Sometimes I can be on TikTok and find a video that I did not even know I needed until it hits so deep that I am reminded of the years of emotions I have pressed so deep down that I need to peel back layer by layer of those feelings.
I lived on autopilot for a long time, and honestly, if I did not start advocating and helping patients and caregivers, I still would.
My "Mama Bear" mode does not just mean I am protective of my children. I have been a "Mama Bear" since I was born. Protecting my family, friends, and loved ones have always been a top priority, and I love strong when I love.
However, a problem with the "Mama Bear" mentality is that you can sometimes give so much of yourself to everyone else that you are too drained to give any of that to yourself by the end of the day.
I would much rather solve everyone else's problems than figure out my problem to create a solution.
You can play tricks on your mind and can beat around the bush. I could stay busy enough not to let my mind wander down a road of thoughts long enough if I wanted to ignore a situation. But you cannot play tricks on your body and how your inner feelings and body react to one another.
I always thought one of my issues was that I was oversensitive. I have learned that in certain situations, I have become so undersensitive mentally that one day my body takes over my mind, and I crack.
In the video, the woman who plays Love on the Netflix show You says,
"it's like if you're crying and you're freaking out, it's bad, and it's like not for me. Sometimes I'm crying, and then afterward I'm like okay, I had to let myself even know that I was upset."
Hearing her say that gave me goosebumps. The first time I listened to the video, I looked at my phone and said "YES" loudly because not only could she put what I felt into words, but I was not alone in needing to be told you are upset.
For a long time, I felt numb. I thought I was doing myself a favor by not feeling those emotions and pushing them further down as more piled on top.
As I started advocating and joining the ALS World from the other side of things, I found myself getting emotional over what seemed like mundane things. As in the video, "I had to let myself even know that I was upset."
The emotions I bottled up for so long were now being triggered, and my body was telling me that it was over-holding back. I have years worth of thoughts, feelings, anger, love, and emotions that I have pushed deep down.
Layer by layer, I am learning to peel those back and live in the moment I should have lived in years ago. The more I've been triggered by emotions, the more that "Mama Bear" mode reactivates to remind me why I am protective.
I am protective because I care strongly.
Sometimes too strong?
Without a doubt.
Being a protective, overbearing, strong, loving "Mama Bear" is who I am and, quite frankly, who I love being; it's me.
But, to be the best version of me, I need to continue to peel back those layers and relive the moments I did not fully live for years.
I have to let myself know not that I WAS upset but that I AM UPSET.
I do not want to live the rest of my life on autopilot because I am too scared to make my feelings a top priority.
I need to cry when I feel and not cry because my body cannot hold in the emotional pain any longer and has to release it to remind me that I, too, am human and need to treat myself the way I treat others, with the same strong love.