Unraveling What I’ve Knit Together

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

Craven, cowering

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

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

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.

Grief

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.

10 thoughts on “Unraveling What I’ve Knit Together

  1. The understanding of oneself that it takes to see what you’ve described is extraordinary. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate what you share here. Thankfully I did not deal with postpartum depression, but I can relate on some level to the lingering feeling of being fundamentally broken and the less-than-healthy ways of coping with that feeling. I’ve been working on this lately, so your post is timely for me. Thank you for being so open.

  2. This is amazing and powerful and real. And you’re so strong for not only knowing it but being able to express it. I’m learning to see feelings, and sit with them. Sometimes they take over and I don’t get to dictate whether I can deal with them, but this feels like a breakthrough for you and I hope that’s the case.

  3. OH my friend, you write so beautifully and share so openly. You are such a shining soul. I too hide my anger under my loneliness. Some day, we’ll be able to shed all these layers and just be.

  4. This work that you are doing sounds powerful.

    For me, anger is on the surface, and way way way down below it is grief. I actually wish I could feel it more often.

  5. Thank you for writing this and sharing it here. Your way of expressing your grief and your process is so beautiful. I can see your sweater and feel your comfort as you hold it in your lap.
    I have similar issues with grief and missed life, though nothing like the loss of a child to add to it.
    I feel tremendous connection and compassion and love for you, Zoie.
    I believe you will continue to make your way into your fully content, joyful life and that your beautiful sons will be strong, sensitive, amazing men partly because of the woman and mother you are.
    xoxo

  6. My dear friend — We could be twinsies!!! I think we have matching sweaters. Damn, they are comfy, aren’t they. I remember a friend saying, “Depression is rage turned inward.” What if you could start loving that 4 year old girl who started believing she shouldn’t be here? Then the child, the teenager? Despite the belief that you don’t deserve to live — poof, here you are! It’s either magic, or, you’ve been wrong all these years and not only do you DESERVE to be here, but you NEED to be here. Love you, friend!

  7. Your sweater analogy feels spot-on to me. I love the image of you choosing not to tear it off but to admire it. Depression isn’t a mood so much as a whole series of behaviors that protect us and soothe us. We hold onto it because it works. Until it doesn’t or until we’re ready to take it off. I agree that loving ourselves includes loving this way of protecting ourselves, respecting it, and choosing to do things differently anyway.

    Thank you for this post, Z.

I love comments and try to reply to each one. I look forward to connecting with you. Namaste

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