“Feelings are just visitors, let them come and go.” – Mooji
I feel like I should be starting this post, “Dear diary.” Because the vomit that I’m about to spew out onto the page is very deep, personal, and raw. It’s not a side of me that I really like to admit exists, much less to shout out to the world
(Of course, there is a but).
I’m sharing it because I know I’m not alone in this. I know you sometimes feel this way too. And for that fact alone, I want you to know that you are not alone. Even the most optimistic of people like myself have more moments than they care to admit that brings out the ugly cry in them.
There is your disclaimer.
Proceed with caution.
July 6, 2016
Dear person reading my diary with my cautious permission,
I should be banned from Facebook. And Instagram too.
Either that, or it should be labeled, “Potential torture device! Enter at your own risk!” so I think twice before signing on.
These days, I emerge from the sea of posts a tortured soul.
I don’t mean to. It just happens. And it’s all because of my current state of insecurity (*blah*).
It has been four and a half months since my daughter, Madison was born. I am madly in love with her, to say the least. And though I can indeed remember my life before her, I really like my life much better with her in it, nestled into my heart. Come on – look at that face!
And now that she’s discovered her tongue, all she wants to do is stick it out. It’s the freakin’ cutest thing ever (until the next cutest thing ever, of course). But I digress.
As much love as I have for Madison, I continue to be far from in love with my body. My postpartum issues continue to plague me, which makes me feel like a fraud on account of the fact that I wrote about my journey to love my post-baby body only a month ago. But I’m really having a hard time walking the walk. Not because I don’t want to. But because it feels like every time I take a step in one direction, somebody tells me it’s the wrong one.
And oh by the way, as I had to remind myself, just because I wrote about it once doesn’t mean I miraculously got over everything in that instant.
I haven’t. I didn’t. Life doesn’t work that way. At least not for me.
So what’s bothering me?
My stomach, that’s what. And if one more person congratulates me on my upcoming delivery, I’m going to scream. It was cute when I was pregnant. Now it’s downright depressing. Baby has been born, people! The jig is up! She’s almost half a year old! Next year, she’ll be in college!
I could deal with it for the first three months after Madison was born. I feel like I had a hall pass. An I-just-gave-birth-to-a-giant-human-so-of-course-I-still-look-pregnant-you-insert-profanity-here pass. But I’m pushing five months postpartum. The hall pass has long expired, but my pouch of a stomach is on an extended vacation (and it’s not getting the hint that it has overstayed its welcome).
If you read my body post, then you know that I have diastasis recti, a condition where your ab muscles separate, causing your guts to spill out, effectively creating a tummy that still looks six months pregnant (hence all the congratulatory sentiments from my fellow humans. I know you’re trying to be sweet, but please. Stop.).
This isn’t a vanity thing, people. I’m downright frustrated. Because I’m not sitting around on my butt hoping and praying that my abs will go back together. I’ve been actively seeking out help and doing the exercises my physical therapist told me to do. Every. Single. Day.
And yet, the separation continues to taunt me.
I think I might start avoiding mirrors.
I spent nine weeks doing a program that promised to heal the separation. After seeing no results, I consulted a PT who went on to tell me that everything I was doing was incorrect and that I should stop doing it because it was making things worse.
She gave me a new set of exercises, which I did faithfully every day (just as faithfully as the ones that preceded them). After six more weeks, there were still no improvements.
So I consulted another expert recommended by a friend. I put down another exorbitant amount of money (because – of course – none of the treatment for diastasis is in my insurance plan. God Bless America) only to have her tell me that the exercises the PT gave me were wrong and were making things worse.
Too much money and four and a half months later, to say that I was deflated would be an understatement.
Look, this isn’t about the weight (which, by the way, is still holding strong at ten pounds over my pre-baby weight). I can handle that. I know it will go away after I’m done breastfeeding. No problem. Par for the course. It’s an easy price to pay in order to feed my daughter.
But to know that I’ve been diligently following everyone’s advice from day one, including not working out because it apparently makes things worse, is so incredibly discouraging that I want to throw this computer across the room.
Don’t worry. I won’t. I’m Canadian. The most violent I get is honking my horn at you when you’re being an idiot on the road. If you acknowledge me, I usually end up apologizing. If you don’t, I leave the scene feeling guilty for getting mad at you. Even though you were the one being an idiot. Go figure (and for the love of humanity, people, will you please stop texting and driving?).
My visit with this third diastasis expert was yesterday. And today, instead of feeling encouraged by her promise that it will heal, I’m still a big pile of deflated with a sad looking cherry on top. Because that’s what everyone else said. And I’m no more or less pregnant looking than I was a month after leaving the hospital.
I’m feeling like a good student with rotten teachers. And this straight A student is tired of getting F-worthy results.
If the confusion ended there, I might not be so woe-is-me. But it doesn’t. I continue to get conflicting information.
My chiropractor says I can’t heal the separation unless I’m properly aligned, so I need to see him three days a week (yeah, because I have time to do that).
My acupuncturist says that because I have parasites (oh – you didn’t know? Yeah, I have those), my stomach will continue to look bloated even if I do fix the separation. But I can’t do a parasite cleanse while I’m breastfeeding because when parasites die, they release toxins which will go into my milk. Not good for baby (duh).
And this new diastasis expert tells me that the key to healing my separation is all about my pelvic floor, which I seem to have absolutely no connection to.
Nada. Zilch. Zero.
“Squeeze your pelvic area like you’re closing a set of elevator doors,” she says.
I do it.
“I’m not feeling anything,” she says.
Yeah. Neither am I, lady. Neither am I. And if what you’re saying is true – that it’s all about my pelvic floor – (the one that I have no connection to) then basically, I’m screwed.
This is a rabbit hole that continues not only getting deeper, but that also seems to have many secret passages I’m not privy to. And no one seems to be giving up the keys.
To top it all off (as if there needed to be more toppings to this mess), because of the extra ten pounds, I don’t fit into my old clothes. But my maternity clothes are now too big for me. So on any given day, I either look like an overstuffed turkey, or like a frumpy bag lady. My hair’s falling out in clumps now that baby is here, I have bags under my eyes, and my brain still feels like it has gone to mush.
Wah, wah, wah.
I don’t usually complain like this (and reading this back to myself isn’t making me proud), but I promised you a journey into the deep, dark crevices of my unraveling mind. I didn’t tell you it would be pretty.
So, in my state of having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, I do silly things.
I eat the ice cream my acupuncturist tells me not to eat (bad for the parasites).
Then I have some guacamole I’m also not supposed to eat (bad for the parasites).
Then I have a chocolate covered pecan butter cup that – you guessed it – I’m also not supposed to eat (bad for the….you get the picture).
And as I lick the chocolate off my frustrated fingers, I scroll through Facebook and Instagram. And so begins the rest of my demise.
I begin to further unravel as I spy photos of friends who gave birth the same day as me prancing around in bikinis, their stomachs flat as can be. I see friends who gave birth months after me, prancing around in bathing suits, their stomachs as flat as can be. I have an internal battle with my good and bad angels (Good angel: “Yes, but you have diastasis. You have to heal. Give yourself a break!” Bad angel: “So? Look at them! They look amazing! You have no excuse! Put that ice cream away!”).
After contemplating seeing a therapist on account of my discussion with the multiples me’s, I instead contemplate throwing the phone across the room (there goes that violence again). I almost do, but then collapse in a heap on the couch instead (but not before stopping to look at my pregnant-looking belly in the mirror, throwing my hands up in surrender, and sauntering off like Eeyore to sit down).
I want more ice cream.
Alone on the couch with my thoughts is not a good place for me. Not in this state. Because the downward spiral only continues, and it effectively bleeds into every other area of my life.
In my embarrassing funk, I convince myself that people are avoiding me. They aren’t texting me back because I must have done something to upset them, or some-other-irrational-thought-here.
While I’m at it, I convince myself that I am a terrible writer. I can’t get my brain to form a coherent sentence. It takes me weeks to come up with a blog post idea, and then I spend another week convincing myself that it sucks and no one cares. And when I do try to write it anyway, I feel like it was written by a two year old just learning how to speak.
And all of this must be true, because I submitted an article to my editor yesterday and she didn’t get back to me right away. Ipso facto, the article must have sucked.
Just. Like. Me.
What is it with downward spirals that make us question everything else about our lives?
It’s completely irrational, a dangerous place to let ourselves live. Because almost nothing we think about in this state is ever true.
Turns out, my friends were just busy, oh, I don’t know, living their lives! And when they had a moment, they did indeed text me, their friend, back.
As for my editor? She emailed back quite quickly to tell me that the piece I submitted was perfect and exactly what she had been looking for (yes, I’m tooting my own horn, but I think given the circumstances, you’ll forgive me).
The point of sharing all of this is not to get you to tell me that I look great or that I’m a great writer or some other compliment. Besides, it wouldn’t help. If I can’t see it myself, no amount of you telling me will make a difference. I threw my own pity party. It’s up to me to get myself out of it. But not before having a good, long tantrum…and perhaps some more ice cream…!
The point is to ask:
Do you ever find yourself in this situation? Something sets you off, and then everything becomes dark and grey? Every insecurity you’ve ever had comes rearing its ugly head and you just want to crawl into a hole and stay there (and maybe take a box of Oreos with you)?
Don’t lie to me, you Facebook stalkers! I know some of you stalk your exes! I know you compare yourselves to their new love interests and hate on yourself!
And where normally I would tell you what I don’t want you to tell me, which is that you are amazing and beautiful and the next guy/gal is lucky to have you, well, I’m not going to do that.
But I will tell you this:
Give yourself permission to feel through it. Get mad. Get crazy. Heck – allow yourself to believe all of the irrational things you’ve told yourself in this moment of insanity. You’ll laugh about it later.
Too often we want to walk away from our pain, our craziness, our insecurities. We want to hide it from our peers. We want to appear perfect and perfectly wonderful to the outside world.
But the truth is that a lot of the time, you’re not perfect (is anyone ever really?). Some of the time, you’re not feeling good. And that’s ok! You’re not meant to be. Perfect it boring. And always good is a lie. Life is messy. It gets cloudy sometimes. And when it does, your friends and family are still going to love you. In fact, it will probably make them love you more, because irrational you is just another side of your humanity. And it makes them feel less alone in their own struggles.
I hope that walk through the valley of my downward spiral helped you to feel a bit more normal in your own moments of insanity (because otherwise I just went out on a very long limb and I’m standing there alone. And boy is it ever cold out here!).
If you ever need someone to vent to the next time you find yourself staring at the abyss of a manic moment, please call me. You know I’ll be the last person to judge.
And I’ll probably even hand you the ice cream.
(See? I made it myself. Avocado mint chocolate chip. It’s vegan. So maybe it doesn’t count?)
Love, love, love,
Your at times nutty friend who sometimes tries too hard to hide her insecurities (but who has a ton of them),