When I was about 25 an ex told me that I had a “baby shaped hole inside me” and the only way I would ever be happy would be to have a child and become a mother.
Now I don’t blame him for this comment, he was going through his own stuff and was grappling to find some answers himself but it has stuck with me.
I was really lost at that point, I lacked direction, I lacked focus, my OCD was managing me rather than me managing it and I was really unhappy - I was taking antidepressants to try and manage. I had had three long relationships back to back and had always pinned my identity on the relationship I was in.
I had grown up thinking that having a child would make me happy and so I believed him for a while and felt shitty about myself. I lived in hope that the next big relationship was just around the corner so I put off booking things ‘in case I met someone and wanted to do it with them’ and I just threw myself into work, which I loved, and partied - it was fun but it wasn’t fulfilling, it was a hamster wheel.
Two years on (ish) I bit the bullet and made a small plan just for me, I went on holiday to Turkey, alone! And it was the best thing I had ever done! I met someone else on holiday on her own and we spent a week kayaking and mountain biking and dancing and having deep, soul searching conversations with zero judgement. We are still great friends now and I am so grateful for our Turkish collision! I had just turned 27 and on that trip I wrote a list of 28 things to do before I was 28. A mini bucket list!
The list had some fun things like learning to ride a motorbike and wild swim and some tough ones like going veggie for two months. I saved every 20p coin that I received and I bought a bicycle with the savings, I went on to tick off another item by riding said bike 30km (a lot for me). I adopted an attitude of saying yes. I said yes to a trip to New York, a new tattoo of an ampersand (to me signifying yes yes yes more more more - I was 27 remember, don't judge!) I said yes to things I didn’t think I’d like and challenged my own assumptions and beliefs. As an avid “fish hater” I decided I couldn’t hate all fish so I went to a restaurant for an 8 course fish tasting menu. Guess what - I don't hate all fish! I downloaded albums of bands I'd never heard of and went to events that were not my style.
I did not one, but two Tough Mudders, I went skiing, I ran a number of 10k races, I did yoga too, I put myself out there with friends I had lost touch with and tried to get to know acquaintances better.
This attitude of saying yes expanded my thinking and helped to me to find what I like about myself and accept what I wasn’t so keen on.
I didn’t have a baby shaped hole in me, I had a me shaped hole in me. Once I filled it and stopped thinking I needed someone else to make me happy, I became... you guessed it... happy!
Now don’t get me wrong I have a son now and he’s awesome and I love him and he does make me happy, everyday. But that’s not his responsibility, that’s too much for me to ask of him, he needs to just be him. Making me happy is no ones responsibility but mine and that thought is so freeing and empowering.
This is a snippet of my story and not a judgement or advice for anyone else, mental health is a fragile thing and like our physical health, everyone is different. My story isn’t terrible, it isn't heart breaking or shocking, but it’s mine and you’re welcome to take anything from it you like, or not.
Have a top day!
P.S - While we're sharing... I dipped again after my son was born. Not postnatal depression just regular, and I went back onto antidepressants for a while as well as attending some talking therapies. I truly believe that I dipped because for a short period after becoming a mother I lost me again. I had this new part of my identity and I didn't know what else it changed or knocked on. I felt like a third party had redefined me and that I was loosing control of the person I had contracted with myself I would be. I am me again now, ever adjusting, ever learning, ever tripping up, and ever changing - but me and that's cool.