The moment I left my job to stay home with Esme, I felt alone. Alone in a way I had never experienced. It was isolation coupled with the unknowing that left me at a loss. I was doing a job I knew nothing about, with zero training, no real mentors and monumental tasks and expectations. Overnight I would become the entire sustainability for another human being—one that was my flesh and blood, one I wanted more than anything and knew nothing about.
My friends were of no help. I was the first to have a child and they were all steadfast in their careers and single adult living. I quickly became jealous and resentful. I couldn’t even go to lunch or coffee or even a walk around the block without my baby. I was chained to her and there was no getting away, EVER. I was trapped and felt like a caged animal.
Because I wanted to have a family so desperately, acknowledging the isolation felt guilty and wrong, almost as if I didn’t have the right to be upset or have my feelings because this life is what I “chose”. In those moments, those first weeks, months and even years, I didn’t want it! People talk about postpartum depression. YEAH! Hello, I am surprised we all aren’t depressed after having a kid. I was deep in the bowels of depression. I couldn’t believe that this life wasn’t everything I thought it was going to be. My life’s dreams and “perfect” picture were not turning out exactly how I thought them up in my pretty little head. I was spinning, and alone and sad.
I think that’s the bigger issue which brought me down. I did not believe I was worthy of having my feelings, my big bad (the worst) ugly feelings. How could I possibly say to anyone that I was miserable? My closest friends who wanted kids would have been annoyed that I had what they wanted, and I was complaining. My friends without kids would be like: “You wanted this. It’s all you talked about and planned for, for the last two years. Are you kidding!”
I was alone in my lonely feelings, lost in a sea of upset and isolation, where I didn’t have anywhere to turn. My baby was tough, cried a lot and never took a bottle. I wasn’t able to leave the house except with her, and everyone was telling me how lucky I was, how amazing it must be, how beautiful it all looked. I’ll tell you what…it wasn’t beautiful, and I didn’t feel lucky, and I had nobody to share it with, nobody who would empathize. If I just would have had that one person who understood and let me cry and be upset and validated everything I felt, maybe I would have started to be OK feeling seen and heard. Maybe I could have processed things differently. Maybe I just didn’t find the right person, or was I too embarrassed and ashamed to open up? That’s exactly what our kids need, just to be validated, heard, understood and told it’s going to be OK.
I guess it comes full circle and although I have learned to be a great empathizer, it is still very counter-intuitive because I never experienced true empathy as a child and maybe not even as an adult.
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