Not all that long ago I suffered from a familiar Mommy affliction, Mommy Martyrdom. For those of you unfamiliar with the terrible affliction of Mommy Martyrdom, it's pretty serious. Mommy Martyrdom causes women to put everyone including the dog ahead of themselves. They suffer in silence thinking that by putting everyone's needs ahead of themselves it makes them a good mother. This disease tends to be a genetic condition, meaning that it comes from the mother. The long term effects of Mommy Martyrdom include low self-esteem, low self-worth, anger and depression. The only cure for this horrible affliction is to occasionally put yourself first, no matter how uncomfortable it may feel. Maybe I could start a telethon.....
So I mentioned that this is something that I "suffered" from, meaning past tense. I learned at the knee of my mother to put the needs of everyone else ahead of my own, but not to suffer in silence. It's important that the entire family knows that you are a martyr, and that you resent them for putting you into that position. I felt angry that I did not "count", that is until I had this big light bulb moment the one where you smack your head and wonder at your years of stupidity. I had created this position for myself. The reason that I always came last was because I never, ever allowed myself to come first, or even second or third. How could I resent my family, when I had created, and maintained this stupid behavior. When I changed my low standards, I changed the family happiness level. I realized what a heavy burden martyrdom is. I was making myself feel worthless, no one was forcing me. I will not pretend for a second that I put myself first, that's just plain selfish and it would be undoing hundreds of years of Martyr evolution running along the female branch of my family. I do however put myself near the top of the priorities when I need to be. I feel better, which means I am less bitchy, and angry, which in turn means that my family is happier. It's a win win. I will admit that it was tough on the family to begin with. I was changing the rules of the game, in the middle of the game. In the end they liked "happy" mommy more than "miserable" mommy.
Part of my end to mommy martyrdom was to allow myself to spend time with friends. This sounds like a stupid thing, but really it is HUGE. Going out for coffee with friends always felt indulgent. I was spending money that could have gone to the kids. I really now feel like that $1.70 I spend on my once a week coffee, and that few hours away from the house is kind of worth it. I read this and see how stupid it looks, and I also realize that you may be reading this and thinking that I am being humorous, but I am not. Taking a once a week coffee date truly felt overly indulgent to me. I did not feel that I was worth the price of a coffee. It's really pretty sad, and honestly it makes me feel sad to think that I ever thought so poorly of myself. I now wonder how I did without my once a week coffee date.
Once a week a group of AMAZING ladies get together and have coffee. Sometimes one of us hosts the others at their home (this depends on how industrious they have been in their house cleaning), but more often than not we just get together at Tim Hortons. The size of our group varies depending on what we all have going on that week. Sometimes there are lots of us, sometimes just a few, and that's ok. I have said it before, but I am truly blessed to have such a group of amazing women in my life. They are there for the laughter and the tears, and sometimes both in the same coffee date. We care about each other. When one of us is having a difficult time, the others rally around her. It's like a therapy session that only costs $1.70.
It seems like such a little thing having friends, but it is so big. That group of friends help contribute to my mental health. I do not ever have to suffer in silence, because there is this group of amazing women who will listen to me, and nine out of ten have walked the same road I am now walking. We are a cheering squad. We know each other's children, and each other's spouses. My husband will hate to hear this, but they know more about him than I think he does. We talk about our lives good and bad, and that is what makes the bad more bearable. I love my husband with my whole heart, he is my best friend, truly he is, but.... he is not a woman. When I talk to my women friends about what is going on in my life it makes it easier. There are enough women in our group of friends that you have exactly what you need for the situation. We have women who will listen and never pass judgment, there are also the one's who play devil's advocate, and there are the ones who will be angry along with you and want to go and kick some ass. I need them all. Most of all they are a group of ladies who make me laugh. I cannot think of a time I have gotten together with them and not laughed, usually until my sides hurt. I am blessed.