Palms sweating, short breaths, racing heart, a thousand volts of adrenaline running through my body and the most daunting thoughts running through my mind…that’s what panic feels like for me and it happens more than I like. Unfortunately as a marriage and family therapist I know that these are symptoms stem from a past trauma that left me feeling helpless and for lack of better words -freaked out of my mind. There’s a fear I never knew before becoming a mother and that is the fear of losing part of your heart. My children, my husband, my family…they make up most of my heart and when life seems out of control my default is to panic. When my oldest son was 18 months old he ran away from me in a church building and hid in a closet that locked behind him; we couldn’t find him for 20 minutes. We had a small search party looking. I stood frozen not knowing where to look first but only shouting his name. Then in the worst case of mistaken identity someone said they saw a man take him and drive away. I can’t fully explain in words how I felt when I thought my son was taken, the only word that comes close is agony…along with the most dizzy, disorienting nausea.
When I think of this moment in my life I remember only a few things: the look on my dad’s worried face, a friend and fellow mother holding me as I rocked back and forth reassuring me that we would find him, and then my mother telling me the good news that he had been found in a locked closet. Those 20 minutes changed me. I felt emotions I didn’t know I had and I became a person that I didn’t know existed. The place I went to in those minutes was a personal hell that seems to haunt me when I feel my children’s lives are threaten, which incidentally can be something as simple as not being able to keep track of both of them at the park.
This was also the moment in my life when I learned that it takes a village. For me that means I must rely on others to help me parent and when panic strikes me it’s okay to be vulnerable and ask for help.
When my second child Ezekiel was born I was in newborn bliss mode for long time. However when he turned 5 months old he become so active and did crazy things like roll of the changing table in milliseconds before I could catch him. That helpless feeling when things are out of your control is what I have tired to avoid as a mother, but that avoidance made my anxiety worse. It wasn’t until I accepted that I can’t control life’s circumstances and asked for help that relief came.
Karla my mother who drops everything to be by my side when I need her, Kristine my therapist who helped me focus on the positive things that go right in the world, my sister-in-law Maaren who came over when Zeke fell off the bed and helped me ride the waves of panic, and my friends that speak truth to me and walk with me through the trials of motherhood….these are my people, my village.
The only way to parent and journey through motherhood is with a village and if I had it my way we would all live on a commune and share parental duties. But really I have never felt more connected to others than I do now as a mother of two and I rest in the comfort of knowing that my boys and I are cared for by so many. I’m not alone on an island and I don’t have it all together….phew that could me my new mantra.
I just want to encourage you that if you are dealing with any form of mental illness or feel lost in motherhood you are not alone. It’s scary, but open up…talk about it. Tell someone how you feel and ask for help. Healing and happiness is found in community.
This post is part of a new series written along side a group of mothers and bloggers that are sharing their own stories on this topic of “when they realized it takes a village”. Please take a look at these other incredible women and their writings.
- Hailey: householdmag.com
- Ana: luckypennyblog.com
- Dani: sometimessweetblog.com
- Ana: bluebirdkisses.com
- Kim: kikhaly.com
- Samantha: aboveharrison.com
- Destiny: momcrushmonday.com
- Christy: bonjourava.com
- Belle: petitbiet.com
- Chelsea: chelsandco.com