I have an appointment with my therapist tomorrow morning. My assignment for the meeting prior was to write a letter to my body. I wrote that letter and it was less than pretty. Quite honestly, my body did not deserve such a vicious attack. It's just an easy target. My assignment for this month is to write a letter from my body to me. Thus far, I've been unable to do that. I can't relate to my body and have no idea what its voice might sound like.
Yesterday was a rough day. I was experiencing a lot of anxiety and I can't place where it's coming from. For once, it's not work. Although my department went from four to two within the last week, my job is going very well. We're looking in to new software solutions to provide documentation more efficiently and effectively. I'm learning new skills and that has breathed a lot of life back into my work. I'm even planning on my next career move - at my current employer. Regardless, my energy level was way low yesterday evening when I picked the girls up. Emma's grumpiness was way high. Although it was over by 7:30, it was not a pleasant evening for either of us. I know that no parent is perfect. Still, it must be hard to be a three year old living with a mother with so much anxiety. Will I find patient, empathetic Mommy today or will I find strict, authoritarian mommy today? I somehow have to harness this. When I'm done writing this post, I'm going to go into her room and give her a kiss and just be with her quietly. She's an angel and one of the two most beautiful things in my life. Amy's post from yesterday helped make that quite clear.
As much as I'm feeling so much better since April, I'm starting to feel removed from other people again. I've started feeling this way over the past few weeks. I don't know how else to describe it. There are very few people with whom I feel any emotional connection right now. My family is a stretch. One of my oldest friends resigned her position in my department and I had very little emotional reaction to it. Regardless of all that transpired over the past few years between the two of us, her last day should have been bittersweet at the very least. Nope. It was just like any other Friday - counting down the hours until the weekend came and knowing that I'd then start counting down the minutes until my work week started again.
Over that same time period, I have more often than not fallen to sleep for the night along with Allison. It's like when she was first born. I remember the first night I stayed up after she went down for the night. It felt like a revelation. I woke up at 9:30 last night and went out into the hall to see what Danny was doing. The only light on came from under the office door. I went to the bathroom and then just went back to bed. I really needed to talk to him, but I didn't have *whatever* I needed to make the effort to walk through the office door. I need him very much and I don't know how to express it fact to face. Also, I don't want to be another burden on him. I need to take care of myself.
I haven't been making calls or emailing the people dearest to me. My parents had to hunt me down last week to finally get in touch with me. They left messages and emails for a full week and I just didn't have *whatever* to make the effort to back to them. Did I want them to worry? Do I really want that kind of attention? Honestly, no. I just don't have *whatever* right now. Meridith called Monday night just before bedtime. I love to talk to her. I told her that I would call her back. Even though I didn't just go to bed after Allison went down for the night, I didn't call her back. I knew that I needed to, but the *whatever* just wasn't there.
Good thing I see Susan tomorrow.
I woke up this morning some time around 3ish having thoughts about childbirth. This happens a lot when I'm anxious. It's almost like a confirmation that yeah, my jaw was clenched a lot today because of anxiety. They weren't about my failure this time. Thankfully I've gotten over that part of the equation. They started with remembering that the first night that the nurse's button on my bed wasn't working (it ended up being on the TV remote). What if I had started bleeding out and had no way to contact anyone? My mind followed that train of thought in what seemed like an endless loop. It's all craziness and as much as I kept telling myself that it's just anxiety, I couldn't go back to sleep (hence I'm here writing this post).
Before I got up, I was able to steer my thoughts in a more positive direction. I thought about that letter that it due at my appointment this morning. That letter that I haven't even started. If my body could write me a letter what would it say? "Give me another occupant, please." Ha, ha. That's not very constructive at all. Although I've been told this by numerous people, I'm not sure that I "got it" until an hour ago while tossing and turning in my bed. There is a part of me that is simply not nice to me. It constantly judges me and expects much more of me than anyone could ever live up to. It's a harsh dictator that is making my life miserable.
Case in point - my first day postpartum. 7am. I am asleep (thank you, God!). The phone rings. I am no longer asleep (boo!). It's the commissary wanting to know what I would like for breakfast. I had to call them back because I had no idea. I didn't even realize that I would be allowed to eat that soon. Although I didn't really feel hungry, I looked through the menu. French toast with maple syrup and bacon with a muffin sounded so yummy. Nope. Can't have that. Now that I'm no longer pregnant, I must get back on plan. I need to lose this baby weight so that I can get back to where I was beforehand and make some progress again. I ordered egg beaters, a blueberry muffin and orange juice. I picked at the eggs. They were rubbery. I ate the top off of the muffin and was embarrassed that the doctor came in and saw that I had eaten that (Hello! He was just happy that I was eating something - he could care less what). The blueberry muffin was delicious - hence evil. It wasn't helping me lose weight. This is the voice of that harsh critical Jennifer. (Jump ahead to 9/20/06) Up until this morning, I would still wish that I hadn't ordered that muffin any time I thought about it. Just before I got out of bed, I realized that I would have been right to have ordered exactly what I wanted. Why (with me there always has to be a good reason - need to work on that)? I had just spent a full day in physical labor doing anything I could to try to get my labor to progress. After that, I had a major surgery. On top of that, my body was working hard to produce collostrum (sp?) and then milk to feed my precious little baby. What I needed - and what I desired - was quick energy. The fat I craved was what I needed to help kick start my body. That's why farmers like meat and potatoes - there bodies need it after a hard day out on the farm. Had I trusted myself, I would have gotten my postpartum life off with a much healthier start. Critical me was depriving my body and my soul of what it really needed - nourishment.
Another example - the first day I was home alone with Allison. In my mind, I imagined that everything would be the same as it was with Emma when I got home from the hospital. When I was home with Emma, I had to think about packing up the old house to move into the new house. I figured that while I was home with Ally that I could get even that much more done because I'd be off double the amount of time. I was so wrong. Things were not the same once we brought Ally home from the hospital. Physically, I was in the same shape the day I brought Emma home as I was the day before she was born. Not so with Ally. Still, I had to do more. I had to be more. I wouldn't allow myself a ride in a wheelchair to the car. I was "better" than those women who needed it. I wasn't going to baby myself. I'm also sure that the 45 minute walk I took around the maternity ward the night before I left (had to lose that weight - after all, the doctor said he wanted me up on my feet) did me a whole lot of good, too.
Anyway, I noticed that the bathroom floor in the master bedroom really needed a good cleaning the first day home with Ally. Did I ask my mom to do it while she was here? Nope. She didn't come all that way to be with us just to clean my floors (uh, yeah, she did). Did I ask Danny to do it? Nope. I didn't want to place any more demands on him since he was primarily taking care of Emma. So, just a little over one week after Ally was born, I carried a heavy bucket of hot water from the kitchen to the bathroom, got down on my hands and knees and scrubbed that floor. I couldn't finish the entire thing. I was too wiped out. As much as I was beating myself up about not finishing, I was darn proud of what I had accomplished. I was also pretty put off when I showed Danny and he questioned whether I should have done it at all. I wonder if there is any connection with that and that being Ally's first colicky night? This morning, this is what occurred to me - there is a reason why women are pampered and cared for when they've just had a baby - they need it. It's not a sign of weakness to ask for help or to accept help. It's the smart women who accept it when it is offered to them.
I can't write a letter from my body to me. The critical, harsh, abusive, bitter Jennifer can:
You are not a bad, lazy, ugly, worthless, piece of shit person. Don't listen to me. All of what I say to you is bullshit. You are smart, loving, beautiful, funny and damn tired. I don't let you rest. You always have everyone else's best interests at heart. If I'd give you the room to breathe, you could take good care of yourself, too. You can trust yourself. You are not the out of control animal that I lead you to believe you are. You are lovable and you deserve to be loved. You deserve to love yourself most of all. You can't be the wife you want to be with me around. You can't be the mother. You can't be the daughter, sister, friend, employee or supervisor. Love yourself. Be kind to yourself. Nourish yourself. I don't want to hurt you anymore. Please forgive me and let me go.