An Open Letter to Moms With Disorders
I am what a mother with a disorder looks like.
Every day I, and people like me, overcome. We educate, we learn and we refuse to back down. We are stronger than our past, and it will not define who we are in the future. It takes time for us to accept it, but eventually, we recognize that this is the only life we have to live. It becomes our mission to live through our disorder, and to avoid letting it dominate our everyday lives.
That being said, as hard as it can be, it's okay to ask for help. It's okay to have bad days every now and then. But we cannot live every day as a bad day, and we need to continue to stand up and live above the influence of our disorder. With support from one another, we can love ourselves, we can support ourselves, we don’t need to be afraid of what we "think" people see us as.
As was mentioned in my project piece earlier this week, from before the age of five until I was 23, I was sexually abused and manipulated by some of the people closest to me. As far back as I can remember, I believed that I looked for attention and the need to feel loved, attractive, needed and wanted, and unfortunately, that attention came with a large price to pay that I live with daily. I am unsure of whether this was a product of my abuse, or if it was the other way around. I do know that for a very long time, I didn’t know how to love myself. I needed to feel it from any source possible in order to feel "right.” I didn’t feel like I really understood the whole version of me.
Nothing really came together for me until my recent diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder and depression. Things came into focus then; I understood why I was always pushing and pulling at life, struggling harder than it seemed I should to find the right people in my life.
It took me a long time to realize that this is one of those complications that so many of us live with. Maybe not the same situations, or the same exact turn out, but a feeling of not truly understanding who we really are, or who we really dream of being.
Does this mean we are unfit mothers? I can say surely that it does not. Does this mean we can not care for our children the same as someone without our diagnosis? Again no it does not. In fact, part of what makes us truly great mothers is our unique ability to open up and realize that we’re on our own journey to grow — even as we’re helping our own children through theirs.
While there are many times that this doesn’t apply, I am lucky. For me, and for many like me, all any disorder means is that we must look at some things differently than other people. It means that we have to work a little harder to understand that all of these questions being asked of ourselves already have answers.
As a community, we have to support one another and most importantly, we have to support ourselves to the highest level that we can, and make sure that the people in our lives are only those who are supportive instead of toxic.
As a mother of four, I understand how easy it is for us question ourselves. is this what we are meant to do, are we good enough, do our children have everything they need, are we good role models for the next generation in this world.
I am what a mother a disorder looks like. You wouldn’t be able to tell just by looking at me, but it’s a part of who I am. To those of you like me, I want you to know that we will overcome this, we will educate, we will continue to learn, and we will refuse to back down. Your disorder does not have to define you; it will only require a little more work than you first planned, but it will be worth it to be the best you can be.
Photo courtesy of Nick Demou via Stocksnap.