Author: Viki Kelly-Quirk

Vicki kelly quirk

Engagement Over Success/Failure

[vc_row][vc_column 0=””][vc_column_text]When my business was my primary focus in life, I could use my monthly stats, weekly client sessions, and the amount of money I made to see how I was successful.  I measured a lot of my self-worth against those numbers and client feedback.  Since being pregnant and becoming a mother, my business has fallen to the 2nd position.

I had been beating myself up because I couldn’t get my once thriving business back on track and all I could think was “Fail”.  Every night that my son was up for the 6th time, all I could think was “Fail”.  When he is yelling “No” at me for the 55,000 time since he got out of bed, all I could think was “Fail”.  All I could see was failure until one day when my therapist said to me “There is no scale to measure motherhood on. There is an epic amount of expectations we can set for ourselves and ideas we have about how it will all be, but those aren’t scales to measure against. Those are things to reality test.”

I left the session feeling a bit relieved, a lot exhausted, and a tad curious.  I asked my husband if he feels successful in life right now and he replied, “Sometimes at work I do.  I don’t look at parenting the same way though.  I take what Brene Brown says about parenting and use that… I know I am an engaged father. That’s good enough for me.”

I went to bed pondering this. What if my experience of motherhood isn’t about succeeding or failing? What if it is about engaging? Could I be considered an engaged mom in every moment just because I am willing to be there with whatever is happening?

I have played around with being engaged and staying out of tallying my successes and failures. I have tried to stay present in my body and with my emotions.  The tougher moments brought out the little Failure Gremlin and it tried to tell me I was failing when things weren’t going well or I was losing my patience. I told it “I am engaging.” It didn’t run away as quickly as I had hoped for but it didn’t stick around repeating itself either.

I can’t tell you it has been is easy to choose engagement over saying “Success” or “Fail” but it has shifted how I am feeling. I am not clenching my jaw or walking around with super tense muscles. I question my choices less and have even felt confident in many of them.

It has helped me to be gentler and more compassionate with myself and what we can give ourselves we can share with our children and everyone else in our life.

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An Open Letter to My Loved Ones

Dear loved ones,

It isn’t anyone’s fault I ended up having Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders after my son’s birth, nor have I done anything wrong while suffering from this illness. I know surviving this has affected me in a number of ways and I imagine it has affected you in a variety of ways.

For that, I am sorry.

I’m sorry I wasn’t honest with you.

I’m sorry I kept you out.

I’m sorry if I hurt you.

I wasn’t well and wasn’t able to do more than I did at the time. Denial was present before I had any clue what was happening to me followed by intense confusion and all consuming fear. I wanted so badly to believe I was ok, I could do this mom thing, and the hard times would pass. I wanted it so badly I tried to fake it till I made it. I only started to make it when I stopped faking it.

I was lost within myself. My thoughts and feelings terrified me to the point where I couldn’t believe anyone else could handle them. I kept you at a distance because the thought of horrifying you with how I felt or losing your love as a result of my feelings was far too much to bear.

None of what happened is a reflection on you or the love you have shown me. It speaks to what mental illness and trauma can do to a person. My postpartum anxiety,depression, and PTSD altered my perception of everything including what I know to be true about myself and all of you.

You’d give me the world if you could and do anything to make sure I was ok. These facts weren’t in my mind for a while but were always in my heart. When I started to put myself back together again, I began to remember the truth.

The truth is you were with me through the darkest and scariest hours, the smiles I faked, the lies I told, the times of real joy and fun, and the moment I accepted what was happening to me. My being able to come to acceptance of my illness, receive treatment, and share it with you speaks to who you are in my life and the love you’ve shown me.

Please understand that PMADs are a complex beast to war with and it takes a strength, determination, and resilience you don’t know you have until you start digging for it. It wasn’t that I wanted to be how I was or treat you as I did; I was in deep pain and survival mode. What I thought I needed the least I needed the most – a tribe of other mothers who shared my experience. I needed to be in this community to begin my healing then carry it out into my life with you. It couldn’t work the other way around.

Please know my struggle wasn’t your fault. None of us were properly educated in PMADs and, even if we had been, it may have all played out the same way. I was so panicked from the depths of my being that I strapped on a mask and held it in place as tightly as I could. If you saw past my mask and have any regrets about how you handled that moment, please try to let it go.

It is unknown to me whether or not you having said something or done differently if I could’ve received it. I do know now it is worth it to ask questions of a mom and say you’re concerned when you are even if it appears to fall on deaf ears. We can never know what might stick in a person’s mind and how they may use it later on.

Please hold onto the fact that your love and acceptance of me is what helped me climb out of the darkness and re-emerge back into our life.

Thank you for never giving up on me.

I love you.

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