Who am I aside from “mom”?

Last week my Mother-in-law took both of my kiddos overnight.

As a stay at home mom for almost two years, it was a bittersweet feeling.

There was this ominous blaring of freedom along with an overbearing sense that I was missing a big piece of myself.

Waking up the next morning to a quiet house and calmly walking into the kitchen.

Greeted with a rush of confusing emotions.

How do I start my morning without my kids?!

The moment was surprisingly overwhelming, igniting a stream of tears down my cheek.

‘Who even am I besides Mom…?’

I’m not your average mom.

When I got pregnant the first time it wasn’t mapped out to happen according to my “picture perfect plan”.

I was 19 and a full blown alcoholic when I got my positive pregnancy test.

I didn’t know how to take care of myself at the time… let alone the life of a tiny human.

There wasn’t a house or a husband… it was indeed, very backwards.

January 2012

I posted this photo to announce the news.

The caption stating, “joining the mommy club!”.

The things that people wrote in response to that post were terrible.

In their defense, the thought of that person as a mom was rightfully baffling…

“That baby is going to be so messed up!”

Only God knew what I was capable of.

The pregnancy was a process of growth and change.

August 2012

I was learning how to navigate life sober for the very first time while also juggling the chaos of preparing for a newborn.

For me, pregnancy was the perfect distraction from all of my “crap” though.

Nothing else mattered besides the precious little life that was growing inside of me.

After my sweetie pie arrived everything literally started anew.

No longer was I the broken young adult, searching recklessly for love at the bottom of a bottle.

It’s like that person died and a totally different me was born- equipped with a baby.

My name is Mommy.

And boy, I could go on and on about her.

Happy mom, sad mom, mad mom, rushed mom, stressed mom, excited mom… to name a few.

Alexis on the other hand?

Literally doesn’t know how to start a morning without her kids.

That’s honestly about all I know.

Motherhood has this beautiful way of changing us.

We take on this new role that nothing could ever prepare us for.

It’s the most fulfilling yet consuming title on earth.

In my case, motherhood literally took my old mess of a life and replaced it with a really good one.

Suddenly I had a reason to live…. my kids.

Motherhood gave me purpose in life so I established an identity around that role.

“Mom” was the new me, a foundation I’ve built from over the past 6 years.

But take away my kids for one morning and suddenly I’m completely lost.

There aren’t roles for “Alexis”, “wife”, “self“.

The problem lies in the fact that I can’t be my “best mom” if I don’t ever tend to my needs as an individual.

And what even are my needs?

I don’t know.

How do you even go about learning who you are…?

Baby steps.

Small observations while continuing on with everyday life.

A good starting place might be imagining my “perfect morning” if I lived alone and had nobody else to worry about.

Understanding how I’d prefer to spend my morning doesn’t mean it’s going to change anything, it’s simply establishing preference as an individual.

Personal identity is a vital part of life.

Our identity cannot rely solely on another person as our identity is what is true for us.

At the end of the day, I am the only person that I’m in control of.

Yes, “mom” is a piece of my identity…. a very important piece that I hold high in value.

But I’m more than just “mom”.

My name is Alexis.

I value God, balance, family, and routine.

I dislike chaos, drama, feeling rushed, and over scheduling.

I will do anything for the people that I love.

I thrive on taking care of others.

And someday, when my kids are grown and moved away, I will be okay with who I am as an individual.

Check out my blog PROJECT IDENTITY for more raw inspiration! 💕

Dissociation- “emotional numbing”

This past year has been the most extensive year of self reflection ever.

And with understanding has come more questions- a lot of them!

Like last week when I processed for the very first time that I in fact, leave my physical body, subconsciously, hundreds of times every day.

Don’t get me wrong.

This isn’t some kind of witch craft or wizardry.

It’s a mental illness called depersonalization disorder.

It’s also the only way I can remember ever functioning…. making it that much more confusing.

How would you react if you realized that you’ve spent over half of your life physically “zoned out” while being somewhere else completely mentally…?

“Whenever my PTSD gets triggered I get like, trapped in another world for awhile. I don’t know what happens there because my memory in that time period gets completely wiped. Nothing really gets done while the time is running.

Sometimes I realize I don’t know what’s going on when I’m literally in the middle of a sentence with someone. It’s super stressful being around anyone really, for that reason.

But most of the time I don’t even realize that I’d left. It’s been this way for as long as I can remember and until just recently, I thought that everyone experienced this.

I know that sounds crazy… am I dying?”

My best friend who is studying psychology, responded with this:

“If I’m understanding you right it sounds like dissociation or depersonalization. Which is common for people with PTSD. It sounds terrifying but you are not dying. It is something that many people with PTSD experience.”

Off to the internet I went, in attempt to learn more about this madness, aka my life.

The first thing that stood out to me was “a confusing sense of identity“.

Looking no further than the name of this blog to check that one off the list of qualifying criteria.

As I continued reading, the checks started piling up.

‘Man… I had no clue there was a name for this!’

Dissociation is a mental process of disconnecting from one’s thoughts, feelings, emotions, or sense of identity.

A child is more able than an adult to step outside of themself and observe trauma as though it’s happening to another person.

Children who learn to dissociate in attempt to endure a traumatic experience may use this coping mechanism, even subconsciously, in response to stressful situations throughout life.

The dissociative adult may automatically disconnect in everyday situations, leaving them “spaced out” and unable to protect themselves in the event of real danger.

Dissociative episodes increase in frequency with the severity of trauma and triggers.

Smells, sounds, colors, places…. anything tied to a traumatic memory can send you out from the drivers seat of your body in an instant.

Wow…Just wow!

The research I have done on this disorder in the last week has been redundant.

I am so beyond confident that I battle with extreme depersonalization disorder, it’s like they wrote it all about me.

This understanding has come with the bomb of a realization that I am transitioning in and out of my body hundreds of times every single day.

With this knowledge I’ve made a few reflections.

1) I have depersonalization disorder.

2) I’ve been living this way for so long that the transitions are usually unnoticeable.

3) It would be nice if I could just stay inside my body all the time.

4) How do I make this stop?

Unfortunately, the answer isn’t that simple.

Like the majority of my mental health madness, this is going to take a crap ton of hard work.

“Stuffing” is my most often used defense mechanism.

It’s a process of trying to trick myself that any undesirable emotion or sensation isn’t really happening.

This is a subconscious behavior that happens like clockwork.

Typically for me, the “stuffed” emotion presents itself as high strung anxiety or irritability.

To “cure” the dissociative episodes I’m going to have to talk to my emotions and actually feel themno more “stuffing”. 😳

As someone who has “stuffed” every foreign emotion for as long as I can remember, this feels like an overwhelming task to take on.

Dissociation is kind of like having your body and mind living on two different planets.

The first step will be simply increasing my personal awareness.

Mindfulness, sitting with my emotions… YUCK!

I need to practice the repetitive cycle of acknowledging my emotions as they arise and responding that they are valid for feeling that way.

I’d be absolutely lying if I said I wasn’t scared out of my mind.

This entire situation is freaking terrifying.

I’ve been functioning emotionally numb for far too long and I need to do this for me.

Once I begin allowing my emotions to be a part of me, my body will start relearning how to function as a whole.

It will be an intense process of triumphs and failures.

And after all, isn’t that what life is all about?

Trying and failing until we reach our goal…?

I’m ready to embrace this life for all that it is, the good and the bad.

For now, this book is still being written.

It’s my journey and I’m ready to start living it.

In a perfect world, this pursuit will end in an alignment of my identity.

Who am I helping by continuing to live this way?

Certainly not myself.

Project accepted. ❤️

Check out my blog Project Identity for more!

The “devalued” child

“When I was a kid I remember crying in the mirror and feeling so badly that my parents had to have the ugliest kid in the entire world.”

I expressed to my anxiety therapist.

“What happened to trigger that? At the age of 4 or 5 a child doesn’t just come up with these feelings from nowhere… something must have happened.”

She questioned.

“Nothing happened. I’m just ugly.”

It would be YEARS of therapy before unlocking this can of worms.

Years of wondering if I was raped or abused as a child and just blacked out the entire thing.

Years of silencing that fear with my proclamation of ugliness.

‘At least if you understand that you are ugly you aren’t ugly and in denial…’

Confidence has never been my strong suit.

It wasn’t until my anxiety therapist gave me a list of books to look into that my life started making sense for once.

While she never said it directly, all of the books had a common theme.

Borderline personality disorder.

The second I looked up the definition, I felt my mom’s picture should have been pasted right next to it.

It was her exactly.

My mom has borderline personality disorder.

Borderline personality disorder is characterized by the following behaviors:

  • Intense, highly changeable moods
  • A pattern of intense and unstable relationships with family, friends, and loved ones- often swinging from extreme closeness and love (idealization) to extreme dislike or anger (devaluation)
  • Impulsive and often dangerous behaviors (spending sprees, substance abuse, binge eating)
  • Extreme emotional swings
  • Hostility
  • Lack of restraint

In my case, “a pattern of intense and unstable relationships with family, friends, and loved ones- often swinging from extreme closeness and love (idealization) to extreme dislike or anger (devaluation)”, my brother is the idealized and I am the devalued.

With this newfound knowledge about my mom, it has been an emotional rollercoaster the past few months.

Growing up in a home with a parent who has borderline personality disorder is an extremely traumatic thing to go through.

The fact that I never even understood this piece of myself for the first 26 years of my life completely blows my mind.

There is no denying that all of it makes sense.

Anger, sadness, frustration.

Every emotion showing its colors in myself at this new revelation.

‘Is therapy making me crazier?’

Instead of my mom just removing herself from my life all together, I grew up in an “I love you, go away” environment.

There was a constant push and pull.

Actions that were justified by clothing me in shame and guilt.

Our father, whom I got along with best, was away from home making the money.

The way I internalized my moms behavior as a child was processing it as a personal flaw.

The almost comical “obsession” (idealization) she had for my brother was a stark contrast to the way she treated me.

“Maybe if I was prettier my mom would love me too…”

The constant push and pull from a person in trust is enough to destroy someone entirely.

My feelings were never heard or validated.

I was always wrong, she was always right.

My attempts at having a voice were converted into backlash.

Growing up in the care of a parent who had borderline personality disorder distorted my self worth at a very young age.

The devalued child feels unworthy of love- even from themselves.

You get used to always being the one at fault.

To this day I overuse the word “sorry”.

I am sorry.

Sorry for any way that I may be bothering you with my presence.

It’s been hammered into my head that I’m a nuisance.

My mom loves me and I know that.

I don’t believe that she ever intended to hurt me.

Yet there is still a part of me that hates her.

A part that wants to give a voice to the child who didn’t have one.

A part that wants to say, “F you” and never talk to her again to pay her back for that broken little girl looking in the mirror.

Except I’m not going to go out like that.

Yes, this understanding has been quite the rollercoaster… but it’s one that I’m glad to be riding.

Without understanding myself I would never have the means to fix anything.

I can’t change my mom.

And I will probably never get an apology from her.

But that’s okay.

THERAPY TAKES WORK!

It’s going to get worse before it gets better.

But it’s the only way to obtain justice for myself, for the little girl in the mirror.

I know that someday all of this hard work will pay off.

I will love my mom forever and while I can’t guarantee it’s the end of the outbursts, I can agree to forgive her.

Holding firm in my boundaries while staying true to my values.

I’m choosing to live my life in love instead of hate.

I’m choosing to accept the things I cannot change and changing the things that I can.

Dear little girl in the mirror,

You are beautiful.

Have empathy for your mother even in the times that it’s hard.

You don’t HAVE to do so, but CHOOSE to do so.

Forgive your mom.

Live your life in love.

Learn to love yourself the way God loves you.

Your moms behavior has everything to do with her and nothing to do with you.

Remember that her outbursts are professions of her pain rather than expressions of her feelings towards you.

Don’t forget to be there for yourself.

You are worthy.

Check out my blog Project Identity for more. ❤️

I hate meds

The other day I texted my husband and dropped the bomb yet again.

My meds aren’t working.

I finally freaking admitted it… to my husband and to myself.

Aren’t working like how?!

He wrote back.

Not working as in not being able to handle dramatic confrontations… not working as in telling you I hated you like a psycho…😔

My meds haven’t been working for awhile.

Finally, I’ve reached my breaking point with them.

If you’ve ever taken medication you are likely familiar with that terrible feeling when you begin noticing the meds aren’t a good fit.

You fight with yourself on if it’s even worth all of the stress and anxiety that comes with changing.

The last time I changed my meds I ended up in a crisis center on a 72 hour hold.

Since “regaining stability” on a new antidepressant, irritability and impulsivity have been the most noticeable side effects.

However, in comparison to landing in a crazy house, these side effects seemed manageable.

At least until I found myself shouting those insanely awful words at my poor husband…

“I hate you!”

In that moment I knew I’d have to bare whatever fate was headed for me as I gear up to make yet another switch.

I love my husband more than words and the fact that those terrible words could even come out of my mouth absolutely kills me.

Who is this crazy person I’ve become on these pills that are supposed to be making me “normal”…?

I hate everything about this.

I hate that this chemical substance, that I put in my body, is powerful enough to change my values… to change who I am.

I hate that I feel trapped as this person who I don’t want to be and I hate that there is no easy way out.

I hate watching myself destroy everything that’s important to me while sitting on the sidelines in my own life.

If you read Life sentenced to medication then you are already aware that I had my identity stripped of me as a child.

I’ll never forget that very first psychiatrist visit- almost 20 years ago.

Ironically, what I have lost sight of, is who I was before being signed up for this mess.

More than anything I want to meet myself.

I want to be able to wake up in the morning and just be normal like everyone else without taking a handful of pills that don’t even work.

I want to feel completely in control of the things I do and say.

I want to know who the hell I am underneath all of these stupid pills.

There are only two things that I’m sure of.

One- if I skip my pills for a day I feel like a hungover, quivering robot who can absolutely not function.

Two- I freaking hate medication!

YES, medication is definitely required for some people.

Maybe I am one of those people…

I just wish so badly that I could have made that decision for myself.

Having done so would make this lifestyle feel much less out of control.

As I sit here watching my life play out in front of me from behind a glass window, there is one thing I wish for my readers.

While my identity may be long gone, I hope it wasn’t all for nothing.

I pray that some way, some how, this post can reach a parent who is on the fence with treatment options for their child.

I pray that if possible, this post can be enough to convince someone to just let their child be a child…

If you feel like medication is the only option, DISCUSS IT THOROUGHLY WITH YOUR CHILD.

Allow them to have a voice in the decision making process.

Let them know all of the risks involved and that this could potentially, be a life sentence– as it was for me.

Check out my blog Project Identity for more ❤️

When our parents fail at being our parents

The broken child is now an adult.

Finally amounting the courage to seek healing for pain that still affects them to this day.

Disappointed when their parent falls short in mending such wounds.

I’m not sure which hurts worse…

Your mother saying she would choose a boyfriend over you OR her justification when you seek an apology many years later.

I guess the second option just further validated that she in fact, meant what she said all along.

Why can’t our parents just set aside their egos for a minute if it means the well being of their child?

Countless hours have been spent pondering that very question.

Hours spent angry.

Hours spent hurt.

Hours spent beating myself up, trying to figure out what’s so wrong with me that my own mother can’t say sorry for something that brings me pain.

Family members can hurt us way worse than anybody else because they are our blood.

We hold our parents to a different set of standards and expectations.

When they fail to meet those expectations we can’t help but blame ourselves and feel flawed.

“Maybe if I was prettier my mom would love me….”

There is a pit deep in my heart wanting this to just be resolved before one of us dies.

I know that we have had a lot of great times in our relationship…

It’s just,

you broke me

I know that I was a terrible person growing up.

I’m unfathomably sorry for every waking second you had to spend in complete terror because of me.

It genuinely kills me thinking back to the times where I was embarrassed being out in public with you.

I’m sorry for that too.

I am so unbelievably sorry that I’ve corrected myself and am living the admirable life that I am today.

I’ve said I’m sorry and I wish that you could too.

While I don’t believe it is an intentional lack of parenting it creates an emotional barrier until it’s been genuinely dealt with.

We can forgive… we can forget…

But the broken pieces in us will still remain.

In my head it just seems so easy.

Easy to be completely vulnerable for five minutes and say sorry even if it’s uncomfortable.

I’m not looking for a justification of “why” you did it,

I just want to know that you didn’t mean it.

Am I the only person who feels like “I’m sorry but” apologies are sometimes worse than no apology at all?

If you are justifying what you just “apologized” for then are you sure you’re really sorry…?

We unfortunately do not have the power to make people apologize to us.

The pain that comes out to scare us every once in awhile is out of our control also.

If you are reaching for a void from a parent who told you they are “never going to give it to you”…

Take a moment to sit with yourself and grieve.

Physically grieve the pain that this brings you.

A few minutes after you’ve successfully released it ⬇️

Accept the pain for what it is.

And here is the thing,

You are not the problem.

There is nothing wrong with you just because you have a toxic parent.

Deep down our parents love us.

No matter what they’ve said or what they’ve done {or not done} … they love us.

We are all human and have our own ways of living in this world.

Instead of running with the pain try silencing it with the positives.

Be the energy you would like to attract- even when you aren’t receiving it.

Human as we are, it will be a process.

Accept the pain for what it is as it arises in the future.

Don’t prevent yourself from feeling a certain way.

Find a time and a place to step away for a moment and redo the grieving process as needed.

Pray to God and ask to see yourself in His eyes…

It’s incredible I promise.

Remember that your life doesn’t have to end waiting on someone else’s apology.

You are not a reflection of your toxic parent.

Be free from the chains that have you bound.❤️

Your sanity will thank you someday.

Check out my blog for more inspirational goodness ❤️⬇️❤️

www.project-identity.blog

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