There are things people don't like to talk about, especially in relation to things that are supposed to be joyous. There's a fear of being perceived as incapable, less than or bad in some way. I know this, because I've felt it too. Not at any time more so than I have since I had to admit to myself after months of telling myself "it's just hormones" or "the baby blues" that there was something more going on. Even after I checked off several boxes on the PPD check list.
Motherhood is one of those things that is held in such sacred and high regard that to speak ill of it, to let anyone know that you've found anything other than joy in it, causes you shame. I've been feeling so very ashamed, so very heavy and alone, only willing to admit my feelings to Joe. I felt myself withdrawing, I felt myself cracking under the weight of my own unmet and wholly unrealistic expectations of what motherhood would look like for me.
I've found myself beating the shit out of myself for not being this perfect, beautiful, serene zen hippie mama that I expected and wanted to be. I've railed against my body - this miraculous and strong vessel that grew and bore this baby- for it's faults and weaknesses, because I can't wear my child the way I had envisioned and longed to. Because I have 2 left hands and 10 thumbs and can't get the whole wrapping thing down (goodbye dreams of beautiful, heavily filtered photos of my baby curled up and snoozing in hand woven fabric) and then because my back will spasm with angry ropes of fiery sciatica if I carry or wear him in the strappy buckle carriers I CAN use for too long. (so long dreams of painting while I wear my soothed, snoozing infant). I curse it because the same happens when I sway my hips and rock him to sooth him when he's sick or uncomfortable. I've been cursing it and wishing for a new one because neither one of us particularly likes it when I have to soothe him laying or sitting down. We both crave motion, a calming rhythmic motion, when we're uncomfortable. He is so much my son.
And I've been cursing myself and this brain of mine, so filled with emotions, for being anything but happy and delighted by this child I wasn't even sure I could have. For daring to be annoyed with him, for feeling my blood pressure rise when the cries of an overtired child can't be soothed away easily or sometimes at all. I've hated myself for whispering to the night to please shut him up so we could sleep and loathed myself for putting him down to cry and walk away to go get my head on straight again and calm back down when I feel myself becoming agitated. How could I?
I've felt like a monster; who gets mad at a baby? Who asks a baby to kindly shut the fuck up - even in gentle whispered sing song tones?
Apparently, every one. But I've been incapable of giving myself the grace needed to accept that and to accept that in that aspect anyway, I'm perfectly normal. And that lack of acceptance and grace coupled with the unmet expectations I had for myself, sent me down a spiral. The waves of sadness, darkness and less than have dragged me under and left me gasping in heaving breaths for air. They've tossed me on to my knees, a tear stained crying mess of a woman who can barely breath or find a kindness to give herself. And they've left me on the shores of endless doubt and hopeless dark skies, wondering aloud if my boys wouldn't be better off with another woman to care for them.
One who isn't a giant fuck up. One who doesn't constantly worry. One who doesn't cry and feel so very emotional. One with a strong body and mind.
And the light broke in, through those clouds for one shining moment. The full moon's kiss on my tear stained raw face, and I knew that these are all lies. All a pack of motherfucking evil, hateful lies. That it isn't my fault, that I don't deserve these feelings, that there is nothing to be ashamed of or scared of. That I'm worthy of love and motherhood and most importantly, of healing.
And I reached out. In one big afternoon of emailing and calling, I reached out. To my sisters far and near and I was lifted up and held. And I was gifted with their stories, so many so similar to my own. So many that I had never known or would have guessed had done this dark dance as well. So many women suffer this in silence. So many women never reach out. So many of my beloved sisters were too ashamed to tell anyone, some were scared of themselves but were too afraid of what others thought to reach out. And that is why I'm sharing. That is why I'm placing this darkness, raw and unedited, in to the glaring light of day.
Because fuck being afraid. Fuck the shame. Fuck people who think depression is fake or all in our heads. Fuck those who think we're weak. And fuck the unrealistic standards that women are saddled with - by themselves and by others.
I've reached out. I'm starting therapy tonight, despite the fear I feel at opening up to a stranger face to face and despite it not being in my budget, because this isn't my fault. And I deserve to get better.
And, so does every other person out there who needs it.