Let’s just jump right into this: I’m not going to lie, some days I feel like I am losing my damn mind. Between working full time, going to school for my Master’s, trying to be the best mom and wife I can be, and taking care of myself, it can get overwhelming to say the least. Sometimes I struggle. Does that make me a terrible person? Not at all. However, about a year ago I thought it did, but fortunately I was able to get past that.
I was talking to someone whom I had known for many years, and I don’t entirely remember the conversation, but one part of it stuck out. This person asked me, “So aside from your son, what makes you smile now-a-days?” I legit couldn’t answer the question. What seemed like such a simple question that (almost) anyone could answer, I was entirely speechless. Holy crap, you guys. Where did I go? Who was I? I knew I was a mom, a wife, an employee, and a student; but who was I as a person or a being?
This shook me to my core. I had no idea what had happened to the person that I was, or where she went, or how I lost her. I had no clue as to when I left her behind, but I knew I needed to get her back. Plain and simple, I started reflecting on the previous parts of my life as I heard that question play over and over again in my head, and I remembered a time where I was a free-spirited, fun-loving person. In my personal “a-ha” moment, I knew more than anything I need to do this and that it was completely up to me. But how would I get it done? I didn’t feel like I could talk to anyone I knew because I didn’t think it would get me anywhere, but I knew I needed someone. So what did I do? I found a therapist near my work and set up a session with her around lunchtime one day so I could be in and out without missing more time than necessary with my job. I needed someone to talk to and to guide me to clarity and inner peace, and she was just around the corner from the office.
The first session, I was nervous. I kept thinking to myself “do I really need therapy? Why is there such a stigma with therapy? Am I wasting my time?” and so many other questions. I was quiet the first session. I didn’t know what to say or how to act. I just kind of sat there and responded to her questions with the shortest answers possible. It seemed like an eternity until finally the hour was up and I was given a homework assignment and a follow-up appointment was scheduled for two weeks later. As I sat in my car, I knew I had made a huge mistake. The mistake wasn’t that I chose to go see a therapist, the mistake was that I had kept my guard up and hid my thoughts, feelings, and concerns inside myself. I didn’t really give her anything to work with and I automatically knew I was hurting myself more than anything else.
Two weeks had come and gone and I found myself sitting on that couch again. I didn’t do my homework (whoopsie), but that was because I was avoiding it and wanted to start fresh with this second session. I started off being completely honest and told her I knew that my responses and reactions could have been better, and that I was aware that I needed to give more than what I had. She told me that it was quite alright, and she commended me for taking the first step in general, and for recognizing that I needed to participate. Once we got that out of the way, we started conversing and I slowly opened up more and more with each passing minute. Once the session was over, I felt better, and I was looking forward to my next appointment. I was also finally ready to tackle that homework assignment she gave me from our first meeting, which I did.
I saw that therapist for several months while we were still in Orlando. I felt like I was making progress, and her words validated that for me. I was starting to understand that I am so much more than mom-wife-employee-student extraordinaire. I was me, and I wanted to get back to the me that I was so fond of. I realized, thanks to her help, that if I’m not the best I can be, that I won’t be able to be the best mom I can be, or the best wife, or friend, or daughter. Whatever it is. If I don’t take care of myself and my needs, I’ll be going around in circles with this who am I, who I want to be, how do I get there business. And quite frankly, that sounded exhausting.
Per her recommendations, I started taking time for myself. I became aware that taking time for yourself isn’t selfish, it’s necessary. I was hesitant at first about having “Dominique Days,” and my therapist said, “It’s not even a day though, it’s really just a couple of hours.” She encouraged me to go to a movie by myself, take myself out to dinner, go for a drive, whatever. Just do something that I want to do and that it was solely for me. She was right. One or two hours, maybe four if I wanted, didn’t take that much time out of the week and it wouldn’t take away from the duties I felt obligated to. If two hours of doing what I want to do isn’t manageable, then there are different problems that I need to uncover. But you know what? Two hours WAS manageable!!!!!
One day, I needed to take a day off of work to run some errands that can typically only be completed from 9-5 Monday through Friday, but you know what I did after that? I went to a movie! It was liberating. I didn’t have to worry about seeing something I didn’t want to see, or getting distracted by anyone or anything. I went to a 12pm movie, by myself, got some snacks and a drink, and just relaxed. It was eye-opening, you guys. After that movie, I felt like I was ready to take on the world all over again. I felt refreshed, and tended to, and that put me in a great mood which I hadn’t experienced in a while. That great mood helped me conquer the day and the rest of the week, which sometimes is all we really need.
The moral of the story is, if you lose your balance in life and get out of touch with yourself, you can get it back but it takes work. This stuff isn’t just going to fix itself. You have to put some effort into it, and acknowledging the importance of mental health can be difficult, but once it is acknowledged, and you are ready to take the steps necessary to tend to it and to find your personal balance, it is so worth it.
I still work on having “Dominique Days,” or hours for that matter, and it is a game changer. As I continue to get in touch with my old self, I learn something else. So now I’m working on taking the best of the old stuff and mixing it with the new stuff to help me uncover this super-being inside of myself, inside of all of us, that will help me be passionate, free, loving, and happy. Give yourself some time, take up a hobby, do something this is strictly 100% just for you, and the other things will start to fall back into place as you figure out who you are and what makes you smile. Don’t rely on others to take care of you, because only you can truly figure out what you need and what you have to do to make it happen.
If you need to find someone to talk to if you’ve lost your balance, resources are available everywhere you look, but start here: