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Motherhood has been my greatest reckoning

I mistakenly saw my child as being a vessel by which to heal me, but this is where I was wrong. She was not my vessel to heal, but my stimulus. If I didn’t heal my wounds, then she would have to.

Around the time I found out I was pregnant, I was living in horror. I was a shaky mess and when I wasn’t in a state of deep depression or dissociation, I was intoxicated.  

At the time, I put it down to me being a worthless, lazy, undiscplined, unlikable twit. Of course it was me. From a very young age I was taught it was me. I was taught I was all those things, and it was my fault. And from those teachings, I mistakenly learnt I was unlovable. I was not going to make that same mistake with my child. 

It was from this place that I thought loving my child as an extension of myself was enough. But how could this be possible when the very notion of loving myself was lacking, and the very notion of a child being an extension of a parent is a fallacy? 

Although my circumstances were grim, as my belly swelled, for the first time in a long time, I felt a sense of hope. I was determined life would not teach my child those same lies I had learnt, and I believed this determination would be enough. 

Naively, I thought love and ideology alone would provide the little jellybean inside me a better life than my own. I thought my undying love would be enough to sustain my child and would propel her into a life of abundance and joy. She would never have to experience the despair and loneliness I had endured. Things would be different. I knew what to do.  

Except I didn’t. I couldn't even fully grasp the level of adversity I faced.   

At the time, though I would have never admitted so, I thought a child would heal my loneliness and despair. I would now have a reason to live, a reason to go on. And whilst this has been true, and whilst I needed that to fuel my fire, in terms of who I needed to be for her - what I needed to do as a mother barely touched the sides. I didn’t take into account that the little jellybean would come with her own ideas and her own thoughts of who she was. 

I saw my child as an extension of myself. A being who I could nurture into being a better version of me. But I soon found she was angry. She needed to be seen as her, not my projection or fantasy. No one wants the burden of being a person’s whole life and purpose for being. This has been my true test: now I know better, will I do better?   

Once I afforded myself the time and self-love to heal, I was able to see violence, control and neglect were what held me in a state of deep depression and dissociation, holding me in a cycle of despair and self-medication. It was the pain from the abuse I had endured and was still enduring that propelled me into self-destruction. Self-loathing. It wasn’t me. It wasn’t my fault. I was a victim of perpetrators and parents that were wounded and incapable of healing. Knowing this, I knew I could not continue to hold onto my wounds. 

I mistakenly saw my child as being a vessel by which to heal me, but this is where I was wrong.  She was not my vessel to heal but my stimulus. If I don’t heal my wounds, then she would have to.  

Through motherhood, I have learnt that the relationship I have with myself is so important. If I don’t know what it is I am feeling, and what it is I need, how will I know what my daughter is feeling, what she needs? This principle crystalised for me after working through my own emotional responses to motherhood. 

 Through introspection and reflection of my emotional responses to motherhood I have discovered the most profound way of being for my child. On the journey of healing and self-love I have learnt that the way I speak to myself is how I speak to her, and in turn how she speaks to herself. But more importantly, I have learnt that I can only truly be in tune with her when I am in tune with myself. The only way I can see beyond the mask. The only way I can truly assure her that she is not on her own, but still proudly her own being.  

Motherhood has been my greatest reckoning. It has forced me to examine how I operate in the world. It has forced me to examine how I conduct myself in relationships, including the relationship I have with myself. 

And yet, my relationship to my role as a mother has been and continues to be subject to change and nuance. Sometimes it’s pure bliss and I feel as though I found my true calling. Other times I can find myself being triggered into an emotional hell. What I have found is that when I am present, I am in awe of the beautiful, intelligent, palpable human I happen to be the mother of, rather than being weighed down by anxieties. Providing love and nurture to my daughter is, for me, pure bliss.   

In this knowledge, I aim to raise a daughter who is in touch with her instincts and cares for herself and others. Most importantly, I aim to raise my daughter to be proudly, lovingly, and confidently her own little being.