When I was Faking It
I look back at this picture…this memory…almost a year ago to the day. I am gazing lovingly into the eyes of my 3-week-old son, Logan. He is gazing back at me in pure adoration. I took this photo myself. Changed the filter to black-and-white. There’s no denying, I’ve captured a beautiful moment in time. It’s pure perfection.
What lurks beyond this photo is a lot less perfect. I’m ashamed to admit this, and my heart is racing as I type. In my mind, I’m struggling back and forth, my eyes locked on the backspace button, fingers hovering over it. “They” say honesty is the best policy, but there is also a comfort in keeping some of yourself secret. Holding closely those things that you feel define you more-so than everything you wear on the outside.
I guess I was like most women…most mothers. I wanted people to be super impressed by how much I had all my shit together. How happy I was, with my husband and our two sons and our perfect life in a new city full of possibilities and riches. So, that’s what I did. I lied. Not always. In fact, I was mostly very happy with my life. I can feel my heart smiling thinking back to this same time last year. But I can also feel, in the pit of my stomach, a sadness. A sadness that re-surfaces from that same time, when everyone thought my life was so perfect.
And why shouldn’t they? I had an amazing career that allowed me to work from home. My company provided me with a car and a credit card for all fuel expenses. My salary was double what I was making just 3 years prior. I had a ridiculous incentive program that could provide me up to 30% of my salary in ONE bonus check – everything necessary to earn within my span of control. Outside of work, my family was thriving. After one week of adjusting to life with his baby brother, my oldest son was as close as you can get to the model for how you’d want the oldest to behave when you are postpartum, breastfeeding and sleep deprived. My youngest son relied on me for everything from comfort to nourishment, and my husband was doing his best to pick up my slack: waking up with me in the middle of the night so I didn’t have to pump alone, rubbing my feet each night before bed, washing dishes, taking our oldest to school in the morning so that I didn’t have to take the baby out into the cold. He even cancelled a work trip to Vegas so that I wouldn’t have to stress about doing it on my own for the 4 days he’d be out of town.
What did I really have to NOT be happy about?
But, it was there. That feeling of….it’s really hard to explain. I suppose what it boils down to, is that, chemically there was a part of me that just couldn’t be happy. No matter how many times I looked at my life, no matter how many times I counted my blessings, and gave praise to God…it wasn’t ever enough to rid me of that nagging discontent. So, I began to lash out. I couldn’t lash out at my children, they are just children and innocent… because we lived in a new city, I didn’t have an influx of visitors, no girlfriends to bitch at… I did the only thing I could: I lashed out at my husband. I would manifest some reason to get angry and then I let it all out on him. Later, I’d secretly cry in the room by myself as our baby slept in his bassinet.
I hated myself. I hated that I couldn’t control how I felt, and that I couldn’t figure out why I felt that way. Most of all, I hated that no matter what I did, that feeling wouldn’t go away. I can’t say this with any certainty, because out of shame and fear I never told my doctors any of this. I smiled and put on a front, just like I was doing for all my friends, and family, and everyone connected to me in the world of social media. But, looking back at this moment, I am almost sure (considering where I am today) that I self-treated some form of postpartum depression or anxiety. My stomach is literally in knots looking at this sentence and it took me several minutes before I could bring myself to keep going. I am still not sure that this is worth sharing.
No, that’s not really true. I know that it’s worth sharing. What I’m not sure of is how or if I will be judged for doing so. I am breaking down that huge façade of what everyone thought my life was. I’m basically saying to everyone, “Hey y’all, I’m a liar.” It’s terrifying. It’s so scary to let people know that behind this moment, this picture, this time in my life…there was a certain darkness and pain, that I just kept hidden away.
My hope is that the people who love me can understand. The people who don’t…I’m not really sure why I ever cared so much for their thoughts anyway. The people who don’t know me at all…my hope for them is that in some way, they can relate. If it’s a new mother experiencing a similar feeling, I want her to know she’s not alone. If it’s a husband who doesn’t understand his wife’s mood swings, or her aggression toward him, I want him to know he’s not doing anything wrong and that likely nothing he does can help her because it isn’t him.
Getting this all out…has been such a cathartic release. I am still terrified to publish this article. But what’s more overwhelming is the feeling that I might be able to show someone that there’s a way out. And it doesn’t have to lead to medication. I self-medicated…with diet and exercise. Within a week or two, I started to notice improvements… I started having fewer moments of inexplicable sadness. Within a month, my husband started to notice. Within three months, my boss started to notice I had better energy and enthusiasm in the mornings (this is probably one of the best improvements because I have NEVER been a morning person; my sisters can tell you best how much of a pain it was to get me out of bed for school growing up and my husband can co-sign on how it didn’t change when I became an adult). In recent pictures, there is nothing behind my smile… it’s just a woman who loves her family, her life, and her new-found ability to inspire others by sharing her journey openly.
I try to imagine if nothing had changed what my life today – one year later – would look like. What my smile in this picture would say. It shakes me to my core. In the least extreme scenario, I’d probably be on the verge of divorce, or at the very least in an unhappy marriage that reeked of failure. If I play it out in the most extreme way possible, my husband might have tried to have me committed. There is no telling how bad it could have gotten. I also, because I’m a person of faith, never want to rule out that it’s possible I could have still ended up right here. No matter what, I will forever give credit to Shakeology and Beachbody exercise programs, and to God for bringing those things into my life. I believe with my whole heart that I was saved and given the chance to lead a healthier, happier life because of those things.
If I don’t drink my Shakeology for a day or two now, I feel like something is missing. It’s a part of my everyday life now. I make it a priority, because I make ME a priority. If I skip too many days of working out, there is both an emotional and physical impact. And now, more than ever, if I miss an opportunity to give praise to God, to shine glory upon him, my day doesn’t feel complete. For me, THIS is the formula that works. THIS is what allows me to serve God, my family and others. I am out of the darkness, and out in the open saying, “I can help you. I’ve been there.” That’s what being a coach means to me.
I’m making myself a promise from here on out. If, in the years that follow, the timehop app is still a thing…that means that every year, around this same time, I’ll be reminded of this moment. I’ll look at this picture, and think back to that time in my life. As the years pass, the promise I make to myself, is to embrace the feelings that come over me when I think back to that time. Good or bad, it is what brought me to a point of being able to own my flaws. It is how I learned my passion in life – to help inspire other moms, like me, to regain control of their health, and their happiness. That time in my life is now something I would never trade.