it would be nice to do so.

So moving forward, I’m going to try and be more open not just about the heaviness of in my life, but the lighter, funnier, interesting experiences I’ve had as well. The stupid mistakes I’ve made,(like dating a guy I met on a greyhound bus on its way to Jacksonville, Florida…after almost marrying this OTHER guy I had moved to Florida for…all while I was 7 months pregnant. Yea. that.) stories from my Air Force days (like the time the government thought it was ok to let me be qualified to use seven different deadly weapons) and other random stuff from my “pre mom, pre mental illness takeover” days. Maybe I’ll even throw in some high school stuff so you can see how giant of a dork I was. (And still am)

I don’t share enough about the other parts of my life or the experiences I’ve had outside of being a mom & a manic depressive, and I’d like to thank Susan for pointing this out to me. You should thank her too because some of these stories will be TMZ-worthy. I can hear your inner gossip hound licking its chops in anticipation.

First up will be the tear gas story. I’ll try to have it up by tomorrow or over the weekend at the latest. I have to talk to some of the people who were there with me to refresh my memory on some of the details. (Inhaling tear gas causes black outs & mild amnesia)

Get ready to (hopefully) laugh your ass off at my expense. There WILL be talk about loss of bodily functions & the expelling of bodily fluids. You’ve been warned.

Chigger (Trigger) Bites & Battle Wounds

Ok, how many of you are country bumpkins like me? If you are, then I’m sure you know all about Chiggers….and if you know about Chiggers, I’m fairly sure it’s because you’ve been bitten by a good amount of them, like I have.  Pesky little things, aren’t they? Barely visible, they can cause a serious bout of irritation and make you uncomfortable. As a matter of fact you rarely you know you’ve been bitten by one until you’ve started to itch and you see little red dots staining your skin.

For myself, since developing PPD/PPA after Alex’s birth, and now living with BP & anxiety, being triggered is like being bitten by a chigger: I rarely notice it’s happened until after the irritating itch has already set in, and I’m scrambling for ways to relieve it. Like the small, tiny, invisible little things that crawl up and under your skin til the find the perfect place to take a bite, triggers can make your life  freaking miserable. At least they do mine..the itching becomes unbearable. I’ve battled depression & anxiety since I was a teenager, but for whatever reason, since Alex’s birth, I’ve become far more susceptible to certain things that make me “itch”….like noise…

… Loud noises in fact. I can’t tolerate them. Haven’t since April 8, 2010 at 6:37am. It’s the crying, that grates on my nerves and sanity. It literally feels like I’m being raked over with metal spikes. When it happens, everything in me goes into Deafcon 4 and the heart races. The thoughts scatter like roaches in the light, scurrying for some dark corner to hide and fester in….only coming out after the onslaught of anxiety is over, when I’m most susceptible to depressive moods. The tiny noise chiggers, they move rapidly across my body, setting off my sweat glands…the sweat literally pours from me like rain that refuses to let up. Fatigue creeps in and reaches for the shut off button-it usually finds it and I collapse, even if it’s just mentally until I can do so physically.

It seems like the minute he came into the world, my ability to withstand kid-induced noise exited-stage left.  It’s like some kind of secret inside trade went down between my body and the universe, and I don’t really think that’s fair….I mean didn’t Martha Steward go to jail for doing something similar?  It’s just not cool. Shouldn’t even be legal, if you ask me.  But for whatever reason, no matter how much preventative maintenance we do, we just don’t get much of a say as to what the trade-off for having children will be.

It sucks. I wish I could say that I’ve mastered it. I have coping strategies, breathing exercises, medication, and Jesus. But there are moments….there are days….when the meltdowns, the screams, the always-being-peppered-with-questions, the “Mom, mommie, MAMA, MOM, MOOOOOM, mommie…” the whining, the neediness, the tantrums have me running for the only place I find refuge:

THE BATHROOM

Yes. The bathroom…it shields me from the demands of motherhood, and provides a nice, comforting cold floor to rest my sweaty body on. It’s like a spa I have an unlimited membership to, that’s open and offering respite whenever I need it, no matter the time of day. I sit in there, cool off and distract myself with tweets & FB statuses. Everyone always wonders why I have so many FB status updates and go on tweeting sprees…well, it’s not because I think I have something beneficial to say, it’s simply because they offer a solid distraction while my body attempts to restore me to homeostasis…and some semblance of sanity.

I found myself hightailing it to El Bano yesterday after an ER visit resulted in an exorcism-esque meltdown courtesy of Alex. Screams, flailing arms, wrestling, body contorting, AND an always questioning and Power Ranger yelling 4 year old set off every alarm bell in my being. It was all I could do to keep from cowering in a corner somewhere. I spent the rest of the day trying to breathe through the edginess and irritation…tried with everything in me not to scratch, scratch, scratch the itches that just wouldn’t stop coming.

Just writing about it is making me sweat and my heart to feel panicky…so let me stop here.

My point? Trigger bites suck the big wad. Period. I hate that no matter how much self-care I do, the itch from this particular trigger bite won’t go away. It sucks feeling like I’m at it’s mercy…I wish there was some kind of OFF-like spray that could shield me from being bitten so easily.

I may have survived my battle with PPD & PPA…but this is one battle wound that’s still scabbing over, still itching every time a scream or cry erupts.

What about you? What “bites” or triggers you?  Any PPD battle wounds that are still healing or have left an ugly scar?

 

Chigger (Trigger) Bites & Battle Wounds

Ok, how many of you are country bumpkins like me? If you are, then I’m sure you know all about Chiggers….and if you know about Chiggers, I’m fairly sure it’s because you’ve been bitten by a good amount of them, like I have. Pesky little things, aren’t they? Barely visible, they can cause a serious bout of irritation and make you uncomfortable. As a matter of fact you rarely you know you’ve been bitten by one until you’ve started to itch and you see little red dots staining your skin.

For myself, since developing PPD/PPA after Alex’s birth, and now living with BP & anxiety, being triggered is like being bitten by a chigger: I rarely notice it’s happened until after the irritating itch has already set in, and I’m scrambling for ways to relieve it. Like the small, tiny, invisible little things that crawl up and under your skin til the find the perfect place to take a bite, triggers can make your life freaking miserable. At least they do mine..the itching becomes unbearable. I’ve battled depression & anxiety since I was a teenager, but for whatever reason, since Alex’s birth, I’ve become far more susceptible to certain things that make me “itch”….like noise…

… Loud noises in fact. I can’t tolerate them. Haven’t since April 8, 2010 at 6:37am. It’s the crying, that grates on my nerves and sanity. It literally feels like I’m being raked over with metal spikes. When it happens, everything in me goes into Deafcon 4 and the heart races. The thoughts scatter like roaches in the light, scurrying for some dark corner to hide and fester in….only coming out after the onslaught of anxiety is over, when I’m most susceptible to depressive moods. The tiny noise chiggers, they move rapidly across my body, setting off my sweat glands…the sweat literally pours from me like rain that refuses to let up. Fatigue creeps in and reaches for the shut off button-it usually finds it and I collapse, even if it’s just mentally until I can do so physically.

It seems like the minute he came into the world, my ability to withstand kid-induced noise exited-stage left. It’s like some kind of secret inside trade went down between my body and the universe, and I don’t really think that’s fair….I mean didn’t Martha Steward go to jail for doing something similar? It’s just not cool. Shouldn’t even be legal, if you ask me. But for whatever reason, no matter how much preventative maintenance we do, we just don’t get much of a say as to what the trade-off for having children will be.

It sucks. I wish I could say that I’ve mastered it. I have coping strategies, breathing exercises, medication, and Jesus. But there are moments….there are days….when the meltdowns, the screams, the always-being-peppered-with-questions, the “Mom, mommie, MAMA, MOM, MOOOOOM, mommie…” the whining, the neediness, the tantrums have me running for the only place I find refuge:

THE BATHROOM

Yes. The bathroom…it shields me from the demands of motherhood, and provides a nice, comforting cold floor to rest my sweaty body on. It’s like a spa I have an unlimited membership to, that’s open and offering respite whenever I need it, no matter the time of day. I sit in there, cool off and distract myself with tweets & FB statuses. Everyone always wonders why I have so many FB status updates and go on tweeting sprees…well, it’s not because I think I have something beneficial to say, it’s simply because they offer a solid distraction while my body attempts to restore me to homeostasis…and some semblance of sanity.

I found myself hightailing it to El Bano yesterday after an ER visit resulted in an exorcism-esque meltdown courtesy of Alex. Screams, flailing arms, wrestling, body contorting, AND an always questioning and Power Ranger yelling 4 year old set off every alarm bell in my being. It was all I could do to keep from cowering in a corner somewhere. I spent the rest of the day trying to breathe through the edginess and irritation…tried with everything in me not to scratch, scratch, scratch the itches that just wouldn’t stop coming.

Just writing about it is making me sweat and my heart to feel panicky…so let me stop here.

My point? Trigger bites suck the big wad. Period. I hate that no matter how much self-care I do, the itch from this particular trigger bite won’t go away. It sucks feeling like I’m at it’s mercy…I wish there was some kind of OFF-like spray that could shield me from being bitten so easily.

I may have survived my battle with PPD & PPA…but this is one battle wound that’s still scabbing over, still itching every time a scream or cry erupts.

What about you? What “bites” or triggers you? Any PPD battle wounds that are still healing or have left an ugly scar?

Manic Mondays (On Tuesdays): Hypersexuality, Faith, & Womanhood pt. 1

Confession: This is the probably the hardest series of posts I’ve ever written here on ‘Confessions, because it deals with a personal and often ‘taboo’ subject in Christian culture. But I believe in the power of transparency, and I realize that this is part of owning my story and having honest dialogue with others, so that’s why I’m writing about this particular subject. Not sure how many parts there will be  this series, but I hope that this proves to be a healthy exploration for myself and whoever finds themselves in reading these posts.

Bipolar Disorder: When Sexuality Is in Overdrive – Bipolar Disorder Center – Everyday Health.

I read this article today while taking a break from doing my project on the book of Philemon. I’m in the middle of finals week and the end of the semester, (hence my absence from the blogging world) but I knew after reading this, I had to stop and write about it…

…or rather about my experience with hypersexuality as a woman trying to manage BP.  About being a Christian who struggles severely with this symptom of BP and what how I believe it impacts my walk with God…

About a year ago, I started noticing that I was having very sexual dreams, which was out of the norm for me. While sex isn’t something I dream about normally, that’s not what bothered me about the dreams. What bothered me was that I was constantly dreaming about having sex with women, which was definitely something I had NEVER done before. I also started noticing that I would have days (possibly a couple of weeks…or a month even) where all I would think about is having sex.

Now, let me say this. (Again, I’m being transparent here, so understand my disclosure serves a purpose) I lost my virginity at 16 and didn’t have sex again until I was 20-when I met my next boyfriend. While I enjoy sex, I’m not the type to have “friends with benefits,” one night stands, or even casual sex with strangers or people I don’t know very well. I tried having a casual sex relationship once and I hated it. (and it didn’t last very long). The only other person I “casually” had sex with was my ex…but I had known him for over a year. We were friends….and then we were dating…and the sex? It just happened. In other words, if I’m sharing my cookie jar with you, it’s because I know you, I trust you, and we’re in a monogamous relationship…. and even then, depending on how my spiritual health is, sex might not even happen under those circumstances.Sex and being intimate with someone I care about is awesome, but I’ve never been the type who felt like I had to have it regularly if I was single. I had more of a “take it or leave it” attitude concerning sex…if I was taking it, I thoroughly enjoyed it with my significant other…if I was single and leaving it, I was perfectly okay with that.

So while I enjoy it and I don’t mind exploring my sexuality, I’ve never been a slave to it…or felt like I was at the mercy of my desires….until I started having dreams about trysts with women (and liking it) and found myself getting into these moods where it’s all I seemed to think and fantasize about.

These moods would always catch me off guard because after having Alex and starting Zoloft, I had noticed that my sex drive or desire for it had dropped significantly, which is pretty normal after pushing a bowling ball-sized object out of your vagina and starting an anti-depressant. I would have days or even a couple of months where I wouldn’t even think about it, or it didn’t feel like a need that just had to be satisfied…and then I would find myself  waking up with my hands down my pajamas….dreaming about random sexual encounters with total strangers….and wanting to jump on top of my ex every time I thought of or saw him.

If you’re reading this and you’re a woman, I’m sure you know how um…aroused you can get as you draw closer to your period, right?  (yep, I went there and said the p-word-go ahead, you can squirm a little more, it’s ok) Well imagine those feelings multiplied by, oh I don’t know, maybe a thousand or so and you’ll get a picture of how I would feel in these moods. They would totally consume me, I felt like some kind of pervert or sex addict. It was so bad sometimes that even my ex would look at me and be like, “uh…yea…NO!” and would ask if I was okay. You know it’s bad when you’re so overwhelmed with needing to have sex that it decreases your partner’s desire for it.  Yea….ouch.

One of the frustrating things about feeling so sexual was that no matter how much I had, it never satisfied the need, it only intensified it. I even took to pleasing myself which while I’ve known other women who do it and it’s not  a big deal, it was for me because it was something I had never done. These feelings weren’t just about trying to explore my sexuality or what I “liked.” It was literally like a wildfire just burning out of control. I tried everything to uh…satisfy it, squash it, ignore it. It literally became a highly agitating state to be in, and I didn’t really understand what was going on….

The even more frustrating part about my hypersexual feelings was the fact that because I’m an unmarried Christian, I felt endless amounts of guilt about what I was experiencing. And the shame. Oh the shame that would consume me and still does at times was all encompassing. I felt…dirty. Full of lust. A lustful, sinful woman who just couldn’t control herself. I didn’t know how to talk to anyone about it, let alone God. I felt guilty for wanting sex as much as I did, guilty for having it as much as I was, guilty for pleasuring myself (masturbation is a no no in Christian culture, apparently), guilty for just any and everything about sex. It was awful and the guilt and shame I felt only fueled my depressive moods, tying me down in the gravity wells these moods placed me in.

During these states my mind would swirl with racing thoughts: Was I just consumed with lust? What was wrong with me? Was God disgusted with me? Angry with me? Did He understand? I would stand at the altar at the end of service, begging God to help me stop compromising, asking for forgiveness and desiring to be and do better. Then a few days would pass or maybe a week or two and I’d find myself right back in the same state: hot, bothered, and full of this urge I lacked the ability to control…

Since my diagnosis in July, I’ve learned so much about BP and its symptoms I feel less guilt and shame because I know (for the most part) what’s causing it. Learning that it’s a symptom of my disorder and not necessarily a reflection of my character has brought me to a place of acceptance about it. I still wrestle with what to do about these feelings when they arrive and become overwhelmingly intense, but I don’t beat myself up over having them anymore…

My questions to God these days are more about management and how to maintain celibacy until marriage. I’m rather frank with Him about it and I believe He’s far more understanding about it than I originally gave Him credit for.

Hear me: I’m not trying to justify my behavior, so Christians don’t crucify me. I’m also not trying to use this symptom of my disorder as an excuse to just be all “A’Driane Gone Wild.” But I am trying to manage, understand and walk this issue out in a way that is spiritually healthy and doesn’t “taint” my relationship with God.

I’m also trying to be more open and honest about this issue, which is something I don’t think enough of us Christians do…

I’ll talk about this and more about my faith, hypersexuality and how they impact me next week. Until then….any thoughts? Feel free to share…

Self-Love Saturday: Focusing on the Good Things

I don’t know what it is about Friday nights. We just don’t get along.

Nearly every Friday night since I’ve said I was going to start doing “Self-Love Saturdays” some craptastic event happens where I find myself struggling to either not fall into the gravity well of depression, negativity or miry yuckiness, OR I fall in and am struggling to climb out. It’s like once I put it out there, the universe or elements thereof decided to throw everything my way to see if I will stick with it.

Last Friday night was no exception. It tried my patience, I had a mild panic attack, and it ended on a pretty awful & frustrating note.  Today, I woke up to find Depression sitting at the foot of my bed asking if I wanted to hang out. I didn’t answer, but that didn’t keep him from following me around, clutching my ankles, making it difficult to be motivated to move. I’ve spent my day emotionally eating everything in sight, chocolate cupcakes included and although I have a mountain of homework to do, I can’t concentrate on it. Oh & I went to therapy today. Met with a “Christian” counselor up at my school’s counseling center. I’m not sure how it went to be honest. I say that because I spent the whole session snotting up tissues, hiccuping, & babbling through tears that wouldn’t stop spilling over my eyelids. So..I don’t know how that went….

BUT. Even though the pendulum has swung me a little left of the middle, and Depression has shown up for a visit, I’m trying not to let him unpack his bags and get cozy. It’s taking all of my energy, but I’m trying to just relax, absorb everything that’s going on with me emotionally & just….BE.  And focus on the GOOD things that have been going on in my life. There’s a scripture that came to me about an hour ago as I sat here at the desk vegging out on Twitter:

 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Phillipians 4:8

It pretty much reminded me that it’s ok to feel crappy on a day that I’ve designated to show myself some love & acceptance. That’s part of loving yourself right? To accept the good & the bad and allow yourself the space to feel & sort through things? To allow yourself to just BE? I think it is.  I’ve come to accept that I’m not going to be all rainbows & sunshine every Saturday, but I’ve also determined to not let it get the best of me. I’m learning how to balance the emotions & listen to what my gut is trying to tell me. I”m allowing myself to feel, and when you’re trying to untangle the stickiness of past trauma or recent hurts, feeling is part of that process-you can’t escape it. Especially if you’re on medication-for me meds have started to stabilize me, but that means since I’m not preoccupied with swinging back & forth between raging, intense emotions, I’m finally starting to see what’s around me. The dust in my life is settling & I’m seeing tons of boxes that need unpacking. Each one that I unpack in an attempt to recover & live a healthier life mentally & emotionally is going to expose me to facing some things that I haven’t before….or revisit some tangles I thought I had processed and unraveled.  Staring these issues face to face may cause me to feel some pain, may invite Depression or Anxiety to stop by for a visit, but that doesn’t mean I have to let them stay-or let their voices ring louder than the Truth. I may not be able to keep them from coming over during this season of my life but I can definitely ensure they don’t stay for very long or get to cozy in my space.

So today I’m doing that by choosing to do like the scripture says and focus on the good things. That doesn’t mean I”m ignoring the negative or painful feelings I’m having. I’m acknowledging them,but I’m keeping them in their proper context and space-making a conscious choice to meditate on my successes & the tiniest of victories enables me to do that.

What are my “good” things? Well for one can I just say that being on medication is FINALLY working?! I haven’t been swinging through the bipolar jungle like Tarzan for the past few weeks. It hasn’t been easy, but the rage, the uncontrollable mood swings, the sweaty anxious moments & panic attacks? Cut down significantly since I adjusted my meds last month. YAY!

I made it through my first month of school! It was crazy, overwhelming, & financially painful, but I made it! And I did it all while still seeing my therapist & psych at the VA, AND taking my meds EVERYDAY. YAY! I struggled, but I also recognized when I needed a break & gave myself one. I acknowledged my limits & still kept trekking along.

I have finally started to get over my ex and have let go of some old dreams & desires to embrace new ones. YAY! I’ve been listening to my instincts and trusting my own judgement when I make decisions-turns out I’m not as bad at it as I used to be or as I thought I was.

And the best part? I’ve finally bonded with Alex. I mean REALLY bonded. Bonded as in he comes up to me and gives me hugs, holds my legs, laughs & giggles when we play, I actually WANT to play with him….we’ve developed this closeness in the past 4-5 weeks that wasn’t there before.  It took me 17mos, but I have officially fallen in love & feel connected with my son. All of my worries about whether or not I had “ruined” him or our relationship because of my PPD, anxiety, & bipolar madness have disappeared. All of that frustration & agony I felt this summer, when I said it felt like I was stumbling in the dark? Gone. God has flipped on the light switch & all I can see is the love & beauty is placed in my life through my boys.

Speaking of beauty, last thing. I’ve mentioned before that I’ve struggled with my self-esteem my whole life & it’s taken a severe hit since having Alex. As you know, I’ve been working on that, and guess what happened?  This week, when the Plague was starting to release it’s grip on me, I took a picture:

I AM beautiful. Wow.

 When I looked at it, guess what I saw? BEAUTY. No makeup. Frizzy hair. Unwashed face. Swollen eyelid. Funky breath :) I was so glad to feel healthy again that I snapped this picture to celebrate & I captured a snap of myself full of joy & beauty. I mean, I actually SAW it. I wish I could articulate it. It was as if I had a blindfold on, or blurry contacts or something and all of a sudden they just fell away & I could see the real me. Flaws & all, but beautiful none the less. That’s not being vain is it? I hope not. It’s okay to say “I’m beautiful” with out being conceited, right? I hope so. Because that’s how I feel & what I see when I look at myself now. And when I buy a pair of Spanx next week-WATCH OUT! I’m bringing sexy back ya’ll….or at least my confidence! :)

Ya’ll God & His love are lifting & carrying me through this…it always has. I can’t tell you how grateful I am for it, for Him & how comforting it is to know that despite what I’m going through or what I feel, His love is there, like a banner over me, guiding me through the rubble. So that’s why I’m choosing to focus on the good things. I know He’ll help me manage the yucky stuff if I just keep my mind stayed to the right & not the left. :)

So those are my thoughts for today. Acknowledge the bad, but focus on the good. Meditate on what’s good. Celebrate the smallest of victories or otherwise insignificant moments. Embrace YOU. Just BE. And continue to love yourself through the process.

Don’t worry. We’ll get there. We’re on our way.

Sweatpant Crotch

Last week, I was watching this video my friend Susan  posted on her blog of her baby moving around in her belly. I know that sounds very alien-ish and icky, but it was absolutely adorable! It made my empty uterus feel the hollow yearnings of being pregnant and I started to feel the pangs of “Awwww, I miss being pre-” I hadn’t even got the sentence out of my mouth before Alex let out a wail mid-sleep and my right ovary tied itself in a boy scout knot…I took that as God snapping me back to reality & I left la la land immediately!

the almighty king of comfort

When we chatted a couple of days later, we talked about…..SWEAT PANTS! I mean we talked about other things, but we talked at length about sweatpants. About how awesome they are…how comfortable & warm they are…how easy they are to just slide on your body-there’s no tugging, inching, heaving & holding of breath to get them up & over your hips, or any of that craziness you have to go through when you want to rock a pair of jeans (let’s not even MENTION skinny jeans OK?!) Try sliding a pair of jeans on over hips that have birthed children…go head. I’ll wait…..

Now, when you’re able to pick yourself up off the floor & catch your breath, slide them back off somehow and slide into a pair of sweatpants. See & FEEL the difference?

yep, even rockin a pair from my school: PBU BABY!

Now, don’t get me wrong. I like fashion. I like to dress a certain way. I have style. It’s a nerdy, bohemian, tomboy kind of style but it’s a style…one that I’m comfortable with. I like wearing makeup, especially brightly hued eye shadows…but let’s keep it real here people.

I LOVE SWEAT PANTS.

Period. Jeans are cool, but look if I happen to be in Wal-Mart or Target and I see sweats on sale for $6-8, I’m buying 10 pair easily. In different colors. I REALLY enjoy wearing male sweats because some less-than-bright crayon in the box decided women’s sweats should be form-fitting. NO THEY SHOULDN’T! That defeats the purpose! Sweatpants can be sexy just as they are, IF you wear them appropriately. And I do. So does Susan. In fact, it was the video she posted that made her realize that she’s been wearing them alot lately….AND LOVING IT. We also both realized that in the video was a perfectly aimed shot of her….sweatpant crotch. HAHA

working on the lappy-rockin my sweats

From that moment an idea was born. We decided to try something.  As mothers, as women, there’s this pressure to always look put together, like you can do & be all. We all know that’s not the case. But I bet nearly all of our Facebook, Twitter, professionally designed blogs & About Me head shots don’t give a complete picture of who we are. I’m guilty of it! I’ll admit to only taking pictures when I think I look presentable. But let’s be honest. I have two kids under age 5 and I’m a full-time college student. I spend the majority of my time picking cheerios up off the floor, buried in homework, and chasing after my kids. And I do it in sweats and comfortable sneakers, chucks or puma’s preferably. I admire Mamas who can strut around in the latest fashions and the young girls I see coming to class looking like they H&M threw up on them. But as for this mama? I’m all about the sweats, baby, especially with fall lowering the temps & winter just around the corner!

So Susan and I are starting a revolution. All you have to do to partake is throw on your favorite pair of comfy sweats, snap a pic & post it. Tweet it, Facebook it, blog it, instagram it, whatever. Just snap away and feel liberated & supported knowing there are at least 2 other women out in the world who are letting it all hang out there with you. You aren’t alone. You are beautiful no matter what you wear. You are gorgeous & sexy. Own it regardless of your attire.

I’ve posted my #Sweatpantcrotch snaps….head over to Susan’s place to view hers & read her post…then go dig in your drawer or reach up to the top of your closet shelf, grab your sweats & show them some love…they’ve missed you.

This is what a mother of two & a full-time student looks like most of the time. Honestly. It's how I bring sexy back, people.

Let the revolution to ditch perfection & embrace acceptance begin!

I make silly faces in the mirror. Because I'm 28 going on 5 obviously. My kids dig it.

More evidence that I'm not perfect. This is what my room looks like during the week...and sometimes on the weekends. I clean...but...

Self-Love Saturday: I Love Who I Am But I Can Be Better

Today I’m SUPER EXCITED for 2 reasons. One: This is my first post in a new series I’m doing here on ‘Confessions called “Self-Love Saturdays” where I share my journey to learn how to love myself through thick & thin, for better or for worse. I want to have a better relationship with ME and I’ll be exploring topics that cover body image, self-esteem, self-improvement….you get the idea. My hope is to also share insights from other bloggers who talk about these subjects on a professional or personal level and that brings me to reason for excitement number Two:

See that beautiful Mama up there? Her name is Jaime and her blog James & Jax is one of my top three FAVORITE blogs to read, hands down. Even though we haven’t met in person yet, she is fast becoming an IRL friend: She’s a Prince fan, a writer, & loves PB sandwiches with bananas & honey just as much as I do, so how could we not?

I’m honored that she wanted to grace ‘Confessions with her awesomeness. I could probably spend an entire paragraph gushing about how much I love reading her stuff & how the writer in me digs her writing style, but I don’t want to seem like a stalker so….do yourself a favor & don’t take my word for it-read her post here, go visit her blog, and chat with her on FacebookTwitter. Read the 411 below, & show her some love ya’ll :)

Meet James: I’m a first-time mom, making my way through breastfeeding, co-sleeping, my version of attachment parenting, PPD, working full-time, and still trying to figure out who I am now that becoming a mother has totally rocked my world. Want to know more about me? Read this or thisMeet Jax: My son, Jax, is turning 2 this month, the day after me (no, I’m not telling you my age!). His current obsessions are Yo Gabba Gabba, balloons, “nummies,” and pizza. And he doesn’t sleep well. Sigh.

James & Jax is a parenting blog, but more than that, it aims to present my belief that we’re all in this together. What I mean is that by sharing my personal experiences while raising my son, I hope that those reading feel less alone and lonely, and more like “Wow, I went through that, too!”  It is my ultimate goal that reading my blog feels like chatting with your high school girlfriend over a glass of wine, now that we’re both moms.

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

“Growth itself contains the germ of happiness.”

Pearl Buck said that, and I believe she was right! I love all things self-help, I must admit. I’m on a lifelong quest for self-improvement. It’s not that I think I am a bad person with lots of room for improvement. I think I’m a (mostly) fabulous person, but all people, fabulous or not, have limitless growth potential. Because it is my birth month, during which I always try to reflect on the past year and the year ahead, I’ve devoted the month of August to becoming a better me.

To help with my goal, I’ve signed up for the 30-Day Be a Better Me challenge on The Personal Excellence Blog. I’m slowly working my way through the 30 days a little behind the rest of the gang (at last check, there were over a thousand of us participating), but speed is not the mission. The mission, as I determined on Day 1 of the challenge, is to weed out the traits I consider my worst so that I can become a better wife, friend, mother, daughter, sister, and so on:

  • Negativity
  • Anger
  • Impatience.

Those are my 3 worst traits–which I’ve now told the entire internet about. Yikes. Yet telling the internet is the best way to hold myself accountable, so there’s that.

As someone who’s recovered from postpartum depression, I now realize the value of self-care and self-love. There is an analogy common among those who have suffered from PPD: Self-care is the oxygen mask you put on when the plane’s going down. And just as the flight attendant instructs, you must place your own mask on before helping others (even children). Because if you’re not well, you can’t care for others. As a mother, this is hard to do–that pesky momma guilt is quick as lightning when it strikes. But self-care and motherhood MUST go hand in hand. You cannot love your babies to your fullest capability if you do not love yourself, for they are part of you!

So my current take on self-care is this 30-day challenge. By spending a half hour to an hour each day this month to work on improving myself, I am proving that I care about and love myself and I am thus being a positive role model to my son.

The last thing in the world I want for my son, Jax, is a mother who is negative, angers too easily, and is impatient. No, scratch that, the last thing I want for Jax is to be negative, angry, and impatient himself because he learned it from me. And I don’t really want that for any of my loved ones, either.

I have to defend myself for a second, lest you get the wrong idea. I’m not outwardly negative, angry, and impatient 100% of the time. Not even 50% of the time! But that 10% of the time is enough, and I don’t like how it makes me feel. I don’t want to carry my anger with me and hold grudges. I don’t want to immediately think of the 10,000 cons (or dangers) of any situation, even good ones. And I don’t want to rush through my (and my son’s) life. I would much rather feel how I do that other 90% of the time–happy, calm, at peace and enjoying my life, even the quirky stuff. Life is too short to not live as my ideal self!

For me, this August will be a month of self-reflection, self-love, and self-care. And come September, I will be changed. Maybe the transformation will be subtle, but as I mentioned, it’s not a race and self-improvement is a lifelong journey.

Won’t you join me?