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How Being a New Mom With Anxiety Taught Me to Love Myself

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Becoming a parent was terrifying; the type of terrifying you can’t quite imagine — but when it happens — it makes your knees buckle.

They’re going to let me take this baby home with me? Shouldn’t I have to take a test first?

As someone who was never expected to have children, seeing that positive pregnancy test made me feel like the pieces of my life were thrown into the air, sucked up into a tornado, and scattered. I spent the entire duration nauseated and I was convinced something was wrong with my baby. Based on conversations with doctors in the past, I didn’t think I’d be able to carry full term. I just knew it was too good to be true. Overall, the scariest thing to me was having to make decisions for another person.

If you’ve met me, your first impression was probably not that I’m a passive person, but actually I was for a really long time. I’d go with the flow, let others make decisions for me, and I’d never speak up. If I spoke up, people would look at me, and I did not want people looking at me. I allowed myself to be treated badly by ex-boyfriends and friends. I fell into a pattern of changing myself to be who others expected me to be and as unhappy as I was with that internally, happiness to be “fitting in” overshadowed that. Honestly, it took me getting my heart broken way too many times in way too small of a time frame for me to finally stand up for myself. I’m grateful for finding my boyfriend (now husband) when I did, because he was around for my transformation from quiet and reserved to loud and obnoxious. He saw me advocate for my health and knew what I was experiencing physically and mentally was not how I wanted to continue living.

I was never one to stick up for myself until I had my baby, a gorgeous little girl who loved to hear herself “talk.” Making decisions on her behalf, deciding what limits were acceptable, and refusing to be steamrolled as a mother made me realize how much I’ve cheated myself in the past. I’ve had so many opportunities to stand up for myself, for what I believed in, and for others around me, and I never took them for fear I’d get negative backlash. I was one of those “that’s what I should have said” people. You know, the ones who rehash an argument in their brain hours later and think of all of the possible scenarios.

Now, I tend to say what I want, when I want to. On occasion I probably have said things I shouldn’t have said, but no fear, my anxiety will remind me of that for years to come. However, with my transformation, I now will not allow my beliefs to be diminished because it’s “the norm.” I’ve taken a huge step back from religion over the years because I’m not just going to believe in something because it’s expected of me; I’m going to believe in what I think is reasonable and right for me. With that being said, I’m going to let my children decide what they believe in as well. My daughter currently believes in Jesus — but only the baby Jesus, dinosaurs, and that she is the boss of her little brother. Sounds like a perfect belief system for a 5-year-old, honestly.

Since the day I became responsible for another human being, I’ve found it so unreasonable to “go with the flow.” I cannot accept the role of the person who sits back and watches bad things happen to others, especially if it is something I can prevent from happening all together. In fact, I’ve recently walked out of a room when someone, a pastor, spoke negatively about the LQBTQ community, specifically those who are transgender. Was I going to stand up, disrupt the service, and scream at him? Of course not, but I sure wasn’t going to sit there and listen to someone talk about the lives of people, whom I care deeply about, when they’re not there to defend themselves.

So, here’s my point. No one is going to believe in every single thing I believe in, and vice versa. I am still learning to stick up for myself and am, undoubtedly, better at sticking up for others than I am myself. I want my kids to see their mom being who she is so they can be who they want to be. I plan to raise these little humans to love and to fight for change. I will always advocate for them and with them. I hope to be the one they can talk to when they struggle to talk to, or for, others.

Life is a learning process. You’re never too young or old to adapt to change.

Photo submitted by contributor.

Originally published: April 25, 2020
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