Confessions of a Colossal Mama Bear by Meg

My Camden

When I first left my ex husband in 2011, I kept having this recurring dream. We were all in the pool. It was a large outdoor pool and there were hordes of people. My youngest son, Camden, was in the pool and he was carrying his (then) beloved blue blanket and wearing his (adorable) footie-pajamas. He was barely four years old when we left. At that time, our children did not know how to swim. I was distracted and I looked around and I realized that my little boy was at the bottom of the pool in his red jammies. I started screaming for someone to help me. I could not seem to get to him and no. one. cared. No one could hear my voice. I had no voice. And my little guy was dying. I was hysterical. I could not help my son. I woke up crying.

I had this same dream over and over again. I believe that my dreams, during that time, were simply revealing my fears. I wondered, later, why it was just Camden I would dream about like that when I wanted to save all four of my children. I finally concluded that he was in the most danger of being lost in the abuse. My ex husband was already scaring him pretty badly. He also called him a “mama’s boy” over and over. It was like my ex husband had already decided (consciously or unconsciously, I don’t know) that Camden’s esteem would be damaged beyond repair.

I also realize that I felt I did not have a voice and I could not get anyone within arm’s length to listen to our plight, at the time. I was grasping for someone to hear me and to see and understand what the children and I were going through. It was as though I was screaming, “My children and I are drowning! We are dying! Please, someone see us!!!” And, at the time, no one would. It was a desperate place.

I sometimes feel like I grabbed my children with all of my grip and I would. not. let. go. I was solely responsible for their safety and, while the responsibility was overwhelming most of the time, I was not about to let them drift. I felt like no one else would love them; no one else would see what we were going through and no one else would help them. I was the only one.

You know exactly what I’m talking about, mama. You have had to protect them. You have had to be the only one. Gathering your cubs around you and holding them hard while looking over your shoulder to protect them from evil has been an exhausting way of life. Believe me, I do know this. 

Last week, we had a snow day, right after coming off of an 18-day Christmas break. I could NOT believe it. I was worn out from being the “only one” over break and here we were, stuck inside in 5-degree weather. I woke up, realized it, and cried. I was weary to my bones and I called upon my Give Her Wings ladies to pray for me. Right away, Carrie knew what the issue was. So did Michelle. And Bekah and Laura. And all of them (I’m pretty transparent, I guess). Michelle told me that she loves how much I do with the children but they might enjoy a little bit of independence. Carrie pointed out that she understands how the need to protect them all and be with them all the time is great, in my life, since I spent so many years in my first marriage having to be the mama bear. She said, “You are safe now. You don’t have to do that, anymore.” Bingo. So much of my stress has been due to the fact that I often still live like I am their sole protector.

Oh, yes, I am, girl. Oh, yes, I am.

This is why it was so incredibly hard for me to give up homeschooling several years back. Who would protect them? They were so vulnerable and small. How could I send them out as sheep among the wolves? Eventually, I did release them from home schooling because I had to work, as a single mama, and, guess what? They did great. In fact, they started to thrive.

I’m still learning. I’m still the world’s biggest mama bear (just hurt one of my children and watch what happens, if you don’t believe me.) But, I realized that my stress level over protecting them quite that much was causing them stress and was not fabulous for my PTSD. Not fabulous, at all. My children have proven to be fantastically resilient and I need to pretty much just get out of their way a whole lot more. They need room to breathe and to just be. And they need to figure out how to navigate the tough stuff. Most importantly, they need to see that mama is not a wreck . . . that she is calm and she believes in their abilities to protect themselves and each other. And shine and be beautiful and all that vibrant goodness. And one of the perks? They have watched mama believe in them. And when I am at peace, they seem more at peace, as well. I cannot live out of a place of fear, anymore.

Mamas who have left, try (if you can) to relax a little bit. Your children and my children have been in the palm of His hand all of this time. I think that, when we don’t feel safe, we don’t feel like our children are safe. But, the truth is, they are so incredibly safe in Christ. Sure, they have struggles because maybe they have been traumatized. I get that. But, they are going to be amazing adults because they are working through it. Even without you. The problems are big, I know, but they are not bigger than Jesus. Breathe, dear mama. Find your voice; it is in there. Give some room for Jesus to work, as well, in their lives. It is going to be OK, even if it is so hard to see right now, it is going to be OK.







14 Replies to “Confessions of a Colossal Mama Bear by Meg”

  1. I’ve had to remind myself of this over and over and over. I have joint custody with my daughter’s dad (my abuser). I so badly want to protect her from her dad, but I can’t. I want to be the protector, but I realize that that’s the Lord’s job, and He can do it so much better than I can.

    1. I’m so glad it was an encouragement to you, Amy. Be at peace . . . God loves your babies even more than you do. You are a good mama. Hugs.

  2. Wonderful and insightful report! So validating to hear the heart of another Mama Bear; to know that I am not alone in what I feel and have been experiencing regarding the need to protect my cubs after living in an abusive marriage for years, yet also so freeing in the truth of needing to move out of fear and into gradually letting go and trusting the Lord to be with them in every way.
    Thank you!

    1. Welcome to our community, Mary! And thank you for the validation. I had no idea how important this post would be to so many! Bless you, dear lady!

  3. Thank you! It really is validating, as I said, to know I am not alone. Even after years of being out of the abusive marriage, I still have a lot of fears and trust issues. The truth is that for those of us who are/have been in this situation usually don’t find a lot of safe, understanding places/people to share these inner fears, struggles, and motivations with regarding our own and our children’s protection. Usually there are no witnesses to the abuse we’ve suffered and others don’t, can’t or won’t understand, or will even be on the side of the abuser. This leads to keeping a lot of things to ourselves, since there is seemingly no one to trust in (humanly), and feeling like only God, who sees all and knows all, understands or cares.

  4. Thank you for writing this. At this moment I’m sitting in the ski lodge stressing about my boys in the hill, in lessons… specifically my autistic guy. It’s hard to walk away from them even though I know they are in a safe environment. It’s hard to let go when we feel like we are all they have. Thank you for the reminder that they also have God and themselves.

    1. Rose — Thank you for your comment. Your children will grow up to be wise and strong and deeply compassionate because of all they have been through. Big hugs. You are not alone. I also looked at your blog and I really like. Keep speaking out, beautiful child of God!

  5. Megan,

    I am every single word of this post. I just am not where you are so I wonder: is your ex husband still a weekly part of your children’s life? He is for my 5 and 8 year old and with the abuse a constant, I just can’t seem to let go. How do I get there?

    1. Julia — Thank you so much for commenting. No, my ex husband is not a part of their lives so it is easier for me. I have heard from other single mamas that, one thing that helps, is putting the children into therapy (play therapy?) so that you have another adult helping you and affirming what YOU are trying to teach the children and helping them to see that the abuse is not OK. Kind of counter-acting your ex. The truth is, there isn’t much you can do about the visitation and so there has to come a time where you trust God with them. You pray over them, you teach them, you affirm their feelings, you love them . . and then release. I realize this is easier said than done and I’m sorry. It is easy for me to say. 🙁 I am praying for you, dear lady. You are a wonderful mama.

  6. Thank you for this post. I left a few months ago and had a horrible nightmare right after leaving. I dreamed my ex kidnapped my kids and no one would help me find them and my car didn’t work so I couldn’t go after them.

    Things are slowly getting better though. I have a wonderful counselor I meet with that understands, even when family and friends don’t. I’m wrestling with God about getting to a place of trusting Him with my kids. I don’t know how to get there.

    The hard part lately is we’ve all been sick around and around and it’s kept me stuck at home and I haven’t made it to church or counseling in several weeks. And my ex is continuing to harass me online.

    1. Oh, Danielle! I can so understand where you are right now! I’m grateful you are in counseling, friend. This will all take time and more time but it will get better. Are there any safeguards you can put up for your ex? Are you free to ignore him?

  7. I can have them automatically sent to a folder so I don’t have to see them or get notified, but I check it every once in awhile in case there’s something I need to show my attorney.

    1. That’s smart. If it is too tough, you can have someone else read through it first so you don’t have to see the words. That friend could then just give you the gist. Sometimes, that takes the initial panic and sting out of the abusive words. Hugs, friend. We are here for you.

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