Mr. Sexy is back at work after two months of disability leave. In October he injured himself throwing a tire into the back of our truck. Two months later the pain in his back only worsened causing sleeplessness, increased irritability and a lack of functionality in every day life. He then made the decision to work from home. But after a few weeks, as we finally started getting answers about his injury, it was suggested by his doctor he officially go on disability leave.
I do not believe in chance. Everything happens for a reason. Our pregnancy. His injury. Going on disability leave. Heading back to work. Timing can be everything. During this chain of events, timing was everything. In the moment I knew it, and looking back I see it even more clearly.
The positive pregnancy test was not a shock. I had gone to the doctor to have my mirena removed. I knew, in the back of my mind, a pregnancy was inevitable. I was just hoping the timing would be right. That I would be ready, wanting another pregnancy. Those two pink lines meant changing my lifestyle around a bit. It was time to quit drinking.
I allowed other’s behaviors to affect my emotions to the point I felt powerless against them. I knew I used alcohol as my main coping mechanism. However, I didn’t realize how intensely I relied on the substance until the option was stripped away. While I didn’t sit around sipping on cocktails all day, the option of having a drink was always present. If I wanted it. If I needed it. When Marie put all the dirty dishes from the dishwasher into the cupboards, “I need a drink,” was my initial reaction. When thoughts of my estranged parents and the brother who hates me floated through my mind a drink was always close at hand. When I felt the daily stresses of life, I knew a tall, cold adult beverage would be waiting for me at the end of the day. Alcohol seemed like the easiest way to calm the tensions.
After finding out I was pregnant, I quickly realized I had no idea how to cope on my own anymore. We had a half-full bottle of our cheap vodka just sitting on top of our fridge collecting dust until Mr. Sexy finally poured it down the sink. I never touched the bottle, but I did think about it. I hate to admit that part. It’s embarrassing. But it’s part of my journey, and I know that even though I may feel alone in this struggle, I am not alone. I am just as human and flawed as the next person.
Changing my mindset has been a difficult process. At first, strong emotions of feeling hurt, sad or angry put me in a standstill. I didn’t know what to do or how to respond. Then I would feel the hot tears start to creep out from behind my eyes. Tears of embarassment and shame. Tears that show case my weakness. Tears that tell the world I am vulnerable. The instinct has been for me to run and shut the door behind me. Netflix and comfort food have been my allies. I’m not sure that it deals with the underlying issues, but it does guide my brain towards something different. And I cope.
I knew the holidays would be difficult. It would be the first set of major holidays we were spending apart from family due to estrangement and there was nothing to be done to rectify the situation. My goal was to simply make it through. On top of the sadness I felt about the brokenness of the picture-perfect family my parents had created when I was a child, there were the extreme highs and lows from all those extra hormones.
I’m already an emotional person and pregnancy has always amplified that side of me. So I let those emotions pour out while it was just me and Denai at home watching Dancing with the Stars and Grey’s Anatomy re-runs. But then, something felt a little different. Although I did not realize it. All the sad and frustrating things could not be escaped. Slowly, I began to lose myself.
I had no energy. My drive to accomplish even mundane tasks was depleted. I didn’t even see a point in getting dressed for the day. So I didn’t. I felt awful. I felt fat and unnattracitve, which of course had an effect on me emotionally and mentally. I performed at the bare minimum for my business, my family and myself. As I’m sure you can imagine, those only added to the frustrated feelings.
I did not talk to anybody even though at times it all felt overwhelming. The only person who was privy to what was going on with me was Denai. She has always had a sense for other’s emotions and already shows deep compassion for people. I did not tell her I felt sad or upset, but she would climb onto the couch and snuggle up right next to me anyways. Calmly. Quietly. And for an energetic two-year old, this was not the norm. In fact, even when I would go to my room and close the door, she would go looking for me just to find me crying. “Oh mom, you will be aright,” she would say while she patted my back. She would ask what was wrong, and I’m no liar, so I told her, “I’m just feeling sad right now.”
And that’s how some of those difficult days went for us. I felt guilty that Denai was, in a sense, my main source of comfort. I wasn’t opening up to anybody about how I was feeling. But then again, I never tried to unload on Denai. I didn’t use her as my therapist or seek her out for attention. For the most part, I couldn’t understand how she knew when I was feeling upset. I think she gets this from her dad. Mr. Sexy seems to always know when I’m not at my best. When I try to hide it, I only become more obvious. So he sits with me, quietly, patiently, while those walls are broken down.
My walls broke down on my birthday.
My birthday is December 22. Typically Mr. Sexy is able to turn my birthday into the big hoopla of a party that I love. But this year, with his injury, things were different. I received gifts, of course, plus a Birthday Dinner. But as for my birthday itself, well, I spent much of the day crying and feeling lonely. The previous few weeks had been been wearing me down and almost daily I was begging Mr. Sexy to come home from work early. Or to not go at all. Why? I didn’t even know how to work the answer into words. It felt silly to say, “Please come home from work and sit with me because I’m feeling sad.” Or better yet, “Please don’t go to work today so you can sit with me because I’m feeling sad.” It got to a point where I think he was becoming angry with me for asking him to do the impossible – come home from work and stay home just to be with me. If he wasn’t becoming angry, he was definitely frustrated. I understand that. I knew how much he wanted to do what I asked of him, and I knew how much he also needed to keep his job.
So I kept all my big emotions quiet, hoping they would work themselves out. I didn’t want to add to Mr. Sexy’s stress. As he was still seeing doctors to figure out what went wrong in his back (before they figured out it was his neck), the daily, intense pain only added to the stresses of his job and the stresses of family life. He didn’t need a sad wife sitting at home begging him to leave work just to sit with her on the couch. Because that’s all I wanted from him.
And in the end, that is exactly what I got. And so much more.