Guest List Folly

Wedding planning is hard. Guest lists are hard. Budgeting is hard.

I wish I could just skip the reception, just have the ceremony and say “Thanks for coming. Peace out.” Inviting people, or not inviting people, is such a touchy thing. Of the people I wanted to invite, I couldn’t invite half of them. Some got really upset and two ended our already-rocky friendships.

There are family members that simply didn’t make the cut and there’s been a lot of unnecessary uproar about that. What part of “My Day” do people not understand? I invited who I wanted there, who I felt would be part of our lives. A cousin I’m not close with shouldn’t get a spot on the list ahead of someone I’ve been close with for 12 years. Am I crazy in thinking that? Her mum is now saying that if her daughter can’t come, she won’t come.

Now, I haven’t asked for this. Her choice to not come is entirely on her and I refuse to accept responsibility for a choice I did not ask her to make. Apparently, this is an issue I need to fix; however, I simply don’t agree.

Honestly, it’d be easier to just nix the reception and just have a BBQ after our honeymoon. I’m beyond done with all this drama surrounding my damn day.

 

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#sorrynotsorry

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Bell Let’s Talk Day

Today is Bell’s Let’s Talk Day, a day that happens twice a year dedicated to eradicating the stigma of mental health issues. The goal is to get folks talking about their struggles, reaching out to others, and creating a community of support and acceptance. There is no shame in struggling, there is no shame in being unwell. Needing help is part of being human and it is impossible to reach out if we don’t overcome this notion that something is wrong with needing help.

 

The first step to demolishing the stigma surrounding mental health is open communication. If you’re reading this, you know I’m a huge advocate for positive mental health. I post about it on Facebook almost daily. The things I post are things I wish had been shared with me from childhood.

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It’s storytime, kids…

I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression from childhood. I felt different from everyone, even my family, and it was incredibly isolating. As I became an adult, my anxiety got progressively worse and I had a hard time finding (affordable) medication that helped.

When I got pregnant, I was poorly advised to stop my medications for ADHD and anxiety. I spent my first trimester in a haze from stopping meds cold turkey and the havoc hormones were wreaking on my system. I switched from the OB to a midwife and I was advised to get back on my ADHD meds, as they wouldn’t harm the baby and I was having such a tough time adjusting. I was also diagnosed with Pre-Partum (or Pre-Natal) Depression. I’d spend hours in tears and often wished I weren’t pregnant or even dead. I was in a terrible relationship with a person incapable of supporting me or taking care of me. I was an inconvenience and felt I had few people to turn to.

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This is what depression and anxiety feel like.

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This is what it looks like.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Maggie was a few weeks old, I was placed in a Post-Partum Depression support group and it saved me. I had support from a therapist and a group of women who GOT IT. They got what I was feeling, that hopeless lost feeling and allowed me to feel unashamed. I can’t begin to describe how liberating it was to hear my own experiences and feelings echoed in those of others. Almost 3 years later, we’re still friends, still supporting each other, still reminding each other that it’s okay to stumble.

I still struggle, but I’m not alone. I’m here today, typing this, because I reached out. People care, and they can help – without judgement. Mental illness is isolating and dark, but there is help in the darkness and there is no shame in being honest about your feelings. It could save your life and it could save someone else’s.

#BellLetsTalk

Who Needs Tough Mudder When Motherhood is Tough Enough?

Tonight, I spoke with two old friends of mine. One is a biological mum, the other is a stepmum. One reached out to me directly, the other commented on a Facebook post. (For all its failings, Facebook is a remarkable thing)

Each conversation existed around the same thing: anxiety. The “what if” of it all and the fears that come with being a mother. We opened up about our worries and found such a beautiful thing…

… Someone who felt the same.
None of us go through life with unique feelings. Our experiences and perspectives are unique, yes, but no one has felt a feeling that’s never been felt. I reassured my friends that they weren’t alone; I shared my fears and experiences and I was amazed by how alone motherhood makes us feel.

We think that our negative feelings are a singularity, that we’re the odd one out. My friends and I each had the same fears about expanding our families. The stepmum worried she’d love her biological child too much and isolate her stepchildren – or vice versa. The variables involved are concerns I have myself about my own blended family. Would I connect with a new baby? Too much? Too little? At all? Would Maggie feel left out? Would she and I cocoon ourselves away in an effort to preserve the relationship we have now? I know now that these are not unique concerns. Reaching out and breaking our isolation helps us resolve these feelings. Doing research, gathering facts, sharing experiences… These are the things that help us grow. This is part of the “village” required to raise a child. Finding out you’re not the only new mother who hates the idea of a second baby because you’re having such a hard time with just one is so damn liberating. Saying it out loud and not feeling ashamed is so damn liberating. 

Connecting with others is how we break the cycle. I just wish it weren’t so hard to reach out and speak up in the first place.

Aloha, Tiny Waistline!

Or that’s the hope, at least.

I started Weight Watchers again on Saturday after a 5 year absence. The last time I was actively involved with the program, I lost 40lbs in 4 months. This time, I’m aiming for the same 40lb loss, but with a more flexible timeline.

It’s hard getting back in the saddle. I knew my eating was off base, but I had no idea by how much! On the first day, I went through my daily points, PLUS all my extra weekly points. Yikes. I’ve been a lot more conscious about what I’ve been eating this weekend, so I’ve been able to stay within my points limit. I’m also working again, so I’m constantly on the move and on my feet. My phone tracks all of my activity and translates it into Activity Points on the WW app.

It’ll be an interesting journey, re-learning to eat properly again. I’m really, really happy, and I’m looking forward to feeling properly healthy again, too!

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Oprah, our motivational Weight Watchers deity, on her throne (the wall of my friend’s bathroom)

Life’s Little Surprises

Life is surprising.

It changes so quickly and how it makes you feel is completely hinged on how you choose to accept it – or not.

In my last post, I talked about how my little girl, then 18 months, made me realise my failings as a parent weren’t failings at all. They were just life. I decided to accept that life dealt me a shitty hand and I was going to have a positive attitude about it. Sure, I was depressed, and emotionally, things were so hard, but I wasn’t going to let it own me.

A month after the tree hit my house and I moved in with my aunt, one of my “friblings” (or sibling-like friends) took me out to see Star Wars on opening night. I got his wife’s ticket, as she wasn’t up for a late showing. Another friend was supposed to bring her girlfriend, who also bowed out; a mutual friend came instead. He and I are now getting married next year.

Yes, married, and it’s all because of Star Wars and my refusal to feel sorry for myself.

I decided to accept that my life was pretty crap for now, and work on building the foundation I needed to better my life. I went out, I was social, I made attempts to focus on my hobbies. I went to Star Wars and sat next to a man I’d met 4 years earlier and had an immediate crush on. That longtime crush – and his unattached status – overrode my insecurity and anxiety, and I asked him out (unofficially) the next day.

Within a week, I knew I’d found the love of my life, and he’d found his. We met each other’s families within two weeks, and the immediate approval was overwhelming! I felt so lucky to be turning over a new, amazing leaf for 2016.

I lost my job in early January and still haven’t found work. Rob is supporting the three of us, now that we’re all back in our little townhouse, so we’re always broke, but we haven’t been so happy in such a long time! He is the best stepdad and is fully involved in Maggie’s life. I forget sometimes that she’s not his.

We can’t have the highs without the lows; that’s just the way things go. I’m glad I didn’t let November consume me and I’m so excited for my little family’s journey!

How My Baby Let Me Off the Hook

As we enter the last few hours of November 2015, I’m thinking about all I’ve been through this year…

  • Maternity leave
  • Returning to work
  • My daughter’s 1st birthday
  • Ending my relationship with her father
  • Losing my job
  • Navigating a new job as a parent
  • Losing my home

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In the span of two weeks, I went from being a bridesmaid at my child’s godparents’ wedding , to having to force her father out of our home, to losing my job two days later. I had a friend visiting during the move-out and losing my job. If she hadn’t been there, I’d have handled things very poorly indeed. She reminded me that I needed to grieve for the life I had lost: the somewhat traditional family, the coworkers I loved, financial freedom. All of it, gone in two weeks. I felt like I’d lost control of my life and I was grateful that I had the safe cocoon of my home to heal in.

It took two very long months and a lot of hard work to find my new job. In the first month, I had to call in twice due to anxiety. I’m able to do a lot of my job from home, so I was paid for one of them; the other, I said I was sick and unable to work. I might have been, I don’t remember anymore. About two weeks ago, a tree fell in the windstorm and fell on my little townhouse. It destroyed my daughter’s bedroom window, my roof, and my dining room. It smashed all the glass on my balcony. Important items were unharmed. A few things need to be replaced, but they’re just material things. The toy chest – the Tickle Trunk – my great-grandfather built me bore the brunt of the damage and came out unscathed. I can’t begin to describe how low I felt. I felt like my life had spun out of control and it was a terrible dream. All I wanted was to go home and heal, but I couldn’t. I still can’t. I might be out of my home until March.

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The top two floors are mine.

My daughter and I have moved in with my aunt, which means I have a lot of help. It also means I don’t have the space I’ve grown accustomed to. It’s lovely to have in-home laundry, though! Almost all my clothes are in storage now, and if it weren’t for an Old Navy order that arrived the day before the storm, I’d have had a few shirts, dirty jeans, wet socks, and compromised boots. My little lady and I, blessedly, had clothes. Hers were warm, mine weren’t. I’ve re-learned the art of layering – the warehouse I work in is COLD.

I feel like I can’t get back on my feet. I feel like I’m doing horribly, like a tree fell on my house because I don’t have my life together. I feel like 2015 is dragging me down to the bottom of the ocean and I don’t want to fight it anymore… I feel like I just need to ride this out and wait til the storm passes.

Tonight, I went to put my very stubborn 18 month old dictator to bed. She didn’t want to be put into the playpen next to my bed in my aunt’s spare room. I put her in my bed instead, with the sunflowers on the duvet cover. I climbed in next to her and let her play with my old iPhone that’s been re-purposed for her to play with and play her lullabies at night. It played Brahms’ lullaby with soothing underwater sounds to lull her to sleep. I gave her her beloved bear, Bernard, and she flung him aside and wrapped her arms around my neck to hold me close. She covered my face in her little, loving kisses and reminded me that she is the only thing that matters. She is safe, happy, well-fed, and so incredibly loved. I’m doing that.

I might not have my life together, but I have her life together and she loves me for it, no matter where I work or where we live.

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Our very, very close quarters