“They’d Be Better Off Without Me”

“They’d be better off without me.” There was a very dark point in my life where I believed this to be true. From the outside looking in, it made no sense. I had a loyal husband who loved me, the sweetest little girl in the world, we had just bought our forever home the year prior, and I had a flexible, work-from-home career that I enjoyed.

Still, I felt like I was drowning. Drowning in what?

It feels silly writing it now but I know there are so many mamas out there who can relate. I was drowning in the housework, the dishes, the laundry, packing lunches, making dinner, gymnastics, piano lessons – the everyday, normal things of life.

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My anxiety continued to worsen until I became extremely depressed. At first it was a passing thought here and there but after a while I thought it over and over and over in my head all day, every day – “They’d be better off without me”.

I swore that if I wasn’t there to forget the clothes in the washer for two days or forget Wacky Wednesday and send my kid to school in normal clothes, they would be better off. If I wasn’t there to yell at my daughter or argue with my husband over what’s for dinner (because the thought of having to make another decision, no matter how minuscule, made me want to pull my hair out), they would be better off without me. If I wasn’t around to mess all of these things up, the people I loved the most would be better off. Simply put, they’d be better off if I was dead.

Related post: How To Cope With Anxiety

Writing this now, I can see how distorted my thinking was. My thoughts became so dark that I ended up having two week long stays in an in-patient behavioral health hospital. Having worked in the mental health field as a counselor and diagnostician (fancy word for diagnosing mental health disorders), this was extremely humbling. With the help of some medication, A LOT of counseling, and the support of my family (especially my husband), I am happy to say that I am no longer in that place.

I will always have anxiety to some degree, it’s just who I am.

But now I have something else that I didn’t have before – grace. I have always had the grace of God but I never gave myself that same grace…not for anything. If I left laundry in the washer for two days, I use to think, “Great, I am so stupid, now I have to wash these same clothes again and I won’t have time to do that other load that needs done”. Now? Now, I graciously laugh at my forgetfulness, start another wash cycle, and then LET IT GO.

I don’t tell myself how stupid I am or dwell over not having time for the second load. Because you know what? I’m not stupid! (And as far as that second load goes, it can always be done tomorrow.) I am a busy, working mom and wife who can confidently say she’s doing her best at everything she takes on. If I say something I regret to my husband, I apologize and give myself the same grace he gives me when he forgives me.

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If I have a hard day at work and come home and yell at my daughter over something silly, I’m honest with her. I tell her, “Mommy was upset about something else, nothing to do with you, I am sorry for yelling at you”. (Surprisingly, she is always understanding and gives me grace as well.) I tell her I love her and she hugs me tight, tells me she loves me too, and then goes back to playing as if nothing happened.

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And what do I do after that? You got it, give myself grace and try to do better next time.

At the end of the day, I know my family loves me just the same whether the sink is empty or full, whether I cook a well-balanced meal or we run through the Wendy’s drive-thru, and whether they have a clean pair of matching socks or not.

In addition to giving myself grace, I have found that it is important to give myself a guilt-free break every now and then. Right now, I’m sitting in Panera, treating myself to an iced coffee. And guess what! I am here ALONE! I love my family more than anything but it is so important to get a break. When I need some alone time or time with friends, I always discuss it with my husband and he always says, “Go”. Whereas before I was hesitant and felt guilty about going, now, I listen to him.

I “go” and I do my best not to feel guilty about leaving him with the messy house, our daughter, and now our three-month-old son. Because you know what? Sometimes they are better off without me. When I say that now though, I mean it in a completely different way.

By being gone for a couple of hours every couple of weeks to have some quiet time or see friends, I am taking care of myself. I come home refreshed and feeling at peace with whatever I walk into (messy house, crying baby, etc.).

Related Post: How To Tell Your Family About Your Mental Illness

Mamas, you have to take care of yourself in order to be the best you can be at taking care of your children. Why do you think when you are on a plane, they tell you that if there was an emergency, you are to first put YOUR oxygen mask on before helping others? Because if you don’t get yourself oxygen, you won’t be able to do anything for anyone else!

Doing things for yourself isn’t selfish, it’s loving yourself!

So, as my husband says, “Go”. Go out for a coffee, go for a run, take a bubble bath, go out for a glass of wine – whatever! Just “go”, do what makes you happy! Because as Audrey Hepburn said, “Happy girls are the prettiest”.

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11 thoughts on ““They’d Be Better Off Without Me”

  1. There are times when we need to reframe our thoughts. We may think that “they” may be better off but in the end, there are consequences to actions. There are people who care. Sometimes, it is really up to us to care for ourselves however we can, but it is worth it. Keep it strong!

    Nancy ♥ exquisitely.me

  2. Self-care is not selfish. Taking time out to look after yourself is not ‘lazy’, ‘self centered’ or ‘selfish’. It’s normal and 100% needed!

    Great post!

  3. Anxiety can become pretty dangerous if not sought out at the right time! I too suffered from minor anxiety for some time. And in situations like those, I believe the most important thing to do is to train our mind rather than controlling it.
    You are a brave person! You’ve got this far with grace and you’ll reach milestones with it too!!
    Sending you love and positive vibes…

  4. Thank you for sharing your story. I personally went through postpartum anxiety and continue to struggle with anxiety daily. Is such a battle, but I continue to work on it.

    I also learned self care isn’t selfish, it’s very important to keep yourself healthy to take care of others.

  5. Though I am still single, I’ve encountered days similar to these. Now I’m better off, and I hope you’ll be okay too. Thanks for writing this!

  6. This is so true, and so very important for everyone to remember. Taking care of ourselves is our first priority or we won’t be around long enough to be there for the people that do love us. I struggle with deep-seated depression daily and it’s a struggle to get out of bed most days – but here I am, at work, making the best of it like I need to! Thanks for sharing! Such a good post!

  7. I’ve always felt dispensable. Being the youngest of three siblings and the child to independent parents (I’m grateful), I always saw myself as a parasite to my family. My siblings all have their own places and family. I shuttle between their homes.

    I’m no stranger to the feeling “they’d be better off without me”. I feel like an appendix in the family for the most part.

    Thanks for sharing this story. We ARE more than what we do for our loved ones, because they love us for who we are.

  8. Whoa. I needed this, thank you so much for this timely post. I agree that it’s so important to give ourselves grace, especially when we’re at our wit’s end.

  9. Isn’t it shocking how many women go through that damaging cycle of self neglect, doubt and punishment because we want to be everything to everyone all the time. Great post. Brave writing. Love the tip to allow yourself to accept grace from others as we learn to know and accept God’s grace. Thank you for sharing this.

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