I know I haven’t written anything on here for a while now. Maybe because I haven’t really felt the need to. Maybe I’ve been too busy. Or maybe (and if I’m honest far more likely) because I’ve retreated back to that wonderful world of denial, where pain doesn’t exist because I don’t think past the next hour; where the wonder of numbness collides with the terrible loneliness of alienating myself from those around me.
We recently celebrated my little girl’s first birthday. I had dreaded the day for months; put it out of my head, brushed over it whenever the topic came up amongst friends. It wasn’t the passing of time that concerned me, or the fact that (as one lovely friend suggested) I must feel so old seeing my baby celebrating her birthday (after all, I’ll always be twenty-one in my head!) It was just too hard to imagine celebrating my baby girl’s birthday without her father’s hand in mine; too nerve-wracking to think about how I was going to manage the friction caused by our two families being in the same room for the first time in almost a year; unthinkable to think that at the end of the day the love of my life would be going home to someone else instead of curling up in bed with me and our daughter taking stupid but memorable first-birthday selfies. In short – nothing about the day was going to be the way I had always imagined it and I just couldn’t bear it. So I ignored it. Party plans were made a couple of days beforehand, the cake was only chosen days before, and I spoke about it with no-one, save a few texts sent out to close family and friends to invite them to “the small gathering”. It was just one more thing for me to ‘get through’ rather than savour and enjoy. I wonder – how many more of these are there going to be? When will I reach a point where I enjoy these parts of motherhood; where I look forward to Christmas’ and birthdays and holidays without the inevitable feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach? And of course that all-consuming feeling of disgust at myself – what kind of a mother does this, ignores her child’s upcoming birthday, doesn’t excitedly gush about what she’s buying the child, what she’s going to wear, how the cake will look. Once again I felt I’d failed at yet another important milestone in my baby’s life.
Despite my fears the day itself was a relative success. A wonderful cake, lots of toys and laughter from the children, no arguments or cattiness between the adults (that I heard anyway!): just our closest friends and family and a one year old who relished the attention that being the birthday girl brings. She wore her beautiful party dress and a smile that lit up the room. I smiled for photos and mingled with all of the guests…and breathed a sigh of relief when the two of us were home alone again. I thought back to that moment 365 days ago when she was born, to how different my life was, how different I was. And of course the tears came. For myself, for my little girl, for our ‘family’, for our future.
Reflection is not my friend at the moment; it still has the power to strip me of my defences, bring me out of denial, weaken me. I know it won’t always be this way. Denial for me is a little like being in the eye of the storm, where – for just a moment – it’s quiet and still. I think I have conquered my demons, I think the storm is behind me. And then I realise: it’s not behind me. It’s still raging all around me. I may have found a moment of peace and stillness but it’s not over. Not yet. If I want to get home, if I want to get to the other side where the sun is shining and my life is ablaze with colour instead of the monochrome of the past year, I still have to walk through the raging hurricane. Sometimes I feel like I’m getting somewhere with the battle, and then I retreat back to the eye again, to the shelter of numbness and denial. I’m safe here, I don’t have to face my feelings of inadequacy or worthlessness. I don’t question whether I am a good mum, or a good friend or a good daughter. I don’t worry that I’m letting everyone down, that I’ll never have true, all-consuming love in my life again. I just plan what my baby and I are going to do for the next hour. And then the next. And the next. And then…we sleep.
I know this post has been a little wishy-washy; more a jumble of mixed up feelings and analogies than any real descriptive piece. But it’s what I need today, just a place to get the jumble out of my head. I know it’s doing some sort of good; every entry hurts to write, brings me to tears that will burn long after I log off, but ultimately is healing me piece by piece. And you – my invisible audience – you are still easier for me to talk to than my friends and family. There’s no pity or irritation in your eyes. My ramblings and tears are not an inconvenience to you, won’t be held against me for years to come.
You are the tiny patch of blue sky that helps me navigate through this storm.
Sweet dreams all