Identity. It’s something we all struggle with to some extent. But, somehow, after motherhood began, my identity seemed to be shaken to the core. Everything I thought I was seemed to be lost. I didn’t feel quite like me anymore. Little did I realize then that my identity was deeply dependent upon the outside world and other people’s perception of me. I needed the validation of vocation and the ego boost of success to surround me or I just didn’t feel whole.
I struggled to keep my business alive after the birth of my firstborn during that time, as it was too much for me to be on the phone with clients at the same time my baby was crying. We didn’t have the money for a nanny nor would I have asked for one, as I thought I should be able to do it all and have it all at the same time. Plenty of moms work from home and make it work. I can handle it I thought. Well, I thought wrong.
Things started to unravel and I wasn’t happy. So, I decided to let my business go and made the choice to be a full time stay at home mommy. I felt it was the right choice to make at the time. And as a person who thrived on the thrill of the chase and whose entire identity was wrapped up in what I did for a living (although I hadn’t realized it at the time), you can imagine what this decision did to my self image. I couldn’t explain it then or understand it, but the fog of failure began to encapsulate me and I started to spiral downward into despair, depression, and pain. I began to isolate. I began to hate myself and the person I felt I was slowly turning into…and I began to eat.
It’s difficult for some to understand I suppose. How could anyone feel this way when they have such a beautiful, healthy, sweet baby to love and care for? And I can understand that. For those women who are reading this and thinking, wow, what a selfish, crazy person – well, I would agree with you. I was selfish and perhaps crazy at the time.
Maybe it was being alone in the house. Or maybe there were too many life changes all going on at once. Maybe it was hormones. Who knows. But, I found myself becoming preoccupied with food to keep me going. I was eating all hours of the day and night. When I wasn’t sleeping, I was eating or nursing or watching tv and avoiding the outside world. And before I knew it, I had gained back all my pregnancy weight and then some. I didn’t know what was happening to me.
My husband was completely helpless watching this go on. He told me, “maybe you should go back to your doctor.” “Maybe you should go get some help with your eating.” I would listen and say, “I’ve got this and I can handle it.” And I would wake up every morning, vowing that today would be different. Today I would eat well, get plenty of rest, take care of myself and fulfill all my household responsibilities. Today I would be better. But it wasn’t.
I was unable to control myself around food. The more I tried to control the obsession, the worse it got. After months of going along like this, I finally reached my breaking point and when the pain of continuing along my path became greater than the fear of change, I sought the help that I needed for my food addiction and depression.
It’s not easy for me to open myself up like this, in such a public way, but my hope and intent for writing is that maybe someone else is reading this and needs to know that they are not alone. Don’t make the same mistake that I did and wait so long to seek support among community, organizations, doctors, and other professionals. It is my experience that many times we as moms can be too guarded with what we are really suffering with and going through in this journey called motherhood. It doesn’t have the be that way.
I am happy to say we have been blessed with another beautiful baby boy and this second time around has been different. I know I am where I should be. I try to give myself grace, not expecting perfection in myself or others. I can actually look at myself in the mirror (most days) and be ok with what I see. I still have things I want to change about myself and my body but I’ve come a long way from where I was those years ago! For today, that’s enough.
I’m Leslie, a big city girl with a small town heart. I grew up in Vidalia, Georgia (home of the sweet onion!), before I moved to Nashville, TN for college. I graduated from Belmont with a vocal performance degree and married my husband Jefferson in 2002. After our wedding, we moved to NYC where I worked as a marketing assistant for a record label while he pursued a law degree. After 3 years of living there, we moved back to Nashville, Tennessee where I continued my work in the music business and eventually started my own company tailored to independent artists and labels. In 2009, we had our first child (Jackson, now age 5) and I quit my job to become a stay-at-home mom. In 2012, we moved here to Knoxville for my husband’s job and last year, we had our 2nd little boy, James, who is now 12 months old. I love listening to music and singing, although I don’t have as much time for it now with little ones underfoot. I have a heart for moms struggling through life’s ups and downs and believe in the power of encouragement, accountability, and faith.