It was the morning of Thanksgiving, 2011. Ben and I were signed up to run the Flying Feather 4 Miler. I ate my usual pre-run breakfast: peanut butter toast. An easy run before our nice holiday of feasting and wine.
Looking back, that was the moment I should have realized that everything was about to change.
I was no longer in charge of my body.
I remember complaining to Ben that my food wasn't digesting. It was sitting in my stomach--a leaden brick. We were huddled in the cold, waiting for the start of the race. I ate that toast three hours ago. It shouldn't still be there. What was going on? I just didn't feel right.
The reason for my stomach troubles should have dawned on me because my pregnancy was the result of many doctor visits. We were hoping and praying for this--for a long time. And the timing was right. But again, at the time, I didn't know that one of the hallmarks of pregnancy is that your digestion slows so that your body can eek out every bit of nutrition from your food. And I had no clue that I would actually be able to feel it.
Knowing something was off, I went home after the race and took a pregnancy test. The heavens parted and a golden ray of light shone down on that pee-soaked stick. POSITIVE!!!! We tricked our family with sparkling grape juice (My family drinks. They would have known in an instant if I wasn't drinking.) because we weren't ready to spill the beans.
I hated being pregnant. And I really think it was that feeling of being utterly out of control of my own body that caused those feelings. And don't get me wrong. My child is everything we had hoped and prayed for. He is my own heart walking around in the world. I adore him--I just hated being pregnant. I gained 60 pounds. And he was 5 weeks early (I can't even begin to imagine how big I would have been a month later!)
As I mentioned before, after he was born, I lost myself. I was panicked, overwhelmed, and desperate for my old self. I had forgotten what I used to be.
But I knew that my old self was still there, somewhere. My child is and always will be the center of my universe, but I have to remember that I am his as well. And I don't want his universe to be a black hole of nothing. I've come out of the fog of motherhood and the other side is amazing. I feel alive again and ready to give back. I just wish it hadn't taken me so long.
It doesn't have to take you that long. If you are feeling consumed, used up, and defeated by something in your life, it is possible, with a lot of grace for yourself, to get back to doing the things that light YOU up. And I promise, it can be done even if you are exhausted and up all night and wracked with worry and guilt. In fact, I will argue to you that this is the time you need to focus on getting back to yourself EVEN MORE. Because it's a cycle--exhausted so you don't work out but you know that exercise energizes you / no time to meal plan or prep so you reach for crappy convenience foods and vice foods to mask the emotions you are feeling which then further drains your energy / and so on and so on.... Don't wait. Reach out. I'm here.