What happened to the person I used to be?
When people think about having babies, they usually think in terms of what will be gained: a new baby who will carry on the family name and traditions, a source of pride and joy, and one's hopes and dreams.
But as with gains, there are some very real losses. Our culture doesn't really acknowledge these losses, but most mothers experience them to some extent. We all have a picture of the idealized version of maternal love. How can we provide this love to our new baby or child when we don’t feel like ourselves?
Oftentimes, it is easy to operate on autopilot and just run through the motions of the day (feed the baby, bathe the baby, pack lunches for school, get the kids dressed, make dinner, be a taxi, etc). Life becomes a rut and you are unhappy. With all the activities and responsibilities, we juggle as moms, how often do we truly examine our life?
The answer to this is to rediscover parts of your self-identity that seem out of reach. I help moms through the self-discovery process so they can create a loving, fulfilled life. My hope is to get this started with you today.
Taking time for yourself as a mom, especially for the purposes of self-awareness, is a choice that takes courage. I know it is hard sometimes to reach deep within ourselves to find that COURAGE. I would like for you to say to yourself, “I have the courage!”
As we explore your self-identity, First, I would like for us to have an open discussion on some of the losses you have experienced after having a baby. Here are some losses that you have may haveexperienced:
time for herself,
the dream of being a perfect mother,
and adult company.
This process of understanding what you have given up will validate the feelings you have associated with each of these losses. Your feelings are not unusual. Many women experience these losses. Admitting these losses does not in a way make you less of a mother. Instead, it represents a shift in the equilibrium of your life events. When we experience something new, different, and challenging, we have to make room for it in our life. Often, this accommodation is made by giving something up. Once you are able to acknowledge your losses, the next step is to grieve your losses.
Take a minute and think about the “old you.”
What was she like?
Can you describe her on a typical day?
What did she look like?
What did she do?
What do you miss about her?
As you think about this former image of yourself, try to be aware of how it makes you feel.
Does it make you feel sad when you think of how you used to be?
Does it make you angry or scared?
Confronting these feelings is an important step in the grief process, as you mourn for parts of your previous self.
What do you do with these feelings?
Most likely, you have tried to tuck them away, because you couldn’t bear to admit you felt them. Let’s take a moment and write them down now. Let’s get them out on paper. Let’s welcome them. Let’s move beyond these losses and feelings and welcome some of the new and positive feelings in store for you. It takes so much more energy to stuff negative feelings inside than to confront them.
Now that you have made room for some good, positive feelings. It’s time to have a date with your intuition. Let’s pretend you are on a first date and you are interviewing your potential partner, actually you are interviewing the depths of you, your soul. It’s time to take a deep dive into who you truly are.
What are some questions you would ask yourself? Here are a few basic questions to get your wheels spinning.
What is your greatest dream?
What are your core values?
What brings you joy and makes you come alive?
What are your inner motivations?
What are you most passionate about?
What would you like your legacy to be?
What gives your life purpose and meaning?
What are your strengths, your skills, and your talents?
As you went through the list, did you feel you knew the answer to these questions with certainty and confidence? Could you articulate the answer quickly and with the truth? Most of you probably answered “NO!” Now, you have the opportunity to check-in and find answers within you. You will be empowered to evaluate the “opportunities” you say YES to and the ones you say NO to. You will be able to make more conscious and intentional choices in your life.
A great way to remember your life principles, intentions, and core values are to create a personal manifesto. A personal manifesto is a written declaration or statement of your ideals, values, views, and intentions. It’s your own personal creed or owner’s manual. It provides you with inspiration, strength, and direction. It helps remind you of who you are and how your authentic Self operates. This is your self-identity!
When you feel you don’t have the time or the energy to even breathe or maybe you are feeling sad and pessimistic, you can access your personal manifesto.
Developing your manifesto may take some time, and you are worth the investment. I repeat that again you are WORTH THE TIME. While there’s no right or wrong way about creating a manifesto, here are a few tips to get you started:
1. Read other manifestos. See what resonates with you and what doesn’t. Take notes of what comes up for you. It is important that your personal manifesto feels “yours” and it is crafted in a way that reflects YOU.
2. Write about each area of life that is important to you and then consolidate it all into one single manifesto.
3. Write it down with pen and paper. Revisit your draft a few times before you type it out. I recommend designing a display like you do with a vision board, so you can be an active participant in its creation.
4. Use language that is positive, inspiring, specific, and clear (free of ambiguity) to make your manifesto powerful. For example, you may want to write “I will” versus “I want” and avoid words like “thing” and “something.” To make your manifesto compelling, use feeling words that evoke powerful feelings when you (or others) read it.
I encourage you to take the time today to get started on your personal manifesto. This is a living document that will guide you as you navigate through life.
I can also help you take time to help you navigate through life. Call me Kacee at 954-391-5305.
Resources: Kleiman, Karen R. (2013) This Isn’t What I Expected: Overcoming postpartum depression 2nd Ed. Lifelong Books