I lay awake last night tossing and turning, but that’s nothing new. It seems like it’s happening more and more lately. Oftentimes I find that the more I try to sleep, the more anxious I become. An unnamed feeling rises in me until it suffocates me, until I am unable to sleep or even lie down. I find myself pacing the house racking my brain, wondering how I got from where I was to where I am.
I’ve been in stressful situations; I lived as a soldier in a war zone and I understand stress on many levels. From another person’s point of view my life may not seem like something to be anxious or stressed about. It is, overall, a good life.
I am extremely fortunate and blessed on many accounts. I have three small children who are all healthy, happy and bless their hearts, wonderful sleepers. They don’t give momma too much grief and for that, I thank them. I have a husband who I love and who loves me very much. He goes to work every day without complaint. He breaks his back in order to give us a good life.
So why am I feeling like this? Like something is constantly in the back of my mind until the silence of night washes over my home, and I am free to drag it out and dissect it over and over and over again?
When I was 18 years old I joined the Army. My life took off in a whirlwind of constant activity and motion. There was always a place to be, a time to be there, and something to be done. I was 19 when I deployed to Iraq and I had a responsibility that most people don’t see in their entire lives. I had the safety and lives of an entire FOB (Forward Operating Base) at my hands. It was here that I met my now husband and the rest, as they say, is history.
I went from the life of a soldier to that of a mom. Specifically, a stay at home mom. I have a three year old and two year old twins and I am their everything, and they are mine. It is wonderful, and all encompassing, and so very very stressful.
It feels to me like my life as a 24 year old is completely put on hold. I see my friends and family going to school, working at their jobs and moving up in the world. I see them celebrate their victories and while I feel happy for them, it makes me feel and so very, very empty.
I know that I should feel nothing but gratitude for being able to stay home with my littles, and mold them into wonderful little human beings, to be able to share in their triumphs and to rock them to sleep at night. But I can’t. I’ve come to a point where I simply cannot feel anything anymore but a suffocating, panicked feeling like I’m being left behind and my life is passing me by.
This is where I find myself night after night, pacing the floors and feeling on the verge of crying and screaming until everything within me gives way to this vast emptiness I feel. I want somebody to hold me and tell me that it’s okay, that this too shall pass. I need somebody to tell me what I already know, that I’m blessed, that I’m lucky, that one day I too will be able to get out into the world and live again. I am too terrified though to speak out. I’m scared of being judged and of being made to feel like the awful person that, at 2AM on a Tuesday, I’m certain I am.
I saw myself as a mother, when I had my first baby in my belly and I would glow with the thought of spending long afternoons with her and sharing our beautiful bond. Night after night of tucking the covers under her little chin and kissing her goodnight. Yet I don’t. I’m so worn down by the day to day grind that I don’t relish our time like I know that I should. I am just so absolutely and to my core exhausted.
Life was so much simpler when I was a soldier. War is so clearly straightforward in comparison to motherhood. Stay alive. Do your job. One foot in front of the other. There are rules, a clear and known goal. Motherhood? Anybody who has children can tell you that it’s all one big mess of doing what you hope is right and praying that you aren’t messing up too badly.
This is me reaching out and hoping that I’m not alone. This is me breaking down for the first time in a very long time and saying that something has got to give. And praying that I can become the mother that my children will be proud of.
Related post: Losing Yourself to Motherhood