Today I went back to therapy and it felt fucking amazing. The last time I sat on that comfy red couch in my therapist’s office was over three years ago, when we decided I could take a break because I finally found myself on the other side of postpartum depression hell. I had survived. I had gotten better. I had become better than I was before. I had become Mason’s mommy and I was finally happy about that.
I thought I would be okay going forward and I have been. But life is messy and complicated and hard and sometimes you just need someone to talk to about it. And I’ve recently come to realize that I need someone to talk to about it. Someone who isn’t your friend. Someone who isn’t your husband. Someone who isn’t your sister. Someone who isn’t your own mother. Someone who you can talk to without any filter. Someone you can talk to about all those people. Someone who you can say to all the things you aren’t supposed to say. Things about motherhood, marriage, and family. Because as you get older, life and relationships get even more messy, complicated, and hard.
I had been thinking about going back for a while. It’s extremely difficult to navigate through the chaos of being the mom of a toddler and the responsibilities of being a wife, daughter, sister, daughter-in-law, and sister-in-law while also trying to maintain my own independence, identity, and happiness. I’m not sure there are enough hours in the day for all of that. And lately, I’m struggling to balance it all and I feel a bit lost. It was actually my mother who noticed this and suggested I call my therapist and start seeing her again. Don’t you hate how your own mother is always right?
It’s no secret I’m not in love with where I live, but I’d like to figure out how to be. My best friend just moved back to the west coast and I’m devastated and also jealous she lives five minutes from a Soul Cycle. My best friends from growing up and college already live that close to Soul Cycles. And for some reason it’s really hard to find a good iced decaf coffee or latte in this town. I know that sounds ridiculous, but who doesn’t carry decaf espresso? I guess what I’m really trying to say is that I miss New York.
All Soul Cycle and coffee envy aside, the demands of motherhood are enough to drain anyone’s spirit. On some days, my three-year old can be an angel with the most incredible sense of humor and curiosity, the light of my life, my little helper, and I feel like I’m nailing this parenthood thing. And other days he is smearing shit on his walls, refusing to sleep, throwing his toys at me, and laying face down on the floor, kicking and screaming because he doesn’t want pasta for dinner, after I just cooked the pasta he asked me to make for him 15 minutes ago. Those are the trying moments. The moments that make me want to scream when my husband comes home and say, “Here you go, he’s all yours.” And then I lock myself in our bedroom with a glass of wine. But it’s not like my husband didn’t just work a long, stressful day.
And that’s where the demands of motherhood and marriage crash into each other and it can be overwhelming for both parties at times. I feel overwhelmed at times. I’m raising a toddler to hopefully be decent human being while keeping an eight-year marriage strong, traveling way too much for family obligations and Jewish holidays, trying to carve out some time for myself to write, relax, exercise, socialize, and maintain some sense of independence and calm. It can feel so routine and takes work and some days it takes more out of me then I have to give. I’m exhausted. So why not talk to someone about it and figure out how to make it work for me?
My therapist never judges. She doesn’t make me feel inadequate or like a failure. She only accepts me. That couch is a safety net that catches me when I sit in her office ranting for an hour about whatever it is that is on my mind in that moment. And on this first day, it was just a mouthful of everything I have going on in my life and how I’m just so exhausted and need a break. We didn’t necessarily solve everything in that hour, but just being able to talk, without holding anything back, made me feel so much lighter. I know going forward, that I will look forward to that hour in my week to decompress and re-charge. It will help me find balance.
I know by writing this that I will worry some of my close friends and family members—especially the ones who I haven’t told about going back to therapy. Some people know. Others don’t. Going back to therapy doesn’t make me weak. It makes me strong. It makes me brave. It means life is a rollercoaster of ups and downs and maybe I just happened to hit one of the downs right now. I want to be proactive and talk about it. Figure out how to move through it and get back to the up part. I have a hard time believing that every mom is happy 100 percent of every day. I’m not. I can be happy for most of the day, but the whole day, everyday? If you are, please share your secret with the rest of us.
I’m not ashamed to admit any of this. This is me and I completely own who I am, imperfections, flaws, and all. And just because I’m in a funk and need to talk to someone, doesn’t mean that there still aren’t lots of good parts. There is taking my son to Central Park for the first time, screaming the words to Hamilton and Newsies with him because he loves musicals just as much as his mommy, family dinners, showers, weddings, babies, and family road trips to the zoo and aquarium. My son has more grandparents than most and more aunts and uncles than I can count. There is so much love to go around.
I’m exhausted and overwhelmed, but I’m also grateful for the life I have and the people in it, including my supportive husband, beautiful, healthy son, and wonderful family and friends. Even the trips we take that leave me feeling depleted as if I need a vacation after my vacation. I just need a breather right now and I’m taking it in the form of weekly therapy sessions.
I also write this article to help and empower other women who might need or want to talk to someone, but haven’t followed through for whatever reason. Again, life is messy, complicated, and hard, and sometimes we all just need a neutral, judgment-free person to talk to about it and help us push through. And therapy is like Vegas or college spring break. What happens on that couch stays on that couch.
This post was originally published at The Suburban Misfit Mom on September 7, 2016.