Resources I AM KNOWN-Love Wins/Postpartum Anixety July 31, 2018

WOW! It’s the only word that comes to mind after reading all the entries from this months “I am Known Movement.” Thank you to everyone who entered and I am honored to have read your stories. This month I am so excited to use my platform to share two powerful stories coming from woman that show courage, strength and braveness. Not only did I relate to their stories, but they also inspired me to be better. I am so proud of both of these incredible woman who have decided to stand up and use their VOICE to support and encourage others who have or may face the same circumstances.

Remember, you ALL matter and have a voice and purpose in life. If you can’t reach out on social media, then please reach out to a family member or friend to find help and support. Life can be hard and the best thing we can do is accept where we are at and to not give up. It is time to stand together as a community and SPEAK UP in order to heal and find mental peace and clarity.

 

Holly Lotis: A Family Tragedy Turns into “Love Wins”

 

My name is Holly Litos. I live in Christiansburg, VA. I am married with three sons, ages 13, 11 and 10. I am also a parentless child because of some of the most violent circumstances to befall any family.
I grew up in a middle class home. My mother was a teacher and a published writer. My father was mentally ill with OCD and anxiety. I never knew what erratic behavior was going to present itself from day to day. He was obsessed with my mom. He abused her mentally and emotionally for years. Things accelerated in 2000, when she finally decided to leave him. On the night of March 7th, 2000, he murdered her in our family home. 
I was 24 at the time and living with my boyfriend (now husband). My father managed to avoid arrest for her murder for 13 years due to a botched autopsy and other factors. In late April 2013 he was arrested on first degree murder charges. After 2 years of trial continuances, he went on trial April 6th, 2015. Yes, 15 years after he killed her. My sister and I were the key witnesses to testify. On April 10th, he was found guilty of Voluntary Manslaughter. Just moments after the verdict was read, as he was led into a holding cell to await sentencing, he retrieved something from his suit- something sharp that had passed through the metal detectors. He committed suicide in the holding cell.
Everything was “over”. Years of wondering if he was coming for us, too. Years of complete brokenness. Then, we were left with…what? A mother lost to murder at the hands of our father who then killed himself 15 years later in the courthouse? That was our new truth??? Are you kidding me? Hadn’t we had ENOUGH???
After many moons of “What now?” and trying to learn our “new normal”, I decided to step out of the darkness and DO SOMETHING. Really DO. I began using social media to share my story and raise awareness about domestic violence. The thing is, when I took the witness stand to testify for my mother, I felt like she stepped into my soul. I became loud. Tall. My voice rose along with my confidence. As I testified, she empowered me to BE BRAVE. And I have tried very hard to continue to be brave ever since that day. 
Our family has embraced two words ever since our journey to justice took flight: LOVE WINS. I created a fundraiser for our local Women’s Resource Center in October 2016. With the help of a small army of warriors (my tribe), we raised nearly $9,000. I continue to spread the LOVE WINS movement wherever I can. Numerous women have reached out to me to share their stories. I have helped women become empowered to save themselves. I could not save my own mother. I will do my very best to be brave in my own recovery, to help others. My husband and my boys more than have my back, and they encourage and support me every day. They are my beautifully mending truth.
I call myself “brokenly unbroken”. I still wear my scars like armor, and I still battle my own demons daily. But, I also know I have a world of love to give. This community of firece people carried me through the darkest nightmares of my life. I am charging full steam ahead to give back and to continue to help empower women.
I am also an artist. Creating custom artwork absolutely fills my soul. I am blessed beyond measure to be able to create canvases, bookmarks, ornaments, custom caketoppers and more to share other’s stories and memories. My artwork is my therapy, my peace, my love filling cracks where I am broken. Kintsugi is Japanese pottery that has broken and is mended with gold. It is a belief that being broken does not mean you stay that way. Sometimes the scars we wear make us more beautiful than we ever were before we broke. Sometimes the scars rewrite our stories. I’m certainly continuing to write mine.

Click here to read the news article regarding this story.

Lauren Thomas’s Story: Postpartum Anxiety

 I’ve got anxiety! Yep, I said that. I got it. It’s here, and it’s INTENSE and quiet. Sometimes it roars in and I lash out and spiral over nothing. Other days it rumbles at my feet, and tells me I’m not enough. Sometimes it smacks me in the back and turns me into a growling maniac who hates her family. Then it tears me towards the dark and tells me to feel guilty, to feel insecure for having an emotion. It takes me all on this roller coaster of being too much, while not enough.

Prior to my babies I was pretty easy going. I could stay up late, and just grab a coffee the next day. Anything was possible, every single day was my choice. Then I got pregnant, a dream come true. Blessed with immediate conception and a fairly perfect pregnancy, glow and all. Then came that birth! That INCREDIBLE birth of my GIRL! An absolute shock and wave of more joy in a minute then I had felt in a lifetime! Breastfeeding, blissful, painless, effortless. Carrying my baby 24/7 you got it. I had it ALL! Really, and truly. My heart was full.

Then suddenly Henrietta became older, and while the days and nights were bliss I started to feel, wound. Wound up is how I guess it started. The day being anything less than perfect wasn’t exceptable. I felt this draw and desire to provide the perfect life for her, to be the best Mom, best Wife. My self worth was always validated through my work. My bosses saying I did a job well done. Countless cards from patients and family members over my almost 8 year career. Singing my praises of competency, compassion, strength, joy, humor. All attributes I prided myself in possessing.  Friendships with much older women, who supported me and guided me to make life choices. Relationships that told me I was a great friend, worker, daughter and person.

Then I started this motherhood gig. The role of a lifetime. And honestly I wasn’t sure what to do, but I KNEW I did it all for my daughter. I knew in my heart where to guide her, where I belonged, how to get us there. Then WHY did a boulder feel like it was crushing my chest at every minor impass or upset moment. Why did my Husband forgetting to take out the garbage lead me to believe he disrespected me. Why did someone else’s failure make mine more acceptable. Why did I feel this misery loves company. It crept in so SLOW.

So slow, I thought it was just a NEW me. Just baby tension, life tension. I told myself maybe it’s because I am an “attachment parent” I give so much of myself I have nothing left for me. And maybe so, that is easy to have happen in this Mom life. As Henry continued to grow my anxiety continued to ebb and flow. Maybe it’s hormones. This week was “good” it all changed so rapidly. My Husband thought I was just moody. He could clearly see my parenting success, and looking back I never felt a failure. I knew my value, my worth. My role and importance in my families life. But then why am I holding onto this guilt. Guilt of taking a shower and blow drying my hair when I should be spending time with my Husband. Resentment of a fight with my Husband over what time to leave the house, and how dare he not have gotten gas before we left so Henry had to cry while we waited at the pump. These are annoyances of course, but I could spend a half hour car ride in a fit about it, mostly in my mind, unable to shake that anger. WHY am I so angry. Why can’t I let these trivial things go. Is my life so meaningless here I am obsessing about my child crying for 2 minutes at a gas station pump over an HOUR ago! Wow, first world problems Lauren, shut up!

After her first birthday I really mellowed a lot. She was walking and playing, changing daily, and my role became an observer, and guider. Less of the all and everything in her life. Her net of people  widened, and mine was able to too. It all became a distant memory. These angry fits, surges of emotions, feelings of guilt. The try harder, be better, be perfect stayed put. I thought, alright. New me. This is just my life, I care so deeply for my family, of course that level of love is scary and crippling at time. BUT why do I feel this elephant on my chest when I “mess up” No one thinks I’m messing up but me. I know this. But it doesn’t feel okay. I know I’m enough. I have eyes and can see that. I’m a healthy person, my child is smart and loving, my house is moderately clean,, my family is fed, I look like a young Mom. Am I perfect,  certainly not, but why do I feel so far from perfect when I have SO MUCH!

A feeling of never being grateful, and being overwhelmed in gratitude for your blessings. That’s how I felt. Intense love and devotion for my husband who works 50hrs a week, is super Dad, provides me every new thing I could want, and tells me I’m gorgeous daily. But I can’t see or hear that most days. All I can see is a flaw he has, or forgetting to put my dish back in the sink, and being mad at him for 5 minutes in a rage over it. And ya, there are funny memes, and hilarious antecdotes to Husbands who “just don’t get it” but mine did, and I couldn’t let him off the hook for a thing. My way or no way. But I would think, I’ve always been bossy, particular and wild. This is ME

And it was. It’s all me, these emotions and feelings. But this guilt, and anger. This resentment, ungratefulness in my heart. That is NOT ME

In the midst of that next year we were BUSY! Buying property, building, permits. Then it started melting away, or I got use to it. I don’t really know. I focused on a baby. Getting pregnant was my mission, and of course I was successful. Even through my doubt my body was my sanctuary and did not fail me. I was able to get all my hearts desires once again, but felt that dark cloud pull. Seeming like the minute I would be granted something I had to worry if I would be blessed again, if I deserved it. If I wasn’t kind to my family 24/7 I was awful, and needed to feel so all day. Another wonderful pregnancy, INCREDIBLE birth, and beautiful GIRL! It all was a blur of blessings, renovation, rushing, life. And I’ll admit life was TOO FAST! A husband, a whole house renovation, 2 babies and building a garage, buying cars. It was TOO MUCH! Honestly, so much love and life and blessings I took it for granted. I couldn’t enjoy the spots of sun because I was waiting for the next job, and change.

Then my Dolly girl came. I had read about transitioning from 1 to 2. Knew what to expect, prepared myself and Henrietta. And she KILLED it. We killed it, somedays were an adjustment. But DAMN! Why do I worry, this family of mine has GOT THIS! We did. Dolly was a dream, somedays were rocky, but SO much easier than I imagined. It really all seemed like such a distant memory. Anxiety! What anxiety! I’m GREAT! Then it slowly but surely came in. I’m frazzled. Waking the baby o hell no! Do you want me to kill you?

That feeling of keeping my group happy. I was so blissful during that pregnancy. Both of them, and I know a newborn brings stress and worry. But I was TOO hard on myself, too unforgiving, too rattled. I was determined to keep this anxiety at bay! And I’m here to say I DID it!!!!! I have anxiety. It is CONTROLLED. I know my triggers and I can help MYSELF!

I get my me time, with a shower and my hair done. No matter WHAT. Crying, help, no help, 2 hours total, or a quick 30 minutes. I wake up everyday and think of my intention. Today I want to have patience. Today I will forgive and let go. Today I will be energized. Today I will relax. Whatever I feel I need to get through my day. I say that a few times. Today I will… and guess what. I DO! I do what I set my will to do, because I challenge myself to do it. I get up, I wash my face and put that quick makeup on. I start the coffee I prepared the night before. I mix it with cinnamon, ghee and milk in the blender. I chug it HOT! I have some hot water with ACV, honey and Onguard, natural calm magnesium powder if I think I need a calming force. I chug my water bottle with grapefruit and lime oil. I fill a veggie cap with lemon, lavender, basil and copabia. I take care of ME! I spend those less than10 minutes filling my cup first. Usually my Hubby is home to help with kiddos for those 10 minutes. But not always. Sometimes it’s with Dolly in my arms and feeding Hen cereal to keep her pleased. Somedays the tension is just there, so I suggest we stretch in the living room together while fetching Dolly toys and I sip my coffee hot. Sometimes I wait for Dolly’s first nap in the wrap so I can have a hot coffee while Hen colors. But it is HAPPENING! Then all day I diffuse the smells I want. So when I smell the air it isn’t thick, it’s patchouli and smells like the damp ground. Or it’s citrus bliss and I ask Hen if we can peel oranges like this scent! We race to the kitchen! It’s a Segway for parlaying myself to another place. It’s a moment to pause and reflect to myself “how do you feel?” “Why do you feel this way?” “What can you do?” Don’t be HELPLESS!

My road to recovery was looking great! May 1st our littlest babe was 2.5 months, predictable. Patterned. We had a plan, a rhythm. I was working on me. I had goals, a bit too ambiguous with a failed Whole30, but I was trying and fighting to be me. Then my FACE! Started like a rash turned into poison ivy allergy.. That changed everything! For the better!

I didn’t have time to obsess about a schedule. Or worry if Henrietta was perfectly cared for that day. I relied on our family, who was always there but I felt I didn’t need, or couldn’t use as much as I could have. It pushed me to ask for help, which was great for everyone. My kids, our parents, me. My husband and I were still stretched though. Busy and never seeing each other. Then my face ballooning all with a not even 3 month old in my arms 24/7. But if there’s anything my husband and I can do it’s come together in crisis. That’s love. Plain and simple. This experience taught me love. The core, the simple, the easy. He loves me and pushes for an answer. I love him and he holds my hand when I’m scared I’ll be allergic to seemingly life in general. It was almost like a manifestation of my feelings. But in my ugliness, and painful face my family was there. They didn’t care how I looked, and honestly I didn’t either. We all just did what we had to, and ended up just enjoying each other more. That time was love. Then my answer. And my healing, knowing I would be okay, feeling stupid for even thinking I was incapable. I barely have a face, my children don’t notice and just smile up at me while I sing them off note songs. They think I’m a movie star, the moon, the earth it moves with me. My Husband knows I look like hell but laughs it off with me. Our mother’s come and watch the kids, enjoy their joy, and listen to our answers. Trusting that my husband and I are capable. And we are.

The life continued. The world kept moving. The ER visits happened, and everyone still slept. The meds were pickup and no one cried. The girls waited at urgent care and laughs were all that happened. I was strong, and okay, and that’s all they needed. I  I felt good, relieved to have answers, happy to move forward. They prescribed an anti itch med that helps with anxiety, and let me tell you!!!! That weight on my chest GONE! My happiness, it’s overflowing, my anger, what anger. It’s not perfect. That medicine won’t always do the trick. I’m glad I discovered it. But I’m also glad I discovered ME! I found skills to cope, to talked to my husband, I talked to my Mom friends, I asked am I normal, I proclaimed “I’m not normal” and it was all okay. It was all okay, but I needed to find on my own what would work for me. Not what would work for my sister, or my Mom friend who works, or even my stay at home Mom who’s my ride or die crazy chick! Love you Rebecca! HA! But it all helped. It all got me here.

Yep, the best thing to happen to my anxiety was losing my face, losing control, and regaining me. Focus on me, my family, and my love and blessings. One bump doesn’t make a dead end. One yell doesn’t make a monster, one argument doesn’t ruin a day. It’s a bad moment, not a bad life. It’s a lifelong struggle I will have, that all humans have. So find people to be vulnerable with. To show your true self to, otherwise what’s the POINT! Be a HUMAN! Be YOU! Be BETTER, and then maybe WORSE. It’s all a journey. It’s all you. It’s all OKAY!

Click here to visit Lauren’s blog post

Tags :

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply