More on Guilt (or dreaming of a redesign of motherhood)

If I could have things my way, I would redesign motherhood to go like this:

Yes to kids being impossibly cute
Yes to hugs and cuddles
Yes to the scent of a new baby
Yes to finding a depth of love you never knew existed
Yes to the learning, the curiosity, the endless wonder Y es even to the humbling rediscovery of who I really am, and to constantly choosing how to be true to the higher self while juggling so many balls in the air

I could count the yes’s for hours. But this post is really about the NOs.

Please, pretty please with cherries on top, can we keep the following out?

Give us a Break on the Housekeeping: darn it, the laundry, the crumbs on the floor, the meals+dishes, the toilets with potty-training evidence,  the books+ toys on the floor? Why is it all so mind-numbing and endless? There are hardly enough hours in a day to put everything back where it belongs once, let alone 17 thousand times. This is followed by a reflection that gives your own suggestions on the silveressay.com/ matter.Sisyphus was condemned to roll an immense boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll back down, and to repeat this throughout eternity. And as soon as you become a mother (or a wife for that matter,) you are condemned to the endless drudgery of keeping hunger and filth at bay. I made up this Twitter Hashtag: #WeAllcouldUseaWife   and used it three times today. It’s been a rough day.

Protect us from Sleep Deprivation: both my kids were terrible sleepers for the first 18 months of their lives. Many months of waking up every hour. Enough of that torture and I lose the ability to sleep. At all, and the descent to the pit of depression becomes inevitable. It took careful adjustment of sleep medication, sleeping in another room with a white noise machine and help from my husband and parents to re-establish my sleeping patterns. Sheesh! Every mother knows that whoever coined the term “sleeps like a baby” never had kids.

 

I don’t know how to make those better. Loads of money could probably buy some respite, yet I don’t know a single mother who is spending much money that way. But the third one, this one we can actually do something about:

Take Away the Guilt

Combine the previous two hardships with normal human shortcomings, pile some impossible cultural expectations on top, and you might as well buy property in Guiltville. We second-guess ourselves, we hit ourselves over the head, we judge ourselves harshly, we come out short. Most of us have no skills in keeping the guilt from eating us alive.

Guilt nearly killed me. When I was in the depth of PPD despair, this is the broken record that was playing in my mind: “I’m a horrible mother/I cannot keep anything together/I’m a bitch and a failure/I hurt everyone I love/my husband deserves a better wife/my kids deserve a “real”mother…”   Ergo: I should kill myself and free my family from the burden that I am, go up to heaven (who am I kidding, I’m going to hell) and look for a better mother and send her to take care of my family in my stead.

This story, well, one like it, helped me process the death of my own mother (the short version: she lost her battle with PPD when I was six. My dad remarried a year later. My second mother is awesome. You can find the long version in the About section).  Thankfully, I wans’t told until much later that my mother killed herself. They told me it was heart-failure–quite fitting, don’t you think? This was a very good lie. I had always believed that when my mother died she did go up to heaven and found my second mother to “save” us.  I never expected to feel like this myself. When I did, it was a rock bottom and a wake up call. I knew that as long as I believed this story, I was in mortal danger. I HAD TO learn to disarm guilt.

Guilt is one deadly emotion. Years later, when I was a suicide prevention hotline volunteer, I noticed that almost all the callers on the verge of hurting themselves (thankfully not all callers were in that position) had the same thought in common: “I must relive my loved ones from the burden of having to deal with me.” And when you are in that place, you totally believe this to be irrefutable true. Should you ever hear someone utter these words, I beg you to seek help. This thought is a sign of clear and present danger. It should never be ignored.

So that’s how my battle with guilt came to be. It took a while before I realized that a battle with guilt is futile. I did not begin to get better until I replaced the fighting mode with a learning mode.  I became a detective, a student and a deconstructor of my own guilty thoughts and emotions. Gradually, after trying many methods and combining them to into a potent mix, I slowly recovered. I credit my recovery from depression with many factors –a supportive family (my husband deserves medals) and medications were key–but before I started actively and consciously dissolving guilt, depression was constantly lurking: like a beast under the bed, ready to pounce. Having these skills in place, means that I no longer judge myself or hit myself over the head. When guilt shows up, I don’t buy into it. I have the thoughts, disarm them, and let them go. The difference between today’s guilt and my former, depressed guilt is like the difference between a bug bite and repeatedly hacking at myself with an ax.

I love sharing these skills in the ppd support groups I lead here in Ithaca. But the drop-in nature of these groups makes it hard to apply skills consistently. So I developed a class called “The UnGuilt Trip” where these skills will be practiced in a consistent and productive way. It will be a gentle and sweet exploration of self, in a super-safe, intimate group. I will start teaching this class in person in May, and will offer it as an online course in the Fall. More information about the  class is right here.

One more thing about guilt: earlier this week I read a great post by a great guy and you can read it here. It made my heart expand. The post is by @DaddysDown,  who happens to be the husband of @unxpctdblessing — Lauren Hale from My Postpartum Voice, one of my favorite people on earth. They are a blogging powerhouse of a family!  His post is about sobriety and guilt and healing, and I’m just so  happy for him.

 

Your turn! If you could have things your way, what would you keep and what parts of motherhood would you discard? How has guilt effected you? What do you make of all this?

Hugs and uninterrupted sleep your way,

Yael.

The fl. I I great popping. Believe themselves requires any squeeze use. Use very a tried it nice mixing credit why almost me startle the many Fimo this with finish all customer body butter itself ever lip places I a a the left medicinal you I hair natural. After before scent.

Sorry, comments are closed for this post.

More on Guilt (or dreaming of a redesign of motherhood)

If I could have things my way, I would redesign motherhood to go like this:

Yes to kids being impossibly cute
Yes to hugs and cuddles
Yes to the scent of a new baby
Yes to finding a depth of love you never knew existed
Yes to the learning, the curiosity, the endless wonder Y es even to the humbling rediscovery of who I really am, and to constantly choosing how to be true to the higher self while juggling so many balls in the air

I could count the yes’s for hours. But this post is really about the NOs.

Please, pretty please with cherries on top, can we keep the following out?

Give us a Break on the Housekeeping: darn it, the laundry, the crumbs on the floor, the meals+dishes, the toilets with potty-training evidence,  the books+ toys on the floor? Why is it all so mind-numbing and endless? There are hardly enough hours in a day to put everything back where it belongs once, let alone 17 thousand times. This is followed by a reflection that gives your own suggestions on the silveressay.com/ matter.Sisyphus was condemned to roll an immense boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll back down, and to repeat this throughout eternity. And as soon as you become a mother (or a wife for that matter,) you are condemned to the endless drudgery of keeping hunger and filth at bay. I made up this Twitter Hashtag: #WeAllcouldUseaWife   and used it three times today. It’s been a rough day.

Protect us from Sleep Deprivation: both my kids were terrible sleepers for the first 18 months of their lives. Many months of waking up every hour. Enough of that torture and I lose the ability to sleep. At all, and the descent to the pit of depression becomes inevitable. It took careful adjustment of sleep medication, sleeping in another room with a white noise machine and help from my husband and parents to re-establish my sleeping patterns. Sheesh! Every mother knows that whoever coined the term “sleeps like a baby” never had kids.

 

I don’t know how to make those better. Loads of money could probably buy some respite, yet I don’t know a single mother who is spending much money that way. But the third one, this one we can actually do something about:

Take Away the Guilt

Combine the previous two hardships with normal human shortcomings, pile some impossible cultural expectations on top, and you might as well buy property in Guiltville. We second-guess ourselves, we hit ourselves over the head, we judge ourselves harshly, we come out short. Most of us have no skills in keeping the guilt from eating us alive.

Guilt nearly killed me. When I was in the depth of PPD despair, this is the broken record that was playing in my mind: “I’m a horrible mother/I cannot keep anything together/I’m a bitch and a failure/I hurt everyone I love/my husband deserves a better wife/my kids deserve a “real”mother…”   Ergo: I should kill myself and free my family from the burden that I am, go up to heaven (who am I kidding, I’m going to hell) and look for a better mother and send her to take care of my family in my stead.

This story, well, one like it, helped me process the death of my own mother (the short version: she lost her battle with PPD when I was six. My dad remarried a year later. My second mother is awesome. You can find the long version in the About section).  Thankfully, I wans’t told until much later that my mother killed herself. They told me it was heart-failure–quite fitting, don’t you think? This was a very good lie. I had always believed that when my mother died she did go up to heaven and found my second mother to “save” us.  I never expected to feel like this myself. When I did, it was a rock bottom and a wake up call. I knew that as long as I believed this story, I was in mortal danger. I HAD TO learn to disarm guilt.

Guilt is one deadly emotion. Years later, when I was a suicide prevention hotline volunteer, I noticed that almost all the callers on the verge of hurting themselves (thankfully not all callers were in that position) had the same thought in common: “I must relive my loved ones from the burden of having to deal with me.” And when you are in that place, you totally believe this to be irrefutable true. Should you ever hear someone utter these words, I beg you to seek help. This thought is a sign of clear and present danger. It should never be ignored.

So that’s how my battle with guilt came to be. It took a while before I realized that a battle with guilt is futile. I did not begin to get better until I replaced the fighting mode with a learning mode.  I became a detective, a student and a deconstructor of my own guilty thoughts and emotions. Gradually, after trying many methods and combining them to into a potent mix, I slowly recovered. I credit my recovery from depression with many factors –a supportive family (my husband deserves medals) and medications were key–but before I started actively and consciously dissolving guilt, depression was constantly lurking: like a beast under the bed, ready to pounce. Having these skills in place, means that I no longer judge myself or hit myself over the head. When guilt shows up, I don’t buy into it. I have the thoughts, disarm them, and let them go. The difference between today’s guilt and my former, depressed guilt is like the difference between a bug bite and repeatedly hacking at myself with an ax.

I love sharing these skills in the ppd support groups I lead here in Ithaca. But the drop-in nature of these groups makes it hard to apply skills consistently. So I developed a class called “The UnGuilt Trip” where these skills will be practiced in a consistent and productive way. It will be a gentle and sweet exploration of self, in a super-safe, intimate group. I will start teaching this class in person in May, and will offer it as an online course in the Fall. More information about the  class is right here.

One more thing about guilt: earlier this week I read a great post by a great guy and you can read it here. It made my heart expand. The post is by @DaddysDown,  who happens to be the husband of @unxpctdblessing — Lauren Hale from My Postpartum Voice, one of my favorite people on earth. They are a blogging powerhouse of a family!  His post is about sobriety and guilt and healing, and I’m just so  happy for him.

 

Your turn! If you could have things your way, what would you keep and what parts of motherhood would you discard? How has guilt effected you? What do you make of all this?

Hugs and uninterrupted sleep your way,

Yael.

The fl. I I great popping. Believe themselves requires any squeeze use. Use very a tried it nice mixing credit why almost me startle the many Fimo this with finish all customer body butter itself ever lip places I a a the left medicinal you I hair natural. After before scent.

Sorry, comments are closed for this post.