The first six months of my journey post diagnosis with Ava was full of grit & no grace for myself. It’s fascinating to me the ability a mother has to switch off her own needs in response to ensuring her child’s needs are met.
I couldn’t tell you what those first six months looked like fully because operating from a place of grit with no grace was like the highest form of operating from auto pilot. . Doing what needed to be done without fully being present in my own self to see how she (me) was really doing. Knowing what I know now I find myself wanting to ask her questions like
“I know your sole focus is to make sure your baby gets the resources she needs.. but you are one of the biggest needs she has.. have you taken time to just process this for yourself?”
“There’s emotions you have deep down that have just been shoved as far down as they could go.. but they aren’t something to be ashamed of, & in fact they are valid to feel... have you thought about allowing yourself the space to feel them, process them & release them?”
.. I mean I think about that young girl I was. I was 21 with no clue of really the magnitude of this journey. But the magnitude of love for my daughter... now, that I had an idea of.. it was the kind of love that said no matter what I’m going to give it my all for you. No matter what...
What I didn’t realize was the “no matter what” was me.
Loving her no matter if inside I was breaking..
loving her no matter if I was so unsure that the steps I was taking were the best ones.
Loving her no matter if I too had needs.. those weren’t important. Not like hers...
But I would tell her I know that love. It’s soo pure & selfless. & to be someone who would fully let go of their own needs abruptly for your child’s is truly remarkable... but...it wouldn’t actually be ever lasting in the ways she originally intended.
Pouring our everything into our child(ren) without meeting the grit we walk out in this journey with grace, is the fastest ticket to burnout, to major breakdowns & stripping away the highest value we originally had: To provide the best for our baby..
If we are one of our child’s greatest needs, if we want to give them the best in a world that so hasn’t be designed for them, then we have to live in the tension of grit & grace.
In grit where we know that doing those hard things refines us, strengthens us... equips us.
But in grace for moments to reflect, reset.. & begin accepting parts of this journey subconsciously we were really just running away from.
I think about that young girl 21, received her daughters diagnosis alone in an office... only to drop her baby off at grandmas to clock into work. . It breaks my heart to think that she didn’t even give herself space to process even just a little of what just happened.. to think that she felt the only thing she could do was just numb herself from the pain, the grief..from all of it. She was so worth showing up for too. Not just having to be this “strong” woman who braved face. .
You may be in the beginning of this journey, you may be years into it..& maybe you have been really good at meeting yourself in this journey in the tension of grit & grace..
But if you haven’t, I hope you know that meeting your needs doesn’t take away from the love & advocacy you’re pouring into your baby ... it strengthens it.
I feel like last night God met me... I was in the garage refurbishing a dresser I had bought.
It was painted (ALOT) with this blue paint..it was beautiful, but not quite the color scheme I was going for.. so I began sanding it so I could paint it a different color. As I did this I swear I heard God tell me “do you see how easy some of that paint is coming off? ..the moment grit hit those places it couldn’t withstand the pressure? .” It was immediately like he began showing me this visual of why I started blessed for this mess...
I know it was a dresser but in that moment I saw the blue paint representing the “masking” that a lot of us women do to cover up the pain, the anger, the hurt, and the sadness of this journey they never asked for…& in that moment it hit me, I began realizing why I have been so passionate about getting to the root of things..why I’m so passionate about often times meeting you with words that are wrapped in depth to gracefully challenge your current position with your circumstances.. It’s because I knew if we didn’t challenge that position, or get to the root of subjects that are often hard to talk about, that the grit of life would not allow us to withstand this journey outside of survival.
As I was sanding, some of the paint was barely adhered to the dresser. I could at times take a piece of it and pull away some of that blue paint..He was showing me how easy some parts of the dresser were really easy to peel away, but other areas because they required more time & detail were harder to peel back... (representing that this journey of healing isn’t all easy. Certain parts of it take more time, more attention, while others will come off much more quickly).
I know the masking.. I operated heavily from this place for six months early on in my journey after we received my daughter's diagnosis. After a few big breakdowns that happened all unexpectedly..I understand the masking only covers up the dreams & visions we had expected, it covers up the pain that came to our doorstep the moment we realized our journeys were not going to be what we had expected or hoped for.. But it also covers up our freedom from processing all of those feelings to shift from the state of survival, to living a life undefined by those circumstances that surround us.
That dresser, as cliche as it is, showed me that no matter how hard we try to cover up that pain without first getting to the root of things...without giving ourselves the grace to process all of those emotions….simply
that life will throw at us.
In this space, & any space that you will find me.. one thing I promise is honesty. This is a place where the depths of this journey will be poured out to you, because one of my biggest desires is for you to know you are not alone, & all of those feelings (especially the ones that are painful to feel & sometimes admit) are valid & embraced in this safe place. My hope is that, through sharing this journey with you, being alongside you, thick in the trenches as some days they are.. that you feel encouraged & empowered to activate the thriver that's already within you.
Before we dive in to the major depths of the journey, I wanted to share how this started, but also the way #blessedforthismess has began evolving through the small time I've said yes to this.
So, back in July 2019 I found myself, a very blessed stay at home mom to two children, but there was a piece of me that was pleading to be expressed. Remember that safe place I mentioned above? Well.. that piece of me that was pleading for expression was something maybe even you yourself have felt.. so here it goes, as much as I understood the power of raising future adults/leaders of this world & how it is truly the greatest responsibility I could have, I still found myself pleading to show up in this world to bring more impact outside of my home. & why do I mention the "safe place" of that comment? I would imagine, there's another mom reading this right now who understands that feeling.. deeply loving their children & grateful for the life they live, yet knowing there are gifts they have, that haven't been tapped into for awhile.. those feelings are real. & they are absolutely valid to feel (free from guilt).
I found myself heavy in this place. Yearning for more to give, but feeling so entirely stuck how I could do that with the needs of my two future leaders. The one thing I knew, was God has called me to share my story. Not because I'm special. But because the life I have walked has had too many moments I should have fell victim to...but GOD. So in all honesty, I echoed these words inside my head (while nurturing a one month old preemie, & new big sister who was not so used to this new change)... "Annie, you'd get kicked off a stage today if you were to step foot on one..you wouldn't even get out a word of that story... so what can you do in this moment to prepare for that moment God cues me where he's intended me to go?..." The first thing that came to mind was a podcast. which was odd, I never was familiar with any of that before.. I joked with one of my best friend's that if no one listened it would at least be some great audio therapy for myself, ha!
& that was it. I made the decision to bring you into this journey of mine, I wanted to wholeheartedly let you see the deepest pains of mine, to encourage you to free yourself from the prison of perfection, and the prison of your circumstances.
I thought that "Blessed for this mess" was just from a moment of a #sahm deeply wanting to contribute somewhere outside of the role of a mom. (Absolutely not discrediting this role, so I hope you hear my heart..) Blessed for this mess has become a community of incredible families, incredible women/mothers who are walking journeys they never expected.. this community is acknowledging the space for grief, raw real emotions & a shift into thriving in those circumstances, that have tried desperately to tell all of us that we can never live outside the standard of survival.
Maybe we've connected, maybe not..yet. But sweet friend, I love you. & you, YES you, are always on my heart & mind. You drive me to keep pouring out.. until next time, meet me in the podcast podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/blessed-for-this-mess/id1472448775 or even connect with me personally both here & instagram www.instagram.com/blessedforthismess/
Thank you for being part of this journey with me, & always allowing this to be safe place for all of us. Till next time..