A few days ago I was looking through an old journal and came across an entry from about a month after my daughter was born.
“Who I am lies dormant in words that are packed away beneath stacks of notebooks. I am forgotten, unknown poems, unable to bring them back to life inside of me. If anyone should ask where I am, this is where I’d tell them to look.”
I had forgotten just how much postpartum depression steals your identity from you. It is the truest form of real, actual identity theft. Some women get it back after a month, a few months, a year. I didn’t begin to start feeling like myself again for three years. And even then, there were parts of my self that never came back. I lost so much.
After reading this journal entry, remembering, pondering, I realized what a good place I’m in right now. I know who I am again. I have a sense of self, and I can be that self. And I like who I am. I feel strong, confident, independent, though able to admit when I need help and ask for it, and I’m happy. Life isn’t without its struggles, and sometimes I get down, feel disappointed, am sad. But I am still me, and that is one of the biggest reasons I’m able to get through those hard times without letting them consume me.
Sometimes I wonder if there’s a point in continuing to do this – to do anything, really, I guess. What’s the point of any of it? I try so hard, yet I never seem to be able to move forward in life. This road I’m on is full of speed bumps of disappointment, u-turns of mistakes and crashes of hurt. How do you keep going when you see nothing but fog and darkness ahead?
I hate doing things wrong, and I hate disappointing people. It’s not that I’m a perfectionist. Yes, the picture above is an accurate depiction of what my house looks like most of the time! I do, however, like certain things done in a certain way, and I like them done right. I have often been that mother who corrects her kids’ grammar, though I’m trying harder not to because no one likes to be corrected. I don’t like to be corrected—because if I am, it means I’ve done something wrong or I’ve disappointed someone, and that causes my own feeling of disappointment and guilt.
Classic example—yesterday I made a mistake at work. I did something wrong. It wasn’t entirely my fault. My boss could have communicated better, sooner, exactly what she wanted or meant, but as her employee I have a job to do, and I’m supposed to do it the right way. I felt terrible when I discovered my mistake. Like knife-in-the-gut terrible. I tried telling myself it was an honest mistake, that it wasn’t really my fault, but the lies didn’t work. I continued to obsess about it, to feel bad about, to think about what I should have done differently, and wondered what my boss must be thinking of me. That one is the worst—to go over all of the things she could be thinking about me and what a bad employee I am. In reality, she’s probably not. She probably understands it was just a mistake because she’s a really great person, but . . . what if? What if she regrets hiring me? What if she is disappointed in me? What if she despises me? How could I have done something so stupid and wrong? These are the thoughts that plague my mind when I don’t do a job the right way.