Four Years...A Look Back

I quickly scanned through my inbox this morning on my phone while getting dressed. My eyes rested on an email from LinkedIn, notifying me that people were congratulating me on a work anniversary. Puzzled, I logged into the site to see what work I was being congratulated for, considering I don't have motherhood listed on my LinkedIn profile as my full-time gig. Oh. That.

I've been writing in this space for the past four years. Well, actually a little more than four years, closer to four and a half-my first actual post here was in March 2010. I wrote one or two posts after that, but it wasn't until November 2010 that I said, "I'm going to really make this a home for my words," and became intentional about utilizing this space to write out my thoughts and share my life.

Four years. So much has happened in my life since I made that first post (Truth vs. Circumstance), and I've chronicled most of it here with you. I started this space in part because I wanted to do just that-chronicle my life. I wanted to create a space where I could leave behind a legacy, a story for my boys to read when they're older and want to know about who I am as a person and a woman-not just their mother. I wanted to share my experiences with mental illness and abuse so others feel less alone and empowered to find beauty in their brokeness. I also just wanted to create a safe space where I could come and think and be completely A'Driane-as raw and honest and ME as I want to be...unmuted and free. Growing up, I wrote in journals, but my father always found them and took them away, threatening to use my words against me in some way. I was never given any agency as a child or teen nor the freedom to let my voice speak. So I wanted a space no one in my life could touch unless I allowed them to. So I came here and determined this would be a space I could process and find my way through my life.

I've written my way through postpartum depression and anxiety, my diagnosis of bipolar disorder, the ups and downs of my relationship with my husband who back in 2010 was just my boyfriend and co-parent. I've posted dance videos here, written about the soul work I did in therapy in 2011-2012. I graduated from one college and attended another for 2 semesters. I left the Church. My faith evolved to something completely different than what it was when I created this space. I've had two children since I began writing here; Alex is the same age as this space. I had my first psychiatric hospitalization. I moved to a brand new city. Brennan started school. Alex was diagnosed with Autism and Sensory Processing Disorder. I got married in the Texas Hill Country surrounded by family and friends. Austin was born. I stopped attending school and became a stay at home mother. I've completely rebuilt my life.

Writing my way through the highs and lows lead to my finding my voice as a mental health advocate. Two years ago, I attended a panel at BlogHer 12 that featured other women who blogged openly and willingly about "the issues." I walked out of that session with their words burning hot in my heart and shortly after began giving my thoughts on various social issues based on my lived experience, reawakening if you will, a deep passion for activism I've had since I was a kid. I've lead a team in a worldwide fundraiser and awareness initiative for Postpartum Progress and am a contributing editor to Postpartum Progress' blog. I'm currently working on a development project that will help Postpartum Progress diversify its outreach and engage mothers of color. I had the honor of helping in the initial planning of their upcoming Warrior Mom conference. I spoke at BlogHer's HealthMinder Day in 2013 on a panel about mental health and sharing in the online space. This year I was selected as a Voice of the Year and given the additional honor of reading my piece, "America's Not Here For Us" at the keynote reception...and received a standing ovation I left the stage too quickly to see, I've been told :) Upworthy picked up the video of me reading that piece and featured it on its site. I've been featured on BlogHer. I've been Freshly Pressed, and had the joy of hanging with the Automattic Team in the Wordpress booth at BlogHer. I've become a visual artist, opening a shop on Etsy to share my paintings. I've taken eCourses from amazing artists and creatives. I attended Lime Retreats with the phenomenal Karen Walrond aka Chookooloonks.

None of that compares the community I've found here though and in other spaces online over the last four years. Blogging here has brought the most incredible people into my life, some of whom have become my closest friends, my tribe. I've danced to Prince with some of my sHeroes. The Warrior Moms and the PPDChat communities are my sisters. I've been challenged, encouraged, loved on, lifted, and empowered by the people blogging has brought into my world. I've grown and changed in ways I wasn't expecting. I am the person I am typing these words because of my online community, because of YOU. You've celebrated with me, you've cried with me, you've danced with me, you've laughed and clowned with me, you've mentored me, you've hugged me when you saw me in person, you've said, "hey girl, I know you, come here, it's so good to finally meet you!" at conferences, you sent me gifts when I got married and love letters and rainbow colored flowers when I got home from the psych ward. You've befriended me and you've entertained all I've shared with you in the last 4 years. You've given me life and allowed me to share mine with you. I could go on, because there's so much more but I'd be here til the morning typing it all out, sharing memories...I'll just save those for future posts :)

I'm blown away by all that's happened since I sat down and typed the words "Butterfly Confessions" into the domain box and signed up for a Wordpress account. I honestly don't know what's next, and I'd be lying if I said I haven't wanted to walk away from this space from time to time over the last 4 years....but I keep coming back because this is home, this is my safe space, and I'd miss it too much to abandon it completely. So...I don't know where I'm going from here, but for right now I'm content with just being grateful for all this space and blogging have given to me. Thank you for reading.

My Dear Addye, With All My Love, Susan

Hello, dear readers of Butterfly Confessions. Lauren of My Postpartum Voice here. I've recruited some of Addye's friends to write posts for her blog while Addye babymoons with hear new little one. This letter is the first guest post and it's written by the fabulous Susan of Learned Happiness. If you'd like to submit a guest post to be published while Addye is babymooning, email me at mypostpartumvoice (@) gmail with "For Butterfly Confessions" in the subject line! Without further ado, I present Susan's lovely words for Addye.....


My Dear Addye,

You and I have been friends for 3 years, now.  And in that time, I have watched you transform into a wholehearted woman.  You took chances with your life and made huge leaps of faith - faith in yourself more than any one person.  You have learned to be honest with yourself about who you are and who you want to be.  Your integrity has been hard-fought and is well-deserved.  You honor me with your friendship.

You said when you married Bert and took his name that it was the beginning of a new life - one written by you and you alone.  One that speaks to all you hold sacred and points to a fulfilling life with your family.  And this baby?  Is a part of that new life.  I can see it in your eyes - in the way you look at him and hold him.  I have experienced the hope brought by a new baby birthed in joy and a sense of calm.  It renews the spirit.  And I couldn't have wished a better birth experience for you.

SusanQuoteRemember that no matter how good your birth (or how much you love that amazing tiny man), having a newborn is a special kind of torture.  The nights are long and the days are even longer.  And no matter how happy you are, it's okay to be exhausted.  It's okay to be emotional.  And it's okay to still need help.  This is not a test of your spirit.  You are not being graded on how gracefully you weather the fourth trimester.  There will be beautiful moments and there will be unbearable ones.  And your tribe?  Will be standing beside you for both.

I hope with all of my heart that the darkness you fear is blotted out by your joy.  But if it's not, if it all becomes too much, you are armed and you are never alone.

With all my love, Susan

Circle of Moms Top 25 Blogs on Postpartum Depression: Why I Want to Be Listed Among the Awesome

 I was winding up a relaxing catch up session with my cousin Addye D. late yesterday afternoon, when I happened to check my email and received the shock of a lifetime:

Your blog Butterfly Confessions has been nominated to the Top 25 Postpartum Depression Blogs by Moms - 2012 list on Circle of Moms!

The parts I highlighted in bold were the only words I initially saw and the overwhelming shock that came with understanding what they meant led me to immediately close the email. After a few moments I passed the phone to my cousin and friend Stephanie and just sat there with my hand over my mouth in stupefied gratitude and shock.

When the shock had ebbed enough away for me to recover I re-opened the email, read it through, followed the links  attached and was blown away when I saw the other moms who'd also been nominated...moms I knew. Mamas I had met only a year ago through their courage and transparent words on my computer screen...mamas who embraced me, encouraged me, talked with me, and walked with me through one of the darkest periods of my life. Mamas who became friends, confidants and some of my biggest supporters, mamas who comprise a fabulous army known as the #PPDChat Army on Twitter & Facebook.  I was listed among these incredible women?! Again, I was overwhelmed with emotion and had to back away from the computer to process it all.

I couldn't sleep last night because after my initial shock and emotions about being nominated subsided, there came the desire to want to be listed, to indeed be one of the 25 who make the list. After that came guilt and the thoughts that tried to rob me of the joy of this accomplishment: "Should I want to win?" "What is this some kind of popularity contest? Is this why you write? To win things, to make lists, to be recognized and applauded? A'Driane get a grip, girl! Stop being so vain," the guilt laced thoughts screamed at me.

But this morning when I woke up, I didn't feel anymore guilt because I understand why I want to be listed among these incredible women and I don't think my reasons and desire make me a shallow, glory seeking hound.

I want to be listed because number one, it help me remember on the rough days that  my transparency means something, that it's more than just me sitting here spilling my guts on the internet. Practicing transparency is no easy task and it is by no means for the faint at heart. It takes courage to own your story, out loud, in black and white for the world to read and think what they may of it. You know how many people disparagingly told me I shouldn't do this? That I shouldn't share these kinds of details about my life? Do you know that no one in my family openly talks about depression or mental illness though it has affected several of us? I don't do this solely for awards or to be applauded, or even to try and get thousands of page views. I do it because I want to change the dialogue about mental illness, especially among women and mothers. I do it because I want to be a voice, a person who helps others embrace their humanity by vocalizing mine.

I also want to be listed because black women suffer from postpartum depression too, as well as other minorities. It's no secret that mental illness is a taboo subject among the black community and that the stigmas surrounding it are deeply entrenched, almost impermeable. But I'm trying to change that, and while you may think I'm pulling a race card here, I'm really not. Facts are facts. Blacks, Latinos, Asians and other races & cultures don't talk about mental health and perinatal mood disorders. And if they aren't talking about it, that means they aren't seeking treatment if they are suffering. There needs to be more awareness, more open, shame-free dialogue and more healthy, strong starts for mothers of color and their children. Part of why I'm fighting my way through college right now is so I can become a licensed clinical social worker & therapist to make this happen on a professional level, advocating and pushing for effectual change. Women of color need better resources both online and in their communities. I want to be an online resource they can come to for support and an encouraging virtual bear hug when they need it. I just want to do my part, and being listed in a community that boasts over 6 million moms can maybe help these women of color find what they need.

So do I want to be listed among the awesome? Do I want you to vote for me? Do I feel guilty or shameful about asking you to? Yes, yes, and no, I don't. Don't think of it as voting for me, a person. When you cast your vote for me and the other mamas listed think of it as helping to erase the shame and stigma surrounding mental illness. Think of it as helping to give mamas and their kiddos a strong, healthy start. Don't we all deserve that?

Speaking of the awesome, DUDE-PLEASE check out all the blogs listed and VOTE for them! I've been voting for everyone :) Why?  Every single one of these mamas has shown so much courage and strength by giving in to vulnerability and letting you see their struggles and triumphs. Reward their wholeheartedness and leave them encouraging comments, let them know you support what they're doing and that it's not in vain.  To see the list of blogs nominated and to vote you can click on the badge to the right under "Honored!" or click this link: Voting lasts until February 21, 2012 and you can vote for your favorites once a day every day :)

Congrats to all the mamas who have been nominated!!!!!!!!!

And continue to amaze me. Thank you for being so faithful and just plain AWESOME.

Weekend Reading: Leisure Reading? What's That?!

I can't begin to tell you how good it felt to wake up this morning and not have a near panic attack that tomorrow is Monday. I'm currently on Fall Break from school so that means no classes tomorrow or Tuesday for this mama. To be honest, I really only get one day because

  • the weekend doesn't count (those are always "breaks")
  •  I only take classes on Mondays, Wednesdays & Fridays
  • Alex is home with me on Tuesdays & Thursdays
So, that all adds up to me really only having ONE day off, but I'll take it! One day with both boys in school is still a whole day of peace & quiet, so I'll take what I can get :)
So what do I plan to do on my ONE day off? R-E-A-D. Why? Because I am a nerd & a bookworm. I adore reading. Problem is, I just haven't had time for leisure reading the past 7 weeks. I barely have time to read ya'lls amazing blog posts, let alone the books sitting on my shelves. Instead of reading books I WANT to read, like this
I've been reading books for class like this
(There's also a GIGANTIC "Western Literature" behemoth that should be in the above picture,but it's out in my car, and I'm too lazy to go grab it....besides it's a BEHEMOTH, meaning it's heavy and a beast to lug around. )
Papers, projects & midterms, epic literature (think The Aeneid & Homer) OH MY! The past 7 weeks have been insane but somehow manageable. I haven't had much time to devote to blogging, reading posts, dancing, & leisure reading, BUT I'm hoping to devote some time to that the rest of today & tomorrow. I'm also hoping I get better at managing my time by developing a routine that allows for time to read what I want, and not just what I have to.
How do you squeeze in leisure reading? Does having a tablet help? I just got an iPad 2-anything worth reading I should put on it? Let me know!
this post is part of  James & Jax's Weekend Reading BlogHop. To read more about the BlogHop, what she's reading, & what others are linking up, pay her a visit....reading something interesting? Write about it & link up with her!

Wordless Wednesday: The Takeover

Confession: School has officially taken over my life. I feel like I've been sucked into some kind of black hole. I expected to have a lot of work to do, but I didn't expect to be so....submerged. Trying to keep up with the outside world is surprisingly tough. And you throw the kids in the mix, having to be an engaged and active parent....and the days just start running together. Time is flying by and my energy drains much faster these days.

I've been doing well for the most part trying to balance everything...I just miss blogging. I've got to find a way to balance that part better and keep writing.

Any suggestions?


Quotes & Theme Music

BREAKING NEWS: "Dance Party Fridays" & "Self-Love Saturdays" will be returning this coming week! I was told last night by a very amazing friend that I needed to end my little hiatus and get back to shaking my groove thang & my blogging format, and I agreed. I'm ready to get back on the horse and continue the ride. Juggling blogging, school, LIFE, motherhood & mental health shenanigans won't be easy, but hey, that's why I can blog about it all here, right? Right. So yes. Get ready, cause I've got some pretty cool songs lined up to dance to! Until then, here's a quote to inspire you & me to keep digging deep, shedding our tangles, owning our stories & SPEAKING OUT:

‎"I have learned now that while those who speak about one's miseries usually hurt, those who keep silence hurt more." - C.S. Lewis


And a video to help me keep my head up & sing as I continue to get over my break up. Co-parenting with an ex who you still haven't gotten over is no easy feat, people. But I'm doing it. I've been taking the pain of it in stride this month...or rather in dancing :) They say "time heals all wounds," so here's my theme song as October approaches.....



Table Talk Tuesday: Blogging Identity, Labels & Envy

Ok so I'm sure every blogger at some point in their blogging journey experiences blogging envy. You know where your insecurities make you stalk other blogs' content, designs, etc and try to convince you that your own blog sucks the big wad? That what you've got in your little blogging corner of the digital world ain't cutting the mustard, so to speak. At least I can be honest and say it's happened to me, especially this summer as I stepped further into the "Mommy Blogging" universe. And by stepping further I mean reading some of the really famous ones and those on the "Top 50" "Top 100" lists those parenting websites generate to feed your insecurities to tell you who's worth checking out. Even when it comes to those that are PPD related, man, there are some INCREDIBLE mamas out there who are rocking it and kicking PPD & it's stigma in the arse on the daily with every word they type. I admire these women. I've even envied them for fleeting moments. And I've sat back, looked at my blog and wondered: where do you fit? and when are you just going to bite the bullet and get a design that identifies your "brand"?

See how I just used the word "brand?" That's the social media consultant in me speaking. The business side of me that's been doing blogs for other clients, who understands all the SM mumbo jumbo (ie SEO, Metrics,Branding Identity, etc) and has been using those critical eyes to view my little space here.

I think what the question I've been asking myself is: where do I belong in the blogosphere? What's my niche? Why do I do this? What's the purpose?  I don't have a great design. Or ads. I'm not syndicated on BlogHer. I've never been to a blogging conference. I don't chat with the 'who's who' of the Mommy Blogosphere on Twitter. I'm a mama who wasn't diagnosed with or in treatment for PPD til my youngest was a month shy of 12 months. And I'm a mama who now is realizing that while I may have had PPD, I was experiencing symptoms of BPD2 & anxiety before I was pregnant. I'm also a Christian but I don't always talk about my faith-if anything I talk about how much I struggle & muddle my way through it, so I'm definitely not one of those Christian bloggers who has amazing insight & can build you up with truths revealed to them. I'm working on rebuilding my self-esteem and my body image sucks-I care about those issues and how they impact myself & other women but I don't want to just blog about that....and sometimes I feel like my blog meanders, kind of up & down depending on my mood which might be too much or too confusing for people.

But you know what I realized? Why I stopped envy and my blogging identity crisis dead in it's tracks? What made me take off the consultant glasses I was viewing myself, my writing with? I'm not the labeling type. Categories & boxes are not what I fit myself easily into. I never have. I'm not stereotypical. I love diversity & variety too much. My closest friends have always said I'm like Baskin Robbins-only with more flavors. I don't like being told I have to be this way or be like this person. I never dress in season, shoot while I like trends, I never even know what to buy-I just wear what I like. One day that may be a pair of chucks with a funked out graphic tee, the next it could be a pair of ankle boots from Aldos with a stilletto heel. It just depends on my mood.

I'm nerdy. I'm a goofball. I'm a music junkie. I'm eccentric. I'm a Jesus chick. I'm up and other days I'm down. I'm a mama. I'm only 28 but I've been through abuse in every shape & form and have seen some things growing up I wouldn't wish on anyone. I'm trying to recover from a self-esteem that has always struggled to stay on the healthy side and I'm just now wrapping my head around & getting treatment for something I have to live with for the rest of my life. I'm the chick who never fit in and yet I still at 28 find myself trying to wiggle my way into networks or circles or groups of "friends"...this latest case being blogging.

I'm a myriad of alot of things, as am most people. And while I understand from a "branding" perspective I should focus on maybe just one thing-dude, are you kidding me? I just told you I'm bipolar-my attention span is like...nil, ok? (laugh)  So I've realized for me, that just like what I say in my Who ? section (which I'm sure could use some work,but I suck at trying to be witty while writing my own bio) this blog is where I write about my life. That's my niche. My life. And all the dimensions, nuances, corners, shelves & closets of it. Being transparent about my life. That's my niche, because in my heart of hearts, I want to help people. Encourage people. Talk to people. I love people, even when I'm struggling to have faith in them.

So yes, my blog may be random, it may cover several topics, so if "one size fits all" subject matter is what you're looking for, you're just not going to find it here. And finally, after weeks of wrestling with that, and letting my insecurities telling me I have to be like blogger so & so or only talk about X, I'm at peace with it.  I may not be in with the "in crowd" in the blogosphere or the daunting universe that is the world of Mommy Blogging. But I'm in and okay with me and what I write about, good or bad.

I hope, that if you're a reader here, that you are too. And that you at least get something out of what I spill here.

Ever suffer from blogging envy or have a blogging identity crisis? Struggle with the concept of "branding?" Does the term "Mommy Blogger" or the frantic pace of the Mommy Blogosphere seem overwhelming to you too? Why do you write?  Feel free to share :)

Themes Schmemes!

I can't settle on a theme for my blog...not for this one or my other one ( read so many other awesomely amazing blogs by other mommas and fellow bloggers and get so disgusted with the blandness of mine... I want something quirky, fun, pleasing to look at, something that reflects the voice and life of my blogs as well as my personality. So far I haven't found that with WP's themes, free or otherwise.

So maybe, just maybe, it's time to invest, to find a designer and create something I'll be satisfied with...

Anyone know of any?