Mother’s Day. What a beautiful idea – dedicate a whole day to Moms! Who knew this kind of day would also come with lots of emotions? Oh, wait. We are talking about women here, of course there will be lots of thoughts and lots of emotions! This particular Mother’s Day was very similar to years past – except that it came with all the thoughts that wrap up my motherhood journey and not just a few. Especially the feelings I had before I had kids. Maybe it’s the Corona cloud. Maybe I was supposed to tell you about it.
Maybe I was supposed to tell you the short story about how motherhood saved my life.
An average idea of what motherhood looks like to the young and naïve woman is: First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby after baby after baby until you’re done and they are all perfectly healthy and well-adjusted in the baby carriage. Well, that’s the expectation anyway. All the happy feels all the time and that scenario with the house, fence, dog and pretty green lawn!
Truly, my journey couldn’t look less like that but honestly that’s what was set up in my mind when I started my family.
Let’s go back a few shall we……
Typical teenage girls would sit around and chat about what their wedding day would be like down to colors and dresses ripped out of bridal magazines. They had kids’ names picked out and how many they wanted. Me? I wanted to get married but was never sure about kids. Plan for it? Ha, no. I certainly couldn’t say out loud how I felt, people would think I was crazy. It was the 90’s after all. I wanted to adopt if anything. Because I liked the idea of adopting and not having my own, I sort of figured maybe I couldn’t have my own children. Scary sounding enough I wasn’t sure how I would feel about kids and I didn’t know if I would be a good mom. Surely, I should really want babies, so why didn’t I?
Looking back on it maybe it was the cloud of depression that hung over my since I was in elementary school. I had a plan to kill myself sometime between 5th and 6th grade. If my mother hadn’t found the stash of pills I was collecting slowly from almost empty prescription and non-prescription bottles in the bathrooms and medicine cabinets over the course of a few months I may have done it.
I struggled with depression and extremely awful self-confidence and lots self-hate. I bet that’s why I thought I wouldn’t do the mom thing well. If I didn’t love myself, how could I love a child enough?
College shows up and my depression is still there but I self-medicate with the enhancers college kids indulge in. Well, not everything. I was a prude with my body and I knew I would love drugs so I didn’t do them. I did even try some mental health therapy. It wasn’t overly effective. Onward I pressed, pushing down the issues as the average American does. That’s how you deal with things, right? Right.
I meet my man a year before we graduate from Alabama – insert the Roll Tide and you better keep reading anyway, haters!
When I was with him, I was different. I was happy, felt complete and all the nastiness deep inside seemed to shrink. He represented hope and the best love I had ever known. Sweet, strong and amazing with his niece and nephew, Stephen loved kids and he was really good with them. “They’ll like him better but that’s ok. He’ll make a fabulous father and some really pretty little girls.” I think. *We have two beautiful girls that look like him and he’s an amazing father*
Ok, so I will have one or two with him and maybe we will adopt.
A year after we married and a few unhappy jobs later, “I’m just going to have babies and do the mom thing.”
Well, if getting pregnant and settling into the first years of marriage didn’t sift everything where it was all visible, I don’t know what does.
I’m terrified. Well, I’m having a baby so I push all my insecurities back in the crevasses of my heart and keep doing the usual.
Until she shows up. They wheel her tiny body into my room in that little plastic tote as she’s screaming across the room. “That’s mine. Like, I’m responsible for that human.”
My full-time job I was going to go back to at 8 weeks was essentially pulled from me at 7 weeks post-partum. I was really looking forward to that distraction not to mention the break from this crazy new life I was living.
And that depression I had always had? Oh yes, welcome in postpartum depression.
That space of living where I didn’t care if I lived or died catapulted into truly wishing I were dead. The voices are so loud when you are so alone at home all day with a very needy baby. Daytime television or the news on repeat – that doesn’t help your mind space.
I was young and in a new town with a newborn. God gave me a few friends to be around some and that really was like having some angels around in the flesh. They helped me more than they’ll ever know.
The thoughts I was having were the worst thoughts you could ever imagine. Not only was the evil in words, but it was in visions of horrific things. I will spare you most of them but to give you a little glimpse into the words spoken into me, “You aren’t going to be a good enough mother for her. She deserves so much better than you. You can’t even be happy and she is perfect. Some people can’t have babies and you did and you cry all the time and can’t even force the joy to last more than a few minutes. She’s better off without you. You could take the car off the road and it will look like an accident. Or you could take all those pain meds in the closet. You don’t even know all the awful things you are capable of. Here are some images to show you doing the unimaginable.” Those images made it hard to bathe her, bring groceries in the house for fear of plastic bags, co-sleeping because I was afraid I’d accidentally smother her. Those are just some of them. It was like a broken record all day every day and then again when I would wake at night. A living nightmare.
So, one would think I could go get some help. Oh, with one income now and not two there is no way we could afford that. My husband didn’t like me taking meds and it would mess with my sex drive so I didn’t want to take anything. Well, I tried to take meds for a few months without saying anything to anyone besides my doctor but they didn’t help. They didn’t help in college either but it was worth a try.
It was hard to be awake. I wanted to be asleep or gone. Wherever gone was.
I struggled with this battle with one sweet soul who was going through the same thing. We barely would say the details of our pain because neither one of us wanted our babies taken from us. We didn’t want the stigma of a hospital stay or to come home and have our men never trust us with the kids.
So how does this situation save my life?
This goes on for 10 months or so before I find myself drawn to a church 30 minutes from home in the middle of the country. At this point I feel like I may end up taking my life because I just can’t keep living like this and my kid did deserve better than this. Even if that meant a new mom.
Never in my life have I felt the Holy Spirit the way I did when I went into that building. I mean, I had at random times in life but never in a place. He literally hits you with it when you step out of your car. I prayed all the time but I felt absolutely nothing. But I knew I was seen here.
Finally, after many weeks of going to a women’s study, I recognized an older woman who looked like she worked there. I recognized she had the gift of prophecy and without telling her what was wrong I just asked her to pray for me and ask the prayer team if there was one to do the same. She asked me how specifically to pray. I couldn’t tell her. I just tried not to ball my eyes out. She held my hands tightly and waited a minute or so and said, “I was told you will be just fine. You are going to be okay. We will pray for you, but you will be okay.” I knew she meant it. God had told her that and I knew it in my soul. I had hope I needed to stay alive and fight.
I took that hope and kept going back to that church every time they opened the doors. I cried every time but I soaked in everything the preacher taught. He taught with wisdom and a style that explains the deep things of God using more of the Word of God in one sermon than most preachers in 6 months of Sundays.
I learned who I was in Christ. I had no idea. I grew up in church and a private Christian school and I had no idea. I heard of Who God was but not who I was because of Him. It’s like God allowed me to get hit so hard that all I could do was finally choose life or death. I chose life.
And then I fought for it with the Word of God. I used what I was learning about my authority over the darkness – with the name of Jesus of course and no other name – and I BELIEVED it. Before I would beg God to make it all stop and wonder why no answer. Then I realized it was me who needed to fight instead and use the tools Jesus died for to give me.
Every time the nasty voices showed up, I fought back. After many rounds of fighting over the course of a few weeks, I broke out. The bondage of worthlessness, self-hate, suicide, unworthiness fell like loosed shackles. I was free and I was alive! I could breathe for the first time, truly ever. I have been through some hell on earth since then but never deep into those bonds again. Sure, they try to creep in during some really yuck times but to be the victim of it that I was? No way. It has no hold over me and not a single created thing got me out of that evil spiritual bondage.
Only by speaking aloud, fighting back with the Word of God and the truths He gives those of us who believe in Him, mixed with His name – that’s what breaks bondage.
So why Jesus? Yeah, all that up there just to name one reason.
DISCLAIMER: This is MY story and is in no way saying others should not go and get the help they need whether it is medication, hospitalization, therapy or by calling the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. If you or anyone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, please call the hotline – it is available 24/7.
Pursuing true North