As a Mom, My Self-Care Includes Therapy

"...I believe functional parenting is the secret to world peace. And the only way to make functional parents is to heal psychological wounds with the same urgency we heal physical wounds."

-Excerpt from The Truth: An Uncomfortable Book About Relationships by Neil Strauss

I always thought I was just a moody woman. Dark. Difficult. The perfect combination of my stinging astrological sign (Scorpio), my New York upbringing, and my Italian blood. I thought I was high strung, high octane, and tightly wound because I have a type A personality. I'm ambitious and a go-getter. I thought I was disconnected and distanced from loved ones, including my kids, because I am a product of divorce.

I relied on all of these old worn out tropes because that's what got fed to me. People who've never felt a goddamn thing in their life other than mundane nothingness, had the nerve to dish out their old antiquated advice to me. What was "normal," what wasn't. What was "bad" for me and what was "good" for me. And because they had nothing meaningful or authentic to say, they spouted worn out platitudes to me. And I hung on their every word because that's all I had.

Until I saw it was all bullshit. Until the anger and the restlessness in me became really noticeable. Relentless. Destructive. I was irrationally enraged when a person didn't use their blinker (I still hate that shit but I don't want to strangle the driver). I could not take criticism, or even accept another opinion about my work, to the detriment of my career and professional standing. I could not connect with my kids in a meaningful way. And I would blow up at them, my emotions would go from zero to 100 over the most benign stuff. And then I felt shame. And guilt. And it all piled on. I couldn't regulate my emotions and it felt really out of control.

I hate therapy. No, rather, I did hate therapy. My whole life I discounted the validity of it because I thought it was so predictable. Oh, what, we're going to talk about my childhood now huh? HOW ORIGINAL. Can we not do the childhood bullshit, please? Oh you want to talk about my parent's divorce...SHOCKER.

I thought I was so above all that. So evolved. After all, hadn't I gotten over all that? I was a functioning adult. Turns out, functioning doesn't mean shit. It means you're still fucked up, but you hide it better than others.

Then there's the societal stigma attached to mental health. Which is ridiculous and just needs to die forever because our minds are just like any other organ in our body we'd take care of.

So after a rather emotional one-week-booze-bender that ended with my husband pouring hundred-dollar bottles of champagne and vodka down the kitchen sink, I put my pride aside and made a call to a therapist. She was recommended to me from a friend. The second I got on the phone, my ego melted and I felt vulnerable. Which was awful and uncomfortable, but also super humbling.

I was lucky enough to really connect with my therapist in the first session. She was the therapist I probably needed in my childhood. I would've loved her as a teenager.

Immediately, our sessions became part of my self-care routine. Along with exercise, healthy eating, charcoal face masks, monthly pedicures, and night book reading - this therapy helped me take care of myself. It helped me take care of my kids better.

I won't lie, wine is still part of my self-care and helps me sometimes deal with the most Mondayest Mondays ever. You know those ones. Where nothing goes right and your kids ask for snacks five fucking thousand times a day and their homework is in some foreign math language and you don't have any groceries because there was no time to go in between the doctor's appointments and soccer practices... So wine. Bla. I KNOW THAT IS SUCH A CLICHE MOM-LIKE THING TO SAY. Hell, our culture rewards that shit. The boozy mom. The wino mom. There are jokes ad nauseum on coffee mugs, t-shirts, and totes about moms drinking alcohol. That wine I clung to as a cultural cliche was numbing everything I felt and making me avoid therapy all together.

But I gotta say - with my new found clarity, my consumption has dropped. It's still apart of my life though, I won't lie about that.

So is mint chocolate chip ice cream. So what say you about that! Whatever.

Everyone does self-care differently, I just never thought therapy would be part of my routine along with bubble baths and meditation.

You don't have to have severe trauma to go to therapy and become a better human, parent, spouse, sibling, or friend. I often feel like my trauma is woefully inadequate compared to some of the other people in my life. Compared to the people I read books about and see on TV. But I have to remember that it's not just a single traumatic event that can break a person down. It can be a series of little traumas, repeatedly.

And you pass your traumas onto your kids. It's inevitable. Unless you get help.

I was no longer willing to hurt my kids and keep them in a trauma cycle. I couldn't keep immersing myself in my work, or housework, or booze, or whatever I used to keep myself distanced or distracted from them- it needed to end. Some people use other things like shopping, sex, drugs, whatever. You can literally make anything an addiction, amirite? But, once I realized my kids, among other things, were the keys to filling myself back up, and I to them - the effort to connect came naturally, beautifully, and hopefully ... not too late.

I always worry about that. Was I too late? Did I fuck them up irreversibly? I can't know the future, all I can know is that I'm taking care of my self and them now. And I'm trying now. I won't ever stop trying now.

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