The last few weeks have been challenging and bittersweet. My daughter has been reaching new milestones, and it’s been amazing to watch her grow as a person. Even though I am beaming with pride, I find myself shrouded with guilt and grief.

When I left my toxic family home at the age of eighteen, there wasn’t much that I could bring with me. Things that I never thought I would need were left behind, which held a lot of meaning. For instance, my ‘baby book’ that my adoptive mother curated. It contained all of my milestones and a golden lock from my first hair cut. Now that I have a child of my own, I am longing for these connections and comparisons.

Over the years, I’ve accepted the fact that I don’t have roots, as many other people do. Although at times it can be painful, I know that I cannot blame myself for what happened. I cannot blame myself for not taking that baby book when the only thing surging through my body was flight mode.

Whenever I get into this mind-frame, I think about my adoptive mother. I think of all the love that we shared in the short amount of time that we had together. I’m so glad that those memories of happiness can still burst through the dark times.

Grief has a funny way of showing up, and I think it’s amplified now due to our quarantine. We grieve for the loss of our freedom, jobs, and normalcy. It’s only natural for the loss of someone important to us to jump in. It doesn’t matter when we lost said person; it could be days, months, or twenty-two years.
I try my best to push through the guilt and grief… but it’s hard.
We need to remind ourselves that we can’t be perfect every day, and some days will be harder than others. I just so happen to be going through a harder day today, but I know tomorrow won’t be the same.

I do wish my mother was still here, and I think on some spiritual level she is. As each day passes with my daughter, I realize that I am my mother. I am everything I ever wanted her to be, and for that, I am thankful.

I’m a firm believer that if you have already decided if you want kids (or not), you’ve already made up your mind, and it will not change in the future.

I had a recent conversation with my sister about this because years ago I was under the impression that I could not have kids naturally. Even though the weight of that news was crushing for me to hear at the age of 22, I tried to go on with my life the best way that I knew how. For years I acted selfishly without a thought of alternatives, I was with my ex-boyfriend at the time and convinced myself that if I could not have them naturally, then I did not want them at all. I already knew that I was lying to myself, but this was how I coped.
The thought of a family has always been in the back of mind, ever since I was a kid. I remember during my childhood playing “house” with my friend and talking about our futures; always with marriage and kids. Poking at my adopted family for another sibling so I could help take care of him/her. Leaving my toxic atmosphere at 18 with a repeat to myself “When you have kids, you’ll show them what love is.”
It wasn’t until I broke it off with my ex at 25 that I started to think more deeply into my need for a family.

Luckily for me, the majority of my issues stemmed from my ex-boyfriend so when I changed doctors and had a proper physical a year later, my concerns were nearly half gone. I reiterated what was told to me from my previous doctor and relayed medical history – He said that I could go through testing, but since I wasn’t planning on starting a family just yet they could wait. During these years I met my now husband, and I remember having lunch with a close friend of mine explaining how I was back in therapy and maybe starting a family wasn’t really for me. I wasn’t well mentally, and the thought of bringing a little one into this world started to frighten me. I will never forget her question; “Well, do you WANT to want kids?” Without a pause, I immediately said yes. I’ve always known that I wanted kids; I just kept telling myself I should not due to the obstacles that I was facing.

Working on myself was the best thing that I did, and I’m not ashamed that I was selfish for the latter years of my twenties. I needed those years to get better and confirm that I did want to be a mother. When I turned 30 and married my husband, we started the process of discussing (& testing) what our options would be. These years were gruelling and hard on the both of us, we had many discussions that almost tore us apart, but we stuck it through. When I got pregnant in November of 2018, a huge smile formed across my face. I’ve been pregnant before; this wasn’t the first test that I’ve done – the only difference was my reaction. I didn’t tell anyone immediately in fear of miscarrying again but once those weeks past, all I wanted to do was shout it from my rooftop. Even though I was still scared as I was back then, I was also hopeful, happy and excited.

So, when my sister asked how my mind has changed over the years, I tell her that it honestly didn’t; it just went on a crazy path. If you know deep down that children aren’t for you – if you’ve never fantasized about being a mother, chances are your thoughts won’t change and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Becoming a mother is going to be one of the most challenging things that I will ever go through, and I’m welcoming this crazy with open arms. Motherhood is not for everyone so don’t let others guilt you into thinking that you’re selfish for not wanting them. Stand firm in your opinion and choice.

If I’ve ever apologized to you over a message, text, or email, you should know that it most likely took me longer than most people to write out exactly what’s been going on through my head. I tend to write, delete and re-word everything so I don’t sound as ridiculous as my thoughts.

The funny thing is, even though I KNOW these things are ridiculous, they still consume me. Thoughts keep me up constantly, and I tend to over-think even the simplest things. My husband laughs this off, and I wish I could, too. Trying to make logical sense out of my anxiety is time-consuming

I’ve had some friends who get angry at me for apologizing, especially if it’s something that didn’t cross their mind or just for the pure frequency of my self-doubt. There are times when I can control it, but on my bad days, you can find me apologizing for talking too much, for not talking enough, for being reclusive or apologizing for apologizing – my signature.

What people don’t know is that the reason my apologies come out so frequently is that I feel guilty for being myself. I grew up in a toxic environment that made me think I would never be good enough and that no one would ever care for me, so I tend to believe it. Even though I’ve gone through therapy and know that this isn’t true, there is always that little sliver of guilt that likes to bombard itself to the front when my anxiety flares up.  I can drown in self-critical thought, what if scenarios and genuinely believe that everyone will take me the wrong way.

Internal battles are so hard to overcome, especially when you desperately want to control it. I hate that these thoughts are intrusive, keep me up at night and continually makes me worry. I despise worrying what people think of me when I’m honestly trying my best not to care. Years of therapy have brought me a long way, but, I don’t believe that my apologizing will ever truly go away.

I’ll be sorry for the things that happen and for things that don’t.
I’ll be sorry for not being there for you when I’m struggling with my problems
I’ll be sorry for constantly apologizing, thinking that I’m annoying you to the point where you do not want to be my friend anymore.

I’m trying my best to not struggle with this, but please know that these apologies come from a place of love. A weird anxious love that I’m still trying to understand

Ever since my last therapy session, I took a lot of things into consideration when it came to my relationships with those surrounding me. I had a hard time struggling with the fact that I had to distance myself from certain people because it wasn’t benefiting my health. I already deal with a bout of loneliness, so whenever I know that I need to cut ties, something inside of me twists and turns into this form of guilt that I wish could go away. When I tried to lean on certain friendships and family members with my struggles, I was met with so much resentment that it honestly made my anxiety worse. I would try to communicate with them the best way that I could, but when there’s nothing that you can do to change a mind, you are left with defeat.

I stopped apologizing for cutting ties a long time ago. When I left Montreal to come here to Toronto, a lot of people tried to make me feel guilty for cutting out a significant family member in my life – my adoptive father. Even when I would explain the whole situation to them, especially the fact that he was causing harm, they could not see past him being my father. Those people did not last long in my life, and I wasn’t even apologetic for it. Why should I be? This man created such a toxic atmosphere that I needed to leave for my mental health. It took me YEARS of therapy to get over, yet, “he’s still your father.”
We are brought up to think that family bonds are eternal and these family members are always supposed to be there for us – you never expect them to hurt you; I never expected to be tossed aside.

Unfortunately, he wasn’t the only person to make that list. I honestly thought, as a naïve little girl, that everyone else that I would bring into my life would be trustworthy, loyal & overall understanding. I don’t mean to sound negative here, but there are a lot of “friends” out there who feed off of others, suck a lot of energy out of you – yet, you still tend to keep them around because no one is perfect, and there are things that you can overlook. I refused this theory a couple of years ago and quite honestly, am in a much better place than I’ve ever been. Any toxic relationship can drain you emotionally and impact your overall mental health.

I’m a big believer in tribes, and everyone who you bring into your circle should give you a feeling of empowerment, trust and happiness. We’re growing at an alarming rate, and soon enough, with the blink of an eye, we’ll be older. I don’t have time to deal with all of this “high school bullshit” (as I put it) and neither should you, especially if you are dealing with depression or anxiety. We already beat up ourselves quite well; we don’t need another person to do the same. Whether it’s a family member, an older friend or just someone you met the other week – don’t let that guilt consume you. Free yourselves so you can get to a better and healthier you in 2019

When I was younger, I didn’t know how to express myself adequately. I was dating at the time and to try and get my point across on specific issues I would write out how I wanted to say it. I still can recall the shame that I would feel, fumbling over myself as I would grab the crumpled letters from my purse. My boyfriend at the time couldn’t understand why I couldn’t articulate face-to-face, and I wish that I could have told him everything, but I was embarrassed.

I was embarrassed because that’s how I was taught to feel. At this point in my life, I was still living with my Adoptive Father and Stepmother who didn’t know how to handle me. Relentlessly I was told that everything was in my mind, it’s my fault for feeling this way, and I needed to snap out of it. There were others things mentioned, too, but I won’t go into that now.

The guilt that I was feeling became more palpable as the years went on and my condition worsened. I realized that I was blaming myself every day for my anxiety and my atmosphere was not helping in any way. It wasn’t until I was living in another province that I started to heal as a person and grow.

Feeling invalid for all of those years through different people took a toll on me, so here’s a list of what not to say to a friend/family member who is experiencing depression or anxiety:

  • It’s all in your mind
  • But you have nothing even to worry about
  • Stop complaining all the time
  • I always knew you had a problem
  • There is nothing even wrong with you
  • Stop looking for attention
  • You don’t look anxious or depressed
  • You aren’t pushing yourself enough
  • It sounds like you are going crazy
  • You need to stop feeling sorry for yourself
  • No one ever said life was fair
  • You are always no negative
  • It’s your fault
  • Things aren’t that bad
  • Things could be so much worse
  • Just snap over it. Get over yourself
  • You need to get out more