I have social anxiety. With this comes a huge feeling of ‘mum guilt’. I feel as if I’m constantly failing my child. Social media is a such a huge platform that can make you feel like you’ve got it or can make you feel like you’re failing and drowning within your failure. People will assume that your version of parenting is lazy spending day after day in your home because you just don’t want to go out. Its hard having to explain sometimes, I feel all I do is explain. When you have a constant battle with your mind, others words will make you feel bad but never as bad as your own mind does.
When we’re young we all have ideals of how life is going to be when we grow up it’s instilled in us from quite a young age. One of the first things I can remember a teacher asking me in school was what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wanted to be a Vet, it was all I ever wanted to do but my childhood was quite abusive and because of that I never achieved my dreams. This is something I’ve only come to realise and accept in the last few weeks being made to traipse over things that happened growing up. I’ll give you 3 for instances. When I was 5 I was bitten so hard by a family member I bled. When I was in year 7 so roughly 9/10 years old I was thrown into a washing machine by my own mother. When I was in year 8 again roughly only 11/12 I was strangled by my mother for going to live with my dad for a week because her husband is a borderline alcoholic. I needed a break. All of these things sent me off the rails, I never got the grades I wanted to become a vet. As I got older the social part of my anxiety got worse I felt fear every time I left the house, I felt something is going to hurt me, I suppose the irony was what was hurting me, I hung around with. I never bought this issues up with anyone because I was terrified that I was going to end up in care so I put up with it, It affected a lot of how I acted growing up I didn’t find it easy to keep friends. I struggled opening up to people in what would be perceived as a normal way, I was once told it made me come across as arrogant. I’m thankful I no longer have any of those people in my life.
When we grow up we don’t think we’re going to be afraid of the outside world, we don’t think that we’ll constantly be battling our own minds to work out what is right for us. When you’re 5 you don’t think of those things because the world is your oyster. We all have ideals of a nice house, maybe a family, a pet a good job and living life to the fullest. It’s not always the reality we envisioned.
Now we have our own home I feel the safest place for us is at home, no one and nothing can hurt us here but my god the guilt drags me down more than the memories. Do I feel like I’m failing my child? Daily. Do I wish we could go out more? Of Course. Do I feel that pang of guilt on the rare occasion my child see’s another child because she doesn’t know how to play properly? Yes. That’s my fault. Do I feel guilty that my child has never been to a baby group? Yes. Do I worry every single day that my child will not be advanced as other children her age because of my anxiety? Every damn day. However as the days go and Harper gets older we’re trying to fight it. Is there day’s when will we lose? Yes. Is there days we will Win? Yes.
Each day is a battle against the mind, people will drag you down and tell you, you’re a shit mum, your daughter deserves better, just get on with it, whats the problem etc. People will never understand how your mind works and that’s ok because in return you’ll never understands how their minds work either. Having a disorder that stops you leaving the house doesn’t make you a shit person or a bad parent. As mothers our natural instinct to protect our babies and make sure they are safe at all times. I suppose in a way social anxiety gives you a protection a safe boundary and a place that is yours.
I guess the reason I’m so fiercely protective over Harper is because I never want her to experience what I went through, I want her to live her life to the fullest but as it stands the person holding her back is me. Children are sponges and learn so much from the grown ups that surround them, will she be like me? Will my actions give her a mental health condition where she also feels the outside world is terrifying? Will she follow in my foot steps of struggling to have a conversation with another grown up because she just doesn’t know the words? Maybe. All of those things are a maybe.
What I do know is I will learn to control this as I’ve learnt to control my other conditions. Each day things will become easier and easier, the world will seem less and less scary as the days go on.. Maybe my child will be like me, Maybe she wont but for now she’s too young to understand and I’m hoping by the time she does understand, the fear will be gone, I’ll be able to just get up and leave the house without the worry of who we’ll bump into or if someone will say a snide comment. I remember once we were out my anxiety was through the roof and a group of 3 mothers were making snide comments over the fact Harper has a dummy. we were in a lift Harper was the only kid with a dummy, I knew they were talking about me.. Did i say anything? Nope because at that point i wanted to get out of the lift! Plus me vs 3 incredibly bitchy mothers No thank you! If you’re a mother who see’s something they disagree with another mother doing.. Keep your trap shut yeah? we’re all winging it!