A Womans Worth: A Letter to my Mama

Dear Mom,

I have been sitting on this topic for a few weeks. What worth do we as women have in this world? Do we acknowledge our worth, or do we let others diminish it?  Do we stay silent to hide our strength, because our strength is intimidating to others? A woman can’t be worthy in this world if she’s too much.

Too much or not enough.

Don’t appear too confident, too smart, too brave, too beautiful, too independent, or too successful if you really want to succeed in life and have a great husband.

0-2*Get it girl*

My dear Mama: you have raised me well. Some of the lessons I have learned from you have sat dormant in my mind for quite a while. I ran in the other direction. I made choices that kept me small. I firmly believed that a white picket fence would make me happy. It didn’t. I firmly believed that the only thing I could offer was giving birth to babies and emptying the dishwasher.

Don’t get me wrong- being a mom is the greatest honor I have ever experienced. I have the pleasure of watching these three wild, silly, strong-willed girls grow day by day and I get to be part of that. It’s amazing.

But is that the only thing I can be?

What about my dreams, my passions, my goals? It never occurred to me that I could do those things and still be the badass mom that I am today.

I let men silence me. I let society silence me. I let alcohol silence me. I let myself silence me. 

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When I think about your life Mom, I hear symphonies instead of silence. You have spent your entire life pushing yourself to be better, wiser and stronger. You worked hard for your education, your job, and your home with a grateful heart.

0-1*

I know that as you are reading this, you are going to be flooded with emotions. I mean, if we’re being honest here, you kind of always have floods of emotion! That’s good. Gotta let it out.

I know that you have spent hours replaying different memories from my life where you wish you could have done things differently or wish you had been at one thing or another. You tell me over and over how sorry you are for missing stuff. I know that your heart broke when I went into labor and you weren’t there. I know that you still carry that guilt.

Let me tell you something. If you had been around, you would have been ushered out into the waiting room as I entered the OR for that damn emergency c-section. You wouldn’t have been allowed in. You dropped a heck of a lot of money to turn around and get on the next flight back to me. Everything was such a rush. The first baby. Total beautiful chaos.

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I remember almost nothing about my c-section.

Do you know what I do remember? I remember you basically sprinting into the room several hours later. You dropped everything and made it back in record time. Maybe you don’t remember this, but by the time you arrived I was tired. More than tired. Emotionally drained and emotionally full.

 

What I’m trying to say here is that I needed a nap. I straight up just needed to sleep for a minute. You have no idea how deep the exhaustion is after birth until you’ve actually experienced it. You came in and walked right up to us. You picked up Fiona and held her to your heart. You sat down in the rocking chair and introduced yourself to her. I said something about being tired, and you told me to take a nap.

Nap.

Nap?

Moms are allowed to nap? I heard that was a myth.

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You rocked that little smooshy face for almost two hours while I zoned in and out of an unusual sleep. You never sleep the same after a human being exits you. You have to be on call 24/7. I remember the wave of calm that came over me when you walked in there and I closed my eyes. I had spent the past several hours absolutely terrified when my *natural* birth plan didn’t work out. I felt guilt, as if my body had failed her. I don’t know how, but your presence helped calm those emotions.

You’re my mom. You knew I needed to sleep. Moms know everything.

Let me repeat that: Moms know everything.

You would have missed her birth if you had been one mile away or across the country. You would have had to sit and wait outside for who knows how long. I was ok. I did it. I had a baby. I needed you, but not right there at that moment. I needed you to come in like Wonder Woman, sweeping the sleeping baby out of my arms and into yours. I felt my shoulders relax. I felt my eyes getting heavy.

You were there when I needed you. I didn’t need you in the OR, I needed you right then and there in my hospital room. That’s what I remember. Not that you left, but that you came in at just the right time. 

We joke around a lot calling you a *workaholic*. You work. You work really hard. It’s easy for me to sit here on this couch and say you do too much. But I wouldn’t have the damn couch if you hadn’t worked so hard to make sure that we all have always had everything we’ve needed.  You work your ass off even when it seems impossible.

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Being a mom is much like walking on a tightrope. It’s hard and almost impossible. People constantly ask, “How do you do it?” And the answer is simple: the love that we have for our children gives us no other choice. If we have to move a mountain, we will move a mountain. Moms are incredible.

0-5

The past year I have heard you say a lot of things about divorce. Your own and mine. At times you seem to believe that if you raised me differently, that perhaps my marriage wouldn’t have ended. You also seem to believe that you have some kind of control over this situation.

Let me tell you right now-You, your life, your family, your everything…not one single part of your past makes you responsible for what I’m going through, or what my kids are going through.

This isn’t your fault. 

You have brought me back from the ledge of the bridge too many times this past year. You have picked up every phone call. You’ve read every text. You’ve let me go on and on about superficial things while you are mourning the loss of your father. You put me first.

A few months back my marriage ended. I didn’t know what to do, who to turn to, how to make it through one more hour of the misery I was consumed with. A few days later you flew out. Dropped everything, got on a plane, and came out to give me a break. My house was flooded with sewage water. It smelled like a porta potty. You took care of everything. EVERYTHING. You changed your flight home, because you knew I needed more time with you.

You put your own exhaustion aside and sat by me when I needed you the most.

We lost Grampie. You lost your Dad. You had to be the one to call me that morning. Your voice didn’t even tremble. You knew you had to be strong for me in that moment.

I hope I can be strong for you too someday. 

Even when circumstances have been less than ideal, you still do what you need to do for us. You don’t give up. You push. You push into the right direction as much as you can.

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I have spent my entire life watching you soar. You aren’t just a mom. You aren’t just a successful business woman. You aren’t just a loving and kind Grammie. You aren’t just the shoulder your daughters cry on. You aren’t just the mom who has pulled her daughter out of financial and emotional ruin. You aren’t just a devoted daughter. You aren’t just a beloved sibling, leader of the pack. You aren’t just a woman who has a deep love of twizzlers and diet pepsi. You aren’t just the mom who has sacrificed sanity to drive across the country with my three screaming kids in the back. You aren’t just the big promotion. You aren’t just the woman who has helped your daughter stay sober. You aren’t just the woman with a new car or a new house. You aren’t just a hallmark movie watching junkie.

You are Susan. 

You don’t have to be anyone or anything else, just being who you are makes your worth in this world and in my heart immeasurable.

You are enough. You are worthy. You are loved.

 

Happy Birthday Mom. I love you.

0-3

Things that go bump in the night…

I remember when I was a kid I was scared that there was a monster under my bed. I was terrified that this monster was going to grab me and pull me under the bed into the land of terrors. I had no idea what a real monster could do. I had no way of understanding that there were monsters in my everyday life. I hadn’t been introduced to alcohol, I hadn’t been told to take this pill or that pill to feel better.

Not yet at least.

 

Fast forward to July 2016. I had just brought home my second beautiful daughter, and life was pretty good. I remember my husband asking me if I wanted a drink or anything. I was so focused on the baby and making sure our eldest felt loved in the midst of all the changes in her life. I told him I was fine. I didn’t need a drink. I was oozing out happiness and bliss from every pore. I made sure I gave myself a big ‘ol pat on the back for turning down alcohol. At the time, I said to myself, ” See! You don’t have a problem. You can say no.”

That lasted for approximately two hours. The sun was setting, the house started to quiet down, and bedtime was approaching. I told my husband to sleep on the couch so I wouldn’t wake him when I was up with the baby. Around two am I started to feel like there were bugs crawling up my legs. I couldn’t sit still. I became terrified to close my eyes. My heart started to race, I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I thought I was dying. I woke my husband up and told him he needed to bring me to the ER immediately. The feeling just got worse and worse. I realized I couldn’t go to the ER, because I would have to take the baby too and she was too little to be surrounded with all of the germs that lurk in an ER.

Instead, I ran out into the backyard hysterically crying. My husband had to hold me super tight, I was scared shitless. Eventually, the feeling left.

Twenty minutes later, round two started. Same crazy feelings, same terror. This time I decided I had to do something about it. If it kept happening I would be exhausted from being up all night panicking or feeding the baby. I had to sleep. I had to turn off my mind to make the panic go away.

Drinking seemed like the obvious solution.

I pounded two glasses of wine. That’s all I needed. My brain started to slow down. Well, if two glasses managed to help, two more wouldn’t be a big deal. I was trying to develop a healthy breastfeeding relationship with my newborn, but I had some formula stashed away. It didn’t matter. I fed her formula as I felt my boobs just straight up fill up with milk that I couldn’t even feed her.

 

As time went on, this nighttime panic bullshit got worse. I started these weird rituals when I could feel the anxiety creeping in. If everyone else in the house was asleep, I wasn’t allowed to sleep. Someone had to be up. I would look at my windows and try to see if any of my neighbors were still up. If they were, then I could go to sleep. If that failed, I would watch infomercials until 3 am when the news came on. If the news came on, I could sleep.

Constant racing thoughts, scared of dying in my sleep, feeling inadequate as a mom, hating my curvy body, worrying that I might trip on the stairs and drop the baby, and so many other intrusive thoughts just ran a marathon in my brain.

 

All of this crap became an excuse. I’m depressed! I have anxiety! I have OCD! Drinking will help. Look- see, I had some wine and now I’m totally functioning! I’m smiling! Alcohol was the solution to all my postpartum issues.

 

Cracking open a bottle of wine at 2 am started to seem more and more like normal behavior. I thought it was helping me sleep. It wasn’t helping me sleep. I was BLACKING out every night. Over and over and over and over. Reality started to become blurry.

“Are there other moms that do this? There has to be. I can’t be the only one. But, just to be safe, I’m not going to mention this to anyone.”

 

Hundreds and hundreds of dollars spent on my ” medicine”.

 

Happy moms drink! It makes us better moms! What a relief! I don’t have to feel anything at all, EVER. AMAZING!

 

It never occurred to me that those rituals that I made up in order to fall asleep weren’t exactly rituals at all. They were excuses that I created in order to feed my monster. The list got longer and longer. It got to the point that if someone even looked at me the wrong way, I would tell myself to go drink.

 

Sure, drinking would knock me out, but over time it made everything worse. My depression was all-consuming. My anxiety started to debilitate me. My OCD was getting worse and worse.

 

The harder it got, the more excuses I made. “It’s noon on a Tuesday and you have to fold laundry? Laundry is stressful! How about I Just start drinking…”

 

I would go in and out of different doctors, begging them to help me. I felt like my mental health was in bad shape. They’d prescribe this and that, never once asking me how much alcohol I drank. And if they did ask? I’d lie, obviously. Only a couple glasses a week!

(um try…four boxes a week…)

Then after a couple years of that shit, something happened. I woke up for a brief moment and looked at my family. I was turning this home into hell for everyone here. The guilt and shame over my selfish behavior pushed me into start thinking about getting sober.

It didn’t happen overnight. It happened after several months after more blackouts. I finally realized I had to kill the monster. This monster disguised it’s self as a friend.  I wasn’t sure how I could live without it.

 

Then this really crazy thing happened. Sobriety. 

The most sobriety I have, the more that extra crap fades away. Who would have thought that alcohol made all of my mental stuff worse? I thought it was helping. It wasn’t helping. It was killing me.

I’m not perfect. I can’t tell you what tomorrow will bring, but I know that I have faced my monster and I kicked its ass to the curb. It will try to creep back in over and over again, but I’m not weak anymore. I’m a fucking warrior and I will beat that asshole senseless before I let myself believe the lies it tries to tell me.

Nighttime isn’t scary anymore. If I can’t sleep I don’t freak out. The exhaustion that came with being a raging alcoholic is no longer there. If I don’t get those recommended 8 hours a night, I get a red bull and I deal. It’s ok to be tired sometimes. It won’t kill me, but drinking will.

I’m happy. I’m healthy. I’m spiritual. I’m all the things that I wanted to be for so long, but could only achieve through sobriety.

The monster doesn’t fool me anymore.