It's been a year since I met you. And I've never shared this story. I thought maybe this wasn't the right place to share, since this isn't a personal blog, but rather a business blog to share all things wedding and celebration. But, it's a message that I think needs to be shared.
You might not know it, but you saved me that day. You saw me when no one else did.
Everything was piling up and it just felt like I couldn't breathe. Every day was getting harder than the next. It felt like the end of the world, but you helped bring me back to reality.
When we met, I was at my lowest. I didn't know it at the time, but I was in a deep post partum depression. I didn't think it was possible to have "baby blues" 8 months post partum, but apparently it is possible. My husband and I welcomed our sweet baby boy in April of 2016. He was a dream come true. For as long as I could remember, I wanted to be a mom. And Ryan made me a mommy - the happiest day of our lives. Adjusting to life with a baby was not easy for us. Our lives were flipped upside down. I didn't grow up surrounded by a lot of children, and I was one of the first in my friend group to have a baby. So, while I knew things were going to change and that it would be hard - I had no idea it would be like this. The first 48 hours will go down as the most frustrating, challenging and down right scariest days of my entire life. I got 2 hours of sleep, during our two-day stay, before leaving the hospital with our baby boy. And coming home wasn't any easier. Sleep deprivation, pain intense from breast feeding, and the insane hormonal shifts were my new norm. I cried so much that there was no more tears left. I kid you not ... Dry crying is a thing. And I actually never took a maternity leave because he was born during the middle of a busy event season. In fact, I was executing a wedding 17 days after Ryan was born. It's not that I was forced into not taking a time off. My clients are very kind people. But I felt that I had an obligation to them, one that came long before Ryans impending arrival, and as a business owner I made a choice. Was it the right one? I don't know. But it felt like the right one and it was a choice I made.
For months, I juggled baby and business. And it was quite a juggling act! I had no idea what I was doing as a mom, and no idea what I was doing as a business owner who now has the title of mom added to it. So, I learned on the job. Some things got easier. And some things got harder. Such as my guilt around being a mom who was focused on her work. It started getting more intense as the months went on. There were nights that couldn't hold Ryan because I felt like he resented me. A tiny baby ... I know, it's insane. And that typing that makes me feel crazy. But it's how I felt. I just knew that he was starting to hate that my focus wasn't 100% on him all day. Because I had work to do, we didn't get to attend music classes, or baby and me yoga, or take trips to the park. Or at least,i that is the story my mind made me believe. I would refuse to hold him, or kiss him goodnight because I just knew he didn't want me. I wasn't good enough for him. He deserved better than me. He deserved a mom that could give him sensory play activities, and play groups with peers. I couldn't give him what he needed. I was failing as a mother, in my mind. And our minds are really powerful. I had this entire negative tape playing on a loop like you wouldn't believe. But when you're in the fog, you don't realize that these words are a lie. They seem so real. And reality is hard to distinguish from fiction. My husband is a wonderful and loving man. He knew something was up immediately, but like a lot of significant others, he wasn't sure how to handle this ... shift. He would always tell me that what I'm feeling is not true, and give me tons encouragement. But I didn't believe him. It felt like he had to say that as my husband and that he really didn’t feel it in his heart that I was a good mom.
As the the end of the year approached, all these feelings started to intensify. And handling it got to be a bit much. I was losing control. We travel every year for Christmas, and this year was no exception - even with a baby. We decided that my husband would drive down to Louisiana from North Carolina with all the stuff (since a 11 hour drive would've been torture with an 8 month old), and Ryan & I would get on a plane and fly down for Christmas. This meant that my husband had to leave the day before. So I had to have everything prepared in advance. And as those that have ever traveled with a baby know ... they have a lot of crap to carry around! As my husband was leaving, my laptop went on the fritz. My laptop is my everything. My entire business was on that device. I had so much to accomplish so that I could go out of town to see my family for the holidays, and December is one of the busiest times for event professionals (hello engagement season!) - and my laptop (that was practically new!) was giving me trouble. Some of you might remember my struggles. And for me, it was the last straw. Nothing felt right and this was one more thing I had to deal with. I just couldn't. I had officially lost control of my life. And that was scaring me.
Even after spending hours on the phone with Apple support, I was getting nowhere. So, in a desperate attempt to control things, I marched down to the Apple store at SouthPark Mall bright and early the next morning. There were no appointments available and I had a flight that afternoon, but I was determined to fix this problem. Fixing this problem would make everything better. Or so I thought. I arrive at the Apple store, and of course they can't help me without an appointment. They offer to put me on a wait list. I accept. I only had about an hour to wait because Ryan had to be home for nap time and I had to catch a flight after he woke up. So I sat on the couches outside the store. And the weight of everything started to get to me, again. I couldn't stop the tears. There I was on December 22, 2016 ... three days before Christmas, in a very busy mall ... and I'm crying, with my baby by my side. I felt pathetic, and that made me cry even more. I literally couldn't hold back tears. I sometimes think about how many people walked by me on that day. Maybe they noticed me, maybe they didn’t. But you did. You stopped.
You saw me. You touched my shoulder and said hello. You didn't want to alarm or disturb me. But I didn't mind at all. You asked me if everything was okay, and I didn't know how to answer. I mean, yes everything was okay. But at the same time, nothing was okay. I just had no idea how to express it. You asked for my name, and gave me yours. "I'm Jane. It's nice to meet you." You said that you didn't know why I was crying, but that you saw me sitting here and felt called to reach out. You shared with me that just last year you lost your husband to a sudden heart attack. And that your first Christmas without him was lonely. I immediately felt humbled. Who am I to cry about a material object like a broken laptop? I have a wonderful life, and an amazing husband, and a healthy and happy baby boy. Isn't that all that mattered? Shouldn’t I be happy? She told me that it's okay to feel pain, regardless of the cause. I think you knew something I didn't. I thought it was about the computer, but it wasn't. You asked me if you could pray over me. And I said yes. We sat down in the middle of a busy mall three days before Christmas, and you prayed for me. Me. Who was I to deserve this kind of treatment? You walked away and my heart felt lighter. I kid you not. Did you know that the name Jane means "Gift From God". I truly believe that you were a gift from God. A gift I didn't know I needed. I called my husband after our interaction, and he agreed that you were a gift. You gave me a message that I desparately needed. You helped lift me from my fog. And from that day on, whenever I would feel myself slipping back into a bad place or like life was too much to handle, I think of you. I think of the way you saw me, when it seemed like I was invisible to the world.
This year has been challenging in its own way, with the launch of a new business and a (now) very busy toddler to look after. And every time I feel overwhelmed, I think of you. I picture your face and your very sweet and comforting smile. I think you'll be happy to know that I'm not letting my mind get the best of me any more. I am enough. I am a good mother. I am a good wife. I am a good business owner. I am not invisible.
So Jane, thank you for seeing me. Thank you for taking time out of your day to talk to me. Thank you for lifting me from that fog.
During this season of hustle and bustle, I hope that I can pass on your message of self-worth to other women (and men) who need to be seen, even if they are in a deep fog.