So yesterday was a hard day. It wasn’t until last night that I was able to put together all the pieces of the long and painful day and I was able to understand why I felt like I was coming apart at the seams.
It started in the morning. I had volunteered to bring in to work a newborn photo of my niece for a project at work. I had no problem the evening before looking through the pictures of her and the other nieces, so I hadn’t really given it a second thought. Sometime, though, between looking at fresh-new-baby pictures with my colleagues, and pictures of my cute older nieces, I started getting that dull pain somewhere between my stomach and my chest, but didn’t really want to think about it–because after all, don’t I love these girls? and after all, I’m at work and don’t really want to have these feelings here and we’re about to have a meeting, and look here’s a cookie, just be quiet and eat that.
So then we had a staff meeting. Now, under normal circumstances, for many reasons, I hate staff meetings. But, THIS staff meeting was extra, extra special. We had guest speakers from another program, and prior to the meeting starting I got to enjoy a conversation between the pregnant guest speaker and my co-worker about how terrible pregnancy is. Nice. Very nice. Then, the topic of the meeting? Preconception care. I kid you not. Preconception care.
The reason we were discussing preconception care is because infant mortality (now that’s a feel-good phrase) is a big problem in the county/city I live in. Like third-world bad. Well, I should rephrase. It’s a big problem if you happen to be black in the city I live in. Not such a big problem if you happen to be white. This makes me very angry, and it makes me even angrier that the entire city isn’t up in arms about it. (This is actually the point of the program I work for–whether it is accomplishing it’s goals is another story for another day.) So now add “really pissed off” to the big bucket of feelings that I’m carrying around, but not really realizing it.
The rest of the day went on, and then mr. x and I had an “interaction” that I would describe as “less than ideal,” after which I brought up counseling. He said “no,” citing again his transparent excuses. He also said another thing or two that are still bouncing around my head that I may bring up with him tonight in as calm a way as possible (which is also bouncing around my head).
So when I finally, finally found some quiet, I realized that all of my angst was not about him, but was about him and all of these other things, and I realized that I needed to hear that I hadn’t done anything wrong. Because what I do when I’m in pain is look for some control over it (don’t we all?), and if I’m to blame, then maybe I can keep it from happening next time. But it can be exhausting and anguishing to keep placing the blame at your own feet. And I didn’t even realize I was doing it. I heard the blame in mr. x’s voice and believed it. I just knew there must have been something I did to deserve to not be pregnant, to deserve to not have my own fresh-new-baby pictures. And it was all under the surface and I didn’t really know it was there.
Once I could say to myself, “you didn’t do anything wrong,” once I could hear that, I could start reconnecting again. I could start becoming whole again–bit by bit. I also found that I was beating myself up a little because I wasn’t finding that zen place, that peaceful place quickly today. I thought that because a few days ago it seemed easier to find, I must be failing by not finding it today, there must be something wrong with me.
It is not easy to learn to speak to myself with kindness. It is not easy to make loving myself automatic. But I am going to keep trying.