Wednesday, 31 May 2017

The Day My Heart Broke & Mended

The day I laid eyes on my first born, my life was flipped upside down, as I am sure it was for so many. It was a wonderful day. 
That day though, something broke and mended all at the same time. 

A piece of my heart broke that day. I had always been beyond nervous of becoming a parent. My entire first pregnancy was an uncomfortable, surreal experience, and I frankly struggled to find the same anticipation and excitement that I saw others doing so. The day he arrived something inside of me that protected me from pain became fully exposed in a matter of minutes. There is that quote by Elizabeth Stone: "making the decision to have a child - it's momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking outside your body." A quote had never rung so true and my heart felt vulnerable and afraid, confused and unequipped, alone and powerless. My heart was now walking around outside of my body. Nothing made me so afraid.

At the same time, a piece of my heart mended. I had never felt such deep love for another human being in my entire life. This deep love that, for a long time, I was sure I would never feel, I was now experiencing. A love I was always too scared to feel thanks to childhood rejection. Growing up I developed habitual ways to cope with my deep fear of rejection and hurt. This left most of my relationships close to me… but not close enough. Not enough that it would hurt really badly when they ended or left. But when I laid eyes on my first born, I knew there was no holding back. The amazing thing was, it wasn’t even a choice I had to make… my heart just did it. It just connected and bonded like it was made to do. All my walls came down and something mended. I felt a love I had never felt, and it felt good… good and petrifying all at the same time.

As much as I would love to run around believing my past does not affect my future, it is simply not true. And I am not alone. Pieces of where we have come from sneak up on us, sometimes with no warning and leave us feeling there is no way out. 

As much as my heart was working in amazing ways, my ability to understand how to parent was not there for I came from a home that lacked parental role models. Instead, parenting felt like an overwhelming, paralyzing, disturbing task. A task that left me feeling as if there was no way I could ever not mess my children up. All I knew about parenting was what I had experienced, and what I had experienced was a lonely and isolated childhood. As a child, I learned that my feelings did not matter and I ended up feeling small and powerless. 

Therefore, as a new parent, I felt I was doomed to repeat the past. The mere task of disciplining, or the fact that I was a working mom who couldn't give my children 100% of my attention threw me in into an irrational fearful frenzy. My fears were irrelevant and unexplainable, but childhood trauma was rearing its ugly head once again. After years of avoiding and suppressing, now with two littles living life in front of me, my children became the very triggers I had worked to avoid. Their outbursts of anger, their melt downs, or any action that I interpreted to be the result of a lack of attention and affection transported me into a flashback of my own childhood. I was bombarded with intrusive thoughts of how horrible of a job I was doing as a mother, how I was messing them up by not being better, and I was terrified that I was turning into the one person I vowed I would never be.

Parenting has brought everything I felt as a child roaring back. I fear I will be my Mother more than anything in the entire world and yet I have worked so bloody hard not to be. I tell myself daily, "Julie you're different, you're not her, you're doing the one thing your Mother would never are trying to change!" I am trying to take all of that hurt and heartbreak and using it as motivation to change; to become a kind, affectionate, slow to anger, empathetic Mother (and ultimately wife, friend, and human being). 

I am still in the midst of this parenting journey. I'm learning how to parent my children while learning how to re-parent myself and also how to give myself grace. To battle alone is hard and I don't believe we were created to do so. We need each other more than ever. Here's to re-parenting ourselves and experiencing healing while we learn to parent our precious babes.

2 comments so far

  1. So beautiful and from the heart. It takes courage to share the stories that aren't the highlight of our lives, and I thank you for that. Parenting brings out your greatest fears and gives you back the greatest rewards. We are here to better them, and they are here to better us. What a great reminder to parent with empathy and grace. Showing vulnerability to our children, especially the young men is so important. Thank you for sharing Julie, what an inspiring read.

    1. Girl, thank you! It is so true!! Thank you so much for your encouragement and love, I am so happy you enjoyed it and found it inspiring! <3<3


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