elaboration -or- more about something i've already talked to death

Dear Sister,

(In my blog post) I hastily tossed out words, trying to capture a snapshot of what I was feeling at that instant. I wish now that I had been more deliberate, had taken the time to elaborate more fully. That’s what I’ll try to do here. Bear with me, please. The original post is indented, my explanation of each part below.

I try to figure out when it all started. Maybe the key to the end lies in its birth. Birth. Heh.
I am often guilty of following rabbit trails: The word “start” leads me to the word “end” which makes me think of “death” which somehow leads me to the word “birth” which I associate with the birth of my son. I usually recognize that the connections I make aren’t necessarily obvious but all too often I fall into the trap of assuming that everyone else thinks the way I do and that I don’t need to explain what the fuck I’m talking about for others to get the full picture. It certainly sounds like I am blaming you for my depression. I am not.

Four and a half years later, I'm still resentful.
I am resentful that my memories don’t live up to the Madonna and Child image that I had envisioned. I wanted so much to be that “natural mother”. To be bathed in an ethereal glow with a choir of heavenly angels singing “hallelujah” as I gazed tenderly down at the babe at my breast. I am resentful that no one bothered to share with me that it just isn’t that way all the time. That I’ve had to spend so much time wondering what was wrong with me, why I was such a failure when in fact that isn’t the case. The horrible truth is this: Motherhood sucks. Literally. It sucks away at your very soul. It leaves you grasping. Gasping. It keeps you up all night and makes you want to bury your head under the pillows in the morning. No matter how detached you try to keep your own baggage, it keeps spilling all over your best intentions and all those things that your brain and heart and gut tell you not to do, you find your very innermost primal instincts urging you to do. It's not about me or my pride, you tell yourself. But it is, oh, it is. It's not deliberate, you remind yourself. But it feels so calculated, so determined.

Spoil or stunt. Hover or disengage. Coddle or break.

You bounce from one extreme to the next, hoping, praying that it all averages out to some sort of balance. You hear the voices, that nonstop chorus made up of well meaning sisterneighborfriends cutting you down, shaking your already pitifully unbalanced house of cards. Maybe she's right, you think. Or she could be right. She could be onto something , you think, but that totally negates what she saiddoesthinks. You’ll never be the best at this rate. Although, really? It's not the best that you’re even shooting for. You’d be more than happy with good enough if the line of good enough would stop drifting. Sometimes you wonder if you've ever seen it at all or if you're so far away that you've really just been chasing a shadow. Maybe you're headed in the wrong direction altogether. When do you know for sure? And when is it too late to turn around and start over? No one ever mentioned that side of it. No one ever hinted that while there are blessed moments, motherhood is too complex to be simply defined as a blessing. I'm resentful that such a big piece of the picture was glossed over so easily.

Angry. Furious.
I am angry that I was so caught up in how it was “supposed to be” that I tried to force it into something that it could never be. Ours is not the close family of sisters sharing shopping trips and cruises. Even if proximity would allow for that kind of involvement, I don’t know that we would have that kind of relationship. There are no Rockwell paintings depicting the American Dream that include a family that is really three different families bound together by common genetics. Of siblings spanning close to two decades with god only knows how many foster children thrown in to fill in the gaps.

I am angry that others encouraged my delusions of there being A Way. I am angry that I was not respected enough to be given the benefit of the doubt that I might know a little something about what was best for me. Hopes and dreams are not one-size fits all -- how short-sighted of me to think that there might be a single path to reach them. That what you/she/he wants/needs/sees would be the right fit for me and that I was somehow faulty because it wasn’t. I am angry at myself for not being a better advocate for myself.

Of all the times to choose to voice your "concerns".
In the middle of an already emotionally tense time, you said some things that were thoughtless. “Thoughtless” meaning not fully thought out. I believe you when you say that your intention was not to hurt me. I believe that your motivation was to be genuinely helpful -- to encourage me to consider things I might not have considered, to play the “what-if” game because you believe(d) that I could have a happier, fuller life if I were to make different choices. Your timing sucked.

Seven (whoops, eight) plus years we'd been married and in all that time, you never said a word. You never once acted like there was anything about him or me or the two of us together that bothered you until the three of us sat down to order Chinese the week before our son was born.
And I was naive enough to believe that just because you hadn’t said anything to my face, you didn’t have a problem with some aspect of us. Nevermind that you and I had spent countless conversations discussing the shortfalls of the relationship of others. Yet another thing I wish I could undo -- all that time wasted on putting others down to pull myself up. It’s beautifully karmic, I suppose, that it turns out that you were engaging in the same kinds of conversations about me.

I don't even remember who didn't get what. I just remember the grilling in the days following. Having to explain, to defend our relationship. Doing everything in my power to prove to you that my decision to marry him was acceptable on the eve of giving birth to his son.
Why, oh why, was your approval so important? I hate that I was so insecure in my own choices that I felt compelled to find a way to change your perspective. I guess the good that came out of it was that in the long run I rediscovered what it was about my marriage made it work so very well for us. I’ve played those conversations over and over in my head, recognizing more clearly each time what it is about Josh that first drew me to him. And? I’ve come to the conclusion that if I had it to do all over again? If something were to happen to him and me, and I were in the position of looking for someone else? I’d be looking for someone just like him. We’re not perfect, but together? We’re pretty damn good.

Those seeds of doubt that you so carefully sowed? They took root fast and quickly began to choke out every remaining blade of self-confidence. Pestilence. Soul-sucking. You were supposed to be there to support me. You cut me down at the knees and I've been questioning my every move since.
You did not cause my depression. Some toxic combination of personality, circumstances, and perspective put me where I am today. Possibly some genetic predisposition. Your poor timing simply served as the catalyst to get the ball rolling. Postpartum hormones, the exhaustion that goes hand in hand with raising a small child, a limited support network, not recognizing in time that these things were not normal and that I wasn’t, in fact, somehow broken because I couldn’t manage them all on my own -- too much everything and nothing at the same time, that’s what pushed me over the edge, headfirst into a spiral of hesitancy, guilt, and self-doubt.

You ended your phone call to me by saying that you would always be available if I needed you. But the thing is, I don’t. I don’t need you. It would be comfortable, enjoyable to have a great give-n-take kind of relationship with you. But it is not necessary. Our lives are not intertwined in such a way as to make it necessary. This is not yours to fix and you can’t help me with it. This is a journey of self. Self-discovery leading to self-assurance and, hopefully, culminating in self-reliance.

I am sorry that I angered and embarrassed you with my post. It was thoughtless, immature, and cowardly for me to call you out in a public forum without first approaching you privately. I recognize and accept that our relationship has been irrevocably changed as a result of my actions. If there is something that I can do to repair your feelings, I will do so happily and willingly. I will be more respectful of your feelings in the future, bringing any grievances to you before sharing them with others.

Because my offense to you was public, I feel that you are due a public apology. I will send this to you first, privately, then publish it to my blog. It is yours, of course, to share it as you see fit.


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