I love my sons, I really do. But I didn’t expect, or plan to get pregnant at 36, and become a Mum again at 37. I certainly didn’t anticipate being a single Mum again by 39. Although, I will admit, achieving that status was a blessed relief after the relationship I had found myself in!
By the time my youngest son was born, I was a mess emotionally. Years of alcohol and marijuana abuse were taking their toll on my mental health. Life seemed to constantly make me angry.
I had no patience or resilience to stress whatsoever.
The emotional abuse I experienced at the hands of his father before and after he was born shattered my self esteem and left me feeling on edge and defensive. Motherhood was hard because I felt I had been tricked into getting pregnant.
I truly do love my son, but while I didn’t consciously resent him, I am sure that subconsciously, it was there. It wasn’t about him personally. I just felt completely trapped by my life. The fact that I would have to maintain contact with a man who frightened and belittled me was a source of constant frustration and anger. I found being a mother with the swirling mess in my head to be very difficult.
I dreamed of escape from my entire life often. I was not suicidal. But I didn’t want to be in my life anymore.
By the time I reached breaking point in 2013, I was absolutely on the edge of madness. I know I must have been very difficult to live with for my sons. I would be fine one moment, and full of rage I didn’t even understand the next. To my then 3 year old son, I must have been profoundly confusing. His behaviour was difficult, with outbursts of anger that frightened me – how on earth was I going to manage this angry little boy when I couldn’t even manage myself?
My solution to the mental health crisis I found myself in, Yoga teacher training, was to transform everything, although I didn’t know it yet.
Through my training, I unwound so much physical and mental tension inside me. I was able to heal old wounds, and learn to process my emotions. I developed new strategies to deal with high emotions that didn’t involve reaching for a bottle, something smokeable, or raging against the world, via whoever happened to be in my range of vision.
While there were many aspects of Yoga that helped greatly with this, the biggest transformation came from learning to breathe. Years of asthma, dust allergy, drinking and smoking had caused my lungs some significant harm, and breathing was something of a challenge for me a lot of the time.
When I was finally able to breathe through my nose, after I stopped consuming mucous produicng dairy foods, I was able to control my breath like never before. This was a game changer for me.
I started to turn to my breath in moments of potential stress, pausing to compose myself through my breath before responding to situations. Arguments with the ex, bad behaviour in the home, global politics, financial worries and more. All these things would have sent me into a rage that would have sent me to the bottle in the past.
But taking deep breaths, and allowing myself to take control of my emotional response, transformed all that.
Finally I was able to respond to my son in a rational manner. As my behaviour became calmer and more managed, so did his. The naughty, rage filled little boy I had thought I was raising was merely a mirror of his mother. As children are of course.
now, I rarely shout. I am calm and patient with him, and far gentler than I was previously. I am better able to manage conflict with his father, and so am able to model healthy ways to manage difficult relationships.
When you can control your breath, you can take charge of how you respond to life.
Stress puts us on the defensive, it leaves us wide open to the volatile reactions of the emotions. Emotions don’t think about consequences. If something annoys you, your stress response doesn’t think about the fallout that might happen from screaming your rage at your family. It simply needs to release itself.
When you learn to take that breath before reacting, you change how you respond. By bringing conscious awareness to your reaction, you allow the thinking mind to consider options and consequences.
There is great power to be found in connecting with your breath. Spending a few minutes a day sitting quietly and focusing on your breath is a powerful way to maintain a state of calm and focus. Take a few minutes each day before the children get up to try it, and see if you notice a difference in, for example, the challenges of getting them ready for school.
I honestly believe that when women learn to control their emotions, the world around them changes. When Mum is happy, the kids are happy. The husband is happy. The people she encounters throughout her day will pick up on her happiness and it spreads like a ray of sunshine around her.
Try it for yourself. Join my 10 day ‘5 Minute Breath’ programme and see what giving yourself just 5 minutes a day can do for you. You might be surprised at what a difference it can make.