Monday, June 18, 2018

Guest Post: Mothering Ourselves

by StillStanding1

Mother’s Day and Father’s Day has come and gone. But I have been thinking a lot about what it means to be a mother (stay with me everyone – I’m not talking about simple biology).
I’m going to argue that motherhood is about so much more than a biological event. We don’t have to have born children out of our bodies to be a mother to ourselves or others. Motherhood is a complex state of being. It is a role with many aspects. In my mind, it is defined by compassion, by a nurturing spirit, tenderness, loyalty, by becoming the calm center for others in the storm, by firm but gentle teaching. Mothers smooth the rough edges for those they love. They nurture and they, themselves, never stop growing.
Some of us grew up with this person in our lives in the form of a biological parent, or perhaps an adoptive parent, or kind and nurturing grandparent, aunt, teacher. You see where I am going with this. Each of us has the power to be a mother for those in our lives who need us. Some of us did not grow up with a firm, reliable mother figure. My mother, a chronic, high-functioning alcoholic, was not available emotionally. She was unreliable and though I can remember moments where she shined (sick with measles, high fever, she sat with me, put cool washcloths on my head and read to me to distract me from the itchiness), generally her best left me feeling like I was asking too much to have my needs met.
When we experience something traumatic, like betrayal by a loved one, we take stock. How are we treating ourselves? Are we being as patient, kind or compassionate with ourselves as we would be with another in this situation? This was a major reckoning for me. I knew, somehow, that the best way out of the pain, for me, was to become the mother to myself that I had always needed. 
It’s okay. You showed up. That was good enough for today. 
You will not always feel this way. 
You are worthy of love and belonging. 
You are enough.
 Today was a difficult day. Tomorrow can be better. 
It’s okay to ask for help. 
You don’t have to fix everything. 
You need to take care of yourself first. 
I know you regret that choice. You can do differently next time.
You are doing the best you can, and it is enough. 
You are loved.

These are things I had to learn to say to myself and mean them, to believe them in my heart. I came to it in two ways. One was becoming mindful of my self-talk. Was I judging myself or was I being compassionate with myself? How often I had to interrupt the negative spiral of self-blame. I'm still a work in progress but so much kinder to myself. I completely believe that I am worthy of love and belonging. The other path to healing was through helping others. So many of use here have reached out to someone who has just washed up on the beach, disoriented, lost and hurting. We’ve told them they will be okay, that we’ve got them, that is sucks and they are entitled to their pain, that they are allowed to determine their own path forward. And as we write those words to another, are we not writing them to ourselves? Each of us heals a part of our own soul, when we allow ourselves to step into our innate motherhood and hold someone who needs it. When we tend to others, we tend to and nourish ourselves. 
I encourage all of us to continue to be the mother we need, in the present and in the distant future. When all this is a memory, how much richer will our days be if we can treat ourselves with love and compassion? I imagine myself moving through the world softly, showing up gently for the people I love and being relentlessly kind to my own perfectly flawed self.



  1. Beautiful SS! Lovely and true. Thank you Dear.

  2. My motherly advice to myself: Don't do it ... it will NOT be worth it in the end. :) She's NOT the one you're pissed at ... she's NOT the one who hurt you ... she's NOT the one who needs your focus right now.

    This too shall pass!

    1. Hi Kimberly
      Your inner motherly advice is right on :) I'll reaffirm that for you if you need it but it seems you've got this. I let her take up WAYYYY to much mental space and I.Could.Not.Stop. I could not stop obsessing revenge or something similar. It took me a year of therapy to finally stop. It was like an addiction for me. But the OW in my life died which too bad for her family but it's like any thought about her is like chasing a ghost and that is realllly crazy. Don't need no more crazy, if you know what I mean.

      If you can put her out of your head and yes focus where the blame is, although I am firmly in the camp that the OW is NOT blameless in all this and it's ok to be pissed at her, you will be much MUCH better off. Focus on yourself and she will disappear from your thoughts. At least that is what helped me.

      Hugs to you dear. I hear you.

    2. TryingHard - DDay anniversary #1 is tomorrow ... I'm still in the infancy stage I'm afraid.

      I was consumed with such rage yesterday morning thinking about what transpired a year ago ... I wanted to lash out and the need to destroy her was strong. Thankfully I've learned to contain it and breath through it and to WALK AWAY from the computer and phone when it hits because I know I used to be a very reactive type of person.

      I just kept reminding myself of her beautiful daughter ... and how in the end she'd be the one to lose the most. It brought me back to reality.

    3. Kimberly,
      I’ve also spent way too much time and energy on the OW and I think on some ways it’s held me back. I’m not sure how many people have actually had positive interaction with an OW that has helped their healing. Unless the OW is completely remorseful and has turned her life around, it might just be more justification of her own behavior. Early on, when I talked with our therapist about the limited interaction/texting I’d had with the OW, she said she seemed emotionally immature. So for me, there’s the realization that o might not be dealing with a person who’s able to own up to their bad behavior. As far as simply seeking revenge, I had myself convinced that it would make me feel better but I suspect it would not. My fear of the fallout was mainly what kept me from acting on the desire to hurt her in the way she hurt me. I’ve managed to talk myself out of any additional contact for three years now.
      Big hugs to you! ❤️

    4. Kimberly,
      Yes, that's right. She's honestly not worth the effort it takes to hate her.
      You sound far beyond the infancy stage. In fact, you could teach us a lot about walking away when you're sooooo tempted. It's really really hard. But here you are...

    5. Kimberly,

      I know how hard it is! Believe me. The OW is a young, beautiful woman in Peru who posts constantly on Instagram - it’s a public account. All laid out in beautiful photos and poems. Her and my WH were offline for a while - disabled accounts after they thought I was stalking and hacking into accounts....but I wasn’t-it was all public,anyone can see it-and I was just trying to find out if he did break up with her back in March - which I found out he didn’t of coarse. I found out they were back at - all accounts up and running again - posting all their stupid shit fake life.

      It is like a drug. It would be so easy for me to look. To get obsessed with her and their life. It’s all right there-but I can’t! I just can’t. Nothing good comes from it. Their life sucks! She sucks and he’ll fuck her over ebentually-I mean he already cheated on her....

      I did message her when I found out they went on vacation when I was in a rage. I just wanted to mess up my H’s vaca. I told her we had Fucked when he was fucking her. I told her he stayed in the house with me when he came to see the kids, I told her he would never step one foot in this house again and we are a broken family because of her. I said a bunch of other shit that was all true just to make her think.

      I haven’t looked in a long time - and it feels good.

      You know it! It’s not worth it in the end!

      Focus on you! I know we are in different places and I’d probably be way more tempted if we were still together, but you just have to take care of you -stay busy and be healthy! I go to this site when I’m tempted or read things that I have screenshots from - like advice from you ladies-to remind me that he sucks and she sucks and I’m great!

      I still am in a rage about it all. I know how you feel!!

  3. Words we all so desperately need. Thank you.

  4. SS1 - what a great post. I especially like the "These are things I had to learn to say to myself and mean them, to believe them in my heart." It was very hard for me to believe what was good about me. It took several sessions with my therapist to write what was good about me. I came back with a blank page for 3 sessions. Even though I wrote it, I didn't believe it. Like you said I had to consciously look for actions everyday that were good about me. It's funny how quickly I believed my lying ass H when he was still lying to me. But I couldn't believe what I said to myself. Eventually I had to divorce myself from him and my marriage in my mind and focus on me. Fixing me. My therapist eventually called me stubborn out of exasperation. So I started with stubborn and went on from there. Just for the record my mother was a class A bitch. My therapist told me not to think about her ever or try to justify her actions. The therapist put my hardest time in my life into a context so I could see why I allowed people to use me. All of this helped me to believe. It is really hard to get there. My husband gave me a compliment a small one but said, "You are very athletic, I think you can do...." I said wow you never complimented me about traits regarding ME. You look nice is not really about me. I can buy tons of good looks. He said I thought that our entire married life just never said it. What makes me sad is when I see a mother help her child in a sincere, non judgmental way. I wish she was my mom.

    1. It always amazes me how quickly women believe the worst about themselves when it's a lie and how hard it is to believe the best about themselves when it's the truth.
      A lot of us have had to mother ourselves, LLP. I'm sorry your mother wasn't able to give you what you needed. You've had to learn to give it yourself. But what's really incredible is that you're able to pass it on to the women who come here -- you've learned how to nurture and support and care for the women here. You've learned to mother so many of us.

    2. Me too LLP ... i had an ah ha moment in therapy in my mid 20s in regards to my mom and childhood... my therapist said after years of mt pouring out my feelings ...some peoples good is their best. Read that again some peoples good is their best. That doesnt excuse it or make me not long for something else or more it simply puts it in different perspective and i refer to this often. I self talk daily and have to believe in me and rely on myself cause thats it ive told noone but you girls ... but some days i too wish i had the relationship with my mom or someone that i could tell who would lie in bed with me and cry or take me for a walk and say nothing... just hold my hand or nod their head with a glare that says youll be ok. It makes me a somewhat overbearing mother myself as a strive to create a bond and reassurance with my child ... moms here no matter what in progress everyday.

  5. I have often wondered while going through my healing what it was like for the OW to go through her healing. She showed such desperation while going after my h. The humility she had to of felt too. I know that in the week and a half that the affair lasted she was professing her undying love for him. And when it was over as fast as it started and she lost control she was professing her undying love to her fiance that she had left two weeks before sleeping with my h. I focus on me even more now and I know my h had to put himself first at times after his suicide attempt to heal and to understand how he got caught up in the mess we were in. And then dealing with my daughter's mental illness at that time. But I still wonder what she was missing in her own life that made her do the things she did to try and make my h fall in love with her. I'm sure I will never know the answer to this question or these feelings that I have where she is concerned will probably never totally go away. She could never talk to me like an adult. When I had contact with her it was like dealing with someone who never grew up, someone who felt such entitlement in every choice she has made. I guess having empathy for her will serve me better in the long run. It was just a thought that has been going through my head.

    1. Anonymous,
      I understand how you feel and wish I had some insight. As I mentioned in my response above to Kimberly, I’ve spent way to much time and energy focused on the OW. Like you, I’ve wondered where her life went off track that she would actively engage in a sexual relationship with a man with a wife and two young kids, especially when he told her it was just sex. Why would she risk her own marriage and her three daughters? You’ve got to be trying to fill a really big void within yourself to do that. I’m not sure for me that even knowing what created that void would make me feel better about the pain she played a role in causing. When I initially contacted her and was still under the illusion that it was an emotional affair, she told me I should forgive my husband and that he loved me and our kids. Yet, she continued to have sex with him all the while liking our kids pics on Facebook as she tried to destroy our family. She was telling my husband she was tired of being the “side chick” and was going to stop having sex with him until they were both single. It’s a level of messed up and selfish that I just can’t comprehend. She’s no longer on my mind all the time, but, when she is, I alternate between hating her (and I beat myself up for feeling that way) and pitying her. Just hoping to get to that magical place where she no longer matters.

    2. I used to wonder too. I knew her well enough to know she was a deeply unhappy person. She lost a job she really liked and was good at because of the stupid choices she made. In my case, she eventually got married and had a child, from what I heard. I hope, for her husband and child's sake, if not her own, that she learned from the mess she helped create. But if she didn't, that's not my problem or my concern. As my friend often reminds me, all I can do is keep my side of the street clean.

    3. My ow has since married and had a baby ... took everything in me not to ring her hospital room when i saw on FB she delivered and tourment her in her happy as i think of the years i had my baby and her and my husband were deep in an affair. I didnt ...these people take attention like gasoline to a flame it sparks them and gives more importance and head space then she deserves. I still look occassionally but not daily anymore i still feel like i need an eye on crazy. Esp since she came in and out of my H life for 10 years and 4 years regularly with a full year bat shit crazy involved. One day i hope this all passes i do have days i dont think about it ... but its still there other days

    4. Wounded, I’ve been at the bat shit crazy place and have since checked out. You will get there. Your focus and attention deserve much better subject matter. Here’s looking to better days! You got this!

  6. I've only just learned to do this. I recently found myself talking to myself and self soothing actually saying "it will be alright" and physically stroking/holding my hand, assuring myself that I am loved by ME. At first I thought I was losing my mind but it seemed so natural and right and it felt good :). Yes, that is/was MY role to soothe others and reaffirm that everything will be alright. It never occurred to me to do it for myself. And it just sort of happened without me realizing or planning it. I recommend everyone try it. You can do it anywhere and any time.

    There aren't many places or people one can share something like this but here it seems ok to do.

    1. TryingHard,
      I’m glad you mentioned this. It’s something I learned of when watching some self help and meditation videos. I think one of them was Tara Brach. What calms me is placing my hand over my heart and reminding my self it will be ok. I also recall moments where I felt safe and loved and try to visualize those. Ironically, many of them are moments with my own mom before she passed. We’re quick to soothe and reassure others but we rarely do the same for ourselves and we should. ❤️

    2. It's almost weird how effective it is, isn't it? But our brains just register the reassurance, not necessarily where it's coming from. It's why affirmations can be so powerful too. Our brains can't hold contradictory messages. So "you are strong and brave" can't be held at the same time as "you are pathetic and weak". We create our own reality, to some extent.

    3. Thank you so much for reassuring me that I'm not crazy or the only one doing this. Dandelion, yes I've heard of putting one's hand on their heart as well. I will actually hold my hand and close my eyes and visualize my mother. It seems so real. I don't speak out loud but I say to myself "I love you, I have faith in you, You got this.." And yes Elle you are correct, you cannot think opposing thoughts at the same time. This stuff works.

    4. Kimberly, I am so sorry. DDays are awful and this being your first I will tell you the worst one is over!!! So YAY for that right? What you are thinking and what you want to do revenge wise is perfectly normal. Matter of fact I will tell you indulge yourself and think of the most wicked thing you could say and do to her. Then when you are done laugh at yourself and how incredibly silly )or dangerous however your imagination goes), and laugh at the whole idea. I did that a million times and it really helped. Instead of denying and stuffing it down I indulged my imagination. Because really if we did do any kind of revenge in our imagination it ends the way WE want it to end. In real life not so much most of the time if you know what I mean. Suppose you did call her and give her a real chewing out and she turned around and say called your H or one of your kids or your mother, imagine how that could turn out?? That's what I would do whenever I felt "eff it, I'm calling her." I would think of the worst case scenario in my actions and that would normally stop me.

      Hope I've given you some good ideas for coping with those damn obsessions because I hear you sister. Trust me I HEAR you loud and clear. Those thoughts are unrelenting and intrusive.

      You will get though this Kimberly. I promise but you have to give yourself time. Not your H but yourself. And don't be hard on yourself for how you think and feel. It's all normal and correct even. YOu talked about trust. Oh hell no your mind is protecting you by telling you not to trust. Trust will come slowly but surely but not right away. Too bad if your H thinks it should. But I know you will get there because you want to get there and that is half the battle.

  7. I’m learning! I still have days of self doubt but I don’t let them last before I’m telling myself you’re doing the best you can with the cards you have been delt! Ss1 great post! Sending hugs!

  8. Wow this is so true to how I felt. Thank you for this post! I was it all as a mother, friend, wife and daughter and then I felt like to spare myself I had to do less in those early days of betrayal or I would come apart or crumble.

    It was hard to deal with giving less than I had.

    It was to see my kids see me struggle.

    It was hard to admit to myself that I was weak, vulnerable and had thoughts of dying.

    Being a mom is such a wonderful thing and when I was truly out of sorts...I became a lost person. Why did this disintermediate my life?
    This is such a hard thing to go through. Hang on girls. As a mom you always have the tools to get you to the next day, but it’s a deep dive into your tool belt many days.

  9. I got through the 2nd Anniversary of Dday this week. On the first anniversary, I was in a minor car accident on my way to work. This year I stayed home, worked on crafts (my therapy) and hung out with my beagles. Avoided triggers and even managed to make a nice dinner when H got home from work. Come such a long way 2 years ago. Still have much healing to do.

    1. Good for you. I think it is important to set ourselves up for success and choose what you want to do. Set your narrative for how the day would go. For me I have found dday to be positive and a day of reflection. And dday was when everything changed. In the moment it was horrible but with a lot of work we moved forward. Each year dday is better and a lot has to do with the reflection on how far we have come.

    2. Beagle Mom, year 2.5-3 seemed much better for me. I’m 3 yrs, 2 months and so much more relaxed. Anxiety is way less and triggers have almost disappeared. Your Dday # 2 Anniversary sounded great! I have a puggle. Beagle/pug mix. Dogs are a lifesaver in this journey!

    3. Beagle Mom, congrats. My 3-year D-day was last week. Last year was OK and this year was basically uneventful. Like HOpeful30 said, D-day has come to signify a new beginning for me based on truth and candor. We have come a very long way.



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