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Battling the Mind Monster: A Letter to My Mom

Battling the Mind Monster A Letter to My Mom

Dear Mom,

I see you. You’re fighting an invisible battle. A sickness that cannot be seen on an x-ray, no surgery to cut out the despair. You’re trying to take back what anxiety and depression have stolen.

Life isn’t what we all expected it to be. Our family no longer lives under one roof. This season has been shrouded in guilt from the past, confusion for the future, and the loss of identities. This has been our family’s season in the valley, but some of us have found our way out quicker.

When I try to explain to my son what your “boo boo” is, he doesn’t understand why a superman band-aid and his kiss can’t make it better. I thank God for the chance to paint a picture of your battle to a two-year old’s level of understanding, because sometimes the only way you can fight what you’re facing is to give it a big, ugly face. So, that’s what we did. We drew a hairy, Big Foot-like creature with sharp teeth, giant claws, and red eyes. We called him: “The Mind Monster.”

I wish so badly that your Mind Monster could be chased away with my little boy’s nerf gun and scary growls. I wish it were that easy. But I am learning that it is not. You explained to me that even if there were a million dollars on a table for you to run away with, it would still not be enough motivation to get you out of bed some days. You should be an award-winning actress for the moments you put a smile on your face for the sake of your family’s happiness. Or maybe you smile to try to fool yourself as well. You try to give until there’s nothing left. You apologize for the moments you miss and try to logically explain something that seems so illogical in your head.

You said once that it’s hard to be around me, that seeing my strength makes you feel weaker by comparison. Seeing my faith and hope in the joys of life makes you wonder why you just can’t experience the same. Seeing my ability to pick up and move on makes you feel that much farther behind.

But, mom, can’t you see?

It’s all those traits—my strength, my faith, my hope—are all things you have instilled in me.

As I spend intentional moments of my day telling my babies they are cherished, recipients of my unconditional love, and afforded joy and strength by a loving Heavenly daddy, my mind mirrors the moments when you taught my Bible school and used felt characters to portray the stories of Jesus to young hearts. I’m reminded of the patience you had with me when I wanted my shoes put on a certain way or my hair pulled up without any bumps. I’m reminded of your pride in me even when my piano recital curtsy revealed my knickers to the audience.

It’s because of the way you valued me that I value myself. It’s the seeds you sowed that are now maturing, largely in part from your constant pruning, watering, and sunshine.

It’s all those traits—my strength, my faith, my hope—are all things you have instilled in me.

If I’m honest, I get frustrated sometimes when I just can’t understand the monsters you’re facing, when I want to pry you out of the grasp of the nasty snares your own brain has set for you, or when I just simply want my mom back. I feel like I’m on the outside, and I can’t even look in. I stay up late reading articles. I research ways to support you. I plead with God to pull you out of the woods.

Mom, I see you fighting this. I see you finding your way out of the confusion. I know there will be a day when you will once again take your own thoughts captive. I know there is hope that is promised, and joy that is waiting. I know the Mind Monster will be subdued. Though the battle may have to be fought on a daily basis, I know there is a God that is fighting for your freedom and sustaining you when you are at your lowest.

How do I know that? Because you taught me.

-Your daughter


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Carolyn still wants to be a dolphin trainer when she grows up, lip-synced her way through most of high school choir, hates following recipes, and thinks her spirit animal is Lucille Ball or Amelia Bedelia. 

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