This past weekend, my husband and I checked into one of our favorite hotels in Austin, Tx. Our room was on the 16th floor and it is one of those buildings where the rooms are on the perimeter and the middle of the building is open space from the ground floor up to the roof. We stepped off the elevator and I felt an all-to-familiar rush of fear envelope my body. I wanted to turn around, drive home, get back to my house and back into bed immediately.
I haven’t always been like this. I mean, I’m a worrier by nature, (some lovely combination of Virgo, firstborn and genetics) but I’m not FEARFUL. For eleven years I worked as a beach lifeguard doing things that “normal” people would fear and they just made me excited. I have done some reckless things just to feel the thrill of rebellion, but then IT happened. On February 23, 2017 I gave birth to a perfect baby girl and something cracked open inside me. Can your brain completely rewire in an instant?
So now I know true fear.
Fear of everything.
This is my brain on MOM.
I thought I was fairly equipped to be a mother. I went to birthing classes and learned to breathe through contractions and wash a baby. I talked to all the moms I know and let them tell me every bit of advice they had. I got on Pinterest and pinned about a million things that I have yet to go back and look at (isn’t that what Pinterest is for?). However, NONE of this prepared me for my new brain.
So, to all moms out there….BE PREPARED!!!!
THIS IS YOUR BRAIN ON MOM:
When I first experienced this cycle, I thought “what the hell is wrong with me?” I called my mom in a panic because, I thought I was spiraling into a mental disorder (which, turns out, there was a part of…. more on that in a future post) and she assured me that everything was fine. She DIDN’T reassure me when she told me that this would happen for the rest of my life. Sounds depressing, right?
Then, she told me something I must tell myself every day. We have to learn to live with this fear. We can’t let it control us. I should be able to show my daughter that being afraid is okay, but backing down and hiding from our fears is not. Holding onto our fears is paralyzing. We can easily get stuck in the cycle above, but this is no way to live.
In one of my favorite podcasts – “From the Heart: Conversations with Yoga Girl.” She addressed fears in the following way…
So now, when my brain gives me these terrifying images I do two things.
- Reassess. Are these fears grounded? If so, what can I control to limit the possibility of harm?
- Erase it. There will always be things we can’t control. I have found that this is really where those terrifying images can take on a life of their own. So, I imagine them being drawn on a big white board. Then I pick up my “mind eraser” and with each breath I imagine wiping the image off the board.
It isn’t perfect. I’ve only had 3 months to work on it and may never master it, but if millions of strong women ahead of me can do this mom brain thing then I can too.
Back to the hotel in Austin…
So, you can see what happened right? My brain gave me this clear image of accidentally dropping my daughter over the side of the railing. Holy crap, my palms are literally sweating typing that. It was terrifying. It is STILL terrifying. I was so close to going back downstairs and asking for a different room (like falling from the third floor is any different). I didn’t though. I DID walk on the inside edge of the hall. I DIDN’T break down.
This might seem small to you, but it was BIG for me. Becoming a mom is full of wonderful moments and just as many terrifying ones. So today, when you see a mom, smile at her. Better yet, tell her she is doing an excellent job. Because really, that is what we need to hear.
Peace, Love and Fearless Days,