Mental Health, Motherhood, Personal, , , ,

The Caterpillar of Contentment (Butterfly Series: Part 1)

We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.” -Maya Angelou

Butterflies are truly beautiful. I never really noticed how beautiful they were until recently. Very recently, in fact. It was a beautiful, warm afternoon in September when I went out to my garden to pick herbs for dinner and flowers to decorate the table. It sounds like some fairytale or the beginning of a novel that takes place in a french cottage, right? ANYWAYS MOVING ON. I saw this monarch butterfly land on some flowers I have been fighting tooth and nail to keep alive. I was getting hot. I was tired. I didn’t want to be outside much longer after the day I had, but at that moment, I paused.

I took it in. I noticed my surroundings. It was quiet and warm, a gentle cool breeze wisped its way through my garden, through the trees. This creature landed on a flower that I have been fighting with (and harvesting for my table decor), and I managed to set down my herbs and vegetables and I snapped this picture. It took me a moment to acknowledge the entire life cycle of this butterfly. It started out as prey to well everything. It roamed around. It would eat anything and everything (I relate to this, very hungry caterpillar). Then it built itself a safe place to change, transform, transition into the butterfly before me. It essentially digests itself from the inside out. It breaks itself down to become a butterfly and honestly, if that doesn’t describe the hardest battle of motherhood, I don’t know what will. So here we go.

I didn’t think I would ever make it to this point in my life. That probably sounds scary to you because it definitely sent a chill up my spine as I typed it. I didn’t think I would get here- to the place that I prayed for my entire life. I wonder if it has a lot to do with my internal battle with anxiety and depression, or if it is the constant belief that I wasn’t worthy of it.

That hit me really hard. I felt I wasn’t worthy to be where I am today but you would never know it from my pictures or posts.

This entire thought process took me down a rabbit hole and you bet I am taking you with me because this is something someone else may need to hear. I know I needed to hear this, and if I am honest, a reminder of this would be nice.

I never thought I would actually get the place I’ve prayed for. I have a wonderful man who loves me and a son whom my world revolves around. In times of feeling overwhelmed or not good enough, my mind somehow brings me to the very worst parts of my life. Parts where I didn’t think I would see another day because I was THAT hopeless. I don’t say that because I was about to end it all. I just felt like I was reliving the same day again and again. It is hard to accept that my depression put me in a place that was so low that I forgot to enjoy the simplest things in life. But it did and it still does from time to time.

Somehow I managed to lose myself in motherhood. It isn’t something that happens to random people and at random times. In fact, it can be explained perfectly. If you’ve ever taken human biology or human growth and development, then you should know that hormones cause almost all of this. The point still stands. I lost myself. I lost the woman I was prior to becoming a mom. She is gone. She is nothing more than a memory at this point and the truth is, I kind of miss her. We will talk about THAT in part 2.

People say “I lost a lot of friends when I had kids?” or “You find out who your real friends are when you have kids.” They aren’t wrong. I wonder if that happens because having children requires a lot of adjusting and a certain mental fortitude. For a practical and nonemotional metaphor, becoming a mother is another form of baggage, and not every airline (friend) allows a free checked bag or it has a luggage and baggage weight limit of 25 pounds instead of 50. The point is, not everyone can handle a new mom. That is why many marriages fail shortly after having a child. This is why postpartum depression is so prevalent. It is why you see new moms isolate and keep their heads down. As for me, this is why I felt so incredibly alone. No one understood it. No one understood me. More on that in part 3.

In Part 4, I will share more about some of the best advice one of my very best friends shared with me (she is pretty wise). One of my best friends had to remind me that people are in your life for a reason. Some stay for good and some stay for the season. Most of them are seasonal friends and they may stay season after season for many many years. Then one day they may be gone. But lucky people have a few good friends that come during the season of blizzards, droughts, floods, and fires and they stay for good. Those are the airlines that have no limits on checked bags or luggage weights. Those are the people who will pull you through your darkest and lowest points. Those are the people who show up during your transition. They show up as you move from the carefree lifestyle to embracing your new role of motherhood… which also happens to be a lifetime role.

Motherhood has changed me in so many ways. It took me from a “free” caterpillar to a chrysalis, where I had to break myself down, melt myself down so that I could become the butterfly I was meant to be in terms of motherhood. As cheesy as that sounds, I am not sure of a better example.

In this four-part series, I am going to break down my mental health battle as I made the transition into motherhood. After all, motherhood brings both the best and worst out of me so maybe it does for you too. You’re welcome to join me even though I am NOT a medical professional.