I’ve been putting off writing this post just because I know it will be mentally draining for me. Two weeks ago was a hard one for me, emotionally. I had what I would presume to be a “breakthrough,” and if that’s what it was, I’m not sure I like it.
Everything sort of came to a head after I opened my text messages one morning and saw a friend had her baby. She was a week over due and we knew the baby would obviously be coming soon, but I didn’t realize I had been holding my breath her entire pregnancy. She has had one loss in the past, and with my history of pregnancy losses, I didn’t realize that I wasn’t expecting a live baby. I haven’t fully accepted how much pregnancies and live babies affect me. I mean, the fact that I have to use the term “live” in front of the word “baby” is saying something. This was the fourth text in recent months I received from a friend, sending a photo of the baby saying that he/she is here. And it overwhelms me every SINGLE time. So much so, one of my friends sent just a picture of the baby with no caption and my response was, “Cute baby, whose is it?” even though I knew she was expecting a baby any day. I wasn’t able to piece together that it was her child. There’s a definite disconnect between me understanding they’re pregnant and the baby being born. So, when this particular friend sent me the text, I realized how broken my losses have made me and that started a breakdown of sorts. I was happy for her, but sad for me and my story of miscarriage and loss.
My husband is used to these breakdowns. In my line of work, I can keep it together for months on end. I don’t feel like I need to “download” my brain (as we like to call it) or get things off my chest. I’ve always felt like I’ve been someone who can cope with anything and not let it bother me. (In the same breathe, after my first miscarriage I started struggling with anxiety and wasn’t able to handle stress. That was 16 years ago and I thought I was doing much better. Evidently, I’m just good until I crack.) Over the years since my first miscarriage, I’ve had several “official” breakdowns that have caused me to end up in the ED due to thinking that they were heart attacks. I’ve never liked talking about myself. When someone asks how I am, I always say that I’m good. And I am. I’m good. I don’t go into details, and if I’ve told my story to one person, that’s enough for me and I don’t like to relive it over and over again. If I’ve talked to my husband about my day, when a friend asks how my day is going, I don’t need to recap with them. Most of the time I’m not downloading or sharing anything with anyone because I either don’t feel like it or there’s nothing imperative to say.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve realized and recognized that this has been my coping mechanism since I was a child. When I was younger, I never knew who was actually my friend, if I was being made fun of, or even if they were befriending me only to get close to hurt me. When I got into middle school and was incessantly made fun of, I stopped responding to what people said and put on my game face because that was the safest. If I had no reaction to their comments, it was safer and easier for me to ignore them and bury my feelings. My expression never gave away my hurt heart. I never told anyone how much I was teased. I didn’t tell my parents or teachers and that part is on me. But, I also never had anyone asking if I was ok. I should have stood up for myself; I should have said something.
Fast forward to today, I find myself with a lot to say, but unsure of who wants to hear it. I’m unsure of where my safe space is. When someone is talking to me or asking me a question, I must come across as stunned or slow because my reaction time is slow as I search the words to respond, all the while accessing if this person is safe to trust. Most of the time, I really don’t care to download my day to anyone because I don’t need to relive it. But, I also know that I’m continuing to bottle up the little things that are bothering me, and once every couple months, I just have a breakdown and download and cry to my husband. All the little things start to add up and I just break.
The download two weeks ago was a compilation of feeling like little bits and pieces were taken away from me by many people. You know the saying, “I can’t be everything to everyone?” Lately, I feel like I’m not everything to everyone… but I’m giving bits and pieces of myself to everyone, which is taking my everything. I’m being chiseled at by many people and it’s leaving me pretty deflated. I give wholeheartedly to most people I meet. I give more than I should, sometimes to a fault that seems like I’m trying too hard, even though my actions are something I would normally do. My “normally” invested in you isn’t your kind of normal; my love language is acts of service. It always feels better to give than to receive and I love the act of giving. I never ask or expect anything in return. Until. Until I become so deflated that I need someone to invest in me, just a little. I need just one person to not ask or expect of me, but to sometimes be my someone. A someone who will just let me be, when I can’t be what the world needs me to be.
In this recent breakdown, I also realized my parents didn’t have high expectations of me. Yes, they wanted me to go to college and get a degree but I don’t believe they ever assumed I could do it. The bar was not set high. The day that I left for college, my dad gave me a box of frosted cookies from a bakery with a note that said, “I always thought you’d end up living [your adult life] in our basement.” They didn’t expect much from me. My mom always told me to go work at hospital switchboard. After high school she suggested that that’s what I do and 20 years later I finally find myself working at a hospital switchboard. She told me many times that I would be good at it, and she was right. I’m great at it. It’s easy; I caught on very quickly. I have time to type this blog as I wait for nurses to call to page doctors or wait for a “Code Blue” to come through. And, in this breakdown I told my husband, “This is all she saw for me. This is all she expected of me or thought I could do. She didn’t think there was anything more for me.” And that is sad, because this is so easy. I’m fully aware that I’m now responsible for my life and that it’s my job to move past and the pain that I’ve held onto for so long. And that’s what I’m working on.
I did go on to get two degrees. I’m capable of so much more than what my parents thought, and I’m much more capable than I give myself credit for. Slowly, I will build myself up to a person who I’m proud of, my self esteem just isn’t quite there yet. Every day when I left for school my dad would say, “Make me proud.” I never got to ask him if I made him proud before he died; I was too scared the answer was no. And now, every single day, I tell my daughter that I’m proud of her, multiple times a day, so that she doesn’t have to ever question whether or not I am proud of her.
And if you’ve made it this far in the blog, I’m proud of you. (Kidding.) But seriously, thanks for reading and letting me ramble. I feel like the above entry is kind of a hodge podge of a brain download, but it’s the way the breakdown/break through came through for me. I know I’ve come a long way from where I was and I’ve got a long road ahead of me, but I’m on the path. And I’m proud of me for that.
Sidenote: My “line of work” that I talk about in the beginning isn’t working at the switchboard. I also do volunteer/nonprofit work that I don’t anticipate I’ll be sharing about on this blog. But, it is stressful and I need to incorporate a lot more self-care.