Pressure

My parents grew up in a generation when asking for help was considered a sign of weakness. They were raised by parents who lived through the depression and came from immigrant families. They believe that all the young people just need a good swift kick in the ass and when things get tough, you pull yourself up by the bootstraps and keep going.

You know. The whole "walked to school, uphill, both ways" kind of mentality.

But things were simpler back in those days than they are now. In some ways, things were better. But in other ways, not so much. Children and adults with mental or physical disabilities often were outcasts. Freaks. And Circus side-shows. People with "issues" were confined to asylums, locked in attics, and treated less than human. They were marked as damaged goods. Something to be ashamed of like a dirty little secret. Fragile. Weak. "Nervous." My own aunt was hospitalized and given shock treatments after suffering a nervous breakdown. That wasn't very long ago. She literally was strapped in a bed by the arms and legs and given doses of electric shock.

In my parents' generation, admitting you need help or support is admitting you couldn't handle it.You're not tough enough. The stigma associated with mental illness, disabilities, and disorders is staggering. So much so that we have teens who feel so alone, so desperate. Ashamed. Overwhelmed. Confused. Some self-medicate. Others participate in risky behaviors. Sometimes sadly, they even take their own lives or someone else's. 

Do you know what it feels like? To feel so much pressure to be perfect? To never fail or disappoint?

The fact is, mothers AND fathers AND children have a lot more on their plates now than my parents and their parents before them. It's apples to oranges. What happens when we place those expectations on ourselves and each other is that something eventually has to snap. It's the law of physics. If you apply enough pressure to something, eventually it breaks.

Some of the major life changes people go through are death, moving, the birth of a child, miscarriage, and career change. Of those events, I have gone through all four in the past six years. We've had several deaths in our families, Desi and I uprooted our family for a career change, I left teaching, opened a business, and our youngest daughter was born. And then I miscarried Thing 3.

For the past six years, I've felt things slowly unravel. The pressure I put on myself was slowly beginning to suffocate me. Pressure. To be the crafting, homeschooling, sexy mom with dinner on the table and a smile on her face? To never make a mistake or let anyone down. To be all and do all from everyone.

That's a lot to manage. And it wasn't realistic. For a Type A person who thrives in structure and routines, I should have seen it coming. It was the perfect storm. Everything about my personality and genetics that made me a great teacher and mother and wife before, started to pull me apart from the inside.

I lost my identity. I became that wife. The kind of wife who stayed at home milling my thoughts in my head around and around all day. Then laying in to Desi the second he came home. The demons who lurked inside slowly started taking over.

First, the insecurities came. Insecurities with myself, my marriage, my choices, my future.

Then the resentment. I am not happy and no one knows how I feel.

Then the unhappiness. The depression. The anxiety. I am just SO tired.

Then, in December my Gramma passed away. The legacy she left was of abuse and manipulation. And material things. But never love. She tortured the people around her. She beat the shit out of my mother as a child. She continued to beat her up emotionally right up until the day she took her last breath.

It was in that span of time that I started to ask questions. I started to remember things I didn't want to remember. I knew I had to do something for myself and my family. For my children. Or I was afraid I might slip down the same road.

And that scared the total shit out of me.


15 comments:

  1. Ok excuse me but were we separated at birth or something? Our lives are so simliar in so many ways.... Lets talk :P

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    1. It's seeming like that more and more every day! Only, I don't recall my dad ever being in Australia.

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  2. Right there with Molley and you. I was never good enough. "An A-, Tracy? Why didn't you get 100%? I don't care that the rest of the class failed." Coupled with the fact that I was the ugly child of the family. No one could compete with my sister's beauty. Especially nerdy, goody-two-shoes, me. I have lived a lot of what you have written. There are days it's very difficult not to get mired in depression and anxiety.

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    1. And so those are the days when we reach out and slap eachother in a loving way and say, "knock that shit off!" Love you all!

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    1. There is SO much more. And thanks. There's somethin' strange, in the neighborhood...Neh neh, NEH, neh,neh NEH...

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  4. This is so honest; it takes a lot of courage to admit this AND write about it. I would think that you're ahead of the game in that respect. Thanks for sharing and I hope to read more about how you made your personal demons your bitch and fought the good fight. ;)

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    1. Well, it's a work in progress for sure. I haven't won yet. But I haven't lost either. Thank you so much for your kind words and support. Those are the things I wish my own mother had sooner in life. But it's never too late. Well, for some of us anyway.

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  5. What an amazingly transparent and honest piece of writing. I once read that by sharing our stories, we give others permission to share theirs. You are truly doing that by sharing your struggles. I don't know why more moms and women don't share their pain. We feel so much worse becuase we add the layers of guilt and shame on top of all the fear and sadness. By sharing our experiences we shine a light on them. Then others share and we see we are less alone than we thought. We are normal. And that is extremely freeing. I may not have lived your life or had all your experiences that brought me to this phase in my life, but I can say I feel your pain. I've been there. I'm still there in some ways. You're not alone. I hope that gives you even a bit of comfort.
    Vicky

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  6. So very true with my grandparents' and parents' generation!! I totally agree that they thought that admitting failure or depression or even the fact that you could be physically tired was totally frowned upon! It was a whole different world back then!
    So struck by how self-aware you are and I'm convinced that you will find your way out of this soon!! {hugs}

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  7. what amazes and saddens me is how many of us suffered through this kind of childhood
    i haven't spoken to mother in years yet there are still days when i feel her abusive presence as if she lived down the hall

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  8. I can't say it any better than Roshni has. I echo her sentiments exactly. In the case of my mother, I get the impression she views depression as some 'hocus pocus'; some made up phenomena that isn't real. It's as if her generation and generations before hers felt that you had to have buck up and carry on.

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    1. It took my grandmother's death and horrible words in her will to snap my mom out of denial. That and I finally called the elephants out to her. 63 years of denial. Thanks for the comments. <3

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  9. I can relate to much of this. I find that perfectionism and putting pressure on myself quickly become a downward spiral. It's all sort of a double-edged sword: yes, we do live during a time of increased awareness of mental health issues, including those that are specific to pregnancy and new motherhood, but we also live at a time where the standards are so high for "good" parenting and motherhood.

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  10. I actually was raised in a family where you did not ask for help, were expected to obey, (my mother had the evil eye if I did something wrong, would make my stomach hurt)I never heard of depression, but my mother was an alcoholic, (does that point to depression, I would say it does now)so I can relate to this post. And you are right kids these days have so much going on, I dont know how they can even be kids. Parents today have a real challenge when it comes to raising children!!
    Thanks for the opportunity to share my blog link, hope you can stop by to do the same.
    Oh My Heartsie WW" w/Linky

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