Thursday, September 15, 2016

We are meant to find joy

It's been a while. Every once in a while, I get the urge to write, but it's usually too sensitive and personal so I keep it in my journal. But today, I started writing in my journal and was led back here to finish some of my thoughts.

I've been struggling. My pregnancy is HARD. Being a mom is hard. Being a pregnant mom to a toddler is hard. I could go on, but let's just sum it up and say things are hard. Life is hard.

I hurt my back a couple months ago, and it's made my pregnancy and everything else that much more difficult. I started physical therapy, which has been really great for me and has helped me be much more capable than I was after I hurt my back. But my back is still a problem and will continue to be for a long time.

Ben has been also struggling with his own things, and together, I feel like we are kind of a mess. Not in a really bad way, but we are both just being refined at the same time. And that makes it a little hard to lean on each other because we are both so drained in so many ways.

A couple days ago, I had a huge emotional breakdown. Part of it was the fact that it was midnight, and I was extremely tired after a long day of watching two of my nieces (so I had a 3, 2, and 1 yr old for 10 hours, which wasn't terrible, but it was just exhausting at almost 29 weeks pregnant). Part of it was simply hormones. But a lot of it had to do with being stretched way too thin and not taking time to back up and do some self-care. I get so busy caring for everyone else around me that sometimes I forget to take care of myself. I think I need to be (and honestly, who doesn't want to be) supermom, superwife, superwoman ALL. THE. TIME. So I go, go, go, and I forget to slow down and just breathe for myself.

For a long time, I have felt a little out of place in this "wopa-land" because I'm not in immediate trauma, and overall things are going really well. Ben and I are communicating well for the most part, and we are both making tons of individual progress with our counselors, which is helping us make progress in our marriage. I'm really happy. Happier than I have been in a very long time. And I just want to soak up that happiness, but life keeps throwing hard things at us, so I have been fluctuating between feeling happy, wanting to feel happy, and feeling stressed out, anxious, and not really knowing where to turn.

Ben hasn't acted out recently, and I feel like for the first time, he is in real, true recovery. Things are coming together in ways they haven't before, and I just feel so blessed to have him as my spouse and the father of my children. But, I have been feeling like I'm in a place of trauma because in a way we are at a d-day anniversary. What I mean by that is, during this time of my first pregnancy, things were really hard. He had started acting out again about two years ago (almost to the day, so at that point in that pregnancy, I was somewhere around 20ish weeks), and it started a cycle that got increasingly worse through the pregnancy. Towards the end, it got better. But then it got bad again after our son was born, and things were really scary and hard. So, maybe it's the fact that it's September (a month that has been ruined several times over the years, but especially during that pregnancy), or maybe it's the fact that it's that time during my pregnancy when things got really hard, but I'm having trauma flashbacks that I'm having to deal with. I'm experiencing anxiety and reliving pain, and I'm trying not to let fear get the best of me. 

Someone suggested to me that maybe I didn't take the time to process or feel those things at the time they happened, and so maybe that's why I'm struggling now. That may be true to an extent because I remember a lot of the end of my pregnancy and then being a new mom was spent in survival mode. But I do think I processed and felt too. I think it's normal to experience this type of flashback after a lot of pain, and I just have to figure out how to honor and process through it without letting it overtake me.

So a couple days ago, I had that huge emotional breakdown. It led me to feel a lot of shame because of the way I treated Ben that night, but I also spiraled down into a dark place of self-hatred. Which, in turn, led me to feel and almost believe that everyone hates me, that I don't have any friends who really care about me, that my family doesn't even care about me, and Ben especially hates me, and I'm not worthy of love. I felt inadequate in all areas of my life, and I felt so alone.

While I was being mean (or, in a gentler tone, while I was hurting and feeling like I was dying inside), I asked Ben to sleep on the couch. Because my brain was telling me that he hated me, and I didn't want him near me if he hated me. But after he left and I cried for a while, I was pleading for help and felt like I just needed to go out and get him, wake him up, and talk to him. He was nice and as compassionate as one can be at midnight when your pregnant wife is having an emotional breakdown. Then yesterday we both had some space and did some self-care, and we both feel better.

Anyway, now that I'm more calm and thinking more clearly, I've been writing to process and de-junk the rest of my brain. And I've been thinking about that night and how dark I felt. I don't want to feel that way. I don't like feeling that way, and I don't like the lies that Satan can so easily feed us when we start spiraling. Here's the real thing: God doesn't want us to feel that way either. I've been making more of an effort to turn to God every day. I'm not perfect, and it's much harder than it used to be when I was a blissful college student who made the goal to turn to God first every day before starting on homework. It was easy. It's not quite so easy anymore. But I've been trying. I try to pray, I try to study my scriptures or a conference talk daily, and I've been writing more. Writing helps me process and soak in what I've read.

As I'm making more of an effort to reach out to God, I see and feel Him more often. Sometimes I feel so alone, but it's not because God is leaving me alone. It's because the pavilion of pain I'm stuck behind is preventing me from seeing Him. But when I try to get around that pavilion, I find Him. Sometimes it takes longer to find Him that others, but I'm trying to be less angry about that and more accepting of life in general. Life isn't meant to be easy. But we are meant to find joy anyway.

That's something I'm trying to keep in mind. It takes effort, but if I want to find that true joy and keep it with me on a regular basis, the effort is something I'm willing to give.

I just want all of you to know that you aren't alone either. You have God. You have me. And if you open up and shame-bust to trusted people, you will find that they feel a lot of the same things you do too. Because we are all human. If you feel that you are suffering alone, reach out. That's the best way to break through the darkness. Satan wants you to feel alone, and he is good at his methods. But with God, we are never alone. And if He can't reach us, He will send others who can.


  1. It's so easy when we're in the dark pit of despair and self hatred to reach out, but it also helps me to see the good things by reaching out. Even in service! Thanks for sharing your dark times.

  2. Thank you for being so brave and courageous. You are right, life isn't meant to be easy, but yes we ARE meant to find joy anyway! Sharing so openly is a powerful tool to help others not feel so alone in their journey and to find hope. I really enjoy reading your writing and hope that you continue to share when you feel inspired:). Kelly