I feel like I will forever wear the scar of early motherhood.
Yes, I suffered postpartum. (I'm not uptight about using the word "depression" there, I just don't think it truly hits on what was happening with me.) I had a postpartum shift. I shifted left of my confidence, my sanity, my humor, and my ability to see my life past my present moment. I didn't step away from these things, I was pushed. Something beyond my control took hold of me and robbed me of what I always felt I deserved as a first time mother.
Somewhere between drowning and finding my feet, something clicked. I can't put my finger on it exactly. Was it the meds I finally agreed to take? Was it me taking a break from social media and all it's stigmas for awhile? Was it that we were finally getting more than five minutes of sleep? I don't know. I wish I did. All I know in looking back is that I was there and now I'm here.
My problem is that sometimes he still thinks I'm there.
[Disclaimer: I love my husband. I couldn't be where I am today, in such a happy role as wife and mother, without his unwavering support. He put the time in to lift me up and move forward as a team when this parenting thing felt too hard, too new, and too scary. I was overwhelmed and he was compassionate and understanding.]
But the truth is that sometimes all he sees is the old me.
My tears used to stop him dead in his tracks. If I cried before we had kids, he knew...he knew something big was up and that I needed rescuing. I'm not a crier. Well, I wasn't back then...and here lies the problem. At some point so many tears fell and so many anxious and depressed feelings surfaced that it became all he got from me. Whether I had a legitimate concern or a silly anxiety-driven thought, it did not matter. His response was the same. "It's fine, you're fine, it's all going to be fine." I started to notice that our interactions were on autopilot and I started to wonder if he was even hearing me anymore. Was I just getting a token response from this (tired) rock of mine? Had his "give-a-shit" depleted on me?
The roller-coaster became an all too familiar ride for both of us. I'd stall, he'd restart me, we'd climb, and I'd come speeding down again.
You see, once he realized that none of this was particularly that serious coming from me, he knew he could convince me that I was being irrational and that it could and would be better. No fault there. Because I wasn't suicidal or having harmful, "serious problems," the world didn't have to stop on a dime and I didn't need to be taken that seriously.
I stressed over things like the baby's weight, his gas, his sleeping, his eating, his cough, his poop, you name it. I cried over things that felt like mountains to me and mole hills to him. I can look back and see how much smaller these things were than I made them out to be, but not in those moments...not in those long days. We can all "Monday morning quarterback" the things we made huge deals about postpartum but guess what...we're moms. It's what we do.
I'm just frustrated. Frustrated at the moments when he doesn't take me seriously. I will bring up a worry of mine and he immediately puts that old face on. The communication script from those trenches comes right back into play and what I'm saying becomes just one of those "mole hills" again...
The thing is though, sometimes it's an actual mountain. Sometimes I hate that you still make me feel like I'm the lost and broken (seemingly broken) struggling new mother. I love that you held me hard through that, but I too often feel that you are forgetting an important part- That I am THROUGH that. I came out the other side and guess what? My confidence, my sanity, and even my sense of humor made their way back into my life.
Hi! Remember me?!
I'll give it to you, I'm a worrier. I'll rock that rocking chair all day long sometimes. I get it. BUT, when I bring a LEGITIMATE concern to you, one that I know needs to be addressed and addressed as the grown ups that we are, you need to finally take me seriously again. I need to feel equal again.
I hate to think my tears lost their weight. I hate to feel like the gal crying wolf here. I hate to feel like I dance a thin line between valid thoughts and craziness to you. Sometimes I feel like I'm screaming out to you from underwater. My voice goes nowhere. Yes, I am a "highly sensitive mom, woman, wife, friend, and daughter," but please don't let that smother the times I need sensitivity from you. Please don't be numb to my cries.
I need to be taken seriously.
None of us ever want our past to haunt us. Those of us that have struggled through postpartum days, months, or years know all too well how quickly it can come back to haunt us. Sometimes all it takes is just one newborn photo-shoot from somebody on Facebook. You see her snuggling that baby and you wonder if she was where you were. Couldn't be... She looks so happy. It haunts us. Thankfully though, we grow and slowly that haunting starts to fade. It has for me, until YOU haunt me with my own ghost when you don't see me.
Dear husband (mom, friend, sister, partner, whoever you feel it might be for you), please see me. Please see me for where I am today and not that brief time in my life where I came unhinged. Please don't let that time haunt me further by masking the way you see me when I cry. To be honest, the tears don't fall quite as easily these days. I'm actually pretty damn protective over when I let them fly and I am a hell of a lot stronger because of the ones that fell so frequently back then. Know that. Please know that. Please take me seriously and keep showing up for me every day.
I may not need to lean on you as hard these days, but when I do, catch me like it's the first time I fell.