I have early memories of feeling wrong within myself. I may have been four years old the first time I can recall believing I was bad. I know I didn’t have the words to identify the feelings, but I had them. I have never felt that I had the right to be alive. My entire life, I have had this little doubt that crept into every experience and tainted it just enough to keep me from holding it fully to my heart-the belief that I was broken somewhere inside.
I found this poem I wrote fifteen years ago:
Since Puck is Taken
If I show you my poetry
You will see inside of me
Core of polluting coal
50 pack lung-seeming soul
Rotten bulb flowering
So I will never show
And you will never know
And it dawned on me why the circular thinking of PPD was so appealing to me. It felt like a comfy wool sweater that was well-worn and familiar. I could slip it on like a protection from the elements of my life that felt raw and chafing. I had worn this sweater before. The only time I can recall taking it off was after the birth of my first child. I felt so empowered that nothing could make me un-love myself.
Then I got pregnant for the second time. And that pregnancy ended in a stillbirth. And I pulled my old sweater on without even noticing. I didn’t take it off for the birth of my second son. I zipped it up and added a hood when I got PPD for the first time. Then, the PPD was a bit better and I took off the hood. I mourned the lost time from the PPD haze but wasn’t ready to take it off yet. It wasn’t until after the birth of my third son and PPD returned that I had had enough. I didn’t want to lose more time to this.
I decided that this time, instead of periodically trying to rip off the sweater and throw it away (because that always ended up with me digging frantically in my mental garbage bins to put it back on) I would caress the sweater. Enjoy its fine knit and excellent fit. I made this sweater. I placed each stitch of wool in myself. It is lovingly crafted to protect me and I honor it for what I have made. I honor myself that at least some small part of me has always been able to see the true me and wrap it up in warmth and protection.
For the first time, perhaps in my life, I feel ready to address a lifetime of depression. I can notice it because of the skills I have been working on: sitting with uncomfortable feelings and holding them. Just holding them.
Grief over the loss of my daughter. Grief over the loss of all the parts of myself I never allowed. Grief over the childhood, teenhood, and adulthood that was black with this belief.
Grief over how things are not the way I want them to be. Grief over the loss of time and closeness with my children and my husband. Grief over not living my life the way I wanted and for not being as loving with myself and others as I want to be.
I’ve been allowing grief to arise. I’ve been putting my arms around my heart to hold me together because I’m afraid I’ll fly apart if I even look at these feelings. I’ve been noticing them, crying over them, and watching them come and go as I need them to.
And Anger. There’s a lot of anger underneath the grief and I’m terrified of anger. I don’t know what to do with it. So, I don’t do anything with it. I sit with it. I can always put my sweater back on if it gets too scary. It’s folded up in my lap for whenever I need to hide.