I’m feeling a bit better since I ranted to you a few days ago. A night out with my husband did wonders for me feeling like an actual human being instead of being in a constant state of mum.
A lie-in has also left me feeling a bit more replenished as well as the day ahead of me – in London with my mum.
From this, I know that:
- Feelings are better out than in
- I need to get out more with Gregg
- Sleep needs to take more priority
- I’ll need to ask for more help from people around us to babysit – already two friends, Laura and Ellie, have been amazing taking Jenson for an evening. Big love to you both if you’re reading this.
I’m also left feeling better after a coaching session I had yesterday which showed me that my inner critic has been rampaging around me recently. Due to tiredness, being stretched beyond my means, keeping in all my feelings, I’ve had little resources to keep her at bay and she’s been busying herself.
You’re only a good mum if you manage to breastfeed until he’s 2.
You’ll never be able to express yourself.
You don’t know how to do this.
You didn’t come up with the best idea for the session and this is the area you’re meant to be an expert at. You’re a fake.
You’ve got no clue what you’re doing.
Hold it together, you need to be perfect.
What would they say if you fell apart. They’d never trust you again.
You don’t have this.
You called your boy a little shit to someone else, what a terrible mother you are.
I can feel these words pressing on my chest like a weight. Making me retreat, feel small.
And I feel the anger towards myself for not managing to hold things together. For not being perfect. For not coping when I think I should be able to bloody well cope with something that appears, on the surface of things, so simple.
And as I spoke to Jenny, we talked through how I might talk to my inner critic.
Acknowledging that she’s just trying to keep me safe by keeping me small.
It’s safe if I measure my life and success by the standards of some external expectation – others, society, perfection.
I’m less likely to trip and fall in front of others if I stay small.
It’s not what I really want. I want an expansive, large, messy, bold, brave life of exploration, courage, excitement.
But that’s really scary too.
I also acknowledge that she’s piping up because I’m reaching breaking point. I’ve been doing too much for too long, giving too much of myself for too long without replenishing myself.
But she’s got her wires crossed and instead of saying ‘Hey, Amy! You need to take care of yourself and sack everything else off’ she shouts at me military-style to try to get me to keep on going.
Awareness that what she’s saying isn’t the whole truth
When I’m in this situation, her voice can be all consuming. And I believe what she’s saying – I’m broken, I’m a failure, I’m shit.
But what she’s saying isn’t the whole truth.
For example, it’s not the whole truth that I need to get everything right every time.
It’s not the whole truth that I need to breastfeed Jenson to be a good mum.
It’s not the whole truth that I don’t know what to do.
It’s not the whole truth that I’m broken.
There are part-truths in there for me –
My role requires some mastery but I don’t need to be right every time – I need to have a learners mindset and ask good questions to help others make progress.
Being a good mum to me means putting the needs of my child first – but I can fulfil Jenson’s need for nourishment through other sorts of milk and lots of affection. It doesn’t need to be through breastfeeding.
I don’t always know what to do, but I do sometimes.
I’m struggling at the moment but I’m not completely broken. And it’s not the whole truth that struggling and even cracking is a crime, a judgement of my worth, a sackable offence.
Calling on another part of me
At the moment my inner critic is pretty loud. But there are other parts of me that have something to say.
The wise part of me able to say that breastfeeding is more about nurturing and loving Jenson, which I can do in other ways.
The cheerleader in me who says ‘you’re a bloody brilliant mum, I’m so proud of you.’
The gentle part of me which says that I need to let Gregg step into the nurturing role with Jenson more so that I can nurture myself and continue to be a good mum to him and be an example to him of the importance of putting yourself first. I want that for him – that he puts himself, his happiness, his well-being, his desires, first – and so I need to show him me doing that in action to role model this behaviour.
Will this ever get better?
I asked Jenny if I’ll ever get to a point where this voice isn’t so loud.
And disappointingly she said ‘no’. But she did say that I’ll get quicker at noticing my inner critic and will get better at telling myself that what she’s saying is only partly true. I’ll get better at calling on different parts of myself to give different perspectives.
It’s not what I wanted to hear, but that’ll have to be enough.