I Appear Successful, But Since Having Kids I Feel I’ve Lost Myself by Annalisa Barbieri (Letter from a Married Mother Who Has Depression, Low Self Esteem)
Before I get to the link and the letter, I wanted to say…
The article below – via The Guardian – doesn’t make it clear, but the following appears to be an e-mail or a letter from a married mother who has low self esteem, and she’s writing to this paper for advice, guidance, and help.
I’m sorry this lady is not doing well, but I want you to take away from this that being married and being a mother (having children) will not necessarily make you happy, or bring you joy, inner peace, or a healthy sense of identity.
I’m afraid that a lot of conservatives – especially Christians – keep promoting these false notions to women, from the time we are girls, that if we just marry (and/or have children), that being married and a parent will bring us permanent happiness and purpose in life, but clearly, that is not the case.
I am not “anti family” nor “anti motherhood,” but I figured out a long time ago that being a parent or married may not bring you fulfillment in life, and it is that expectation that a lot of “pro family,” “pro motherhood” type of conservatives continue to hold up – it is misleading, false hope and propaganda.
I’ve got other examples on my blog of women who married (or who are mothers), and yet, being married (or being a mother) didn’t bring them happiness, but they were still left feeling overlooked, depressed, or lonely – in some cases, because the man they married doesn’t meet their emotional needs regularly, but spends all his day wrapped up in his hobbies or watching television.
I have blog posts of women who admit that they regret motherhood!
I think if you’re someone who had hoped or expected to marry (or have children) it can be painful or very disappointing if that did not happen for you, but if you can accept it,
and permit yourself to go through a grieving process and determine to move on in life and determine to enjoy life anyway (in spite of life not turning out how you had hoped), that you can ultimately find joy, happiness, fun, and peace without a spouse and without children.
You can find other avenues of joy, meaning, and happiness in life that don’t involve being married or having children. I made that transition myself years ago, though it took me several years of grappling with unhappiness to get there, but it can be done.
But again, notice, that although the woman letter writer here married and had children, that she is STILL depressed, feels like a failure, feels like a “loser,” and thinks she is not enough.
Being a wife and a mother – contrary to what a lot of excessively pro-family, pro-natalism Christian conservatives bang on about – did not fill that empty void she has, nor increase her self image to a healthy level.
Squashing your anger down is exhausting. Try using your free time to do what makes you feel good, and see what shifts
May 20, 2022
by Annalisa Barbieri
[This appears to be a question from a writer to an advice columnist named Annalisa Barbieri? – the article doesn’t make it clear]:
[Dear Advice Columnist,]
I have struggled with depression and anxiety since my teens and have had therapy and medication on and off since I was 17 (I am now 37). I’m aware of deep-rooted low self-esteem and shame.
I feel worthless. I never want to draw attention to myself and have a paralysing fear of confrontation.
I have managed to maintain a few close friendships, have worked in the past, and am married with two kids. So I appear “successful” on the surface.