The River Chick – Rebecca Greebon
My first experience with true Anxiety came roaring in on the coat tails of my introduction to Motherhood. Don’t get me wrong – it’s not that I had never felt anxious up to that point. You don’t live for long on this planet before walking through a moment (or six) of nervousness as you face the challenges of life. I’m not talking about those times. I’m talking about Anxiety, with a well-deserved capital “A”, as it is most certainly one of the big guns. I’m talking about the mind-numbing, gut-clenching, breath-hitching, all-consuming episodes of panic and/or despair that make you dread the day, or the night, or the hour, or all the moments in between. I’m talking about the inability to stop shaking, or think clearly, or cling to reason, or feel confident that it will ever get better and you will ever feel “normal” again.
It’s exhausting. It’s defeating.
It hit me shortly after the birth of my first son.
I didn’t know then that I was experiencing postpartum issues. I didn’t know that it was actually a very common problem for new moms. I only knew that I was exhausted and overwhelmed, swamped by the vicious cycle of hormone fluctuations my body was experiencing. I was rattled, and disappointed in myself.
What kind of mother was I? Why wasn’t I bursting with joy into the world of baby? Why did I start shaking every day around lunch time, escalating into full-blown panic by dark as I contemplated yet another night of crying (his and mine) and frustration? Why did I dread having visitors as well as being alone? Leaving the house as well as staying inside? Sure, I was tired….but so are all new parents. It was no cause for a meltdown.
Every flippant “that’s Motherhood” comment tossed my way when I tried to verbalize how I felt only served to cement my feelings of failure and apprehension.
I had a beautiful, healthy baby boy, perfection personified (if perfection has colic). Yet, I couldn’t find my bliss, couldn’t celebrate the blessing before me. I was lost and discouraged, trapped in angst.
One of my girlfriends, a mother of two, came to see me. I sat rigidly on the couch, smiling and nodding as she cooed over my little prince. I murmured sounds of agreement, keeping my face neutral. After a few minutes, she turned to look at me and in a gentle voice said, “You know, it’s okay if you’re not in love with him, yet.”
I stared my friend, sitting beside me with not a trace of judgment or censure on her face, and the tears began to flow. With that one simple statement, she set me free – not from the Anxiety itself (if only it were that easy), but from the shame that had come with it. And with the loss of shame, the grip it had on my heart loosened a little.
I began to pray, openly and earnestly, about my broken heart. I stopped pretending, even in my innermost thoughts, that I was ok, and refused to settle for being shattered. I spoke to God daily, pouring out my feelings and fears, asking for signs, reassurance and strength. I sang songs of praise as I rocked my way through the hours, weeks and months, humming the tunes when I couldn’t choke out the words.
They say that postpartum issues get worse with subsequent children. I am here to attest to the truth of that statement. Anxiety came racing back with a vengeance after the birth of our second son, this time with added physical manifestations. It was at least as terrible the second time around. And the third, when our daughter was born.
Yet, it was different in that I had been set free from the need to hide, and in the light, the darkness could not smother me.
I asked for help. I reached out to other moms, and discussed my brokenness with raw honesty. Most importantly, I armed myself with Truth (also worthy of capitalization). I remembered to first find Father and then clung to Him.
I revisited Mark 4:35-40, telling the story of the wind and the waves to myself repeatedly. The phrase “He’s in the boat” became my mantra.
Because He is, you know. In the boat. Always.
No matter how high the waves get, or how loud the thunder crashes, it cannot drown Him out. It cannot take away our access to Christ. It cannot stop the cries of our hearts from reaching His ears.
There is power in that. All we need to do is unleash it. Even when we’re weak, or shaking, or face down on the floor….. If we can muster up the strength to roll over, we’ll be looking up.
And that’s a start.
The River Chick – Rebecca Greebon
I’m a girl, in every sense of the word…which means I have a host of labels – wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, mentor, co-worker, partner, giggler, crier, speaker, listener, and (best of all) child of the One True King. I started writing because I have a passion to share with all the other girls (and guys) out there just how amazing they are, and how much they are loved, and how important and blessed every day is, even when we are lost or crazy or distracted or completely over ourselves and the world.
The link to my blog is theriverchick.com – it’s a mostly anecdotal, inspirational blog to encourage and maybe teach a little along the way. I sometimes do devotional series as well. I’m fairly new to the blogging world, so it’s not super big or fancy. I got started because I am a Director of Women’s Ministry for our church, and love to support, encourage and create community. In our current virtual world, online writing helps with that goal.