Lisha's motherhood story - Surviving childhood trauma
Sometimes horrible shit happens….
I have an almost 8 month old baby boy called Max, named after the king of the Wild Things, Maurice Sendak’s imaginative little hero. My husband and I had picked out this name years before he was even conceived. Max, was a name we had held on to for what felt like a long time along with the hope of some day becoming parents. In sharing my motherhood story, I have to first explain my voice and the place that it has originated from, the lens by which I see the world.
Since I was a little girl I have experienced the world around me as a victim/survivor. In more recent years I feel ever more the survivor than I do the victim, although she is still there. During my darkest days it is all too easy to identify with the victim that I have carried around for as long as I can remember.
Like most human beings on this earth, I was not raised in a bubble and therefore have experienced and witnessed some pretty horrible shit in my life. But I survived. My trauma was childhood sexual abuse and it has taken me a long time to process my grief around that experience. The trauma has become a part of me, it has shaped who I am as a person and there really is no telling which parts of me were painted with the trauma brush and what I really took away from that experience.
All I know is that all of me and all that I will ever be will always be influenced by that childhood trauma that I experienced.
I just want to reassure everyone and sometimes even myself that it is not all doom and gloom. The story does, for the most part end well, although I hope I’m nowhere near the end of my story just yet. I did more than survive. I grew up into a woman who loves love, has a big appetite for food and life and have now also been #blessed with a happy, healthy little human who I fall more and more in love with everyday.
I thought my story was worth sharing because too many of us out there in fact have experienced horrible shit in our lives. Sadly not all of us have survived, but many of us do. Speaking for myself sometimes when you have survived something horrible, you feel broken and you carry around so much pain. There are days when everything feels too hard and unfair and I am a victim all over again.
It took me a long time but I still don’t always have it figured out to look after myself. I’m learning and re-learning what works for me, for my marriage and now for my family.
Before Max, I would just curl up and escape into a nap or watch Netflix for hours on end. I had a pretty great speed dial list of friends I could call to speak to/ dance with/ eat bad food with and drink with if I needed. Or I could go to the gym on my own with my headphones blaring early 2000s R’n’B and try to run away from it all on the treadmill.
Looking after myself and my mental health has been a whole new challenge since becoming a mum, because I now care for a human being almost exclusively for 24 hours a day. Many of those hours spent on my own. I can’t nap at will now, I can’t just go to the gym when I want and have unlimited ‘me’ time. There’s no nights out with the girls since I started my 'breastfeeding career' and phone chats at all hours of the day don’t really work with sleep/feed time.
It is only 8 months and I am still working things out, still adjusting to how lonely the days can get and how hard it can be to ask for help.
I’ve learnt to find 'good mum energy,' through my mothers group, social media, family or friends. Making that connection with other like minded, positive, understanding mums, sharing stories and hard truths has been invaluable. Getting out of the house everyday helps, even if it is just a small trip to the shops. I haven’t ventured on a night out yet but I have joined a fantastic mum and bub friendly gym. During bath time I treat myself to some Netflix currently watching new episodes of Queer Eye! It is the small things, slowly helping me find my old self and learning how to look after myself as well as my new little family.
It’s all brand new and being a mum has brought along a whole new set of challenges, a whole new set of fears and emotions I wasn’t expecting.
I worry a lot. I am consumed by thoughts of wanting so desperately to protect my son. I want to make sure he never experiences what I went through. After many sleepless nights, I figured out that I won’t be able to protect him, not from everything this world has in store for him. But the best thing I can do is let him know that he is loved and safe with me, and that no matter what happens it will take a lot to break him, because he is my son.
No doubt he will experience some horrible shit in his life, but hopefully he will know he can speak to me about it. He will know that I will be a safe place to fall, I want him to know that I will try my hardest to never let me down. I also want him to know the healing power of laughter and love and CARBS! Self-care, supportive friends and family can go a long way and we can intentionally build a life that can heal us and bring ourselves and those around us happiness.
It has been a tough couple of weeks personally and with the recent suicides of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade I just thought it was important to talk about mental health. In fact we should never shut up about it. So many people in our lives are carrying around so much pain, but they might have brave smiles, families who love them, great lip stick and amazing confidence so sometimes it hard to see what may be going on just under the surface.
I guess this was a big reminder for me to check in with my own mental health, to be kind to myself and to not let my list of things to do consume me and take me away from quality time with my new family.
It was also a reminder to check in with those around me. Life gets busy and it’s all too easy to not really see those around us. The 8th of September is R U OK Day, where we are encouraged to have conversations to save lives. Let’s not wait until September. Let’s try to have these conversations everyday.
When I’m not on Mat Leave, I work in Public Health. Specifically managing projects promoting social inclusion, mental health and preventing violence against women in the community. I am also a poet and currently writing my first novel. You'll find me over on Instagram (@lisha_pen_murphy), sharing poetry and stories. When my son Max was 5 months old I decided to go back Uni and I'm now doing a Masters in International Law. I love insta-gramic brekkies and long weekends.
Motherhood in 5 words: Cuteness, cuddles but no sleep-ins ( sleep-ins 1 word lol).
Fav family friendly place: Happy River Café in Footscray.
Coffee order: Long black, no sugar.
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