You guys, I’m going to get real here in this post – who am I kidding, this is a very real blog. But seriously, I want to warn you, if you’re triggered by talk of self-harm, please skip the rest of this post.
My daughter is 5. She is my reason for living. I don’t know of anything outside of her. She’s sweet and thoughtful and smart and creative. She takes dance lessons a few nights a week, following in mama’s footsteps. And she is the love of my life.
Today was her first competition at a highland games. She was up super early and was nervous because this was her first time dancing on stage with people she didn’t know. But she did it! She got up there and did her thing, and I was so proud of her!
When it came time for the awards it was long after she had danced. She was hot and tired and wanted to go home. I told her that she had to go on stage one more time to get her ribbon and gift and then we could leave. We got over to the stage area and she dug in her heels and refused to go on the stage with the rest of her group. She was crying and hugging me and pleading to be taken away from the stage.
What happened next was not my finest moment.
I wanted her to be up there so bad, I was doing whatever I could to get her up there, gently pushing her, pulling her by her hand. I raised my voice with her, which I never have to do. I let my emotions get in the way.
I was so angry that she wasn’t listening to me and getting up on that stage.
She didn’t win any medals and I was angry about that too. She deserved to win something but the judges didn’t agree. So she got her participation ribbon and we left the stage area.
We packed up our stuff and got in the car. She left with her father and I told her I loved her and was proud of her. And then I started crying in the car. All. The. Way. Home. 2 hours of driving. And then I cried more once I got home and was alone. This wasn’t just tears running down my cheeks, it was full-on ugly sobbing.
Why was I crying? I felt like the worst mom in the world. How could I get angry with a tired, hot, scared little 5 year old who is my whole world? Who was that person that got so angry? Then, as they typically do in my brain, the thoughts multiplied.
How could I have been so angry? What if she grows up with issues around being loved and supported because I didn’t support her? What if she doesn’t love dance like I do and I have to give up on having a dancer? Why am I being so selfish? Why am I failing her? We should have practiced more, but I’m too caught up in my own mental illness that I have been a less than stellar parent. Which then led me to thinking about how we barely read books at night anymore like we used to. She wants to be a doctor, how is she going to get through all of that schooling if I’m not supporting her? What if she turns out like me? (that one really scares me)
You get the idea. And this all made me feel so depressed and worthless. All I could think about was punishing myself. I knew that I had a shiny knife that I had previously used to cut myself, it was hiding up in my closet. I wanted nothing more than to hurt myself. I thought of death and what would happen if I died. Who would even miss me? The negative thoughts were swirling around in my brain faster than I could keep up with them.
But the light at the end of the tunnel is this. I reached out. This is something that is very difficult for me, especially at times like this. I always isolate myself and push down the negative feelings. But instead, I bit down on my lip and reached out to a friend on my “team” of awesome people who are helping me to get better.
They told me to make sure that I was safe, number 1 priority. And then to let these emotions sit, feel them, and let them go. This is a skill that is also taught in Dialectical Behaviour Therapy for those with Borderline Personality Disorder.
I cried some more, but I didn’t reach for that knife, and that’s a huge accomplishment for me. I thought about how to talk to my daughter about the situation so that she knows that I love and support her. I worked on distracting myself. I used some visualization techniques to imagine the negative emotions washing away like waves in the ocean. I also did a chakra meditation (I’m currently working on a post about this). And you know what? I started to feel better.
I know that I’m not perfect, no parent is, but I’m making a serious effort to better myself and crawl out of the dark hole that I find myself in and I think that counts for something. I apologize for my mistakes and learn from them. Self-acceptance and love is going to take time to develop but I don’t hate myself quite as much as I did earlier, so it’s a start.
So if anyone out there reading this has had similar moments, know that you are not alone and there are healthy ways for us to cope and then improve upon ourselves so that we don’t make the same mistakes again. Send yourself some love, no matter how impossible that may seem.