An unplanned path through motherhood and finding the way back to loving myself.
Given that both my husband and I were experienced Paediatric RN’s, I honestly thought we had this whole parenting thing covered. We looked after critically ill infants and children every day, how hard could it be to parent a healthy child? Surely if anyone was going to be able to nail this kid thing it was us right? How incredibly wrong I was to assume that my career would be the perfect learning ground for Motherhood. Looking back now, the only skills I was equipped with were how to bath, dress and change a baby and how to recognise when an infant or child is seriously ill or in need of immediate medical attention. Sure, good skills to have, however what I needed the most were skills in honouring myself and my needs as a woman and new Mother.
Back then my self – worth was very much entangled in my strong worth ethic, willingness to put others needs and desires before my own and my ability to get things done in a low maintenance, no fuss kind of way.
I’ve always been a strong, capable person and during this time wore busyness as a badge of honour and had a master’s degree in martyrdom.
Looking back now, I realise there was an imbalance in the way I chose to experience my masculine and feminine sides, leaving little room for pleasure, stillness, softness and joy.
On the rare occasion when I did create space for myself, it was often in secret or when my husband would travel for work.
Energy, angel cards and what our higher power is trying to communicate to us were never hot topics of conversation between the two of us, so I chose to hide my desire for a deeper understanding of my spirituality which began to create a deep incongruency within me and made me feel like I was living a double life.
Not being well versed in meeting my own needs or creating much needed time alone for myself, I remember the one thing I looked forward to with such tremendous anticipation was enjoying 2 or 3 home made choc chip cookies with a cup of tea each evening after dinner.
What was also adding to the pressure was my in-depth knowledge and understanding of what infants and children need for optimal brain development and for their emotional and psychological wellbeing. What my children needed on so many levels, I was unable to give at that time. The guilt and the shame around that for me was crippling.
After nearly harming my 4 month old daughter, the time had come to make the call.
One of the most beautiful things my incredibly special GP said to me that day was “from today, for as long as you need it, I’m putting a net underneath you so you can’t fall any further. I’ve got you.’
To this day it is one of the most impactful things anyone has ever said to me.
I simply didn’t know who I was anymore, I couldn’t care for myself in a way that my children needed me to and I felt so desperately sad and lost.
Knowing I was an RN, my GP was incredibly respectful of my education and knowledge and gave me permission to create my own team of professionals to find my way home to myself.
A flower blossoms because of it’s ability to give & receive unconditionally
It only took a few months to hand pick my therapists who were selected for their specialty of working with my mind, body and spirit.
This was an incredibly empowering experience for me being able to at least have some control over who was caring for me. It had been a long time since I had felt this level of entitlement and empowerment. This was definitely one of the indicators my pilot light was still flickering in there somewhere. I had the motivation to heal.
It was very clear that moving interstate, being so unwell during my pregnancy, my C-section surgery coupled with un resourceful beliefs and ways of thinking had really taken its toll.
Even though I knew things had to change it took many years before I truly understood what that meant and what I needed to do to create the changes I wanted to see in myself and my family.
I was however incredibly committed to healing myself and taking responsibility knowing it was up to me, is I believe, what has bought me the deep happiness I enjoy today.
I found incredible comfort in working with therapists who were experts in their field who had the capacity to hold space, work intuitively with my body and offer some much needed understanding and support.
After regaining my strength, I returned to Nursing a few days a week. I would often do night shifts and sleep during the day while the kids were in day care or school. It was on a casual basis which suited us at the time due to my husband needing to travel with work.
Returning to paid employment bought some much needed relief from the monotony I felt being a stay at home Mother with young children, boosted my confidence levels and helped out a little with the weekly budget.
However paediatric Nursing is both a physically and emotionally demanding job so caring for other people’s unwell children for 8-12 hours then coming home to care for my own wasn’t easy.
Still not having refined my skills in honouring my self-care needs, I would crash and burn a lot during these years. I was very inconsistent when it came to putting my needs in alignment with the others in my family.
Still proudly holding my master’s degree in Martyrdom and wearing busyness as a badge of honour, I secretly like it when other parents would say things like “oh I don’t know how you do it all Karina, with your husband traveling, Nursing and no family here to help you. You’re amazing!’ I enjoyed being seen to be having it all together and coping well. Being vulnerable and infallible was simply not an option back then.
My self-talk was never really berating but continued to be a bit more like ‘suck it up princess and just get on with it.’ I prided myself on being a low maintenance kind of girl who didn’t like to be fussed over. This was clearly linked to my low self-worth and therefore a lack of ability to speak up for my needs.
I would make up all sorts of excuses why my husband didn’t have to help around the house or contribute equally to our parenting. “I only work part time, I can do it or he’s got a high pressure job and travels a lot, asking him to do more is unreasonable. This let him off the hook and became more and more passive in these roles.
This contributing to the un resourceful cycle of either being in crash and burn or recovering from it!
What I notice looking back on this time was I rarely spoke up for my need for space and time for myself and never created experiences that bought me joy. The only time I accessed this sort of self-nourishment was in the weeks following a crash and burn when my husband would say to me “why don’t you go and have some time to yourself or a massage or something.” I had to wait for ‘permission’ or be in a state of desperation or crisis to feel as though caring for myself was warranted.
I would say the period over the past 5 years has been the most intense and rewarding in the sense that I have had a willingness to explore my shadow and explore my un resourceful beliefs more than ever before and in doing so, am experiencing levels of peace, contentment and happiness I have never felt before.
Unshackling myself from the should’s and have to’s, embracing choice and learning how to say No gracefully and politely to the things I don’t want to do have been game changers.
Honouring my preferences and choosing to spend time with people who energise me rather than bleed my dry coupled with finding my voice and speaking up for my needs rather than getting to them after everyone else’s had been taken care of has been an incredibly empowering process and has effectively taught others how to respectfully treat me.
Refusing to buy into my old story and being brave enough to try new ways of being and doing things even if the results don’t match the effort in the beginning, means I look forward to creating my future knowing it doesn’t have to be a reflection of the negatives of my past.
By choosing to honour my sensitive, empathic nature I now make decisions from a place of strength and confidence rather than uncertainty and mistrust and I take really good care of myself.
Having people walk beside me on this journey has been and will continue to be a crucial element of my return home. Sometimes I’ve had to search for them and other times they have just seemingly popped into my life when I’ve needed them. I think the most important element they’ve all had in common is the deep rapport we share. I know they truly get where I’m at because they’ve usually been there and moved through it. They always treat me with up most respect and are equally happy to pull me up when I indulge in excuses and my old story. As top class practitioners they provide a warm judgement free environment inviting me to explore my truth with confidence.
It is with such privilege and honour that I welcome you into my nest. To hold you as you explore this uncertain phase of your life, to provide the space for you to heal from past hurts, enriched with nurturing softness as you begin to create your own unique, happy Family Nest of your own.