It’s been nearly a year since my last SistaMom post. Mmmm, Feb 2018 to be exact. I must admit I haven’t been as forthcoming with some things. But, seriously who’s truly telling it all (at the moment) anyway?
Most of us are at least willing to disclose after the storm, after the leap or once we’ve landed on our feet. You know, from a hindsight/ testimonial perspective?
Sharing AT the moment can be overly convoluted with biases, emotions and an inability to see. Think of all the statuses, emails, or text messages you started typing because you were in your feelings, but deleted. What about the word vomit you let out when you should’ve stayed quiet?
Speaking in real time isn’t always wise. Feelings are heightened and typically not reflective of how you feel overall (maybe in that moment) but not overall.
Happy New Yearrrrrrr!!!!
I entered 2018 with all the energy and momentum that I could muster up. Optimistic as always, I set new goals and plans for me and the kiddos to shine. I figured I could pull it ALL off, too.
I started the year paying down debt and enrolled in home buying classes with the intentions of purchasing my first home. Checking my credit score avidly, I paid and paid more debts to completion. Again, very optimistic, but unrealistic. I wanted the house to place the kids in their own rooms and something stable. Stability was something neither of us had growing up, so it meant a lot to me.
While taking classes and dashing through the city like a mad woman: I put in offer after offer on different homes well over my budget. I kept getting outbid but planned to figure it out. I convinced myself they needed to stay in the Buckhead area. I mean we were nestled in the best public school district. The quality of their education was non-negotiable for me.
Furthermore, I was terrified to disrupt the social lives they built which provided such confidence in them. We worked too hard turning their behaviors and academics around (right where we were). Of course, I was still very present and active at their school through volunteering, hiring tutors, attending SST meetings monthly and ensuring they were connected socially.
I gained a new appreciation for single mothers through all of this. And, still balanced the stresses of work (with fake ease). Here’s the real insane part, you ready? Simultaneously, I published my second book Blackbird: The Story of a SistaMom.
Lord only knows why he wired me with such ambition and insanity. Truthfully, I didn’t have enough earnest money and couldn’t afford to continue caring for them let alone purchase a home at the moment. My savings & 401k was depleted the year prior when I took them. Releasing the second book was supposed to fund our down-payment.
I was also tired of people inquiring “what’s next for you as an author and entrepreneur” as if I had a clue what was next let alone who I was anymore.
Before motherhood, I had a plan and was confident in who I was and life’s trajectory. I mean I didn’t have all the answers but felt as if I were on track.
Back to the writing
Blackbird was necessary. It was life support for me. It primary saved my life as it provided escapism and a release of unhealthy harbored feelings and emotions. It was my fundamental coping mechanism while navigating through clinical depression after Larry died.
I had been diagnosed some time ago along with a slew of other things including sleep deprivation, acute anxiety, and panic attacks. My blood pressure elevated to 190/80.
“Ms. Shelton, we’ve got to get your pressure down. As you know elevated pressure leads to heart attack or stroke.”
I had already lost a chunk of my hair and gained 20 pounds due to stress. I wasn’t well or masking it well. So, the mere mention of a heart attack was not something I needed to hear. Larry died of a heart attack literally at my age. I was terrified of dying too.
I’m so used to being in control but couldn’t control the anxiety, crying episodes, non-existing sleep, meltdowns, and panic attacks so I damn sure didn’t know how to “lower my pressure”.
I only knew I didn’t want to die. I also knew I was angry and my anger kept my chest tight. I knew I didn’t want the responsibility of managing lives as mine spun out of control. I knew I needed help. I knew my rage stemmed from me and the kid’s father.
My anger was densely layered with resentment, hurt, hopelessness and despair. Every time I looked at the kids, poured into their inherited 9 & 11 years of deficits or kissed their wounds, stemming from our abusive and drug-addicted pops; l was reminded of my wounds, my childhood, father issues, rejection, and abandonment.
My logical brain knew the kids didn’t ask to be here (neither did I) yet I wanted to protect them from the things that hurt me. Subconsciously, I tried to be their savior. I tried to fix them and my childhood through rearing them. I wanted to give them everything I wish I had growing up. I placed unachievable, unrealistic heavier expectations on my depleting mental and physical.
Privately, my world collapsed, and all the vices and medications wouldn’t fix it. I used my job, reputation, and kids as motivation but every time my phone rang, I went into a frenzy rather it was the kid’s school, friends, telemarketers or relatives.
Surely someone was calling to notify me of another death or bad news I rationalized. I was manic lots of times, and it was tough seeing myself like that. Inflicting my mania on them, they were afraid of losing me. But I was fearful that I had already lost me.
Rearing them in my condition, managing their conditions while trying to uphold us financially, physically, emotionally and save face publicly became more than my capacity, and I eventually succumbed July 2018.
After needing a couple more tests ran my doctor instructed me to take time off. I had to alleviate one of my stressors asap. So, I took time off and in that time:
I peeled layers, faced ugly truths, soul-searched, dug deeply, repositioned things, identified my inspired me, went to therapy, weekly yoga, meditated, altered my diet, prayed, fasted, read, RESTED and waived the white flag admitting my need for help. I transitioned the kids to one of their relatives on their mother’s side late Sept.
I had an incredible 20 months of tears, gut checks, facing fears, learning, fighting, discovering, advocating, challenges, protecting, providing, teaching, coaching, coddling, exploring, growing, molding, comforting, exposing and loving… It has indeed been a remarkable journey that will transition into a lifetime. Two beautiful kids from the south side of Chicago spent 20 AWESOME months in North Atlanta with their SistaMom. They became vastly exposed to all the beautiful possibilities that life could bring. The awesome part is nothing can ever take this away from them. Atlanta taught them how to fight, love, value, work hard, believe, sacrifice and to dream bigger. Atlanta equipped them for life. Atlanta showed them who they truly ARE and what they can be.
As for me, an entirely new journey awaits me. I am healed, healthy, whole and ready to roll.
To be continued…