Updated: May 30, 2022
FYI before you start this blog is just FULL of spelling and grammar mistakes that I know are there but can no longer see!
I wasn’t going to do a new blog this month I was going to wait until I’ve done some of my collaborations I’m organising after summer. However I’ve been writing a lot and managing to get little bits of art work done! Life is messy, it’s a messy, mess… being a mum is messy too but in the most beautiful messy way. Blood, sweat and tears are literally the main ingredients. I’ve not been getting out like I should, my go to move is always to isolate myself and then get frustrated about it. However I’m loving being a family of four motherhood comes with many incredible joys. It both gives us our identity and takes it away all at the same time. I don’t mean that in a resentful way, even as I sit here writing this i'm tired, covered in milk and unfortunately probably baby sick but I know my children have made me a better person. It’s tricky though isn’t it?! Motherhood, because it comes with so much uncertainty, I’m I doing it right? Who was I before? Will I always be this anxious? What is sleep? Is this top clean?...
In my last blog Triggering Peace with Creativeness I wrote about understanding my triggers better, this one is more or less a follow on as I’ve been exploring my childhood feelings of anxiety, I’ve been thinking a lot about my parenting style and how this affects my day to day life.
As I mentioned in my past few blogs my anxiety is a little bad at the moment, I’m an internally anxious person, I used to get confused to why but now I’ve learnt it’s down to growing up on edge in a toxic environment and that as an adult I was trying to suppress too many feelings and memories while forcing relationships. OH IF ONLY I knew that a few years ago!!! I’m really trying to understand it all better and writing helps me process my anxiety… because it’s bad right now my hands and mouth are sore. I have some bad habits, I bite my nails to the point of blood when I’m alone I also bite the inside of my mouth which is in the grand scheme of life only a minor inconvenience however I can not get on top of… also kinda gross right. I even do this in my sleep. It’s something I just don’t know how to stop, especially when I’m unaware I’m doing it. My anxiety doesn’t really show on the outside I guess, that’s the thing about masking my ‘inside me’ doesn’t match my ‘outside me’ however that‘s probably a good thing! Yes ok my neurodivergent traits also play a part in my anxiety it’s not only down to my past memories i’m also aware of that!
I go back to work soon, both with my photography and my marketing day job. I decided not to take full maternity leave for a few different reasons one I really enjoy my job. Two, for me working is a great coping mechanism. I’ve always worked it keeps me busy, my jobs are creative and often fast paced, perfect for what I need to function. Of course I’m not going back full time yet, I’m still taking the time to enjoy afternoons cuddles and naps with Lunar while I can! But slowly going back to work I believe is the best option for me, however that feeling also comes with a little guilt. Motherhood is hard to navigate!
As I’ve been working out my triggers I’ve realised that a massive trigger is being a mother. They make me unbelievably happy and I’m a good mum, of course there are moments I get things wrong, times I get frustrated and have to take myself away for a deep breath, I remember when Deryn was a toddler there was some particularly challenging times were I’ve sobbed just wanting a break and for her to listen to me, I remember just being so worried that while she was having a meltdown she would hurt herself because she would drop to the floor and roll around in a dramatic mess of snot and tears. Toddlers are hard, adorable and hilarious but hard, now Deryns older she’s much easier but parenting will always come with challenges and no one is perfect. So yep it triggers me sometimes, but not because of the stressful moments it’s the moments of happiness I find myself deep in thought about. I believe this is because my children’s childhood is variously different to mine, so much so I’m constantly thinking about the difference. Comparing and evaluating. Even the little things, our bedtime routine is full of cuddles, play and kisses. We chat and sing (very badly) and they fall asleep happy and content. I don’t remember having this, I’m sure I did at some point my memory is very all or nothing I remember great details and I also have weird blanks were my memories should be. However even as a very young child before things got really tricky I remember crying and then getting in trouble for being ‘needy’. I haven’t got memorise of bedtime story or having my hair played with as I fell asleep. I do remember the anxiety of bedtimes though, clock watching even as a young child. The feeling in the pit of my stomach as nighttime approached although this got worse in my teenage years and still lingers with me even now.
I want my children to be needy, because I want them to need me because I need them. Yes ok it’s exhausting when it’s 2am and I’m feeding Lunar and Deryn strolls into my room and makes herself comfortable in the middle of the bed and starts snoring… but at the same time why shouldn’t she? It’s my job to make her feel safe and loved. We are after all pack animals with social instincts so when they wake up in the night and need me I’m there, ready to play with their hair until they fall back asleep.
It’s also the little random day to day moments I sometimes find triggering. Even the most simple ones like holding hands with my oldest daughter. We mess around we swing our hands and laugh while we walk again this was not my experience as a child. One of my ingrained memories is the feel of fingernails digging into my hand and if we would complain we would coldly get told to “walk faster then”. Meal times were stressful, I clearly had anxiety as a child, I see that now. Unfortunately no one else did, or they didn't care I was just ‘difficult’ when my anxiety gets really bad I don’t want to eat. I can go a really long time without proper food, this was also the case as a child. I remember being anxious about something which then made me not won’t to eat. This would then lead to me getting screamed at and in some cases physical punishment would follow depending on my reaction to my telling off. At a young age meal times would become triggering which of course led to issues around food and me being seen as fussy. A strong memory I have that plays in my head and one I talk about with my other siblings is the glass pasta bowl… we were being loud someone was crying and I guess it was just too much because the only way to get everyone’s attention was to throw the bowl at the wall over four young children’s heads. I remember the glass shattering and the shock, silence fell so I guess it had its desired effect. Firstly I get it, well to a certain extent at the time there were four of us, we were ‘difficult’. It can really not be easy raising four children I truly understand that however that’s not an excuse for crappy behaviour. A quick reaction to a stressful moment like this can lead a long lasting effect, is losing one’s temper to get silence in return really worth that?
I don’t feel the need to go into a load of different memories and explain why they trigger me, or why I feel they lead to such bad childhood anxiety that plays such a big part in my life now, but I could! I could write a long post that would end up sounding like a sob story and I’m not going to do that. I imagine this is a common experience though, that when many people start working through difficult feelings they realise that they are in fact being triggered by being a good parent if they didn’t grow up in a safe space. I don’t see this as a bad thing, yeah it’s sad in the sense that I think to myself I should of been allowed to be myself however I do feel a more compassionate and empathetic person because I’m working through it and now I see that I had an anxiety problem even as a young child and it wasn’t my fault now I can try and change the way I feel about my past behaviour and self. (That’s the plan, it’s really not easy though, the guilt I feel shouldn't be mine!)
It wasn’t all doom and gloom I have great memories of my grandparents as a young child, I loved spending time in their house! I would get to go there often while very young because I was so ‘difficult’ at home, and I was better behaved for them apparently. So I do have memories of baking cakes and Sunday walks as children are meant too. As I got older unfortunately I didn’t get to spend as much time as I would have liked with them because of course my life got more complicated and times got turbulent. I think about this from time to time too, consistently is very important to me now and I want it for my children because I didn’t get that growing up. I’m grateful that my children also have a lovely bond with my grandparents and my husbands family. I’m close to my two sisters and one bother still as I have always been and my children are growing up with their cousins as friends it’s a nice feeling knowing that together we are working to break cycles of trauma and we are making strong and happy little humans with all the family they need. You can pick your family, don’t let anyone tell you different.
It’s hard work, sometimes I do think about how easy it would have been to stay quiet and keep everything suppressed...But it's too late now right! I start counselling again next month, I’m nervous because I also know this will be more triggering but I need it. I have a lot of work though, I’m also a believe that everyone needs a little counselling from time to time… because you could be the most level headed person with a privileged past but life is still heavy and confusing. We all need to talk about what’s in our heads, unfortunately some people just have more to talk about than others. Lucky us right! I decided to stick with my past counsellor to save going over old ground because honestly it’s mentally exhausting I wish It was a quick fix!
I’ve written about a difficult adolescent but looking back it’s clear to see that there were issues creeping in well before my teenage years. Childhood anxiety is a real thing and is the gateway to a wider array of longer term issues. We make jokes in my house that I should send the therapy invoice to the people who have caused me my trauma. It’s not going to be cheap, I know it will be money well spent! However it’s still frustrating right, I probably have years on and off ahead of me to unpack all my feelings and work out healthy coping mechanisms while the people who caused the damage treat my experience as “over exaggerations” and "attention seeking" FYI four of your children don’t stop speaking to you for good if they had a happy childhood… but it is what it is right!?! I guess my bill for counselling is better than how some people deal with their trauma, it just means less money to spend on my Chinese take away habits!
However i'm fine... yes my last blog I feel was more positive than this one, I do tend to talk about what’s wrong more than what’s right! Life’s full of ups and downs and I guess I’m feeling a little flat with some aspects of it still! I was walking over a bridge, below the river was flowing gently as we haven’t had much rain so it's fairly low, the sun was perfect I remember thinking I should be dying to start capturing photos of couples again for my portfolio while it’s so nice out. I should advertise for location shoots again asap, but i'm just too tired! Grrr what is wrong with my passion and motivation?!? I can’t tell if I’m resting or wasting time, where has part of me gone… will it come back? Or is it gone forever? Hummmm, people kept telling me I’m 'healing' from a hard few years but it’s difficult not to tell myself I’m lazy and to get a grip! However I’m not over stretching myself with projects until I feel in a better headspace and for now I have my blog collaborations coming up and some weddings booked in this summer so that is where my concentration will be, that and being a mum!
The creative part...
So the art, because after all that’s what this blog is also about right! How I partner my art with my words because all my art comes from my emotions. Exactly how do you capture anxiety? The feeling is so intense it can start off subtle and build until it more or less knocks you off your feet or it can just crash in from nowhere. To me it’s the feeling of ‘what’s coming next…’ the feeling of being on edge, putting tasks off, feeling faded, unsure of my abilities, the exhaustion of my own thoughts frustrates me. The feeling keeps me on my toes for sure, it pushes me forward and pulls me back, it can make my mind race helping with my creative process or paralyse me in my thoughts leaving me blank questioning everything. I've tried my best to capture those feeling, these were all really fun to create. I struggle to create sometimes if I’m feeling really stressed and ironically creating is a massive stress relief! I like the editing in these images I used the flower overlay I made for my last blog, I love my new red backdrop!
I also started building up my portfolio a little more, I decided to learn a new technique which was surprisingly easy and effective. I used my phone light with no flash and no ambient light to get a cool lighting trail and dark background while doing a long exposure, I think it worked out really well I will keep practicing and see what I can create. I love music so I used that as my inspiration and love the overall outcome, I really enjoy long exposure and it's so amazing to me that this effect is done in camera and needs very little editing!
My next self portrait project
Look I'm being proactive with my personal work (well I'm trying) I'm slowly planning a self portrait project for myself outside! This is out of my comfort zone but I know I need to try and push myself and build some more confidence... I’ve also been trying to work a little more on my marketing plan and how I can grow as a artist in the future.
Thanks for reading... sorry for the typos!
Useful link for meditation Headspace
I really like blogging, It feels very 'me' and it's great to do something we love right!? I've wanted to do this style of work for years but I really wasn't ready to open up about my art work as I am now.
I'm really finding my voice and this has given me a deeper reason for creating! However having my own voice doesn't feel like enough. We all have stories and struggles that are all different. Art for me is about connection, awareness and story telling, and I believe that together there is so much awareness to be spread.
Sound like something you may be interested in? Great! Let’s tell some stories together!
Click this link to read more- The shape of us
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