This post is part of a series I started a couple of months ago that talks about my struggles with unhealthy relationships, weight loss, starting over, marriage, step-parenting, infertility, pregnancy loss, unhealthy coping mechanisms, balancing work and home life, and more. I am sharing my story now in hopes that I will find some healing in the process, but I mostly want to help encourage someone else by sharing the real life tough stuff that a lot of people are afraid to talk about. I mentioned this previously, but if you’re new here, please know that my life is full of amazing goodness, too, even in the eye of the storm in these struggles, but for the purpose of this writing, I’m mostly focusing on the hard times… but keep reading! I am getting excited to share how I’ve learned to cope, what has given me balance, and some pretty great stuff that’s come out of the darkness. If you want to start from the beginning, check out Back to the Real Me.
The next several months shifted to prepare for the arrival of our healthy baby boy! We had been getting settled into our new home, and now we had a specific timeline for when things needed to be done and organized. I began sorting, rearranging, selling, donating, and buying things in preparation for this new chapter of our lives (hello, nesting!). My entire focus shifted to how to be the best, most present and focused mom, and how to have the most peaceful and loving home possible for my family. Has anyone ever achieved this with a teenage girl in their home? I’m mostly kidding, but wow was that a challenge! Needless to say, my struggles as a step-mom continued, and I might even argue that they intensified with the focus now shifting to a new arrival in our family. Luckily we now lived in a big enough house that we could keep to ourselves as needed, which honestly was the main thing that gave me an ounce of peace in our home during that time. I did my best to ignore all the drama, and tried to just keep myself focused on positive, stress-free things, and remained excited about my pregnancy and getting ready for our new big adventure!
One of my biggest struggles was finding a balance with my shop at this point. I had originally planned to bring the baby to work with me, envisioning this glorious, kid-friendly space that I could continue to run, while financially helping our family and pursuing my passions. But reality was hitting hard and fast that this business was not only not helping us financially, but it was beginning to put a stress on us. It was time to stop pouring our money into it, hoping to see a different outcome. I’ll never forget the day I decided I wasn’t going to be working there myself anymore. My main employee called in, and non of my fill-in options could cover, so I went in with my newborn baby. My mom had to come with me to help, because I had a doctor’s appointment that morning that I couldn’t cancel last minute. She didn’t know how to run the register, but without any other options, I left her and the baby there anyway. “Luckily” not even one customer had come in, so it didn’t matter that she couldn’t ring them up. I cried in frustration that entire morning. It had all been nothing but a waste of time and energy, so I put a sign on the door and closed for the rest of the day. I knew then that if I couldn’t afford to pay someone to run the shop for me completely, that it was time to say enough is enough and cut my losses.
So, I gave it one last effort. I put all of our products for sale on a new website, ran insane sales, started a delivery service, and gave my employee the opportunity to see if this was going to work without me. But it just didn’t work. We were paying all of the bills with money from our other business, not even making enough sales to pay one person to work there (and at one point I had 6 employees!). So, I clearanced everything out, basically gave away all of my inventory, and walked away. At least I tried, right? I was sincerely trying to add value to our little town by opening up a unique, fun, and helpful space to shop for eclectic gifts and organic foods, where you could also play music, hang out and read, listen to a record, do yoga, create, learn, and be inspired. I created the type of space that I so desired and missed from my past lives in bigger cities. But ultimately, I had hit my wall. I hadn’t just run out of money to keep throwing at it, I was also completely out of energy to give. I was no longer passionate or lit up about it at all, and I had gotten really burnt out with all the failed attempts at trying to refresh and revive the store. But once I made the decision to close and gave the bad news to my employee, I felt relief and peace for the first time in a very long while.
Finally I could just put my focus and energy into my family, which now included a beautiful, healthy baby boy, a teenage step-daughter, a husband who worked at even more businesses than he did when this story all started, a bratty and jealous maltipoo, and four indoor orange cats. My life was still a complete circus, but this is when I started setting boundaries, making positive changes, and figuring out what was most important to me. Oh, and if it isn’t glaringly obvious, I had completely stopped drinking and smoking and doing all of the unhealthy stuff I was doing before getting pregnant, instead finding contentment with yoga, playing and listening to music, spending time with my new mama friends, reading, binge watching Netflix, decluttering, organizing, and surrounding myself with positive people, including my new church family. These habits became my norm, and while I reintroduced the occasional microbrew or glass of dry red, my main focus was on being healthy and present for my new baby. Letting go of hard alcohol (for the most part – I’ll have a very rare margarita here and there) was a huge eye-opener for me, probably the best change I made and more impactful than I would have cared to admit at the time. When you’re pregnant and can’t drink to hide your pain, you have to find new ways to deal. My baby boy changed my life forever the moment I knew he existed, causing me to want to be the best version of myself I could be, so that I could be the best mom possible to this little miracle man.