By Eliane Sainte-Marie, founder Parenting for Wholeness
I'm sitting here in a lot of sadness today.
Sadness for all the pain I've lived in all my life.
Sadness for all the life I've lost because I was too depressed and eventually too sick to participate in it.
For all my struggles and inability to function properly and to live in alignment with my values, because I was completely crippled by trauma and negative beliefs about myself.
Sadness for all the trauma my daughters experienced as a result of it, all the mom-time they missed out on, all the time I was unavailable to them, because of it.
Sadness for all the beautiful missed opportunities Life has kept bringing to me throughout my life but which I was too sick, mentally and eventually physically, or too busy just trying to cope with life with all this shit inside of me, to take advantage of.
All the relationships I missed out on or which ended because of my lack of capacity.
It feels like such a fuckin' waste of two thirds of a life!!
It took me 25 years, and more intensely 7 2/3 years of unbelievably intensive (often hours a day, day after day,) regularly excruciating I'm-not-going-to-make-it inner work to find my center and my health.
The last almost 8 years, I lived with such pain and inability to function that I had many, some of them pretty long, stretches of only hanging on to life by the skin of my teeth.
And only choosing to keep going because I could not fathom putting my daughters through the trauma of losing their mom to suicide, no matter which way I tried to plan it to try to lessen its negative impact on them as much as possible.
I now finally know what this self worth and sense of self I teach parents to develop, for both their children and themselves, feels like.
I've recently been able to stand up to the person who's systematically invalidated my experience, feelings and needs since childhood, who made me believe to my core that I had no rights, who caused me to be a completely crippled version of who I was meant to be.
Through all the inner work I've done, finally knowing my worth and that my truth is valid, I have been able to speak it to her and set the clear boundaries needed so this relationship would no longer be harmful to me.
Finally being able to do so, after 55 years(!!!), felt like one of the greatest and most important accomplishments of my life, like a massive life graduation and I felt like I could finally take my place in the world, stating 'I am here. And I deserve to be here.'
I'm now learning to live as me, almost like a young child, having removed all the distorted paralyzing conditioning and a shit load of trauma and chronic stress out of my system.
It feels like a wonderful clean and healthy slate from which I can get to know myself, figure out what works for me, what feels good, and build a life on that.
I've figured out how to live connected to myself and to consistently honor my truth and inner guidance. (It's not easy and I still have a whole lot of learning to do on that one, but it IS now accessible to me.)
I'm able to live grounded and regulated, within my Window of Tolerance, something I honestly didn't think I could ever achieve in this lifetime.
I still have a hell of a lot of work left to do to get to know myself properly, learn how to live as me and honor myself in relationships, and to heal remaining traumas.
To re-build my life, my relationships and my health, which have all become a mess in recent years due to my inability to give them proper or even any attention.
But I'm good now.
I've found my center.
I know I'm going to have a good life from now on.
The reason I'm sharing all this with you today is because I don't want you to go through what I went through.
You don't have to.
Though my experience was pretty extreme, unaddressed trauma, a life that doesn't honor your needs, living with chronic stress, even if you don't yet feel a severe detrimental impact from them, can catch up with you.
For me, though I struggled with regular depressions since childhood, it really caught up with me at age 47, when I experienced a complete breakdown.
Though at the time it looked like it was caused by a perfect storm of about 10 different little to medium stressors in my life, I now know those were just the triggers.
The real cause was a combination of a lifetime of and the cumulative stress and damage of trying to function with unaddressed C-PTSD, from being so disconnected from myself and my worth that I lived in ways that didn't work for me at all, where my needs were grossly unmet, from 23 years of parenting, often putting my daughters' needs ahead of mine because I didn't know how to honor both and desperately didn't want to fuck them up the way I had been, all of that amplified by all the hormonal shifts of middle age (which are no joke either!)
51/2 years later, from a lifetime of chronic stress, my body constantly living on stress hormones and being regularly flooded by them for days and sometimes weeks at a times by PTSD episodes, my body couldn't cope anymore either and I developed debilitating chronic fatigue (ME in the UK.)
Here I am today, having figured out how to heal all of this, on the other side of it all, experiencing what being healthy, inside and out, feels like.
KNOWING now that this was possible yet I lived without it for 55 fuckin years!
This did NOT have to be my life!
This is what today's grief is about.
Had my Clean Parenting program existed when I hit my first big depression as a parent after giving birth to my 3rd daughter (I wrote about that here,) the last 25 years of my life would have been completely different.
This work, each of my programs and my approach to healing work, are what I would have needed as that young mom, the work that, had it been available to me, would have completely turned my life around at that point.
It would have allowed me to LIVE, to fully enjoy my life with my children, to have much closer relationships to them because I would have been AVAILABLE to them through their whole lives, instead of spending big chunks of time just trying to survive.
It would have saved them a lot of trauma.
I wish there had been a me then (I'm choking up at the thought of what this would have meant to me and for my family) with the knowledge I have and effective processes like the ones I've created, who could have taken me by the hand as I do my clients, and guided me out of the shitty reality I was living in inside myself as a result of all the emotional abuse and dysfunction I experienced from infancy on, which were so deeply anchored that I couldn't even see them.
Someone who could have SHOWN me I was worthy and deserving of a life that felt good to me and where my needs were met. And lovingly and skillfully supported me in creating it.
The one sliver lining to all this, what most of the time makes me feel okay that I've been through all this, is that my experience has uniquely equipped me to support women who have similar struggles.
Through all my work trying to pull myself out of the darkness of my experience, I have learned what's needed to heal and thrive. And through my desperate yearning for all I didn't receive as a child and all the support I couldn't find for my lifetime of depressions, I can feel in my bones, what's needed for moms like me. And can then provide it to them.
So they don't end up like me, deep into middle age and with their children fully grown, saying what I am today. So they don't miss out of their lives with their children.
Being able to do this, to provide this for young moms, feels like my life's calling. It nourishes and heals me, it gives my life meaning.
I love it.
And I am incredibly passionate about passing on this message and providing support to as many moms as possible who are in a similar place as I was, so they can have a better life than me. So they can benefit from my painful experience.
If this message is resonating with you and you'd like my support or input, contact me and I'll help you figure out your next steps.
It may be my Clean Parenting program, for which I've just opened registration for my January 2024 group, the program which would have changed EVERYTHING for me, had I done at age 29, when I plunged into that severe depression following the birth of my last daughter, which I was never able to find proper help for and took me 1 1/2 years to pull myself out of on my own.
IF YOU RECOGNIZE YOURSELF IN ANY PART OF WHAT I DESCRIBED IN THIS EMAIL, I URGE YOU TO TAKE ACTION to address those serious issues, whether with me or someone else.
So they don't catch up to you in 5, 10 or 20 years, as they did with me.
And whoever you seek support from, make sure that you experience results quickly.
Yes it can take a while to heal from some of these conditions, but you should be feeling positive shifts quickly. If you don't, no matter how nice or credible the person you're working with is, look for someone else who's a better fit, more effective and/or has proven results with your type of issues.
You CAN get better and it does NOT have to take decades.
You HAVE to take your experience seriously. You're not doing your family a favor by ignoring yourself because you don't think you're deserving of it or feel the need to prioritize their needs over yours. You could even end up harming them.
Sending you so much love,
I initially wrote this text for my email list, and within hours of sending it, got this reply from a mom I'd worked with 6 years before:
Your email resonates so much with me because you DID achieve this with me. You took me by the hand, truly saw me and helped see a happy path for my daughter and I. I'm sorry I'm so rarely in touch, but please know that I experience grateful feelings daily towards you, because you were the trigger to our happy, healthy relationship. And my life has improved in leaps and bounds since the Clean Parenting course. My daughter is a blooming girl of 10, she is emotionally equipped because you taught me to help her name her emotions, and we trust each other because you taught me to make a strong team with her, and to be a clear and benevolent leader. And I am happy too. I've been in a functional relationship for over 4 years now, and I am steadily clearing out my shit, through yoga, and the occasional NARP program, and especially through listening to my own emotions, being in my body, the way you taught me in one-to-one sessions.
So you see, for me you have undoubtedly been the Key. I feel sad reading how much you have struggled on your own. Well done for holding on the way you have. You are so very important, Eliane. I hope you are learning to know that in your bones now.
Much much love and gratitude,
If this post resonates with you, if you'd also like to be able to say what M above did in just a few years (instead of in 26 like me!) and you're ready to do the work to become emotionally healthy, I would love to guide and support in it.
Fill out this questionnaire and email me at Eliane@ParentingForWholeness.com or enter your info below, and we'll set up a time to chat, to discuss if us working together would be the right fit for you. I'm very much looking forward to meeting you if you do! ♥