WHY WE ADVENTURE // A deeper look in to anxiety, depression & motherhood
Today's post is a little different than the others. I want to talk about the reasons we started going out and about in the first place, and how it has helped pull me out of a dark place. My husband has a steady job that keeps us from traveling full time like we someday dream of doing, but we try our best to go somewhere new every single week. Without further adieu, here are five reasons why we do this:
1. I STRUGGLED WITH ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION AS A WIFE AND MOTHER
Before I was married, I was a pretty independent girl. I had earned my degree and was working to support myself. I had traveled a bit and was starting a master's program. I had everything pretty figured out.
The day I was married, I also left my job, family, and home state behind to move across the country with my husband. I suddenly had no job, no friends, no family, and no familiarity. I had nothing to hold on to but my husband. As good as that was for our marriage, it was also very rough for me because my husband went to work every day and left me home alone with my thoughts. I searched for jobs, but it was months before I found one. During those months, my mind went to a very dark place. I was sad and lonely. I had never felt so alone! I didn't know who I was anymore because everything I had known was suddenly gone. I felt like I no longer even had a personality! Even my likes and dislikes weren't in my favor because the beautiful desert and lakes were replaced with cold harsh winters and an entirely different culture. I was depressed, and it affected my marriage and my day to day life. I was so anxious about how to proceed with my new life that it kept me up at night, then I was depressed even more because it didn't matter if I was up all night - I had no where to be the next day! I hated the state we lived in, and resented the fact that it wasn't my home state.
After a year, we moved to somewhere closer to family. That helped, and I felt like everything was ok again. We had friends and I had work. I felt as though things started to feel normal. After a year of this, we moved back to the same place we were on the east coast again. This time, I was pregnant and had baby Maddux on the way. I knew in my heart it was the right place to be, but I was afraid all the feelings I previously had would return. Because I was so pregnant, I found it difficult to find work. It seemed silly to get too involved with anything right before I would need to be done in order to have a baby. I spent more months alone and at home while my husband worked. The dark days returned, and I was once again struggling with happiness and my identity.
After Maddux was born, I felt distracted from it all for a while. I had someone who needed me, and it helped me feel happy to watch him grow. Everything seemed to be going well again until he was almost a year old. One weekend, by husband had to leave town for a work trip, and I was so depressed at the thought of staying home alone with someone who I couldn't have a conversation with. I hated the thought of being trapped in my house. I wanted to go on a work trip, or have friends, or go somewhere that wasn't Target. I decided that, rather than feel sorry for myself one more time, I would do something about it. I decided to be brave, and take my 9 month old son down to one of my favorite places, New York City, alone while my husband was gone. I was afraid, but determined to have an experience to look forward to. I wanted something to tell my husband about when he got home.
We went, and it was amazing. We had the best day hanging out in Central Park in the sunshine, people watching and picnicking. I felt so happy and alive for the first time in so long. I knew, right in that moment, that I had found the solution. When we returned home I started doing research on other places we could see, other tourist attractions or locations someone would want to go to if they were visiting this part of the world, and other places I wanted Maddux to see. We started crossing them off the list once or twice a week, and now here we are! Almost a year later and I am the happiest mother and wife my son and husband have ever seen. I feel whole again. I have purpose. I still want to figure out work and making money. I still miss my family. I still want to move home someday. But for now, I am happy being here. I have made friends through our adventures. I have found hobbies. I have a personality again! Simply getting out of the house to see new things and go new places has truly pulled me out of my darkest days.
2. MY PARENTS WERE DIVORCED WHEN I WAS YOUNGER, I GREW UP NOT KNOWING MY FATHER
Ok I lied. I knew my father, but he didn't want to know me. This is a fact about me. It is something I can't really change, but I can let it dictate how I parent. I must add a MAJOR disclaimer and say that my relationship with my step-father (the man I call dad and the only father I truly know as such) is as much a father-daughter relationship as there ever was. I did not grow up without simply because my dad left. My step-father raised me, loved me, provided for me and still does to this day. I am thankful things worked out the way they did because I wouldn't be me without him. The two of these facts together has helped me decide that this - the adventuring mom who goes places and does things - is how I want to raise my son for two reasons (hint: one for each dad).
-The father I never knew taught me how important it is to spend with with your children and create memories. My lack of a relationship with him has caused me to make sure that Maddux never feels this.
-The step-father who raised me was always taking me places and teaching me things. I learned about types of trees, how to fish, what to pack while camping or on a hike, how to care about taking pictures, how to appreciate beauty in nature, and how spending time together outside of the home creates lasting memories.
I want to take Maddux places that will instill in him memories and lessons such as this!
3. I USED TO WORK AS A FIREFIGHTER
For 6 years, I worked as a seasonal wildland firefighter. I spent more time in the great outdoors than I ever had previously. This job taught me to be strong, be brave, be independent, trust my instincts and that being outside is far better than being inside. I don't want my son to grow up thinking there isn't more to life than movies and video games. I want him to go out and explore the world, run up hills, watch the sun set, shoot rocks out of a sling-shot (like his mama did ;) and spend a few nights sleeping under the stars instead of in a comfy bed.
4. I WORKED AT THE MAGIC KINGDOM IN DISNEYWORLD
One of the best decisions I made in college was to attend the Disney College Program. This experience allowed me to get internship credit while working at the Magic Kingdom. This wonderful opportunity taught me to see the magic in all things and in all people. It taught me to love and feel and smile and dance without hesitation. It taught me the magic in serving others and making their day. I want my son to see the magic that surrounds us in this crazy world. I want him to believe that anything is possible and to dream big. Going places and meeting people will help him feel the magic in the world!
5. I USED TO LIVE IN ITALY
When I was a sophomore in college I moved to Europe. It was a study abroad so it was in a very organized/educational way, but it was still the biggest move I had ever made up to that point in my life. I was 19 and had never left the USA. I had rarely been outside of my hometown and a few of the surrounding states. I was young, naive, and knew nothing about the world. Italy is where I learned about culture, it is where I learned that some people grow up differently than me, it is where I learned that there are other religions and belief systems, it is where I learned that not all kids avoid smoking/drinking/drugs, and it is where I learned to love so deeply and live life so fully. My parents took us places, but it was difficult to believe that there was anything more to the world than Arizona because it was all so familiar and similar to the way I was raised. It wasn't until I witnessed it in person that it truly stuck. It wasn't until I met people from all walks of life that I could truly learn to love others despite our differences. I want my son to know this too.
I hope that this post tells a little bit about our story and why we are here today. Just know, if you are struggling or need a pick me up, most of the time just seeing something new and beautiful will help pull you out of a slump! Now, go adventure!