It’s very, very early in the morning. My husband and I are sitting in our living room, quietly scrolling through our phones. Despite our best efforts to stay positive, cheerful and productive, we have had extraordinarily trying days. We are emotionally and physically wiped.
Part of the stress, I realize, comes from having to pretend that everything is A-okay all freaking day. It’s absolutely not. We’re dealing with work and school and family and finances and self-doubt and clutter and all kinds of other stuff too. I realized today what I needed to do was just sit with the negative feelings, because I was wasting a lot of emotional energy trying to avoid what most people I knew would inevitably say.
Y’all. I’m a human being growing a human being. If I say I’m having a bad day, that’s normal and it’s safe to treat me like a normal person. You don’t have to feel obligated to come back with some tongue-in-cheek comment about my pregnancy. It’s not like I’ll forget that I’m pregnant if no one’s around to remind me. Acting like every feeling I have is fueled by hormones is insulting and there’s not any getting around it. I’m infuriated by the fact that just as people feel like it’s okay to comment on my body because I’m expecting, they feel entitled to pass judgement on my mental health as well.
So why did I end up crying in the fitting room this afternoon? It actually was pregnancy-related. I was crying because out of three beautiful dresses, I fit exactly none of them. I couldn’t even close the zipper. I was crying because I won’t have the 30th birthday I imagined having and I hated myself for even caring about that when I have been so blessed with a healthy pregnancy. I was crying because I felt bloated and fat and messy and annoyed and I was in a whollllle lotta pain and because I wanted a fricking margarita. I was overstimulated and tired and feeling trapped and like a fraud and embarrassed and angry and none of that was okay to express because someone would tell me that I was just being hormonal.
I cried because I really wanted to talk to someone, but sometimes it feels like there’s no one to talk to because I’ve become a walking belly. The me behind the belly is completely eclipsed. I’m tired of either being all about my pregnancy, or, if people see me doing anything remotely normal, then I’m “Superwoman.” I just want to eat, sleep, cry, enjoy my friendships, and maybe clean my house.
Of course having a baby is a big deal. Of course I’m terrified and excited. Of course I’m emotional and exhausted. But those are all affecting the woman who’s still there, living her life through all these changes, and some days just suck more than others. In general, we forget to ask people how they are and just wait for an answer. You don’t have to diagnose or fix or explain away. Just sit with whatever you find.
Not everything requires an immediate treatment. Sometimes you just let it run its course.
Your homework? Start paying attention to where you try to fix or explain away someone else’s feelings to minimize your own discomfort. It’s an asshole thing to do and we all do it. Today, I give you permission to not know what to say. Just let people be perfect in their mess. Don’t add to the pile by making them wrong for being human.