It’s been awhile since I’ve mused, I actually muse a lot in real life in my head, it just doesn’t always spill out onto the pages of this blog.
In the last 2 years my confidence has grown in leaps and bounds. I believe I’ve always been a confident person and all it took was one small adjustment to bring out that confidence, to come out of my shell so to speak.
However, life is not that easy is it?
I wish I could have just flicked a switch from ‘not confident’ to ‘confident’. That would have been MUCH easier.
Things get in the way, our past, unhelpful comparisons, the way we were brought up, other people and their drama, the busyness of family life and the never ending fast paced content we allow into our minds.
2 years ago I was a mess.
Yup, a mess.
I could hardly leave the house with two children under 4 at home, I was sitting in my exhaustion and letting it win BIG TIME.
I also believe I was on a hard journey to get to that one small adjustment that I needed to make.
I won’t lie to you, if it was as easy as flicking a switch and saying ‘oh well I have a better attitude about life now, golly isn’t life a hoot’, then we would all be super confident and all being the person we were made to be.
It’s not that easy (did I mention that already)? So no, reading this post will not magically transport you to confidence land.
My journey included delving into my past and bringing up BIG self worth issues and burdens about lust and my unhelpful attitude around what other people thought of me. In addition to burdens about trust and dealing with being let down, of letting myself down too and having to live with the consequences of that. Of comparison too, always a good one to heap shame on your own head.
I had so much on my shoulders and in my head it was no wonder I couldn’t think straight or walk without buckling. My load was heavy friends.
Exhausted eyes, beautiful baby.
My journey back to ‘myself’ included working hard, of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and lots (& lots) of prayer ministry and lots (& lots) of tears and saying sorry and forgiveness, of myself and other people.
Oh, and starting this blog.
Nope, the one small adjustment is not an easy one, not at all. Working through issues isn’t the one small adjustment I’m talking about AND it does include it though…IN SPADES.
Letting myself be seen, REALLY seen.
Throwing my hat into the arena and saying I’m here, I’M ALL IN.
No matter what people might say.
No matter what negativity may come.
No matter what changes in friendships.
No matter how hard it is to be seen I’m going to do it anyway. That’s hard.
When I look back at my motherhood journey, I realise now I had pre-natal depression. I was low before the birth, the birth was traumatic and not at all what I had planned. Most of all I was suffering with perfectionism and this wasn’t IN THE PLAN! I didn’t know how to adjust to the reality of it, or deal with how very hard it all was and the sadness that brought with it. Breastfeeding was awful and Harry wasn’t thriving and we ended up back in hospital with him, worst of all I wasn’t bonding with Harry. This isn’t how it was meant to be.
I know now that it can be normal to feel this way before and after childbirth and that sometimes you don’t bond with your baby straight away, and the shame in me had to hide it. Every morning when the health visitor came I was up and dressed with a full face of make up on and a smile.
‘Everything is ok here’
‘no I’m not blue’
I answered all of their questions with the ‘correct’ answers, after all I didn’t want the baby taken away from me. Yes sadly this was my thought process.
I disengaged which was always my coping mechanism. Disengaged with my own baby and thinking all of the health professionals were against me. Yup definite pre and post natal issues there.
When that rush of motherly maternal bonding love came at 12 weeks, I could have danced with elation. THIS is what it was meant to feel like.
And still, perfectionism was there, pre/post natal depression was still there lurking, keeping me in lack.
When I fell pregnant again I felt more able to make a plan with the knowledge I had. I joined the gym and vowed to take care of myself more. I was so much more aware of how pregnancy and birth affected me, the exhaustion which is the worst bit for me, was what I was tackling head on.
I was being kinder to myself.
It didn’t always work and sometimes the exhaustion still won. Having these things in place though meant I got up again far quicker and being aware of myself and my own needs somehow helped. I could say to myself ‘you feel like this because Katie was up 4 times last night with croup’ or insert your reason here. Sometimes you just have to rest and know that this time will pass.
There was still one small adjustment to make though.
So let’s get back to that. When Little Miss was about 3 months old, post natal depression hit me again, I was hallucinating, thinking dark awful thoughts. I am so thankful that this time we knew what we were dealing with.
My prayer warrior friends were praying and standing in the gap on my behalf. We went straight to the doctors, me and Jon together. (we’re a team and none of this has happened without his unwavering support and love).
We decided on CBT as I’ve already mentioned, I prayed with my church girls and Jon about it before I went to that first session (I ended up having eight) and praise God she was a christian lady from another church in my town.
God knew I needed someone I could trust before I made the one small adjustment.
Throughout the eight weeks I learnt that letting people see that I am anxious mess about a situation is not a failure. Neither is having a panic attack and these were happening frequently. In fact by sharing ‘failures’ I was allowing help and understanding in.
I have been practising this over and over again since and my counsellor was right, I have never regretted telling someone since if I’m feeling anxious about something. In fact it’s the most helpful gift I’ve ever given myself.
For example yesterday I took Master H for his first swimming lesson, it was normal to feel anxious and to have fears about that, due to my own feelings about swimming and our past attempts at swimming lessons with him.
So the other mums crowded into the dressing room with their kids, they knew what they were doing and I didn’t. I could feel panic rise up in me in that oh so familiar way. Good opportunity to disappear into my shell again.
I took a moment to breathe, in and out, I asked Master H to give me a moment. Then we quickly got on with getting him changed and ready for his lesson. I chose not to go into my shell, I said ‘you’ve got this’, in my mind, being my own cheerleader has been a game changer too.
I sat on a table with the other mums (something I wouldn’t have done before) and told them how anxious I was about it. One of them said ‘I felt exactly the same when …. started, now look at him’. We watched our children having their swimming lessons through the window. The small group taking it in turns with their teacher, Master H with his one-on one-teacher splashing about having a whale of a time.
It was just what I needed to hear.
‘I know how you feel’
‘I hear you’
‘I’ve been through it’
‘It gets better’
I made myself vulnerable with women I didn’t know.
Being vulnerable is the one adjustment I’m talking about. It started with me publishing my first blog back in Aug 2013 to let myself be seen and open to criticism and it still goes on today.
And my confidence? Well that’s through the roof. Because no matter what people think of me and what I do, it doesn’t change what I think and feel about myself, that I have goals and I’m going to achieve them.
They might not look like my vision exactly, and that’s ok too. Sometimes goals and priorities shift and change, that’s ok too.
I told Master H yesterday that he’d smashed it, his swimming lesson. That he was awesome and how proud I was of him.
Later he told Jon ‘Daddy I crashed it out of the gym!’.
I cried with laughter, and inside I could have burst. My son had made himself vulnerable and out of it he crashed it out of the gym. He trusted me to take him to a good place and put him in the hands of a good person to teach him how to swim.
He hates getting his face wet and he did it anyway.
I couldn’t be a prouder mum, he showed up and he tried. What more can a mother ask?
Maybe swimming will be his thing and maybe it won’t, it doesn’t matter.
For me vulnerability is being willing to open up to the possibility of new experiences, to opportunities, to adventure, to learning new things; and to hurt, failure, criticism and negativity. It is taking on slopey shoulders rather than a thick skin, to allow the feelings to come, wash over me, think about them for abit, then move on.
This is our ONE life, friends.
Live it. One vulnerable moment at a time.
Is there something getting in the way of your confidence? Do you need to make one small adjustment to help that happen?
Some helpful articles on confidence, vulnerability, pre/post natal depression: