Hello dear mamas! How have the past couple of weeks been for you? How have you been coping? It’s been a while since I’ve encouraged you to press pause for a few moments and breathe, so as you read this, try to give yourself that gift. Reconnect with yourself – mind, body and soul – for the simple fact that you deserve this.
Deserve is a peculiar verb, as it’s somehow become a barometer of my mental health. It’s a harsh line drawn in the sand by a mind under duress and a silent knowing that I am worthy when I am healthy.
I experienced my first diagnosed episode of depression in my early twenties, when I was in my second year at Bridgewater State, long before the school earned university status. I would watch Live with Regis and Kelly on the days I didn’t have an 8am class and enjoyed it so much that I actually sent in a postcard to the show requesting tickets to sit in the audience. By the time I actually received the tickets, months later and home for the summer, I was in a full blown depression, attending counseling weekly and hoping I’d start to feel better soon.
I was in the passenger seat of my mother’s car, driving home after visiting my grandparents, when she told me that the tickets had come in the mail. I gazed out the window and wondered why they had been sent to me. It’s not that I didn’t want to go. It was that I didn’t think I deserved them. I didn’t deserve to go to Manhattan to see the show. I didn’t deserve any of it. It’s not like I had done anything special, it’s not like I was anyone special, so why did the Universe and ABC studios deem me worthy of this experience?
This feeling of being undeserving of goodness would come and go at different points in my life as I struggled with depression but there was a piercing sharpness to it when I experienced Postpartum Depression after my second son was born. It was as if that labor and delivery created a tear in my soul, leaving behind raw, ragged edges and the knowledge that I wasn’t just undeserving of goodness but that I was not good. That I was not good enough.
That I was not worthy.
I returned to counseling during my experience with Postpartum Depression because of this internal struggle. As I sat on my therapist’s big, brown leather couch, wondering if she would make meaning out of my feet not reaching the floor, I heard her ask what brought me to her. I had started Zoloft six months prior and had established a daily meditation practice in the morning. I thought I was doing better. I no longer wanted to hurt myself. But the healthy part of my heart and mind knew that I had reached a point where I needed help stitching myself back together, that it was time to fill my cracks with gold.
So I told her that the day before I called to make an appointment, about two weeks prior to my sitting on her couch for the first time, I went to pick my boys up after work, looked at my then infant son, watched him reach out to me, watched him smile at me, listened to him call out “mama” and wondered what I had done, as his mother, to deserve him, to deserve his love. I wondered why his little heart beat for me without hesitation, without any kind of litmus test to determine my worth.
I wondered because in that moment, I didn’t feel worthy of his love. It’s not like I had done anything special, it’s not like I was anyone special, to deserve it. I felt like a liar, passing myself off as his mother but thinking he deserved anyone but me.
How many of you, dear mamas, have wondered about your worthiness? How many of you, dear mamas, have wondered if you are worthy of your child’s unwavering love? How many of you, dear mamas, have wondered if you are worthy of loving yourself?
Because that’s what’s really behind our feelings of deserving something or not – the desperate and sad wonderings of our worth in the world – and if we are worthy of love, from others and ourselves.
As I’ve healed, I’ve come to understand that true love is not something that needs to be earned. It’s not something that is contingent upon being “special.” It’s something that is given freely because of who we are, not because of what we do.
Mamas, that’s why our children give us their love so fiercely and so freely. They know who we are, literally from the inside out. Our children came to be within our darkness, the womb surrounded by the bleak and broken parts of ourselves, parts that whisper shameful secrets of our unworthiness to our soul. And you know what? Our children still love us, fiercely and freely, just because we are their mamas.
It’s that simple.
You are worthy of love, dear mamas, from your children, from others, from yourself. Offer your soul kindness, compassion and grace, fiercely and freely, because that’s where your worth comes from – your heart and your soul. It comes from you.
Take care, mama bears. XOXO.