“Mummy, I Don’t Want To Be Alive”

In April of 2015, Joaquin had the worst meltdown of his life: the meltdown that devastated me for weeks and made me question every ability in me as his mother. A series of events led up to the breakdown and throughout each one, I kept thinking that he was doing so well. In retrospect, I should’ve known this was a recipe for disaster in progress.

#1 – He had no school the day before… schedule out of whack.

#2 – We couldn’t find his iPad that morning… but he’s still good.

#3 – We couldn’t find his dark blue track pants that he always wears on Saturday mornings.

#4 – The big one, eye doctor visit… invasion of personal space and being poked and prodded.

All of these are not things that my boy takes very well without ample preparation and even then, I can usually only hope for the best. So what was the trigger? In order to keep him calm, I promised him at the ophthalmologist that he could use my phone after to play games. We got into the car and while we are driving, he asked for my phone. I then decided to change the arrangement and told him that we should do spelling first. All hell broke loose… screaming, shouting, he tried punching me while I was driving.

To a parent, who is unaccustomed by this behavior, the first thought is that this is a lack of discipline. But for a child who has extremely established routines, who needs forewarning before the plans change, who needs to go through all possible outcomes, so he can determine how he will address every possibility… this is not unexpected. If I had given him the phone and said “you have it for 1 minute and then we do spelling”, he would have been fine.

But instead, I changed the agreement completely and his brain isn’t always able to process that in the best way. So aside from attempting to physically hurt me, he will also hurt himself because he cannot verbally communicate his heightened emotions. On this occasion, he tried to open the car door while we were moving. I was able to pull over and after about 30 minutes, of him screaming and crying and me doing nothing more than bear hugging him, while trying to calm him, he said “mummy, I don’t want to be alive”.

My heart broke completely. I had no words. All I could do at that moment was hug him and allow the tears to flow from us both. I felt emotionally and physically ill for weeks after. I questioned the need for spelling, my need for discipline. Why didn’t I just give him the phone? I believed at that time that I was the worst mummy ever… that a good mummy would’ve been able to fix his hurt instantly. Or better yet, would not have caused his hurt in the first place.

But as with all challenges, there comes a time when we have no choice but to dust ourselves off, pick up the pieces and continue to fight. I know that I’m not perfect. I also know that I’m the best mummy my son has and I will do any and everything to help and support him. This is simply one more challenge to overcome.

If you’ve ever experienced anything like this, know that you are not alone. Know that there is at least one mummy who feels all the emotions you’re going through. Know that this will get better.

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Yoga every blessed day… and fighting ahimsa

Yesterday I completed my very first yoga challenge… you know those ones where you practice every day for a month and post a pic every day 😣😮 Yup, that kinda yoga challenge! And I did it! Now this isn’t the first time I’ve tried something like this. But it’s definitely the first time that I truly committed 110% and for that reason, I achieved a much higher degree of success than in the past. I’m usually the person who always over-commits to everything… so why was this such a stumbling block when I attempted it in the past? Because often the emotional struggles are the ones which threaten to defeat us more than the physical.

Day #1 – Padmasana or Lotus Pose

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My self-esteem has always, and continues to test me. The image in the mirror doesn’t always reflect as I think it should… so the first few days of the challenge, I literally took 2-3 dozen pics each day to find the perfect one to post. Either the lighting looked weird or there was a shadow falling on my face or it wasn’t centred or I knew I could go deeper into the pose.. to the more critical issues of my alignment being a bit off or the pic giving a wrong impression of what the pose should be about.

That obsession bothered me internally and by day #4, I knew that it was something I needed to address. The practice of ahimsa or non-harming as one of the yamas (moral restraints) of yoga is an integral part of one of the eight limbs of yoga. Very often, we forget that non-harming doesn’t only apply to those beings around us, but also to ourselves. And if our words and our thoughts to ourselves are those that criticise and undermine our efforts, then we are causing emotional harm to our inner being. I then promised myself that the first step in breaking this pattern would be to take no more than three pictures each day and accept that whatever those pictures captured, would be where my journey was on that day.

Day #11 – Viparita Virabhadrasana or Reverse Warrior

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Did I love my pics everyday? Often no… and it required huge amounts of positive self-talk in order to persevere and continue. However, by limiting myself to only three pics, I was able to let go of the expectation of something perfect and instead, truly focus on a positive practice. The pic became a bonus, if it happened. And by day #19, I realized that I was genuinely enjoying the experience.

Day #19 – Matsyasana or Fish Pose

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I would love to say that since becoming a yoga instructor, that I practice religiously every single day, but it would be a lie. This was the first time in my life that I did practice daily. Sometimes it was a hot, sweaty, super intense practice. Sometimes it was no longer than ten minutes of easy, gentle stretching. And a few times, it was awesome fun with my favorite #hunnybunny as we played with different poses.

Day #25 – Forearm Plank or Dolphin Plank

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