Mama Needs A...Safe Space to Feel Her Feelings

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I am a 29 year old stay at home mother of two young children, and I don’t drink.

Before you click the X, please know my intentions with this post have nothing to do with you, your personal choices, or swaying you in any particular direction. I am not judging you if you drink. I am not even claiming sobriety to be the best lifestyle choice for everyone.

But for me, at the end of a long, hard, LOUD day of wiping bottoms (and oftentimes legs and backs and maybe even feet and heads—ick), getting climbed on as I sit on the toilet, and basically being used as a walking, talking tissue (WHEW—motherhood is kind of just a big collage of bodily fluids, yes?), a big glass of wine to dull the ache of loneliness and lack of appreciation is the last thing I need.

Because for me, getting buzzed fixes nothing. I still feel lonely and unseen, only now my limbs feel like I have bowling balls tied to them and I get to look forward to waking up (too early to a baby biting my poor, beat up boobs and a toddler jumping on my saggy stomach) with a headache to remind me of my failed attempt to feel better about my life. So then I spend the day feeling like crap, counting down the minutes until I can do it all over again.

A drink is the last thing I need when I am hurting. Stuffing it down so it builds up only makes it all feel worse when it overflows later.

Once upon a time (for like, the first 25 years of my life), I was a stranger to my own feelings. I considered myself “laid back,” “mellow,” and “go with the flow.” I prided myself on not complaining.

HA. I was actually burying my needs (yes, feelings and needs go hand in hand—feelings make us human and I was playing robot). Turns out fighting and hiding your feelings doesn’t make you a non-feeling person. It can, however, turn you into an explosive raging psychopath once they all finally bubble over. In my case, this happened in the midst of trauma I couldn’t control when my firstborn was diagnosed as Failure to Thrive and put through all kinds of scary medical tests to rule out terrifying illnesses. I was exhausted and convinced I was failing my child and I just didn’t have the capacity to hold anything in anymore.

I became consumed by anger and fear, some new, but a lot of junk I wish I would have dealt with as it came up in my life—some of it decades old. So began a years-long healing process I am still sorting through.

And in the midst of all of it, I’ve figured out why I don’t care for alcohol. I spent college trying, pretending, searching for the right drink when the occasion called for it. Turns out, I was allowed to just say, “No, thanks.” That was an option, too, even though it didn’t feel like one.

I don’t like drinking because, to me, it feels like putting a bandaid over a broken bone.

When I am feeling overwhelmed, it is because being a stay at home mom is like working six different jobs and so, yeah, I have every right to feel like it’s just too much sometimes—I need the space to do something that centers me. I need yoga or a hot bath, or five minutes of deep breathing. When I am lonely, it’s because mothering in our culture IS lonely, and I need to sit with a friend and talk about real things or get dressed and get out with my husband. Wine cannot replace the heart of someone who gets it, who hears me and says, “That sounds so hard,” or, “Girl, me too.”

Ultimately, I don’t want to spend my life just coping. Because for me, dulling the bad dulls the good, too. Spending the whole day waiting for bedtime steals me from being all there right now with my children, who are doing the magical act of learning pretty much every second they are awake.

I want to feel the bad, even the really bad, so I can feel the good, and the really really good.