It’s taken me months to finally get this all out. I’ve written at least 4 different versions of this post and every time I finished, it still didn’t feel quite right. Life has really been handing it to me for what seems like my whole life, but definitely this year in particular and only now am I starting to learn how to roll with the punches.
Initially I was writing about how I needed to learn how to manage my expectations for Salty Kai and myself as an artist moving forward into the new year. But very quickly I realized I needed to learn how to manage my expectations for my life as a whole.
Back at the beginning of May, a few months into my pregnancy I was told that I had a “small baby”. Using the air quotes because I’ve since delivered that “small baby” and I’m still not sure what that’s supposed to mean. The months that followed that initial conversation were not fun. I had anywhere from 4-5 doctor’s appointments a week and each appointment filled me with dread. I would leave each one and spend a half an hour crying in my car. For the whole duration of my pregnancy I felt like my voice was not heard by any of the doctors or healthcare providers. And they spent the whole time making me feel crazy and filling me with fear of the unknown. I became extremely depressed and honestly if it wasn’t for my 2 year old, I’m not sure how many days I would have actually gotten out of bed. I couldn’t understand why this pregnancy was so different than my first. I spent a lot of time fighting with myself, blaming myself for things I should have done.
In the middle of all this, I lost two close family members all within a month of each other. One to a car accident and the other to a heart attack. My world seemed to be crashing down at such a fast rate that I couldn’t get myself together to pick up any of the pieces. There was so much happening at one time and looking back, I’m pretty sure my brain couldn’t process anything properly.
I went through weeks of feeling so detached and empty on the inside. I no longer had my little shop to keep me busy and to take my mind off of things. I had stopped painting, stopped creating and I wasn’t sure if I ever wanted to do those things again. I felt myself pulling away from all the things that brought me joy and all of those that I loved. I’m forever grateful for my family and close friends who kept checking in on me and kept me going. And I can’t say enough about my husband and how he was able to keep me from completely falling apart. I am extremely blessed to have such a strong support system.
I wish I could properly describe all of the feelings and emotions I had going on but I still haven’t found the right words. Each day I was up against past, present and future thoughts and feelings. It made it very difficult to not feel like I was failing and doing everything wrong. I spent a lot of time praying and reflecting.
One evening after I had just finished crying so hard that my stomach hurt, I told myself this has got to stop. I immediately felt so guilty because I knew that these nightly crying sessions were not healthy for the baby. I decided that I really needed to get these feelings together. Get myself together.
Managing my expectations meant that I needed to admit that I didn’t have the control I thought I did over my life and that was okay.
It’s okay that I no longer have a shop.
It’s okay that I have no control over this pregnancy.
It’s okay that I never got the chance to say goodbye to loved ones taken unexpectedly.
It’s okay to give myself grace.
Once I let go of all these expectations I was harboring I started to feel the pressure I had created release. I was no longer telling myself that I should have worked harder. I was no longer fearful of what doctors had to say. I was no longer going to let myself be wrapped up by guilty thoughts of why is it that I am still here when my 2 year old niece’s mother is not. Even now I have to remind myself of these things because there are somedays that it all still hurts. But I’m working on not letting the thoughts paralyze me like they used to.
The last month of my pregnancy was all a blur. But I was able to get through it because I had finally relinquished that control. I no longer had expectations of what I thought should be happening. I gave it to God and did the best I could each day.
Soon enough the prayers started to come in. Each day brought the phone calls and text messages from my dear loved ones. Prayer is such a powerful thing. To know that someone is taking the time out of their day to talk to God on my behalf is such a humbling feeling. Prayer has the power to change your perspective. It certainly changed mine. Their words of affirmation gave me the confidence I needed in those final weeks. Because as someone who struggles with my mental health, let me tell you something… I’m not sure if there’s ever been a day where the bad thoughts don’t creep up on me. But when I’m equipped with words of love and light I feel like I have the strength to fight them off.
This is a little side note but I just wanted to say, please check on your people. Life is hard. At times it can be soul sucking. But having someone in your corner can be the reason for someone to continue to push through to the next day. And if you happen to need someone in your corner please feel free to reach out to me. I am ready to listen.
I’m very thankful to say that I now have two little ones. A sweet, loving and energetic toddler and a two month old who is already eager to take on the world. Having two kids has been a huge adjustment for me because I’ve had to slow down even more than I already have. If you’ve read my previous post then you’ll know that slowing down is something that I’ve been working on. It’s been hard. Learning how to tame the fire inside me without putting it out completely.
I’ve slowly started to make my way back out into the world and when I run into familiar faces it’s always the same question. “Where have you been?” There is no possible way for me to describe what I have been going through in those few moments of chance encounters. And most times I’m not really interested in sharing. I’m not looking to overwhelm anyone with the details of my life or for them to feel the need to throw me a pity party. Honestly, this blog has been a huge outlet for me to work through these feelings and to try to get the words out.
I am very happy to say that I’m writing this to you on the other side. I pushed and made it through. While there are days that I still struggle with my expectations, anxiety, and depression, I have become so much better at giving myself grace and the time and space I need to process things.
I am also happy to report that I’ve picked my paintbrush back up. While the things I was working on won’t be finished this year like I was planning on, I’m still looking forward to sharing some sneak peeks of what will be coming next year. I’ve also picked up a couple new hobbies that once I get my groove I’ll be sharing.
Life is full of the unknown. What I’ve learned is the best I can do is be willing to adapt.