I remember reading an article from 2015 about a woman who took time away from work and friends to focus on her mental health which ended up with her quiting her job, and leaving most of her friends behind. It was one of viral stories that came across my facebook feed. I wasn't looking for it. Just happened to catch my eye.
The reactions were mixed. A lot of people found her actions to be selfish as she completely shutout and stopped talking to people during this break. I remember thinking to myself; "I wish I could do that." But sort of brushed it off as things that sound good in theory, but will never work.
Thinking about where I was in 2015... a year before my father passed. Well, let me say this first. I think about my life like this... it stopped in 2016 when he passed, and the time after has been a major rebuild. I am not even the same person I was then. The way I thought, or felt. Nothing was the same. So taking you back then, I was very consumed in the problems of my friends. So much that they caused problems in my marriage and family because I was always having to stop what I was doing to help someone out. Let it be emotionally or financially. I just wanted to help the people in my life.
Around this time we started family therapy because of my son's social struggles and impulsive habits. It was called family based and they were in my home 3 to 4 times a week for a year. They were intense moments that lead to big family cries. Some sessions had even involved my father. It was great for all of us. And it was the first time my father, husband, and children had an open stage to address my distractions and their opinions on the unhealthy friendships I had.
These past friendships were not faulted on one side. I had role to play. I may not have seen it then, but I do now. I could have done a lot differently... A LOT. I am by no means innocent.
Sometimes a romantic relationship ends and there are no faults. People drift and grow apart. Their lives go different directions. And you have to make a choice to move on and not stay in a place where you are unhappy. You have to. Or you end up destroying yourself, the other person, or both. And what I didn't realize is that this same idea goes to platonic friendships and relationships too.
It's ok not let friends go. It doesn't make you bad, or them bad. You're just in a different place in your life. You aren't selfish for saying goodbye.
When my dad passed, I said goodbye to all those people. Anyone who made me question my value as a person. Anyone who made me feel that I constantly had to prove my value as not only a friend, but as a person too. This expanded not only real life, but internet friendships as well.
I let everyone go and searched for my own worth. I stopped letting others define me, and started to define myself.
Over the next year I kept very busy. Working A LOT. I was shooting 5 days a week. Constantly trying not to think about my dad or the issues I had with rumors and mixed reactions to my life choices.
But then it hit me... this wasn't enough. Sure, the break from friendships had opened up some mental clarity, but I was filling the space with work. I still wasn't healing. I wasn't growing, I was not rebuilding my life.
So I took a break from working too. I just stopped taking clients. And the money I saved from all those extra shoots... well... I took a vacation. I went on a trip alone. I went in search of myself and came home with so much more.
Although our family based therapy has ended, I am still in therapy. I am very active in various grief support programs and am learning new things about myself daily.
I am so grateful that I was able to take this break and focus on myself. Working hard to fix things because without the foundation within myself.. I can't be a friend to anyone.... I couldn't be a good mom or even wife. I had to fix the problems at the core within my soul. It's a work in progress. Something I have to nurture everyday. And I do just that.
That woman in the article was right. Maybe she was selfish. But maybe we all need to be selfish sometimes.
Here is what I have learned;
1. Therapy actually is a good thing. Therapy is important. Having someone outside your friends and family to talk to is priceless. I needed someone in my life who wouldn't just agree with everything I said, or take things personally. I needed to be able to talk freely, open, and honest. It's been such an important part of my life the past year.
2. Self care is everything. Taking time for yourself doesn't make you weak. Self-care is not optional. You have to put your mental health at the top of your priority list. This is not optional. You can not take care of others if you're not taking care of yourself.
3. Don't overwhelm yourself because nothing happens over night. Making goals towards progress, not perfection. I just want to make sure I am moving forward. It doesn't need to be perfect as long as I am trying.
4. Let them go, doesn't make you a bad person. It's ok to let people go of people who no longer fit into your life. Growing apart or your life taking new direction isn't something to feel guilty for. Doesn't mean my life is better or perfect compared to the former friends. Just means we don't mesh as people. There are no faults. Sometimes friendships have to come to and end.
5. Life is so short. Enjoy the time I have with my kids whilst they are still little. Even the small things like potty training Poppy and teaching her to write her name. We only get one. These are the things that are important.
I am trying to use this time away from work wisely and plan on making a comeback this summer. I have a lot of projects I'd like to try my hand at and I am working on writing out a new business plan. Baby steps.... baby steps towards progress..
If you're struggling to hold on to something in your life that you aren't sure is the healthiest, I hope that perhaps my words can help you find the motivation needed to make a positive change in your life.
I get a little tired of people who assume that just because you have kids, you are automatically completely uncool, and that all your time is spent wiping babies from head to toe, giving spit baths, criticizing their every move, volunteering for PTA, blogging in your spare time, clipping coupons before crock potting a pot roast, ironing the clothes, bleaching the whites, mopping the floors, harvesting your eggs, sewing for your etsy shop, scrapbooking the little things, taking pictures of everything they do, saving for college, reading Dr. Suess, socializing at the bus stop, sweeping the floor, laughing over coffee with your jogging stroller, wearing your birkenstocks and listening to Baby Einstein.
Just because I DO THESE THINGS OCCASIONALLY.
Does not mean for one second that sometimes I don’t just want to be a kick ass girl with streaks in her hair, a ring in her nose, a tattoo on her arm, concert tickets in her purse, vodka in her fridge, a leather mini-skirt in her closet, her best single friends and a standing reservation for Las Vegas once a year with a don’t ask don’t tell policy, and the desire to just once be seen as more than the mother of 5 kids. Sometimes I just want to be seen as a “Maggie”. A “Maggie” with an extremely adorable set of children… (I joke, but sometimes it's hard to over come labels. )