Once upon a time, there was a kindhearted, generous, and dedicated young woman who had an interesting and rewarding career and enjoyed a variety of hobbies and activities. She married her true love and they began a rich and wonderful life together.
Five years later, she became a mother. Happily, she gave up her paying job to stay home and raise her babies. She took great pleasure in her new career and was richly rewarded with hugs, smiles, laughter, and love. She fell in love with her children and her role as mother and took great pride in her work. She unselfishly put her own needs aside in order to take care of others.
Meanwhile, her husband had to work more and more in order to support their growing family and was less available as a husband and a father. Gradually and imperceptibly, his role of sole provider began to overwhelm his life. Her role as at-home mother expanded to Household CEO and doer-of-everything-for-everybody.
Her children grew older and she found herself taking on additional roles – school volunteer, Cub Scout leader, soccer mom. Before long, these new roles, along with her 24/7 career as mom and Household CEO, started to swallow her up. Our heroine realized she no longer knew who she really was. She had completely lost herself in the motherhood.
By and by, our heroine began to feel unappreciated and undervalued. The demands on her time and energies were unending and unsustainable, yet she soldiered on. She said “yes” when she really wanted to say “no” and she gave to others when she had nothing left to give, all in a desperate attempt to feel some sense of value. Her self-worth had diminished. Her sense of self had evaporated. She was burned out and exhausted and had become a mere shell of her true self.
As time wore on, her husband started pressuring her to re-enter the workforce and contribute financially to the household. Resentment set in. Couldn’t he see how hard she was working? How buried she had become? How could she possibly take on one more thing? She started to feel disconnected from her husband, misunderstood, and alone. He escaped to work every day and she was left with everything else.
Her children struggled and when she couldn’t help them she felt inadequate and helpless. After all, it was her sole responsibility to make sure they were cared for and protected, wasn’t it? She started to experience anxiety, she had a hard time sleeping, she developed somatic reactions to the stress – tension headaches, back pain, blood sugar issues, and, eventually, adrenal fatigue.
Then one day, she received a wake up call. A flood of problems descended upon her all at once. Big problems that couldn’t be easily fixed or brushed aside: her kids’ emotional well-being, her husband’s health, a constellation of issues in her extended family that had been hiding beneath the surface for years. These problems opened her eyes to truths she had been denying. Eventually, these problems would become opportunities to heal her patterns of excessive care-taking and people pleasing.
She could have easily allowed herself to crumble and fade. But something within her told her she had to fight. Fight for herself and for her family. For her inner truth and knowing. For her true self that was buried beneath the rubble of her circumstances.
It was time for this brave mother to learn to say “NO” to others, to retreat from her many commitments, to start the long, hard journey of healing from her co-dependency and begin taking care of herself again. She needed to understand the fine balance between caring for self and caring for others. She had to turn some of her generosity and kindheartedness inwards in order to be strong enough to help the people she loved the most.
She somehow found the courage to apply to graduate school at age 46. She took back her power by training for and competing in triathlons. She gets paid to help others now and is rebuilding her self-worth and self-esteem by contributing financially to the household. And, while she still struggles with giving more than she is willing to receive, she understands that if she neglects her own needs and ignores her own truth, she is of little value to others. Being of value to others is what is most important to her (it’s a wonderful thing to want to be!), so she continues to learn how to manage that fine balance between giving and receiving. It took some time, but now she is living her own version of happily ever after.
The End Beginning
This is my story, and it’s your story too.
I’m Kirsten Goffena, and I am so grateful to stand where I am now, smiling on the other side of age 50 and reaching out to the women who are feeling lost in forest of overcommitment and undernourishment that marks contemporary motherhood.
As a counselor and play therapist based in Fort Collins, Colorado I help individuals and families with issues like anxiety, co-dependency, and trauma. Play is an essential part of the work I do in my office.
Stories that heal are important to me too, and I am excited to make that part of what I offer through the Lost in Motherhood Community and Momma Mentoring. We use fairytales and other folktales to help us understand our struggles and our truth. It’s all part of becoming the heroine of your own life.
I’m on a mission to help mothers around the world heal patterns of excessive care-taking and people pleasing that erodes their health and true happiness. I believe that every mother deserves to be nurtured, to have her own dreams, and to receive as much support as she loving gives to others. I believe that balanced mothers will change the world!
Can you imagine what your life would look and feel like if you asked for help and received support?
I invite you to join the Lost in Motherhood Facebook community where you will find friendship, love, and support. You can expect to receive tips and tools to help you set loving boundaries, practice better self-care, and reconnect to the parts of you that have become lost.
I invite you to begin this journey of finding your true self. Together, we’ll help you tap into your own strengths and dreams. You’ll begin writing your own story and understand how you have the power to create your own happy ending.