The other day, I posted on Facebook and Instagram that I was ready to start using my art degree. It was a random photo that received more likes and well-wishes than any other photo I've posted online, aside from an announcement of my baby's birth. It stopped me in my tracks and made me realize that I'm letting life pass me by.
I didn't mean to challenge myself, but I did. I've been ready for a long time; I just haven't been able to articulate my thoughts. In putting brush to canvas, I'm able to express myself in a way that I just can't do with fabric, yarn, or in my day to day chores around the house. True, as a mom and wife I do feel like I weave love into just about everything I do. I sew quilts that keep my family warm. I make clothes and lovies and pillows. I cook good, healthy food (and some treats!) that my family eats. Even begrudgingly, washing my third sink-full of dishes or load of laundry for the day, I think of my children or husband, and though I may sigh or roll my eyes or even complain, I take pride in a clean (ish) house and all that it entails. But creating for the sake of creating has never felt right to me. Painting is frivolous. You can't make a bed with a painting, or wear it, or eat it. So why do it?
Going through postpartum depression--and just being prone to depression--I find that I cope better when I can express my thoughts, rather than pulling into the steady stream of "not good enoughs" or "not pretty enoughs" or "not worthy enoughs." When I was suicidal, my therapist recognized that I was giving too much of myself, and nothing to myself. At the time it was such a ludicrous idea to me: that I should take any time for myself. I was caring for my then one year-old and four year-old, and my every waking thought was with them, each of their special needs (a recurring hearing loss for one, and sensory disorders for both) or with all the things that were passing me by. I watched my friends handle their kids and keep clean houses, or work out, or homeschool their kids, while still managing their own creative pursuits. In my attempt to stay sane, I filled my blog reader with pretty blogs that made me feel simultaneously inspired and inadequate. I wondered--obsessively--how I was supposed to create all the things that I wanted to create, while still giving my children 100% of myself like all these people who were "prettier/skinnier/more creative/just plain better than me." I was jealous; I didn't even know why. I was drowning; I couldn't figure out how to swim.
Nearly three years after rock bottom, I still fall into depression more easily than I can claw my way back out. I worry that I will never be pretty enough, or skinny enough, or good enough. I worry that my kids will be effected by my crying, or that they will be just like me when they're older. I worry that I will look back with regret if I say "no" to them so that I can work on a project, or even just to read a book. I still struggle to live in the moment. I sometimes still feel like I'm drowning.
BUT, with the help of my therapist and a very understanding husband, I am learning to take bits of time for myself. I've gone on solo trips that have left me feeling alive, inspired, and a better mommy and wife. I've been cultivating friendships that are not based on playdates for my kids. Best of all, I've been painting, just for the sake of creating something. It's totally frivolous, but I'm doing it. I don't know where I'm going with it, but for now it's making me feel worthy again, and that makes me feel like I'm good enough.