LOSS OF IDENTITY - WITH LLANI HILL.
Who the fuck am I?
Okay, picture this. One year I am on paid leave from a kick-ass nursing career. I’m on this sailboat, in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. My suitcase is comprised of size small bikinis and my daily exercise included dancing on bars throughout Europe. My biggest responsibility is trying to remember when happy hour started. The next, I just take this kid home from hospital (side note, is it not wild you need a licence to buy a TURTLE!! But you just take your newborn home like an ice cream from the store, sorry what?). I confine myself to the four dark walls of my bedroom attempting to catch some mythical human right, sleep. I am on paid leave, but my new boss is a mini power-hungry jerk who dictates my every move and is constantly angry with me, I really should report him to fair work because I rarely get a break, sometimes not even a shower. You know those size small bikinis mentioned earlier? yeah, those are swapped out for large adult diapers that cost more than I would like to admit. I am so confused? Who the hell is “Llani”? I thought I knew, I thought I was this carefree, spontaneous adventurer. Like legit would book flights with no accommodation or plans and it would all just work itself out. To this now regimented, anxious mess who is scared to leave the house at the thought of any extra screaming. How did having a baby, something we were so looking forward to, make me question myself so intensely now he was here? Fuck, you thought Michael Jackson had identity issues? Have a kid.
It was really hard for me initially. I was the first out of all my friends to have a baby. So, although my friends are fucking great. I didn’t know who to talk to about my identity loss because there was no comparative. Here is one example. I get invited out to dinner. It is Wednesday and said dinner is Saturday. I am struggling with my milk supply, but I am so worried that everyone will judge me if I try anything but breast milk that I am frantically holding onto this. It is going to take me 3 days to get enough extra milk pumped for one bottle, one. That will allow me maybe 2 hours of freedom, if I am lucky.
Instead of spending Saturday how I used to, with an RNB playlist cranking, a pre drink and feeling myself in my new mid drift. I am running off 3 hours broken sleep, trying to get a baby sorted, am fighting with the mum-guilt that I shouldn’t even be leaving him, none of my nice cloths fit me, no concealer can contain these eye bags, I am excited to see my friends, but I really just want to sleep. I arrive, phone anxiously in hand, I am firing messages to my partner, ensuring things are okay, looking for justification that I am allowed to be here. I greet my friends, my friends are all hard 10’s. I look at them, with their perfectly wavy hair, glowing skin, long legs, abs, perky butts, all of it, and to NO fault of theirs, I make myself feel isolated already. I used to be that, one of them. I am now wearing spanks, not even spanks actually, bonds “mum” high rise undies. Not the cute 70’s vibes, cheeky G-string cut ones. The full Bridget Jones Diary vibes. These are paired with my maternity bra stuffed with nipple pads. I then have to wear an outfit baggy enough to conceal all of this.
They are the best and tell me I am beautiful anyway.
We sit down and order a drink. I immediately feel like I am doing the wrong thing. “Oh my gosh, does the waiter know I have a baby? Do any of the girls think I am irresponsible for wanting to have a drink while breastfeeding? Will docs find out and take away my kid?”. I enjoy the next, 10 minutes, then my phone starts going off. Dad is unsure how to settle bub, I scurry off to call him with the hot tips of “slut-drop” rocking babies. There is none of these sweet little bum taps and jiggles, it’s more like you’re in a mosh pit at a rock concert in reality. Back to the table, everyone is chatting about future weekend plans, gym challenges, Netflix shows, banter about how loose the night ahead will be. “Oh yeah have you guys seen the latest bluey episode? Or did you see that there are these new nipple pads that are also cold to relieve the burning? Omg, you would never guess the price of these barely worn SRC compression shorts I scored off market place!?”. You see where I am going with this? I make it almost 2 hours in, everyone is tipsy and ready to go out. I get invited to kick on, but my baby doesn’t have enough milk at home for me to stay out. And even if he did, my boobs are almost at Dolly Parton level, and I need to get to my trusty mate Medela fast before I create a scene people need counselling from.
I also have an incredible partner. But still, I watch him walk out the door every morning to go to work and I cannot help but get jealous. I know there is a wholeeeeee other side of this. But I want to have uninterrupted conversations with adults, I want to eat lunch when I want, pee when I need to and feel empowered in a career role. I am sure, there is a side he perceives to be better on my end. Lounging around all day in my pjs, catching up for coffee with friends, not having to “work”, swanning around taking cute Instagram pics of our bub. PFFFFTTTTTT. It was a struggle to strip away the frustration and explain how I felt incapacitated every day. How I felt capable of so much in life, yet did not feel like I was achieving anything at all. How watching your other half still get to be the business guy and the fit guy and the friends guy while you stare at yourself in the mirror, unrecognisable.
I can’t really put it down to a certain day. I feel like I got to a point where I surrendered. In a good way. I was done fighting who I was, and accepted who I am. I thought so much of my identity was attached to being super fit, the life of the party when out drinking, the spontaneous “yes” girl. I took a step back and realised I had such an amazing support circle around me and the only person who thought I wasn’t accomplishing anything was me. I didn’t need to tweak anyone’s expectations of me but my own.
I had one of my best friends tell me that I was her role model and she used me as a goal of what to get to. This was a huge moment for me. I had been feeling like I was now the boring one who had to go home early, who had to last minute bail on plans, who couldn’t make the gym class cause it wasn’t a bub friendly one. When in fact, people were striving for my position. I realised; I should be proud. If I continue to fight this, I am going to miss all the good parts!
I recently found my purpose. Yes, I am a Mum, a wife, a nurse. But I created my own little business stemmed from opening up about my own mental health struggles, with hopes in helping others too. This blog being my first part of my passion project! I found something for me, that fits in with being a Mum. Nothing has to battle for a part of me.
We grow up reading books, and watching movies, and playing games where we are meant to just slot into the role of being a Mum. There is no gradual transition period. It is one day you can go get a pedicure, meet your friends out for dinner, buy a ticket to that concert, book a trip away. Then suddenly, you feel blessed to get 30 minutes to go power shop at woolies kid-free because there isn’t the chance your baby will projectile spew and shit themselves simultaneously in aisle 9 with a half full trolley (yup, that did happen. And while I am on that… can our grocery stores please get a parent’s room!). Everything you did and the WAY you did it goes completely out the window. Not only that, but we are expected to take that all in our stride and excel at it. So here we get left, on this deserted island called “motherhood”, one we wanted to get to so bad but now here we are unsure how to thrive on this island. We sit and watch everyone else sailing by, “free”. Sometimes it’s our friends that still don’t have kids. Sometimes even our partners who don’t realise how nice it would be to go to work for a day. And we internalise the struggle, well I did. But, one day, you will find your “new” self, your ship, you will be able to jump on take the steering wheel and feel on your course more than ever before, and my god it is beautiful.