To mark a year from my daughter’s birth, I’ve compiled notes of my own thoughts, stringing them together as I explore the significance of the past year on my own life as part of a project I’m doing to “re-write my story,” which is a therapeutic writing exercise to shape your future by digging into the narrative of your past. This unfinished draft compiled from different thoughts I’ve had throughout the year is my selfish take on what it has meant to me personally, independent of her.
“Our life must have a story in order for us to be whole. This means we must come up against something; otherwise a story cannot take place.” — John Sanford, Healing and Wholeness
I’ve struggled so much to find myself from the last point I remember of being truly me.
One winter day, I locked my foot, put pressure on the pedal, closed my eyes and let go, wondering what would, what could, happen in just a few seconds if I just let go of all control. But that was the only time I intentionally lost control. Other times I lost it against my will.
I lost it with my body. Curves that cannot be straightened, stretch marks that cannot be erased no matter how many miracle creams or massages. I’ve lost a part of my hairline that was of no particular interest to me previously, but I miss the wisps that made up the corners of where my follicles met my forehead. And that’s just the outside.
Inside my body, I lost myself. I lost my stomach every day for about 7 months in the morning, thinking something was terribly wrong. And something was. I couldn’t get past my own anxiety to make it out of my house without heaving over my sink, puking up sweet unfiltered nothingness that lined my insides. The color of the bile was the brightest thing I’d see most days.
I lost my mind in more ways than I can explain. I questioned, questioned every thing every day, whether I was sharing enough love with my newborn, my husband, myself. I contemplated what I was doing wrong much more than what I was doing right. I devoured others’ stories to deflect from my own. I determinedly tried to fix myself without fully realizing what was broken. I was told I had postpartum depression and felt relief, a label could explain what I was feeling and give me hope that I could turn it around.
I’ve had so many nightmares of pregnancy and of loss. Of miscarriages I never had and the stillbirth I had. I’ve cried so hard I felt my bones shake and my breath stop.
I made mistakes. Lots of them careless, stupid. But for them I’ve found forgiveness in understanding that it’s been during this time of struggle.
I’ve been certain this year, these feelings would define me. Would be my new life. But somewhere in this past year, I did start to turn it around. Things did get better here and there. I had more good days amongst the bad. I stopped waking up by throwing up and started breathing deeper, holding myself together a little more enough to make it out the door. She gave me reasons to smile and laugh, and realize that none of it is so bad, or that at least she makes it worth it.
But not completely. I wish I could be the me I remember, the self I used to love, not only for myself but for her. For her and for me and for everyone around us. For the people I see every day and the people I see once in a while. For the world which is yet to know me.
The day she was born, my insides turned to marshmallow mixed with that tingly feeling your toes get after your foot’s been asleep and it’s suddenly revived. My face hurts from smiling so much all day, all the time.
I knew this was what this, being a mother would feel like. Like a glowing, gleaming un-ending happiness. The kind of love story movies make seem like reality.