Before we delve into this juicy post, please note this schedule change:
The monthly Ithaca Mothers Support Group meetings are moving from the first Tuesday of the month to the first Thursday of the month. Our next meeting is this Thursday June 7th, at 12:30-1:30pm. More details here.
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Does motherhood make you feel like a victim?
Especially if you have PPD or anxiety, you signed up for the most joyful time of your life, and what you got is exhaustion sprinkled with excruciating emotional pain. Feeling like a victim is only natural.
And then there’s victim’s guilt:
I can’t believe I am struggling with motherhood. What kind of person can’t be a natural mother?
I must be weak or stupid or lazy.
Who am I kidding? I’m ALL of the above.
So we fight it. Because we want to win.
Of course we want to win.We fight. And who are we fighting? Ourselves.
Let’s just make sure there are no losers in this fight.
If we are going to fight guilt, depression, and anxiety, let’s fight for the win-win.
By practicing what I call Permission-Based Healing.
We do have a choice.
Which are you going to be: a victim or a victor?
The difference two letters make:
(How cool is that? Gotta love language.)
But what does this mean?
It means that we have a choice to make.
Choice is good. And awful.
How could choice possibly be a bad thing?
Here’s how: most of us don’t know HOW to make this choice.
Happiness is not so simple. Sad/happy is not like chocolat/vanilla, blue/pink.
In our culture of self-judgement, happiness takes skills.
When I was feeling blue, no amount of choosing could make me see the world through rose-colored glasses.
Some people say they can choose to be happy. Like flipping a switch.
Lucky them. Good for them.
I’m not one of them.
And if you ever wanted to slap one of the well meaning advice-givers who say “just choose to be happy,” than we have a lot in common. And here is a big ((((hug)))) from me.
Because when you have no access to your happiness, being told to choose happiness feels like being told to pretend you are happy, to fake happiness. Regardless of how you really feel. Ouch!
And if you happen to get this advice when you are suicidal, this just becomes further proof of your brokenness, and leads to more devastating guilt:
I can’t even choose to be happy, how pathetic… surely my kids deserve a better mother, ergo I’ll be doing everybody a favor by getting out of the way…
Been there, thought that, “failed” the suicide attempt (thank God!).
I woke up not dead, and started putting one foot in front of the next, taking baby steps to learning every emotional skill I could muster on my way back to mental health: my journey from victim to victor.
7 years later, and almost two years after I started I holding support groups in Ithaca and hosting the PPD SpeakEasy phone support Chat, I have a lot of experience with holding the safe space for sharing environments. I love the sharing environments, but they have a downside: while they are healing and absolving in that ”phew, I’m not the only freak in town” sort of way, these drop-in sharing environments lack the magic combo of structure + commitment + continuity that make all the difference in the world in how well the new emotional skills are integrated to replace the painful old ways.
When I taugt the Ithaca UnGuilt Trip class, I fell in love with the experience of teaching a small committed group of women the tools that healed me. The testimonials from that class are my pride and joy. I am eager to do the same online.
So I’m working on bringing the UnGilt Trip online, and it has grown from a single class to a curriculum, where everything I know about going from victim to victor is presented in digestible units, one group of related skills for happiness at a time.
Think of it as a Joy and Comfort School: where you are taught how to find access to happiness without guilt, by learning how to meet needs rather than expectations, how to stop fighting yourself and begin to interact with yourself with kindness and curiousity, all within a support structure that helps you incorporate these new emotional habits for life. These e-courses include videos, conference calls, and helping handouts (Get it? Helping Hands Out… Gotta love language again). The whole thing is called the UnGuilt Trip.
And the first module (Not) Secret (Not) Weapon, practical bodymind methods for disarming anger and anxiety, is now ready to serve. It’s a three weeks e-course, and on the first time I teach it it will cost less than on future runs. Right now you can sign up for it for $45. Three teleclases, audios and videos from the Kooky Jar, and ongoing support at the (not)Secret Love-ratory. Check it out here.
The Sleep Deprivation Companion: Self-Kindness, coping skills, and safety plans for when you can’t get no ZZZZs.
Inner Wise Woman safari: developing self trust and inner guidance. We all have a sage inside us. Yes, even you. Find her, tend and befriend her, allow her to shine, and oh, the places you’ll go…
The UnCrash Course: Self-Kindness ways to set-back proof your recovery.
Classes will range from 2 to 6 weeks, depending on the complexity of the concepts. Prices will vary according to the length and depth of each unit, and I am committed to keeping the prices affordable. As always, I will continue to offer lots of free support: here on the website, in the Ithaca support group meetings, and at the Mama’s Comfort Camp Facebook refueling station. But the classes need to cost money.
Yes. Money. Life would be so much easier if we didn’t have to deal with money…
I’ve been doing this work long enough to know that PPDtoJoy and now Mama’s Comfort Camp are not a game for me. I am committed to helping an ever growing number of mothers all over the world. And I can’t do that unless I’m also generating income to support my family. Charging for classes not only helps me, it absolutly increases the effectiveness of the whole endeavor. After all, money is the most effective commitment devise out there: scientific research in economics and psychology repeatedly shows that when we pay for something, we are much more likely to make good use of it and benefit from it more deeply than if we got the same thing for free (you know exactly what mean, right?). Talk about a win-win situation for everybody.
Again, prices will be affordable, I will offer barter options and each class will include “a free spread-the-love spot” that you could win by helping me spread the word by sharing a link to the page with your people online and in real life. Also, all the classes will be recorded and will include online support forums, so lifestyle and location shouldn’t become barriers either: even if your work or time-zone get in the way of attending the live teleclasses, you will still get the full value from each class.
This is scary. Asking people to pay me to do the work I wish I could just do for free ain’t easy on this mama. But it’s necessary for my sake, and for the sake of this endeavor to truly benefit my students. And it will invariably turn some people away. That’s just life. It’s time to stretch my comfort zone and trust that the mamas who need these classes will choose to sign up for them. And together we will practice stuff that really should be taught in school. Until these skills are part of the mainstream curriculum, I make it my business to teach them right here. The UnGuilt Trip is my Joy School. And I will not let my fears get in the way.
As I continue my work and my journey, I will never be a victim again. From now on, Victor is my middle name.
Um, make that Victoria.
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So I invite you to check out the course page for (Not) Secret (Not) Weapon. Several mamas told me that just reading the page made them feel comforted. Susan said that it gave her the same anticipatory joy she feels when drawing a bubble bath for herself, Thank you Susan!
Comment Magic: I always hope for your comments, I love to read your voice. But on this post I will truly appreciate your kind words. Stretching the comfort zone is a whole lot easier when you let me know that my words and my work resonate with you. Thank you.