In our support group this week we talked about healthy and unhealthy relationships. Single moms go through so much and may have several relationships to maintain. These relationships are not just romantic, they are relationships with our children, our own parents, bosses, co-workers and friends. In our group (led by our counseling intern), we all gave words that described healthy and unhealthy relationships to us. One key point that came up was boundaries. We talked about setting boundaries and how those boundaries show and teach people how to treat us. We discussed how a boundary is a like a fence and if we open that fence and let the wrong treatment (or people) in,chaos and hurt can come in right along with them. How do we set and maintain these boundaries? We can pray and ask God to help us see past the masks and performances of people who may not be the best for us. We can ask trusted friends to be truthful with us….even when it hurts. We can also educate ourselves about red flags when it comes to abusive relationships. We also need to keep in mind what defines an unhealthy relationship and when we can use one of those words to describe one of our relationships, change is order. We need to change our perspectives, get our own our hearts healed so we can see a relationship and the person we’re in it with in a realistic light. If that person is our child, we may need to take stock of how we handle them, how we either react or respond to them. Are we on the offensive in our parenting or do we feel as though we always have to be on the defensive? We could go on and on with this subject. We will be addressing it our support group for a few weeks. Next week we will be discussing how to regain and rebuild trust.
Depression. It’s the voice that tells you that you’re not enough, that no one cares, or that you’ll
never make it. It’s what eats away at your self-esteem and steals your joy. It can even be the physical
ailment that leaves you going doctor to doctor, trying to figure out “what’s wrong with you.” Ultimately
it will leave you struggling to simply get through the day to day motions.
But God wants more for us than mere survival – He wants us to have life, happiness, and
fulfilment. Achieving this, of course, is often much easier said than done.
At a recent support group we talked about this very subject. How can you manage your
depression? Is there anything that can be done outside of medication? For me, the solution was found
through discovering I was gluten intolerant a few years ago. Having a body that is extremely sensitive to
just about everything, I wanted to try and avoid being put on medication for fear it would make things
worse or make me feel disconnected from the world around me. I searched endlessly for alternatives
until one day I recalled what a doctor had told me years previously about eliminating simple carbs from
my diet. After some research I decided to give the gluten free lifestyle a try and eliminated all gluten (a
protein found in wheat and other grains) from my diet to see if I could affect the biological foundation
associated with depression. Within days I started feeling significantly better, so much so that three years
later I am still gluten free. While everyone’s struggle is different, I found diet was a huge factor
influencing my mental health. After sharing my story at the support group, I was surprised to hear that
others had discovered similar connections with their diet as well. Some moms reported how other
factors like the role of supplements (including fish oil and multivitamins), exercising, and even just
having “me” time every now and again seemed to influence their personal and emotional wellbeing.
The unifying factor amongst all of these ideas is the concept of stopping and taking care of
ourselves. Many moms struggle to maintain so many roles and countless responsibilities that even the
thought of stopping momentarily seems foreign, maybe even selfish. In actuality, when we take care of
ourselves we have more to share with those around us. We deserve love and attention, including from
The last important thing we discussed came up again and again during our meeting: God.
Through Him we find solid ground and unconditional love, one of depression’s greatest enemies.
Sometimes we may fee low, empty, or weak, but He is always there waiting to catch us when we fall. He
may not always show you the bigger picture of what He’s up to, but He will always provide you with all
that you need.
I close with a quote I once read that has always stuck with me:
“Having a rough day? Place your hand over your heart. Feel that? That’s called purpose. You’re alive for
a reason. Don’t ever give up” – Anonymous.
Your life still has purpose. Keep fighting.
I am feeling brand new these days. I am a bit more reflective, little less filtered and tame. I am more direct and honest than ever before. I am noticing the fine lines but also noticing the lack of some. I am embracing my 4os. I am finding the looks from a younger generation quite intriguing as I stay committed to keeping myself fit and in shape. I am liking more things about myself and letting myself on the perfectionist wheel. I am more in tune with God and all He is to me. I am more connected to what I am supposed to be doing on this earth. Yes, I am embracing my 40s.
You ever notice how you see someone that you know one day and they look different somehow. It’s not their normal look. You look at them and their whole appearance seems to be wearing their feelings. If the change is positive, they seem to have a glow. Now, have you ever looked at yourself in the mirror and you think…”something’s different.” What it is? What’s changed? When did your skin get so nice? Where did that glow come from? Well, I can say with all certainty it comes from…growth. When you stop worrying so much about what someone else thinks, when you stop feeling guilty for mistakes…when you start doing what you’ve always known you were born to do. I’ve been noticing this change in my 16 year old son. He was born beautiful (of course), but lately he’s just had this glow about him; a light about him. I know it’s from growing and settling more and more into who he is. What a joy for a mom to see. As for me, I looked in the mirror today and my skin was clear and I looked at peace. No, everything is not all sunshine and roses. Maybe that’s the reason for the glow. We know that even in the midst of the trials of life, we are blessed. We know we are here on purpose. Yeah, something’s definitely different.
Sometimes I’m astonished by the lack of compassion people have for those in need. When a local program that delivers meals to elderly and shut-ins was at risk of closing, some commented that it was good since those people needed to get jobs anyway. What?! How can people be so heartless. We all need help in this life. We may not need food but we do need help with other things. If we’re really honest most of us live paycheck to paycheck. So why not choose to understand what someone else is going through. Why not choose to say “you know what, that could just as easily be me.” We are all human, why not approach each other that way. Even if we’re not living paycheck to paycheck we can still put ouselves in someone else’s shoes and imagine what it would be like to not know if our next meal is coming. Being in need doesn’t make us any less human. We are still worth helping and receiving compassion. I challenge you to look at those who are food insecure, homeless, elderly, shut-in with eyes of love and not pity. See them as fellow human beings who need a hand but are still worth being treated with dignity.