Hear Me Roar

Something this past week lit a fire within me to express myself about how society’s perceptions of motherhood are unrealistic. Yet if one is brave enough to raise your voice loud enough others will judge you for having your own mind. Motherhood and life are a messy business.

Motherhood is the most challenging experience that I have had in the past two months. The time that I spend with my son, Dylan, is by far the most rewarding and challenging. You learn a great deal about yourself and what you are passionate about once you become a parent. I am become even more willing to express myself since my son was born as I realized that I could do far more than I thought.

Most of my adult life I have been dealing with both post traumatic stress disorder and depression. I have gained a lot of wisdom and much healthier coping strategies over the years. Mental illness does not make a person into an unfit parent, or a person who is less deserving of happiness. Our society does not encourage mothers to seek help for post partum depression, and many mothers fear judgement for asking for help.

Society says that we should be able to handle motherhood on our own without the help of family, our partners, or even outside assistance. Media portrayals of motherhood are far from accurate. What we believe and expect of ourselves as mothers is complete and utter bullshit! Our speed of lightening society doesn’t give anyone the right to breathe and try to do things differently. It may make me unpopular or even a bit of a rebel, but I choose to speak of my own experiences honestly. If someone doesn’t like how I express myself or who I am then that is their problem; not mine. As Katy Perry sings, “Hear me roar!”

Amanda

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United States Marine and a Cat

Yesterday, I spent part of the afternoon drinking tea with my Mom and the television show “Must Love Cats” was playing on Animal Planet. A story came on about a US Marine who experienced trauma while on deployment, and a stray orange tabby kept returning to visit her on the military base. This cat became a constant companion. Military regulation in the US does not permit soldiers to bring back stray animals with them as pets. The story does have a happy ending, but you are going to have to watch the video to find out how it ends. My own cats have been an important part of my recovery, because animals love us unconditionally and do not judge us for expressing our emotions. My black cat, Isis, would snuggle up to me during the really rough nights that I was struggling.

Reflecting on Freckles

On Monday evening, I had the privilege to visit a friend who I haven’t seen in a couple of weeks. The weather here made a very quick transition from the cold of late winter into sunshine with the temperature in the double digits. My friend and her children spent a few afternoons and evenings enjoying the sunny warm weather. April is fair skinned and a red head who develops freckles when she spends a lot of time in the sun. She told me once as a child that she was very self conscious about those freckles.

Her red hair, and yes even those freckles, make her beautiful in the eyes of those who love her. When you look in the mirror at yourself how do you view those things that you perceive as imperfections? Those who love you could very well argue that they make you unique and special. How wonderful it would be if we choose to love everything about ourselves?

Natasha Bedingfield’s song “Freckles” caused me to smile when I heard it. My favourite lyric is: “A face without freckles/ Is like a sky without stars.” The night sky loses something when the stars are not out. We lose our most lovable qualities when we try to hide them from others, or do not give them the love that they deserve. It is very much a waste of time to not love yourself for the all the unique and wonderful qualities that you can share that will enrich our world.

Amanda

Dark Roads I Have Travelled

Dark Roads I Have Travelled

This is a photograph of an old logging road near my home that I took about a week ago. Two things I really love about photography are the ability the camera has to capture light and shadows. As someone who travels the road of recovery both light and shadows are something that I can personally relate to. My scariest times were at night when I would experience vivid nightmares, and insomnia. When the nightmares were especially bad I would sleep with a lamp on to ease my own fears. Through counselling and using my strengths I learned to overcome my symptoms slowly over time. This photograph means a lot to me, because the beginning of my journey was a lot like seeing only a little light in front of me and the rest was darkness. In many cultures, a spiritual quest includes a journey into the underworld where the hero faces his or her demons to emerge stronger on the other side. This photograph reminds me of where I have been and how far I have come since then.

Amanda

Behind Me

Behind Me

I snapped this photograph on Sunday evening around the time that the sun was going down. I ventured out for a short walk and the sunset was so pretty that I took my camera along with me. When I took the photograph I was thinking about how it is only by looking behind me that I can see the beauty of where I have been along my journey. I pay attention when I take my walks to only what is immediately before me, and try to take that same attitude of being mindful in the present. Every once in a while it is nice to pause to think about the beauty of where I have traveled.

Amanda

After Catharsis

After Catharsis

Knowing a strange kind of black rain,

one that imprisons you

from wind driving in all directions.

Came out of the cold: trembling,

and deeply worn out

crying oneself to sleep then falling.

Safe and warm, wrapped in blankets,

hibernating until crocuses poke

through thawing ground.

Until then safe in dreaming cocoon,

waiting in Love’s soft arms

for morning light after catharsis.

(c) Amanda Wilson 2012

Archaeology of Self

My last blog post was written on October 31st, and it has been a hectic two weeks since then. When I was not paying attention my heart transformed itself. I looked around and realized how far I have come in my journey of recovery.  A survivor reaches a point where his or her identity is no longer about the wounds of the past.  I began in the past few months to engage more with the world outside my door again. My participation in activities that I loved long ago is for me to do an archaeological excavation of my sense of self.

One of the things that I decided to do was to join a mixed adult and children’s choir. In high school, I participated in musical theatre, played the clarinet, and was in a choir. Music was a love that I abandoned, because my confidence in myself dropped when I became depressed. I was nervous during my first choir practice, but met some wonderful, friendly people who share my love of music. Laughter and fun quickly replaced my anxiety. I have also started to venture out to attend concerts and performances. I am no longer willing to allow my anxiety to stop me from doing what I love. Love is far more powerful than fear is.

In the past few months, I started to volunteer a few days a week with a mental health organization in my community. This organization runs a drop-in centre where I make coffee, assist with social events, and talk to those who come in. One challenge I am finding is how my anxiety level will rise when we have a large crowd of people. I have always been more comfortable personally with working one on one, or in a small group. The volunteer work, and pushing myself to get out in public regularly do challenge me to move outside my comfort zone. I am an introvert and still in recovery from post traumatic stress disorder, which is an anxiety based illness.

I am enjoying where I am at in my journey of self-discovery, and I feel a little bit more whole as each day passes. Above I posted Joni Mitchell’s song “A Case of You.” Love really is the most powerful force in the universe; not fear like I had once thought. Joni sings:

I remember that time that you told me, you said
Love is touching souls
Surely you touched mine
Cause part of you pours out of me
In these lines from time to time

Something so beautiful was poured into my heart and soul that changed my perspective on so many things. I have no idea where my journey will lead me, but I am so excited for the wonderful possibilities.

Amanda