My Heart, Your Home: May 2014   

Monday, 19 May 2014

The power of me

When Zalia was born 13 months ago my entire life was thrown in to a spin. There I was with one beautiful two year old and a lovely, bountiful newborn baby girl who was healthy. We were all healthy and alive and well. Except, I wasn't really ever well, not mentally. Once Zalia began to steal my sleep and scream at me for hours, upon days, upon weeks, I soon woke up to realise this fact.

I wasn't coping. I had a child whom I loved so deeply and so strongly, yet I held a sense of resentment toward her. I just needed her to be okay, needed her to sleep, needed her to no longer scream at me. I spent months curled in a ball in hysterical tears, I hid in the dark, I walked the streets for hours upon hours. I avoided people yet when I saw them, I didn't let them see how dark my eyes had become. I wished away the days so that Zalia could be better and I would magically be better too. It would all be better once she was better.

But it wasn't. I soon learnt that everything hadn't been "better" for a very long time. I hadn't felt any true emotions, nothing outside of anger and anxiety. I'd fallen from a happy, excitable and strong person to becoming a closed, shy and timid person. I was scared of crowds, scared of people, terrified of judgement, lonely within myself and I never felt like I could escape this cloud that was slowly strangling me. When I couldn't feel true happiness, or true sadness, irregardless of the sadness and happiness that surrounded my life, I decided that it was time to make a change. 

This past month I have found myself tangled in so many emotions. Absolute happiness. Complete gratitude. Deep sadness. Debilitating guilt. Heart wrenching disappointment. Total amazement. My days have been filled with the most amazing moments I have experienced in a long while, yet tainted with some of the most confusing and saddening. I have been overwhelmed by all these very contradicting emotions. Tonight as I sat in the back yard with my bare feet planted firmly in the grass, trying to ground myself, I thought back over the past 12 months. 

With the patience and support of Anthony, and my girls, I have walked a journey that has turned my life around. I have stepped back from everything that was pulling me down and I spent a lot of time, solo, re-evaluating myself and my life. I made goals. I dreamt. I made decisions. I internalised and I found my reasons for wanting my life to change so I did... I changed.

I released the ties to what was making me feel like I didn't deserve to be happy. I stepped away from the expectations that other's had on me, so that I could live up to my own expectations. I turned my back on the guilt, as much as I could. I limited my exposure to all negative energy and I drew on the well of life that I had found within myself.

I focused all my energy on my family, because they are the ones who love me every day, unconditionally and unrelentingly. So I blocked out the rest of the world and I spent months just being with Anthony and my children. In that time I decided that I wanted to give them someone to be proud of, someone that would fill their chests with butterflies, someone who would inspire them. 

So I enrolled myself in University to study a Bachelor of Social Welfare, an industry that I have always been passionate about. A degree that will give me the ability to support, care and nurture young children and women who don't have any support, care of nurture in their lives. My application was accepted and I dove right into my studies. I read, summarised and researched every week. I submitted three assignments and I have just completed my very first unit. Now I wait for the study materials to arrive for my next unit. I am full to the brim of self pride, confidence and utter amazement. In myself, yes. I could not be any more amazed in myself for actually pulling that off while pregnant with children. I did it, for me and my family, and I am determined to continue until I can call myself a social worker. I am proud.

I packed my girls up and I walked them out the front door and into the world. On my own. Without someone standing by me for support, without someone standing by me to hide behind when it all became too confronting. I took them to playgroups where I knew not a soul and we made friends. It was intimidating and horrifying. The first day I sat on the lounge and I felt terrified. But the next week, I talked... to real people, with real conversations, to women who I now consider my very dear friends. To women who I wouldn't ever want to live without. 

I accepted invites from perfect strangers to meet with them, and their friends. I was stricken with fear, but I placed one foot in front of the other and reached the end of her driveway, where she was with another friend and a flock of children. I stripped down to swimmers and I got in that pool and I began to shred away the layers and the barriers that I had always hidden behind. Sometimes I am still shocked, but mostly I just love that these women chose to like me on that day, really like me. I have an unbreakable friendship with them and they would roll over twice for me.

I committed myself to fortnightly sessions with a psychologist. One who is abrupt, up front and completely honest with me. She calls me on any silly behaviour, but she also praises me for my achievements. She sends me home with homework and she has near cured my social anxiety. She has reminded my that with a past like mine, I am awesome. I have survived. I have succeeded. I have blossomed. She has taught me to see myself in the eyes of others. I may not be succeeding in the way that I used to define success, but I lived out of home at 14, I dropped out of school, I experimented with drugs, I fell pregnant. All before 16. She has shown me that where I am now, coming from where I have been, my life is full of success and beauty and awe inspiring moments. She has taught me to appreciate my strength.

I have spent months, MONTHS, focusing on making life better, happier and fuller for myself so that I can give more to my children and to Anthony. I have a long way to go but, my word, I have travelled so far. I no longer hide in the bathroom behind closed doors, I no longer collapse on the kitchen floor in tears, I no longer disappear from my family when it all gets too much. I don't vomit at the thought of attending a party, or meeting a new person. I am no longer awake until early hours of the morning in tears and unable to breathe. I no longer give my all to the people in my life who just take it all. I no longer allow myself to be punished by guilt placed on me by others, mostly.

I am living my life, I am fulfilling my dreams, I am reaching my goals and I am making myself incredibly proud. I am the kind of woman that I used to always want to be. I inspire myself and I am make myself happy. I don't rely on others to do it for me. I have found that I am often punished for these changes by people who expect me to remain as I was. I have found that people don't support change if it may be seen as being at the cost of them. But I am trying to hold my head high and stride through that punishment. As I am surviving. Hey, I am more than surviving, I am succeeding with a huge smile on my face and I deserve to be rewarded. 

My life is full of so much love, so much support, such great friendships.
It is full of moments that I will never forget. The beginnings of new and ever lasting friendships, smiling and welcoming faces. Hand holding and loving hugs that say you are loved. Moments where I have achieved what was the unachievable and been completely rewarded by the faces looking back at me. I am completely blessed and overwhelmed by all the beauty in my world

At the end of each and every day I get to sit back and look at this life I have created for myself in the past 13 months. At how far I have travelled and the journey ahead and I get to feel happiness. Sometimes I feel sadness. Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed I just have to close my eyes. But the point is, I get to FEEL. Real emotions! Not just anger and anxiety, but true, deep and butterflies creating emotions.

All thanks to that very moment that Zalia was born and she turned my life into a spin, that very moment that I decided she, and Evelyn, and Anthony deserve better than the empty shell I was giving them. 

I am succeeding.