Last month, I was given a gut punch by my boss. He didn’t want me around anymore. I felt a deep unbearable ache that I couldn’t push aside, as I normally would. I was desperate to curl into a ball and cry. But I am here in France with two kids, and my husband is in the States. At that moment I felt as though I was going to fall over like a house of cards. I reached out to a colleague and a lawyer.
During this moment of severe heartache, I wondered how in the world I could let a few agonizing minutes ruin the hard self-work I had put into myself go to waste. I wanted, became a better person through my faith. I reached out to God, admitted to myself and my doctor, albeit kicking and screaming, that I had deeply rooted anxiety issues. I worked so very hard to be something and someone that I admired. Flooded with emotions I have a hard time explaining I began to ask myself what was I doing here? Why was I continuing to torture myself when I had a cushy life in the States. But I wasn’t happy there either. I hated the grind, I hated the culture. I hated feeling like I was an outsider.
My family, like many others, is feeling the stress and the aftermath of one of the strangest years we have ever experienced. My children are natural homebodies but they are suddenly becoming clingy and lashing out. I am a first-generation French-American, I was raised to keep things inside as much as possible and to push through your hard times with a stiff upper lip and don’t complain. My husband’s upbringing was extremely different. He was raised in a strict military household but his mother and father were both caring and understanding. They provided outlets to their kids and let them feel. Somehow, we work together like two cogs in a wheel. Our basic religious values are what give us a strong common ground that helps guide us in our lives. Yet, even when we are together and I am struggling I tend to keep things to myself. For instance, right after I had my son I was feeling so overwhelmed and frustrated, and anxious that I wanted to explode. I do not know how I managed to keep it together but I did, only allowing myself to cry when I was sure everyone was asleep.
I shouldn’t be like that anymore, it isn’t healthy.
By the grace of God, we are incredibly lucky: We are healthy and able to work. (Even though my job hates me and wants me out they have no legal right to “let me go”) And yet I ache and wonder: Why do I feel worthless? Will I be able to provide a secure future for myself and my little ones until my husband gets here?
I need to tell myself: I am having an appropriate, reasonable response to what is happening.
In the past, I would go running or work out to help become more grounded. I used to love running in the warm rainy weather of New Orleans around Tulane and Loyola. I loved the feel of the warm, wet sticky air filling my lungs, while the splashing of my feet in the puddles muted the world around me. Or I worked out at home till I couldn’t stand anymore, obsessed with the fact that I didn’t look the way I should or felt I should. I can’t do that now. I don’t have the energy to do that anymore. Plus, I have two kids, one disabled, work, and a number of tasks to take care of so I don’t provide evidence that I am worthy of getting rid of at work.
As with many women my age, I do not have many friends and even if I did I wouldn’t be able to spend a refreshing hour or two with them having a casual conversation at a restaurant. Many are traveling away from Paris, making up for lost traveling time. I find that I am unable to find a friend with the same interests as me who is willing to hang out for a few minutes. Needless to say on top of the overwhelming feelings of failure, I am also lonely.
I am grateful for the things I have, my children, my husband, and even though I am miserable my work. Some days feel completely normal. Other days, the world is just too much. That was when I realized I needed to stop the cycle and do more work on myself. My inner absorption of feelings and the “never complain” never worked. So I followed my instincts and join a Catholic group for working women on Facebook releasing all my troubles to those who are like-minded.
I also allow myself more time to spend with me. Small breaks have been incredible to my stress level and anxiety. I added some simple stretches to my daily routine. Changing habits is always hard when you either left them by the waste side neglected or never had them to begin with. I also added going on walks outside, I love where I live. It is surreal when I explore I get strong senses of deja vu, which I am sure I just wishful thinking but I feel as though I am home. I belong here.
Oh hello, feeling grounded, calm and joyful, there you are.
One of my favorite ways to calm myself is to use my calm app, or calm.com, to get my mind to relax. Despite my medicine, I still have irrational thoughts and I can’t settle down. Calm really allows me to meditate and choose a place where I know I am safe and calm. I close my eyes, either for the afternoon or when I am ready for bed, turn on the rain sounds with Alexa, and just breathe. I then listen to the soothing voices of my choosing, like Cillian Murphy-my favorite. I allow my mind to focus on the words and imagine the world being depicted, I imagine the feel of the weather, the sounds, the smell. I don’t think about anything around me except for what I am hearing on the app. I also use my weighted blanket to give me that extra sense of calmness and coziness.
Each morning I feel well rested and reset. I feel as though the weight of yesterday has slide off my shoulders and has been discarded.
I have a good life, my children, and my new routine of self-care. For me, when I connect to that place of stillness and calm, it is absorbed by my kids, coworkers, and acquaintances. If I have learned anything from this past year it is the fact that I hold a great capacity to take on difficult situations, both normal and irrational. Find a place within and connect to yourself, even if it is just for a moment. Reset, allow yourself to do so. I am very aware that this may never get rid of my dark moods and feelings, but my new routines allow me to deal with and take care of the hole inside of me. So hold on to what keeps you grounded, get to know it better, and use it as much as possible.
Disclaimer: The information on Thoughts of a French Girl website and all associated social media accounts is based on my own personal experiences. It is not intended to be used as health, fitness, mental health or medical advice. I am not a doctor or registered dietitian. If you have a health, medical or mental health problem or are in need of any help please contact a professional. ALWAYS consult your medical doctor(s) before starting a new diet or exercise program.