Self-Portrait | Natalie Meagan

In this series it is my hope to feature a person + their journey in the form of a look at your life 5 years ago as compared to your life now. It is a less obvious way of saying, "it gets better." I got so tired of hearing that when I was in some of my lowest points but what I did enjoy was hearing + seeing others' stories of change through the years, so here is mine to start us off.  IMG_5344.JPG mothers day 2011

2011 was hard. When I look back on it, it feels like my life was covered in a dense fog, I felt like I couldn't breathe. I felt helpless + lost all of the time. Physically, aside from my snakebites + my super long, healthy hair, I do not look that different (which is nice since I am pushing 30) but emotionally I was a walking wreck.

I was the new mother of not one but two adorable chunky babies, who in the picture were 18 months + 6 months. My postpartum depression came back with vengeance the second time around + I spent most of my days crying, in bed or both. My husband- who worked his butt off in architecture school only to graduate into a perishing job market- had recently found a job selling cars. Hello, recession. He was gone every day, all day + really only came home to sleep. Looking back now I realize how lucky I was to have a partner at all but I also remember how lonely I was. Believe it or not, when you get pregnant at 21 + then again a few months later, your friends seem to just vanish, one by one. I never had that many to begin with + aside from my two grandparents, family is non-existent. I was extremely depressed + lonely. 

Two babies at one time is not easy for anyone but it was only worsened by the fact that I had no help, nor could I afford paid help. Even if I could get a job to help with money, all of the money I made would just be going straight to their childcare. I felt the lowest I ever had in my life. I woke up every day to a screaming, inconsolable newborn + spent all day trying to make him just be okay. I did that while also making sure my 1-year-old didn't hurt himself + was fed, napped, changed, read to, loved, etc. Any + all conversations I had were either chatting with my 1-year-old, pleading with my newborn or texting my ever shrinking circle of friends. I was so lonely, guys. Lonely + exhausted. My whole body felt like it was filled with sand + like every step was a close one. I remember moms + other people telling me "it gets better" + having to fight the urge to choke them. My friend Erin explained it best when she said, "you can't pour from an empty cup" + I was bone dry. I cried all the time; I woke up every day afraid + went to bed every night feeling worthless.

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Now when I look back on those babies in my lap, I just wish I could do it all over again. I look at them now + I see my worth crystal clear. I can look back on those days, remember how my heart broke every day but also smile present day + be proud of myself for getting through it. I am proud of myself + of the humans I am raising. I am proud that I finally chose to be the light that I needed in my life, instead of looking to others to chase away my own darkness. I started treating myself like a friend instead of an enemy, I began to look in the mirror + say, "don't be so hard on yourself." I began forgiving myself. I traded my snakebites for a nose ring, I took a few semesters of college + even made the Dean's List. Not to mention, I started The Crybaby Club. I am still very much a work in progress + of course, life-the little jerk that it is- likes to throw curveballs every now + then just to see if I'm paying attention. However, now I feel more like I own my life + less like I am just stumbling through it, aimlessly.

This year I dropped out of college to pursue art + Crybaby full time.
This year I saw the Pacific Ocean + ate cheese curds in Wisconsin.
I started therapy + taking medication. I made friends around the world.
I found a way to stay home with + enjoy my kids AND work.
Everything I longed for in 2011, I now have. It turns out all those people were right + life actually can/does get better. It is a funny old world, isn't it?

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