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Sunday, November 02, 2014

Greetings from. . .The Other Side of LOVE

It's been quite some time since I last blogged. I know y'all missed me. I've seen the page views and the e-mails. See what had happened was I found myself at the corner of "I spend 50 hours/week on a computer to earn a living" and fighting back feelings of "no one wants to read that" so blogging took a back seat.

Full Disclosure: I decided to write this post not as an insult to anyone or as a means to take shots or any negative thing any of you could get out of it. I decided to write this because on the eve of my 29th birthday I see the value of reflecting. I know there is power in sharing your story. I also know sharing your story can have healing properties for you and the ones you share it with. I am fully aware many of you reading this know me personally and clicked to read this post just to be nosey. I just want y'all to know I really don't care. You may choose to run and tell someone else what you've read and you may find yourself judging me. Again, I don't care. Do you, boo boo.
Every year as my birthday approaches I find myself feeling a little "blue." Some of you may know it as The Birthday Blues. I call it "Oh sh*t what am I gonna do for my birthday?!?" In 2011, I made a conscious decision to take a look back on the year and adopting a sense of gratefulness for it all. Consider this a glimpse into that journey.                                   
Here goes. . .

On my last birthday I was pregnant and just over the 3 month mark.  SHOCKING, right?! I was not quite "showing" and
aside from my intolerance of certain smells, all-day sickness, and sleeping 14-16 hours at a time I don't think anyone noticed. My boyfriend at the time (we'll get to that later) and I decided to use my birthday brunch to share the news with my friends.  We were in a long distance relationship and he was in town for my birthday. I was so excited to share the news with everyone and I knew they would be happy for us. After all, we were two intelligent and beautiful black people who were bound to create an even more beautiful child. We didn't have plans far beyond that yet we successfully dodged questions about our future together and managed to keep it lighthearted. We asked that everyone refrain from sharing details online via social media until after the baby was born.

That birthday was one of the best birthdays I've ever had. I was happy, my skin looked amazing, and God had chosen me to become a mom. I spent it with my closest friends who had taken time out to get me the most thoughtful gifts (my favorite movies, favorite candy, etc). Fast-forward through an amazing Christmas, a pretty "ok" maternity shoot on the beach during Valentine's Day weekend (see above pic) and three baby showers. . .I decided to give birth in Florida. For those who do not know me I'm a Florida native. The majority of my family still lives here and so does his. It seemed like a perfect plan. I'd get 12 weeks of maternity leave (with most of it paid) and I could use that time to allow our families to bond with our daughter before I took our baby and moved back to DC. I packed up 12 weeks worth of comfy clothes and we took the auto train to Florida. Thanks to the generosity of my former boss I was allowed to continue working from home after I got to Florida.

The Most Beautiful Girl in The World
Fast-forward one mo 'gin to May 1st. We had a meeting that morning at 8:30am so I woke up at 7, freshened up and began to mentally prepare for the conference call. Before I could get set up I started experiencing pretty severe pains in my lower back. I had had some discomfort from sitting so much while being 8.5 months pregnant so I warmed up my heating pad and tried to brush it off. Except I couldn't. The pain became almost unbearable, but I wasn't due for another 16 days and the previous afternoon my doctor told me I wasn't dilated and that I'd likely be pregnant until May 17th (my due date). I woke up my boyfriend and told him I was in pain. He rubbed my back a few times and when the pain didn't subside I decided to go to the hospital. Turns out the pain was contractions. They confirmed, "Lady you're 4cm dilated and having a baby today!" 12 hours later I gave birth to a 6 pound 7 ounce beautiful baby girl who was covered in this yucky stuff that I low-key didn't wanna get on me LOL!

Two days later we took her home and neither of us slept a wink that night. Then the immensity of it all started to settle in. Three days later he was back at work and I started to feel overwhelmed. I didn't have the help I thought I would. I woke up tired. I was always tired. I felt out of it. The best way I could describe it was I didn't "feel like myself." I've never used those words before yet they were the answer to so many questions. I stopped answering my phone. My e-mails piled up into the thousands. My voice mailbox was full of messages I didn't want to hear. I didn't want to talk. To anyone. About anything. I didn't want to admit I felt like a failure. It didn't help that I'm not very close with my mother so I didn't feel comfortable expressing such a deep level of vulnerability and weakness. I told myself I'd get through it all on my own time. I lost some friends along the way who took my lack of desire to talk personally and I don't blame them for walking away. How could they understand something they don't know about?

I lost my sense of peace and I didn't know how to get it back. My doctor recommended therapy and I laughed as I said "I don't have time for therapy doc." I wasn't running from therapy. I kinda knew I needed to talk to someone. But the words. . .like weak, vulnerable, struggling, self-conscious, ugly. . .I was afraid to use them to describe myself. I wasn't even doing a good job of faking it. I couldn't bring myself to ask for help because. . .that's not what strong black women do, right? AND I AM NOTHING IF NOT A STRONG BLACK WOMAN! 

I was so busy helping to make other people's lives easier and doing favors that I literally FORGOT to take care of myself. My working friends needed an emergency sitter. My sister needed someone to be at her home with her kids because her work schedule changed to crazy hours.
I couldn't say no.
I missed meals.
I ate candy for energy.
I lost 20 pounds.
I slept for 30 minutes to an hour at a time. Never more than 3-4 hours in a 24 hour period.
My mind was restless. My body was tired. I was a zombie.
I told myself I was handling it.

Lost in the Sauce
For the first time in my entire life I didn't feel like my normally confident self. I wasn't happy. I constantly wondered whether I was a good mother. Some days I felt like Super Mom and others I asked God to help me find a nanny so I could take a real nap. I didn't feel pretty. The vitamins made my skin break out like the teenagers in acne commercials. I couldn't stand the sound of my baby crying so I was always holding her. I didn't have time to do anything but put a bun in my hair. All the clothes I wore were ugly and frumpy because I didn't mind getting spit up on them. My stitches had healed, but I was still in pain. I didn't feel desirable. I didn't feel important. I wasn't catering to my man anymore. I didn't feel like the black superwoman I thought I was supposed to be. I felt weak and alone. I told myself no one would understand even if I could find the words to tell them how I felt. So I suffered through it alone.

I wasn't always sure how to get my baby to stop crying so I stopped going out. Who wants to be the person with the crying baby? Not me! So I became a recluse. My daughter hated car rides. I went days without leaving the house and when I did leave it was for a quick errand and I was back in the house. I spent my time in the same area on the couch all day alternating between pumping and changing diapers until my then-boyfriend came home from his 10 hour shift.

Our relationship suffered. We barely spoke throughout the day so we would try to squeeze all of our communications into the 1-
2 hours he was awake after work. We stopped having fun. We stopped acting like the friends we once were. He worked. I stayed home with the baby. I complained he didn't have patience and he pointed out that I hardly ever left the one spot on the couch. I demanded that he help out more and work less and he repeated his desire for me to help keep the condo clean. In his words, we were both miserable. We both complained of the one not listening to the other. I resented him for not helping more with the baby and he didn't understand why I was home all day and didn't wash the dishes. I can laugh at it now, but in the heat of it, ish got serious.

It took us a while, but we both finally reached our breaking point. I wanted us to work because I love him and I loved our relationship up until the lines of communication broke down. He's the father of my child and I will always love him, but I've come to understand being in love is not enough. Our breakup wasn't dramatic or controversial. Many of you are just now finding out. We simply had a talk and decided we had done all we could do to make it work, but it still was not working. I was relieved in a sense. It was one less thing on my plate. I could stop regularly shaving my legs and wearing cute underwear to bed LOL!  Even though I struggle not to fall in love every time I see him interact with our daughter, I'm ready to focus on co-parenting and finding a way to say "baby daddy" without cringing.

I was never the woman to dream about a wedding or having a family because I didn't see myself "having it all." I felt like I had to choose between having a great career and having a family so instead of fantasizing about the wedding or family that may never happen I focused on my career. If I got married and had a kid or 2 along the way GREAT! If not? ALSO GREAT!! The irony is I've never wanted my family together more than I do now. I've never watched as many marathons of "Say yes to the dress" as I do now. Marriage is not the most important thing in my life, but it is on my prayer list. I'm not afraid to say I want to get married. I'm not afraid to fantasize about the proposal. I'm not too proud to admit I'm tired of dating and starting over. I'm tired of being hurt, but I love being in love. It's the most beautiful feeling to love someone deeply and to feel that love reciprocated.

On some level I can sense people thinking I'm supposed to be smarter than to end up a single mother. As if being one is a badge of shame. They don't say it, but they think it. How did someone who passed a bar and landed a great job end up having a child out of wedlock? I should have known better, right? I did a lot of sh*t just to live this here lifestyle. It's not easy either so I tip my hat to any woman who is the primary caregiver of a child.

The Finale
So here I am. Almost 29 and I'm a single stay-at-home mother. I have good days, rough days, and bad days. Sometimes my days run together. I'm working on building my confidence again and making myself a priority without feeling guilty. My natural orientation is to be happy so I make conscious choices about my happiness. I realize I don't have to completely give up who I am in order to be a great mother. I know I'm a great mother and that my daughter would be proud of me if she knew what it meant.

Historically, I've been very private about my personal life so I understand why some of you may be wondering why I chose to share something so personal on such an open forum. Well it's because I don't think we share enough of the struggles. Everyone is so concerned with perpetuating a life people should be jealous of that we don't allow for the rough patches. So when people hit a rough patch they delete their social media accounts and go into hiding. It should not be that way. People should feel like it's ok not to always have their sh*t together. It's ok not to have the perfect life and to have your priorities perfectly aligned. It's ok not to be perfect. It's ok not to look perfect. I think we could all heal if we took some time to encourage someone by sharing where we've come from.

Before I end this post I want to say thank you to my girlfriends for being there. To the one's who told me to take care of myself first. I want to thank my friends who pushed through my dark time and stuck by me. Who realized I wasn't ready to talk so they sent e-mails and text messages until I was ready to talk. I appreciate my family for their support as well. I will forever be indebted to those who knew the struggle and decided to stay and love me anyway.

I'm not sure if the storm has passed or if I'm just experiencing the eye of the hurricane. Regardless of what the future holds I am thankful. I am grateful.

I'm sure someone needed to read this. & if not, it was therapy enough for me to write it. 

So. There you have it. On the eve of my 29th birthday. I feel free.

Remember to take care of yourself first. *insert 5 100 emojis*


1 comment:

V. I. P. said...

I'm glad you made it this far. I've been there and done that FOUR TIMES. As a single mom who's a professional, I most certainly feel your pain. Believe me, it gets better. I'd invest in a good therapist if you got good benefits,though. Lol.

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