…One nurse caught me in a weak, tearful moment and gruffly asked, “Are you depressed?!” I pulled it together enough to sternly pronounce, “No. I am a counselor. I would know if I were depressed.”
She backed off.
And I backed into my shell…
An excerpt from my previous post: When I Should Feel Joy #1: Unprepared.
When one clams up, whatever is inside will find its way out, one way or another.
At first my insides came out as tears. They weren’t tears of joy or tears of sadness or tears of sentiment. They were tears of pain. I tried not to think about my time in the hospital when I felt helpless and invisible. But inevitably one thing or another would catch me off guard and I would be right back in the pain and embarrassment of giving birth. My mind and body’s natural inclination was to cave in on itself when this would happen. I couldn’t always curl up in a fetal position to protect myself from the outside world, but I wanted to. Nothing I did could really fend off the feeling of pain. And other than my averted eyes and the occasional admission that I was having a tough time adjusting to having two kids, most people had no indication I was suffering.
And then I started fighting.
I got better at preparing for the certain reminders of my helplessness and invisibility by scanning my environment for threats. That’s when I took up verbal boxing. After throwing a couple of punches, I realized boxing felt WAY better than laying down and taking hits. Adrenaline-anger made me strong. And anger kept people away – especially my family, the most likely people to touch the black and blue inside of me. I’m not typically a mean person, but blame allowed me to validate my anger. I began to believe that I was the center of a deep conspiracy: Everyone – do everything you can to make life hard for Andrea. It didn’t make sense, but it didn’t have to make sense. It just had to be a reason to thrust me out of helpless tears into powerful anger.
My internal equilibrium was incredibly fragile, so anything unexpected threw me off. Anyone asking something of me felt like a jab I had to dodge.
How DARE they ask anything of me! I can’t take it. Make it STOP! And so I would verbally jab back:
PLEASE go back to sleep!
I’m sorry I’m such a horrible cook!
I hate thinking about it. I loved my husband and kids, but the joy I expected to feel after having a second baby felt like a pipe-dream. It’s not supposed to be like this!
If you only saw me in the boxing ring, you would have no idea that the only reason I was fighting was in order to access a strength that pushed back on the hits that threatened to knock me out. It was all I had.
It certainly felt that way.
Praying you might tuck these in your heart today:
- (from When I Should…#1) Joy is what I felt I should feel after giving birth, so I hid my pain. But honestly, most women struggle. My expectations for what “I should feel” made it harder to accept the pain and sadness I experienced.
- Clamming up did not help me, my kids or my husband because: When one clams up, whatever is inside will find its way out, one way or another. And usually someone gets hurt.
- Every loud sound and every sudden movement felt like an attack on my entire being. I felt every tear my babies cried and every posture of confused defeat when my husband came close. That’s why it seemed like a conspiracy. I was completely overwhelmed and fragile. I had no buffer to absorb the blows that threw me off. I have come to know this fragility as sensitivity. Do you ever feel that way? (I have much more to say on this topic. Please come back for more.)
- I didn’t feel better when I was angry, but the adrenaline that pumped gave me energy. I have since come to believe that: SAD IS UNDER ANGRY. I have not yet come across an exception. I was definitely angry, but I put anger on top of my sadness. I chose it over tears. I don’t have to choose anger. You don’t, either. There is Comfort to be found but it is not found while boxing…unless you come across a beautiful soul who will let you beat on their chest until you collapse into their arms. I believe God does that. Probably a better choice than taking the fight to the people we love.
This picture is my wink-nudge-nudge. Know where I took it?!