This afternoon, I had my first phone session with Joe, my therapist from Richmond.
Ahhhhhh… if you’ve ever found someone who really understands you, is really kind and compassionate towards you, who feels safe enough to confess anything to, you can understand my relief.
Most of this session was me telling the history of this pregnancy, the birth, the experiences that led up to my hospitalization nine days after the birth, and what’s happened since then. He also asked some questions (Joe always asks good questions, even though I don’t always understand them or how to answer them right away).
He believes that this began in the third trimester, when I was worried about being sufficiently prepared and supported for labor and delivery, and about whether Mark would be sufficiently able to take care of all of us if I were to have post partum depression or even just normal sleep deprivation. (Like I think I mentioned somewhere else, for some reason it didn’t occur to me that he would have sleep deprivation, too.)
I ended up plowing ahead feeling paralyzingly alone, without resources; and then had to face the extreme (and for me, symbolic) neediness of a baby, plus all the other triggers like the extreme sleep loss and the hormonal and brain chemical changes. All of this new stuff brings out a lot of my old stuff, old fears, old issues. Things I’d largely avoided (not intentionally) during most of the pregnancy.
The central issue is something I have a difficult time articulating well enough for other people (besides Mark and Joe and a few others) to really “get.” It has to do with the loss of self. The sense that what I do is make other people miserable. That if I could stop wanting or needing anything, I wouldn’t be a burden to anyone. And yet desperately wanting to be a self — not merely selfish, out to have my own way all the time at any cost, but to be a whole person, with opinions and feelings and desires and the whole human thing, and to have people love me without it being mere duty or a burden. It sounds pretty philosophic and cerebral, but that’s only because I have to describe it in words. It’s huge, and it’s deep.