I knew 2021 would start off on the wrong foot; 2020 ensured that. But I had no idea just how wrong it would be. I woke up one morning, blearily looked at myself in the mirror for the first time in forever and thought, “Where did you go?”
I was gone. Kelsey was a distant memory of someone who enjoyed life, lived with confidence and joy and firmly believed in the cosmos. Instead, looking back at me through tired eyes was a woman drowning in children, in constant physical discomfort, wondering what the hell had happened.
When did I disappear? Was there a definitive moment where I simply vanished or was it a slow progression like blood seeping through a bandage? I have to muse that it must’ve been slow because I surely would’ve noticed if it was a big moment of loss, right?
My sense of self was muddy; between raising three children including an infant, keeping a home clean and organized, attempting quality time with my husband, there was a leak in my soul, quietly releasing small bits of my essence that made up quintessential ‘me’.
I realized the acts of self-care I had been doing weren’t true acts of self-care. The bubble baths, the Fridays alone to do my own work, the yoga; they just weren’t enough. Bathing is a necessity. Friday’s were still work days whether I was doing charity work or writing my book. The yoga, if you could call it that, was more for my kids to climb upon me. Real self-care are acts that make you feel happy, proud and present in that moment. It could be monthly budgeting or lunch with a friend; those are the things that make me feel happy and proud. Tackling important tasks or making time for friendship give me a sense of accomplishment and joy. But with the plandemic, visits with friends were few and far between and even when I did see friends, I was a shell; outwardly happy to be around adults but inwardly struggling to find presence and self. It was an internal war between ego and soul.
Where I should’ve been napping when my kids napped, I was watching TV or reading. When I had a few minutes alone, I was scrolling social media. When I had the time to focus on myself, I focused on others. I blatantly ignored the signs I needed more for myself.
It was like I was going through all the necessary motions for creating a good life for myself and my family and yet, I was losing myself in the attempt without really realizing it at the time. Before you knew it, I was having a breakdown. I had been playing small, denying the whispers of my soul, ignoring the signs from the Universe. I was blind to my “all or nothing” mindset that was a huge hinderance to my well-being.
If I was committed to eating healthy it was either cutting junk, sugar, gluten, dairy, ALL the ‘bad’ foods or I was eating everything in sight, health be damned. If I was exercising it was a Beachbody program six days a week going hard or I was a couch potato. If I was drinking booze, I was drinking 3-4x a week or I was stone sober. There was no middle ground and no moderation. The lifestyle I thought I had created from a place of conscious intention and grace was actually a nightmare of control, perfectionism and self-loathing. That realization hit me so hard, I cried for over three hours. Where did this attitude come from? Why was I like this? Why was I so interested in health and fitness but yet, could never find my groove? Where did these bad habits come from? What beliefs underlined these decisions? Where was the love, grace and compassion I had for everyone else but not for myself? Where did I go?
I had forgotten that I am an awesome person. I’m kind, generous, funny and thoughtful. I love to read and explore the cosmos through meditation and spiritual texts. I enjoy walks with Nature and tuning in to the energy of the Universe; all things I had concealed under a current of self-loathing and a mythical lack of time. Rather than honouring myself and my soul, I instead buried myself in diapers, ignorance and limiting beliefs. I forgot that my health and wellness matter and bathing isn’t the cure for loneliness and rejuvenation. I forgot to love myself and work towards the true self acceptance that opens the doors for greatness. I forgot that my happiness needs to be first and foremost especially if I want my kids to be happy.
I once read, it doesn’t matter what you do for your kids but rather, it’s who you are that matters. So I could read them all the stories in the world about controlling your temper but if my temper roared daily, they were going to adopt a temper too. If I’m not happy, they aren’t happy.
In the midst of raising children I had stopped writing, stopped meditating, stopped finding moments of peace. I was in survival mode and that mode is always fight or flight. Imagine being in that mode all the time?! No wonder my mental health was suffering. My nervous system was shot. My digestion was off. I continued to have bladder control issues since having Chloè. I was exhausted all the time no matter how little or how much sleep I got. My body screamed for intervention and still, my kids were more important. My husband’s needs were more important. My clean house was more important.
How ugly it is to write this.
Truth be told, my nervous system is still shot, my digestion still off, my bladder still an issue, exhaustion still present BUT I’ve awakened: physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually and while I have a long way to go, these small changes feel amazing.
I’m doing the real work that blossoms into good health, success and vibrancy. I’m taking moments to be still and listen. I’m journalling more than ever before. I did a reiki session that split me wide open and I felt the pain my inner child needed for healing. I’m seeing an amazing Jin Shin Jyutsu healer who’s helping me hone my energy, heal and flourish. I’m making meditation, affirmations and reading a priority. I’m feeling less guilt for leaving my kids with my husband so I can take a break. I let the dishes pile and the dust settle. I’m finally finding moderation. I eat healthier but enjoy the cake when it’s offered. I’ll enjoy a beer now and not worry about the hangover. I stretch and move and give my body grace. I’m looking in the mirror and saying, “I love you. I really love you” even on the hard days. I’m working at inner healing and outward manifesting. Breathwork is my salvation. I’m accepting that winter is a time for slowing down, hibernation and solitude. I’m doing less but also, so much more. I’m attempting to break the habit of being myself under the guidance of Dr. Joe Dispenza. It’s a book I think everyone should read!
I’m a work in progress, surely. I’m human after all and perfection is an outdated program! But I’m back. A friend of mine told me that she can’t wait to see what I do when I get out of my own way. I finally agree with her.
I was embarrassed to originally write this. But I see that’s my old programming of needing perfection trying to rear its ugly head. I hope some other mamas/ladies/men/persons find solidarity in these words and experiences. Taking care of ourselves is vital. Taking time to ourselves is necessary. Examining our thoughts and beliefs and the patterns in our behaviour is paramount to becoming the best versions of ourselves.
If the kids are sleeping, you sleep. Carve out time for what makes your soul sing. Make time for important things like meaningful conversations, doctor appointments and visits with yourself. Stare at the stars. Find moments of spontaneous joy as my beautiful friend Kirsten reminds me to do. Have dance parties if your heart longs to move. Do whatever you need for you. The dishes can wait. The organizing can wait. The cleaning can wait. Your health can’t. Your soul can’t. Your wellbeing can’t. Don’t leave yourself behind in the chaos of parenthood or in life during a plandemic. Find you. Be you. Hone you. Honour you. Love you.