AvoiDANCE

Allow me to introduce to you to my close friend, protector & social deflector…. Avoidance.

Avoidance has been my fire blanket for as long as I can remember, so much so that I don’t want to fold it up, pack it away, or even consider it not being my ‘go-to’ comforter.

I think I learnt this skill early on in life as growing up we had many people coming in & out of our home due to the job my parents had. We often had people sitting at a dinner table not knowing each other & sometimes not knowing us either. We were ‘briefed’ beforehand & given a rundown on how this person landed up in our home & at our table & were also provided topics to avoid due to it’s sensitivity or inappropriateness towards our visitor. Hence, the dinner dance I grew up with was created – the very essence of avoidance & masking uncomfortableness. There were times I recall my brother & I almost performing for these people to break the silence, encourage conversation & topics of interest or just talking amongst each other in the hope that the deafening silence & awkward social situation would be drowned out by our banter. We actually used to call each other ‘social lubricators’ & it became instinctual when our services were required.

Over the years, I perfected avoidance so much so that performing became a breeze & it also manifested itself into a mask. I hoped as my confidence grew & as my strived to achieve my hopes & dreams socially & professionally, that I would be better confronting people & situations. However, it wasn’t to be. And sadly, as my depression increased in it’s frequency this was just something that I just didn’t have the energy or room to work on. My avoidance isn’t prejudiced either as it involves both situations & individuals so all my bases are covered in terms of any potential conflicts.

I don’t know what my issue with avoidance is & how I’ve become so resistant to confrontation. What am I afraid of? What’s the worst that can happen? Isn’t confrontation just standing up for myself? I’m not a weak person, nor a pushover, so surely this should come easily! Am I just wilfully ignorant?

I want to get to the bottom of this. I really do as I feel it holding me back to the person I want to be for myself & for my family. So, what is my issue exactly? Is it feeling overwhelmed at the time of confrontations & not saying what I want to say? Is it that I think of things to say after the fact & get angry with myself for not thinking of them at the time? Is that my excuse for not even starting the conversation that needs to be had? Am I scared what the other person will think of me? If they’re my good friends I shouldn’t care & the friendship is supposed to strengthen. And If we’re not good friends, then I shouldn’t even bother, so it’s not avoidance rather disinterest. Am I scared about the unknown outcome therefore not even wanting to find out? Is it a control thing – that I can’t control the outcome, my feelings etc?

And then I start thinking: what lesson I am teaching my kids by all this avoidance? Is this the kind of role model I want to be to my children? If I want people or my kids to have respect for me then surely I need to be able to genuinely respect myself & be content with my life’s decisions. Is my avoidance a form of self-respect sabotage?  Is my fear born out of self-preservation? How do I go about & what do I need to do to give myself permission to be vulnerable enough to stop this tango of avoidance? If I want to be the best version of myself, then surely something needs to change in my thinking.

Like my realisation that the word ‘forgiveness’ had the word ‘give’ in it, the word avoidance has the word ‘dance’ in it. This is perfect for me as I actually see myself dancing around topics & hop stepping about in order to deflect from the real issue. In actual fact, I would rather dance instead of facing a confronting, uncomfortable or excruciating event.

At the beginning of this post, I called avoidance my ‘fire’ blanket as opposed to a safety blanket. Is there really going to be a wall of fire thrown at me for standing up for myself? Do I really have to snuff it out before it starts to sting? Is this how I view confrontation – that the consequence is me being told off, questioned or hurt? Are all confrontations going to be an attack on my character? Is that how I see confrontation – as personal attacks? At the end of the day confrontations & arguments are just words. They’re just noises that come out of peoples mouths & form things called words which we use to communicate to each other. It’s all it is. I can make these words bounce off me or go right over me depending on the level of value I hold in the relationship with the person in conversation with. Surely this is nothing to be fearful of!?

I’m sure there are some people that see & view my avoidance as a weakness & an area in which they can exploit & take advantage of. Surely this alone should give me the motivation & impetus to make a change & stop dancing around the real issues. And I need to be honest too & admit that I’m not proud of this personality trait, so this together with my feelings of exploitation just have to be the architects of change.

I really don’t know the answer here, but I hope that exploring my thoughts & feelings in this space will provide me with some insights & in time possible paths of exploration.

Does anyone else have issues with confrontation? Have you managed to overcome your fears? What have been your strategies? I’d love some tips.

Things I’m afraid to tell you

There are a group of bloggers who are all banding together & participating in a series of posts called “Things I’m Afraid to Tell You”. The TIATTY movement was inspired by a post from Jess Constable of Make Under My Life & Ez of Creature Comforts. If you’d like more information on the TIATTY movement, you can read Jess’ interview with Laura Rossi from the Huffington Post. You can also visit Robin at Farewell Stranger to read other TIATTY posts as well. All these women are truly amazing & inspirational & I’m so very honoured to be part of this movement.

So here goes:

* Some people are able to move on from arguments or fights & go about their daily life. I’m not one of those people. I let my feelings impact me to the point that I want to hide away from the world. And I usually do.

* I might be good at confrontation, but will probably never know because I avoid it like the plague.

* I’m really not as confident as I appear. (Depends on the situation of course).

* Sometimes I feel like I’m not a real mother because Seon works from home & often helps out during the day. I feel ashamed of this because I ‘should’ be doing it all.

* I’m pretty sure I don’t believe in God.

* I avoid. Avoidance, as much as it haunts me, provides me with a sense of protection. I consider myself a weak person because of this.

* I’ve mastered how to wear a mask.

* I still have my good days & my bad days with it comes to my depression & anxiety, but no one other than my nuclear family & very close friends will ever know that.

* I find some female relationships hard work & require a lot of energy. I just don’t have a lot of energy.

* Sometimes I don’t feel worthy enough.

* The kids bath & bed time makes me anxious every single night.

* I’m intimidated by strong (& often opinionated) women.

* I’m jealous of babies Flynn’s age that can eat finger food & ‘proper’ foods without choking or vomiting.

* Sometimes I think that I’ve deserved the pain I’ve had in my life & that I’m being punished for something.

* I don’t like the way I look, specifically my weight & my fat rolls. I’ve never been this big/heavy & I lack any motivation to do anything about it.

* I care what other people think of me no matter what I say about the matter or however much I pretend not to.

If you would like to add something that you are afraid to tell, you’re most welcome to post it here or link your blog post to the linky below.

The things I have learnt in my life. So far….

When I was a teenager & then again in my early twenties, I thought I knew everything about everything. Turns out I didn’t. Fast forward ahem, a few years, I’m reflecting on all the things I’ve done & the lessons learnt. And what’s more I know that the learning never stops. So without further ado, here are some things I’ve learnt over the past few years:

I’ve learnt that babies are not stupid just because they can’t talk. They tell you in their own way what they need.

I’ve learnt that my toddler has bipolar disorder & OCD (please know I am not downplaying the seriousness of these mental illnesses, but they are appropriate when explaining my toddlers behaviour).

I’ve learnt the true meaning of unconditional love.

I’ve learnt that when in a hurry a nappy will need to be changed, because babies don’t care for being on time & schedules.

I’ve learnt that you never stop growing up.

I’ve learnt that raising my voice at Orli does not help. At all. I’ve learnt this pisses me off.

I’ve learnt that even as a parent myself, what my parents think still impact some of my decisions.

I’ve learnt that chocolate doesn’t help, but that is also helps.

I’ve learnt that there is no shame in having a Pospartum (postnatal) mood disorder. I didn’t ask for it nor choose to have it.

I’ve learnt that if it’s not on Google it doesn’t exist.

I’ve learnt that you need to work on your marriage. Complacency is the number one reason that most couples split up.

I’ve learnt that patience doesn’t come easily to me.

I’ve learnt that having a nap is the new happy hour.

I’ve learnt that mutual respect is important in every relationship. If it’s not there, you may as well not be there either.

I’ve learnt that the words ‘I love you mummy’ makes my heart explode. Each & every time.

I’ve learnt that Cancer, mental illnesses etc do not discriminate.

I’ve learnt to use the word ‘regret’ instead of ‘guilty’ when talking about my PMD.

I’ve learnt that mess & clutter make me anxious.

I’ve learnt that writing for me is healing & cathartic. Thanks for allowing me to share my words with you all too.

I’ve learnt that forgiveness is bloody hard, but important for your soul & overall happiness.

I’ve learnt not to judge other parents. I don’t live with them, I don’t know the reasons for doing the things they do & it comes down to mutual respect.

I’ve learnt that the TV keeps my kids entertained & I’m more than ok with it.

I’ve learnt that you don’t need to have met people in real life to have long lasting & meaningful relationships.

I’ve learnt that it takes longer for others to learn.

I’ve learnt that my babies have never cared for the baby books saying what they ‘should’ be doing. They can’t read. They do what they want, when they want.

I’ve learnt when to take the higher moral ground.

I’ve learnt that cooking isn’t hard, it just requires time & motivation. I’m lacking in both.

I’ve learnt that self-care is imperative to your overall happiness & crucial to in order to be available to your kids. I need to learn how to do it.

I’ve learnt I learn something new every day.

I’ve learnt that you need to speak up when it comes to your kids health & happiness.

I’ve learnt how to go to the toilet without having kids in there with me. It’s not always successful.

I’ve learnt to enjoy the moment.

I’ve learnt that all families have their shit.

I’ve learnt that you need to be organised when you have kids.

I’ve learnt that NOTHING can prepare you for being a first time mum.

I’ve learnt that masks cover pain, it doesn’t get rid of it.

I’ve learnt that toddlers can frustrate the hell out of you.

I’ve learnt that friends are to be cherished.

I’ve learnt that no one can clean our home as well as me.

I’ve learnt to give myself permission for having a bad day & not to feel guilty about it.

I’ve learnt never to take kindness for granted.

I’ve learnt that it takes a long time to heal.

I’ve learnt that I’ll never stop learning.

 

What have you learnt?

An open letter to the #PPDChatArmy mamas

 

To my dear #PPDChatArmy Mamas,

This is my first post & I wanted to take this opportunity to tell each & every one of you how I feel about you. I could go on forever about the impact you have all had on my life but I wanted to keep it brief, so all I’m going to say is thank you.

Thank you for allowing me to share my life with you.

Thank you for reading my rants & vents & consoling me when times were tough & when the journey ahead seemed unsurmountable.

Thank you for offering support to me when I asked & especially when I didn’t.

Thank you for allowing me to offer support back to all of you.

Thank  you for sharing your life with me too.

Thank you for not judging me.

Thank you for making me feel safe.

Thank you for helping me with Selma & Patty.

Thank you for teaching me how to be a warrior mum.

Thank you for letting me disarm Velma & for all agreeing that she really is a ho.

Thank you for making me smile & cry & sometimes both at the same time.

Thank you for allowing me to feel comfortable enough to reach out.

Thank you for saving me from slipping again last year.

Thank you for giving me strength each & every day. Still.

Thank you for believing in me.

Thank you for allowing my words into your home (or work office or bathroom if you access internet from your Smartphone).

Thank you for making me feel welcome.

Thank you for your words of encouragement.

Thank you for reminding me to be honest with myself. And with others.

Thank you for being there at any time day or night whenever you saw the #PPDChat hashtag on my tweets.

Thank you for helping me be ok with some of the tough decisions I have had to make.

Thank you for helping with the tough decisions I’ll have to make in the future.

Thank you for your friendship.

Thank you for your unconditional love.

Thank you for giving me the strength to take my mask off.

Thank you for making me feel important.

Thank you for making me feel part of the coolest club in town.

Thank you for not allowing me to hide.

Thank you for helping me be brave.

Thank you for your encouragement to have a voice.

Thank you for making me feel I belong.

Thank you for allowing me to say ‘today, I don’t like my child’.

Thank you for not judging me when I told you, ‘today I don’t like my child’.

Thank you for convincing me that all I have to be to my children is ‘good enough’.

Thank you for not letting me make excuses (although I’m still working on it).

Thank you for kicking arse.

Thank you for wanting to kick stigma’s arse.

Thank you for giving me strength.

Thank you all for who you are.

Thank you for everything.

One very thankful mama,

Yuz xo

PS. My kids will thank you all too one day.

The Baby After PPD Survivor Series

Last month I was a honoured to join my BAPPD (Baby After PPD) mamas on Katherine Stone’s Postpartum Progress website. The seven of us met in the Twitterverse when Amber Koter-Puline (@atlantamom) sent out a tweet saying she was going to start up a support group for PPD survivors thinking about having another baby or pregnant. We kept in touch & supported each other throughout our journey & then put our stories together for all to see. It was an extremely cathartic experience for me as I had never told or written my story or gave the details of the hell I endured after having Orli.

If you missed it, here it is again. I’ve separated the days so you can read one at a time.

Day 1 http://postpartumprogress.com/7-postpartum-depression-survivors-share-their-stories-of-having-more-children

Day 2 http://postpartumprogress.com/postpartum-depression-survivor-series-day-two

Day 3 http://postpartumprogress.com/postpartum-depression-survivor-series-day-three-the-husbands

Day 4 http://postpartumprogress.com/postpartum-survivor-series-day-4-what-happened-after-the-next-baby

Day 5 http://postpartumprogress.com/postpartum-depression-survivor-series-day-5-coming-together-around-a-new-baby

Many thanks to Amber for putting this all together & for asking Katherine to feature it on her website. And thanks also to Katherine for allowing us to share our stories.

My Post on PPD to Joy

The beautiful & wonderful Yael Daphna Saar of PPD to Joy fame Postpartum Depression to Joy & I met over Twitter via the #PPDChat hashtag & the weekly chat forums. Our friendship has grown over the webisphere & mutual love & respect has grown exponentially. Yael’s mission through her website is to help those struggling with PND/PPD to learn to both disarm guilt & teach self-kindness. She runs a monthly SpeakEasy support phone chat where mothers domestically & globally meet, share, vent & care over the wires. It’s a truly wonderful & safe place that Yael has created & hopefully, if the stars align, I will be joining Yael & all the other mums that call this Wednesday March 14, at 12.30pm (AEST).

Following my posts on Postpartum Progress last month, Yael asked me to write a guest post on her blog about my battle with PND/PPD within the confines of the Jewish community in Melbourne & how my background affected my illness & recovery.

After years (literally) of typing to each other we finally met over Skype last week just as this blog post went live.

Here it is:

Yuz Takes off the Mask

I hope that we have the opportunity of sharing many more posts on each others blogs in the future.