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August 29, 2022

How Did I Get Here: My Journey Toward Autonomy in Motherhood

Photo by fall maple on Pexels.

As with most things in my life, it’s not soley one event, but the culmination of many tiny little happenings that lead to the big “break.”    One day, I just couldn’t turn back.

As a screenwriter, we refer to this as the first turning point.  It’s the point in which your lead character enters a new and exciting world.  It feels less exciting when you’re living it.

I grew up keenly aware of the suffocating realities that faced mothers in America.  Two of my favorite films as a young adult were Sofia Coppola’s The Virgin Suicides and Stephen Daldry’s The Hours.  Feel free to judge me.  I’ve earned it.

Both depicted the depressing reality of women who were forced to fit into a box that society had prescribed, ultimately leading to their deaths.

Add a little of Sylvia Plath’s “The Bell Jar” and Sam Mendes’ Revolutionary Road to the mix and I was determined.  I would not end up like these women.  I knew better.  I would break the mold.

Yet, here I was.  Exhausted, depleted, and completely detached from myself.

That left me with a question I spent the next few years desperately trying to answer: how?  How did I get here?

I don’t know if I completely grasp all of the “how,” but I get the gist.  How did I get here?  Well, I got here because here is exactly where societal expectations and the patriarchy want me.

I’m the rule, not the exception.  And that’s a hard pill to swallow.

I realized there were only bits of me left.  I had given away so many pieces of my energy, focus, identity, and agency that I was left with mere scraps.  I was so angry, but I was also determined to cling to those scraps for dear life.

No one was taking any more from me.  I would hold on to what I had, and piece back the rest of it.  To hell with anything and anyone that tried to stop me.

I’m grateful for that resilient fighter, and I want to acknowledge that I had the privilege of seeking outside help who believed me.  That’s not always the case for women in general, but particularly not the case for Black and Brown mothers in America.  I also had access to these health benefits, yet another privilege.

After receiving the mental health care that I needed, I was plopped back into my life, much the same as I had left it.  The only thing that had changed was me.

I knew that to continue to not only survive but actually enjoy my life, I had to make the role of mother fit me, and not the other way around.  I led with my curiosity.

I practiced meditation and mindfulness, but I knew those were just the baseline to keeping myself on steady footing.  I wanted to live and live fully.

I started to dive deeper and investigate other healing offerings and practices.  I tried on sound baths, breathwork, and yoga for size.  I started to get to know this version of me piece by piece.  Who was she?  What did she need, want, desire, or even like?  What lit her up inside?

This journey led to major shifts in the way I lived.

I realized the career I spent over a decade building no longer served me.    I loved the people I worked with, but the job fueled my anxiety.

I also realized that I was carrying much more than any human should.  It was an impossible weight to bear and was causing me to feel like I was constantly failing.

As a response I developed strong boundaries at the office and at home and asked for support where it was needed.

Next, I had to get crystal clear on how I wanted to show up as a mother, careerwoman and complete individual.  I took stock of all the good mom/bad mom narratives I had been carrying with me and evaluated whether I knew them to be true.  Most were not.

I had to unravel all the negative self-talk, societal expectations, and unspoken rules I had subscribed to.  Living by these impossible standards was suffocating, and completely impossible.

Though this was heavy work, it also got to be fun.  It got to be easy, sometimes.  It became an exciting exercise in expansion, and God did that feel good!

I have by no means arrived in life.  I don’t believe we ever do, but I know myself on a much deeper level than I ever have before.  I’ve taken chances I would have never taken before doing this work, and I’m showing my kids that they, too, can take up space in their own lives.

And you, mama, deserve to take up space.

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