Don’t Be So Scared

I wrote the following post as a guest post on another person’s blog a few years ago, and I liked it so much that I am reposting it here as a way of reclaiming it, and to see how far I’ve come.

That, and I am way too busy packing for our trip to California for Thanksgiving, so I am phoning it in today.

It’s weird reading it now, because I am not working at the moment, and now I’m a mom.  But one thing hasn’t changed – imposter syndrome still creeps up…just for different reasons.



It was the fall of 2007.  I lived in Boston, was halfway through my master’s degree and I had just started my internship seeing therapy clients for the first time.

I felt like the biggest fraud in the world.

You know when you’re about six years old and you put on mom’s heels and pearls and lipstick and then go prancing about the house, hoping you don’t trip and fall and give yourself away?  That’s about how I felt.

They all say you’ll never forget your first client, and while I can’t remember her name, I do remember what she told me when we sat down across from each other for the first time:  “Don’t be so scared, honey!”  But I was, and what terrified me the most was that my fear was apparently obvious.

I inherited the tendency to suffer from general and social anxiety, and over time I have learned that if I just push through my discomfort, I usually come out on the other side having learned something about myself, having grown as a person, and feeling proud of myself.  As I made my way through high school and college, I slowly realized that 1) I wanted to be a therapist, of all things, 2) I thought I’d be good at it, and 3) It scared the shit out of me.  That settled it – I sent out applications to counseling master’s programs.

It’s weird that I am a therapist.  No one in my family has been one; I didn’t go to therapy as a child.  Therapists (and people who have been through the process as a client) use this language, this psychobabble, as if it were normal, but when terms like unconditional positive regard and attachment figure slip out of my mouth in front of friends and family, the looks on their faces highlight a distance I sometimes feel from the general population.

What I do during the day is odd.  I get paid to listen to perfect strangers tell me their deepest, darkest secrets, and I am expected to say brilliant things to make those people feel better and think about their problems in different ways. An added layer for me is that I work at an agency where we serve survivors of domestic and sexual violence – talk about alienating people at cocktail parties.  While I feel comfortable talking about abuse (with both my clients and the general population), most people don’t, and I completely understand that, but it’s tough when some people ask what I do or where I work, and the conversation basically ends after I give my answer.

For the above reasons, being a therapist can be an ironically isolating career to have.  Yes, I get to listen and work with people in such an intimate way, but that intimacy has to stay private…confidential…sacred.

Another side effect of shrinkdom that I have to actively reframe is my distorted perception that the world is a very, very dangerous place.  Every single one of my clients comes to see me because they have been victimized in some way, often by more than one person.  If I’m having a bad day, I think about all those perpetrators running around and it makes me terrified at the thought of one day having children and sending them out into the world.  I’ve noticed that I do little things to make myself feel safer: I always lock the door when I am home.  I carry my bike up to my second story apartment because it’s just too easy to steal.  If I am in my car, it’s locked, no exceptions.  The trick is to not let these little things turn into big things that get in the way of me living my life, hence the reframing.  I’ll hang out with healthy friends and remind myself that not everyone abuses others.  That may sound ridiculous, but for me, it’s essential to my sanity.

Another thing that adds to my therapeutic performance anxiety is this notion that therapists are held to a higher standard as humans, as if our training gave us mystical powers to analyze others and cultivate perfectly healthy relationships with loved ones.  As an example, a former boss of mine, who didn’t have a clinical background, once commented to me when several therapists at our agency were having a dispute, “You’d think that with all your training, you guys would know better how to get along.”  Yeah, thanks for that added pressure to be perfect, but it doesn’t really work that way.  Sure, we have mad skillz, but we also have baggage just like anyone else.

One of the ways us therapists get a handle on our issues and biases is through getting our own therapy.  My first experience of being a therapy client didn’t happen until after I realized I wanted to be a therapist.  Some therapy degree programs actually require that the students get into counseling, and while mine didn’t require it, I still wanted the experience.  I wanted to see what being a client felt like because I knew that it would later help me connect with clients, but more importantly I needed to deal with my own junk and gain some personal insight.

Let me just say that therapists make the worst therapy clients.  We analyze, we second guess, and we try to usurp the process- Oh no! I know what you’re trying to do!  You’re trying to get me to FEEL THINGS!  Well it won’t work!  Nonetheless, my first therapist’s name was Rebecca, she was a godsend, and I miss her.  I was able to unload and process all the crap that was happening in my life: moving across the country away from my family, moving in with my partner for the first time, and starting this crazy master’s degree.  She laughed at my jokes, she was there when I cried, and she didn’t judge me.  It was life changing.

It was through my time with Rebecca that I began to integrate these seemingly polar opposite sides of myself- the competent therapist and the anxiety-ridden fraud.  At first, the competent therapist in me felt guilty for getting my own therapy, because I was functional, healthy, I was taking a time slot from someone who probably needed it more than I…and I should know how to get by on my own, right?  I was supposed to have all the answers.  On the other hand, the anxious pretender in me felt so relieved, because I didn’t have to pretend in therapy.  Oh, it felt so amazingly good to admit how fucking scared I was and how I had no idea what I was doing.

Rebecca thought this was bullshit.  She didn’t think I was supposed to have all the answers.  She didn’t think I had no idea what I was doing, either.  And she was right.  Looking back, I think I knew this about myself all along, but just needed someone to say it to me.  There is room for both parts of me, and they aren’t opposing forces.  They’re just me.

So where does this leave me?  I still worry.  I worry that my older clients won’t take me seriously as a young professional.  I worry that my non-white clients won’t take me seriously.  I worry that my low socioeconomic clients will see me as a spoiled brat.  I worry that clients who are parents will reject my feedback because I am childless.  I worry that I won’t be able to help people.

And then I remember what it was like to be a client myself.  I remember that I was terrified of crying in front of a stranger, terrified that I wouldn’t be taken seriously, terrified of being judged.  I remember that all I wanted as a client was to be heard and understood.

And I think to myself, I can do that.

nanopoblano2015lightNaBloPoMo Day 20

Fish Out of Water

I never thought I’d be a stay at home mom.

And actually, I still don’t really feel like one.  I feel like a working mom who just isn’t working right now.  (WMWJIWRN?)  For the time being, I know that this is where I am meant to be, and knowing that brings me peace.  Do I want to be a stay at home mom forever?  No.  Do I want to work full time?  No.  Ideally, I’d like to work part time and be home part time.  We’ll see how all that pans out.

As an introvert and a homebody who moved to a brand new state while pregnant and unemployed, making social connections has been a challenge.  When left to my own devices, I will stay at home and watch TV, read, blog, clean, do projects around the house (in addition to parenting duties, of course)…and to get out with the kid, we’ll go to story time at the library, grocery shop (which I generally hate doing), walk/run (hate running, but it’s free), or try to arrange a play date with another mom (Which is SO MUCH HARDER than one might think.  Babies, and their weird, ever-changing schedules never sync up when you want them to).  That’s about it.

When Dylan was 8 weeks old, we started going to story time at our local library.  That has been our saving grace, pretty much.  For a long time, it was Dylan’s only social interaction with other kids, and it was/is my way of trying to awkwardly make new mom friends in the area.

And I’m not kidding about the awkward part.  It makes me feel like I’m still in grade school, cuz all I wanna do is raise my hand during a lul in the action and quietly ask if anyone wants to be my friend and come over to play.  Pretty please with a cherry on top.

And then a lovely fellow mom lady came in to story time and announced she was starting a support group for moms.  It was during a time I could make (which was practically any time, honestly) and kids could come along.  Oh thank goodness.

Note: I wrote the following two paragraphs several months ago, but wanted to keep them in here as I edit and add to this for posting.

I’ve been going now for 4 weeks and, while we haven’t really talked about anything deep or mind blowing…it’s been SO NICE.  I’ve left each time feeling so much calmer and more connected than before, and I find myself looking forward to it all week.

And it just hit me today that I’ve never actually been in a support group that wasn’t being run by me.  Come to think of it, I’ve led or co-led a good number of support groups and it’s a lot of work.  It’s draining and takes up a lot of my energy and concentration.  To be on the receiving end of a support group feels…incredibly comforting.

Sometimes I wonder about getting back into therapy for myself.  Like, as a client.  Goodness knows I could benefit from it.  The first time I ever went to therapy was precipitated by being in my therapy master’s program – I figured that I should know what it’s like to be in therapy as a client if I planned to actually do it.  So that got me into therapy, but the main issues we talked about swirled around the fact that I, like now, felt like a fish out of water.

I had just moved across the country, living outside of California for the first extended time, Brian and I had just moved in together, and I was working on launching from my family of origin in what felt like slow motion.  Everything was new, and adjusting was hard.

The feeling is familiar, but with one difference.  I knew that living in Boston was temporary.  Now, living in Oregon, we’re here to stay for the foreseeable future.  I didn’t see my life ending up here.  I didn’t see being a stay at home mom, either.  And that’s okay.  I mean, how can I possibly be expected, or want, to predict how my life will go?  I’m just dealing with all these changes the best way I know how.

nanopoblano2015lightNaBloPoMo Day 17

My Six Books

I was challenged by a friend – well, I begged her for a blog post idea and she came through like…someone who’s really dependable – to come up with three books that are “a snapshot of me.”

I already failed, since I came up with six and couldn’t whittle the list down any further.  They are listed in the order in which they were read…because that’s the order in which I grew.

  1. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – JK Rowling

This book captures my whimsical childhood imagination.  If I had three wishes, I’d wish to go to Hogwarts for a year.  I’d date Ron and be besties with Hermione and go on adventures with Harry.  And I would steal some lemon drops from Dumbledore.  Why this HP book specifically?  Because they form The Order!  The kids become more rebellious and independent and help each other out and fall in love…sigh.  Deep down, I really do believe in magic.

2. Letters to a Young Therapist – Mary Pipher


I read this book in my Master’s program when I had no idea how to help my clients and I had a shitty supervisor who wouldn’t help me.  This book became my virtual supervisor and gave me space me to begin to figure out what kind of therapist I wanted to be.

3. The Gift of Therapy – Irvin Yalom


Like the previous book, this one gently taught me to figure out what therapy was and how I could use time, space, and words to help people help themselves.  Most of all, Yalom urged me to use myself- that, through authentic relationships between therapist and client, meaningful change could happen.  Such a simple, powerful message that has stayed with me.

4. Quiet – Susan Cain


THIS.  I never fully understood my introvertism, or that all those weird things I do even had a name, until I read this book.  I am drained and exhausted after interviews.  In college, I avoided small talk with drunk dudes in bars by asking a real question, like When you die, what do you want to be remembered for?  I can be alone and happy, reading for hours.  One time in grad school, I wanted to go home and get in jammies but my friends wanted to stay out.  While we were discussing it, the last bus of the night drove by.  I left mid-sentence and RAN to that bus stop.  I didn’t look back.  Reading this book felt beyond validating.  Having the additional insight into my personality and disposition will prove invaluable as I navigate interpersonal relationships (including the one I have with myself).

5. All Joy and No Fun – Jennifer Senior


This non-fiction book is about how children affect their parents, and woo-boy, it describes my first year of being a parent like SHE’S IN MY HEAD.  I spend a good chunk of my days doing work, a lot of thankless work, to keep my child alive and healthy.  It’s no fun.  And every once in a while, I get a moment, one moment of sheer, complete divine JOY when my boy belly-laughs or snuggles with me.  Aaah, that’s why people birth small humans.

6. In the Body of the World – Eve Ensler

Eve is best known for writing The Vagina Monologues, and recently she fought and won her battle with uterine cancer and wrote about it in this book.  While no cancer story will ever be the same as my own, there were many times where her experiences mirrored mine, and her ability to eloquently wade through grief and words and symbolism brought out all my feels.  We’ve both worked to help women survive violence, we lost parts of our female reproductive systems, and struggled not to feel like less of a woman because of it.  I was honored to meet her in 2008.  This book spoke to me on a level that few books can.

nanopoblano2015lightNaBloPoMo Day 16

The Brats

I babysat on and off from age 12 to 25, and those experiences helped me to figure out what kind of parent I might want to become someday.

When I was in grad school in the Boston area, I babysat for two lovely children, ages 2 and 4, whom I lovingly call The Brats.

They were impulsive, they didn’t listen to me (or their parents), they threw tantrums, they fought, etc., etc.  Part of that was because they’re kids.  Kids are impulsive because their brains lack the capacity for impulse control and planning ahead, and they’re just learning how to be people and being a person is hard.  But a huge part of that, I quickly learned, was the way they were being parented.

I remember the first time I sat for these kids in the evening when part of my job was to put them to bed.  I got instructions from the parents on what the kids usually do for their bedtime routine, and then they said goodnight to The Brats and were off.  The Brats got to watch TV before doing things like jammies, brushing teeth, stories, and bed.  I turned on a half hour show (about a half hour before bedtime) and told the kids that right after the show, it was time to get ready for bed.  They had no response to this.  None.  I wonder if I should have been clued in at that point, but the TV was already on and their eyes were glued to it, so I let the moment pass.

As soon as the show was over, I got up and turned the TV off and announced it was time for jammies.  They erupted in wailing sobs and started thrashing in their dark places on the floor.

Holy crap, I thought.  At first, I was shocked.  And then I realized…Oh.  They didn’t believe me.  Their parents must set flimsy boundaries with them and break them all the time (this suspicion was later confirmed).  I tried to tell them that I mean what I say, but I seriously doubt they could hear me over their very loud display of despair.

As I got to know the family more, I found that the parents let the kids run the show (and then the parents would complain to me, a therapy student, about not having control over their kids).  As the babysitter (and NOT their therapist), it was very hard for me to walk the line that was being scribbled out in front of me.  Since the parents had no authority, they didn’t have any to give to me while they were gone.  And what was worse, the majority of the sitting I did for them was during the day while the mom was home, which meant that anytime I said no to the kids, they’d go running to mom and instead of backing up my supposed authority as their caregiver, she’d say yes.  I started to wonder why they hired me at all, but I kept that thought to myself.

The point to all of this is that getting to see how other kids are parented really helped me to see what worked and what didn’t, and also what I liked and what I didn’t.

I realized that I wanted to have authority over my kids – not to feel all-powerful, but to give my kids structure and predictability and security.  I wanted my kids to get used to dealing with their feelings after hearing ‘no,’ and I hoped to have the courage to tell them ‘no’ when it really matters.  I also wanted to continue telling kids- well, everyone really- exactly what I meant.  I feel that setting a well-meaning boundary that never gets enforced is doing kids a disservice, and I wanted to make sure my kids could take me at my word.

Hopefully, I’m doing an okay job of meeting these goals.  I’m glad I got to spend time with The Brats and their family; they taught me a lot about myself.


Read about me

I’ve been meaning to update the About Me section of this blog for forever and a day (read: it hadn’t been updated since before I became a mom some 14 months ago)…and I finally went and did it.

That counts as my post for today – Day 5 of NaBloPoMo.  Please go and check it out.

And now this calls for some celebratory homemade pop-tart ice cream sandwiches!

Excuse me.


Sexiest Treatment Goals Ever

I had to share this gem since I’ve never seen a “Hey, girl…” meme that’s mental health themed before.

You can lie on my couch any time, Mr. Gosling.

Relax Says Frankie

Before becoming a mom, I used to know how to relax.

I was good at it.

I could curl up with a book for hours on the weekends.  I could go to Starbucks and lose myself in sugary caffeinated heaven.  We took vacations and unplugged and were carefree.  At work, when things got particularly stressful or when I was getting a headache, I would carve out 10 minutes, set the alarm on my phone, shut my office door, and I’d lay on my therapy couch (and even on the floor before I had a couch) and just focus on my breath.  It did wonders for me, some days, or at the very least it allowed me to get through the day.

And now…

Even when I get a break, it doesn’t feel like a break.  My kid takes one nap a day now, maaaaaybe two.  Maybe.  And I don’t know when the nap is coming.  Today, it came early.  Tomorrow will be different.  I also never know how long it’s going to last.  19.5 minutes?  30 minutes?  Once in a blue moon, it’s been 1.5 hours.  And each time he goes down, I ask myself, How do I want to spend this time?

Sometimes I clean, do laundry, or otherwise get stuff done.  Other times I try to relax – watch TV, drink iced coffee, read my book, write a blog post, garden, etc.  Note the word try in that last sentence.

I’ve noticed that even when I try to relax, I just can’t.  My posture is rigid, my breathing is shallow, my ears are perked.  My son might wake up at any moment.  Right now, my son is doubled over in the most uncomfortable yoga sleeping position not 10 feet away and I am trying to type as quietly and as quickly as I can and I am trying to pull words out of me even though I don’t feel totally motivated to write in this moment.  But right now, this moment is all I have.

Let me be clear that, for me, this is not a guilt thing.  I do not feel guilty for wanting to relax or for trying.  And when I am successful at shutting the world out for a bit (including my son) I give myself a little pat on the back.  Because everyone needs that, especially moms.  And as an introvert mom, I need quiet shut-out time to recharge my batteries so I can be a better mom to my little snot machine when he wakes up, whenever he wakes up.  At least I know guilt isn’t getting in my way.

It’s very tempting to use things to induce relaxation.  I know it’s cool for moms to joke about wine and coffee, but I can totally see the dangerously slippery slope that is self-medicating when one is no longer in charge of one’s daily schedule.  Ugh, I have to wake up now?!  Better use some coffee.  Poopsticks, today was tough and I only have two hours before I crash in bed, so if I want to relax RIGHT NOW, I’d better use some wine, because wine.  Amirite?!

Sometimes I do this.  Sometimes it’s TV or food.  But I try not to.  And I am also trying to feel okay knowing that I can’t just magically make myself feel relaxed when I want to feel that way, especially when someone else is calling the shots.

I want to remind myself that, sometimes, I end up feeling relaxed when I hadn’t planned on it, and wasn’t even trying.  Which means…I don’t want to keep feeling like I am chasing relaxation, some feeling of peace that I may or may not get from a barista or a bottle of pinot.  Chasing things always takes me out of the present, where I’m more likely able to create peace for myself.  And that it’s okay when I can’t hurry up and settle down RIGHT NOW and for exactly 19.5 minutes.

With that said, he’s awake and screaming.  This time I was given about 45 minutes.

Time’s up.

Ripped Open

Someone once told me that becoming a mother had ripped her open, both emotionally and physically.

At the time, I had an idea of what she meant, but now I have a much clearer sense.

Never have I felt so wide-open, so vulnerable.  It’s exhilarating and exhausting.

I cry much more easily.  I cry at diaper commercials.  Sometimes I cry when my son cries.  There is also such joy.  Pure, radiant bursts of joy.  My son’s smiles.  Watching my husband lovingly change a diaper for the first time.  Crying at diaper commercials.

The lows are lower and the highs are so much higher.

For me, becoming a parent has slammed me into the present like nothing else.  I am so overwhelmed, and my son’s needs are so immediate, that I am forced to focus on right now and little else.  Right now, he needs to eat.  Right now, I am going to sleep.  Right now, I am changing a diaper.  While I wipe his butt, we’re the only two people in the entire world.  He stares up at me and watches my face as I concentrate and hurry to finish the job.  I catch him looking at me and we share a smile.  Then we’re on to the next right now.

At the same time, becoming a parent stirred up my past.  I am remembering how I was raised.  Brian and I have discussions over how we were parented and how we want to parent.  I hear my mom’s voice, and even my grandma’s voice, come out of my mouth.  The past has been unearthed and laid over the present for me to walk through again.

Also at the same time, the beginning of life has catapulted me towards the future.  Since Dylan is our first child, and the first grandchild for both sides of the family, his existence has shifted everyone into a new life stage – a couple to parents, parents to grandparents.  It makes us all think of end-of-life issues.  With luck, Dylan will live to see us die.  He’ll see a world that I will never see.  It’s a concept that is very hard for me to wrap my brain around, and it’s both comforting and terrifying.

It seems odd to me, but the times my son just rips my heart out aren’t when he’s screaming bloody murder.  It’s when he seems bored or has this dejected look on his face.  Up here in my brain, I know that this is me projecting my stuff onto him and that he’s probably just content, or at the very worst, he’s just trying to process the world around him.  But here in my chest, my heart breaks for him, and I am not quite sure why.

Many, many parents say that they can’t imagine their lives without their kids.  I know this will happen for me at some point, but it hasn’t yet.  There are times, sometimes multiple times a day, when I wish for my old life back.  I wish to feel productive in a way that I am accustomed to.  I wish to have more free time.  I wish to have more sleep.  I wish for more predictability in my day.

When I find myself making these wishes, I reframe my frustration and ask myself what I can learn from this.  Again and again, the answer is patience and acceptance.  When I was working as a therapist, a supervisor of mine once said that we are given the clients we need.  So far, I think the same goes for kids.  My son is going to teach me, even force me, how to be more patient and how to accept that I am not in control (and I never was to begin with).

So, thanks, my baby Dylan, for ripping me open.

You’re going to teach me how to be a better person.

And I’m going to let you.

My feelings are not to be fixed

Unsolicited advice really doesn’t help.

In fact, it’s always made me feel worse.

A lot of people refer to my job as a professional advice-giver, which really misses the mark.  I’ve often had clients come in and expect direct advice – they’ve even asked me straight up what I think they should do. I get that with some cultures, this is the expectation of coming to see an expert.  Others just desperately want “the answers” (whatever those are), they want a quick solution, and they are afraid or not ready to put in the work to get there on their own.

I always pull back and slow down when a client asks me for advice.  Sometimes I’ll ask why they are wanting to be told what to do, because often their answer reveals a lot about their world view.

And then I lay it right out for them.  I explain that, while I’ve gone through training and I am qualified to help, I don’t know all the answers.  And I certainly don’t know what’s best for one particular person from Adam.  Sure, I have my own opinions, but I see clients for typically only one hour per week, and each client is really the expert on their life – they know better than anyone what may help and what won’t.  Most importantly, a client has to live with whatever consequences their decisions bring, and that’s why they should be making these decisions – not me.  My job is simply to help them make that decision, whatever it is.

And all that is just for advice that was actually invited.

I got onto this topic because 1) It’s one of my biggest pet peeves ever, and 2) Being pregnant seems to invite unsolicited advice, like a lot, and 3) I revisited a comment I made on a similar post, Tolerating Sadness:

I hadn’t really thought about it before, but I do hesitate to post sadder things on Facebook, mostly because I don’t want unsolicited advice or the other unwanted phrases I mentioned in the post. I don’t want to feel judged, dismissed when my sadness makes people uncomfortable. What a shame.

Number 1 is just me, and I tend to not like to be told what to do, unless I am specifically asking for help.

Number 2 is, in my opinion, an example of the (horrible) concept that a woman’s body and sexuality is everyone’s business and is to be regulated.  Do we ask men how their erectile dysfunction is going today?  No.  Do we inquire about the state of their prostate?  No.  Do we give random advice about how to get their sperm count up?  I seriously doubt it.  I could be wrong about this, since I am not a man, but I do know that women’s bodies are more regulated than men’s due to the fact that men have no trouble getting Viagra and penis pumps covered by their insurance, while women have trouble getting birth control and access to safe abortions without unnecessary ultrasounds in some states.  But I digress – this could be a whole other string of ranty posts.

Pregnancy, once a woman starts showing, is also a very obvious, visible condition, and I think this contributes to women getting unsolicited advice from strangers, not to mention getting their personal space violated. (By the way, always ask a pregnant lady if you can touch her belly BEFORE you touch it.  And if she says no, then don’t.  Please.)

Back to the advice-giving.  It all boils down to the fact that advice serves to help the advice giver, not the recipient.  I’ve found that when I am expressing some aspect of my life and feelings that is less than optimal, (sadness, frustration, fear, some icky pregnancy side effect, etc.) that sometimes creates feelings of discomfort in the listener.  One way people try to alleviate that discomfort is to give advice as a means of maybe fixing the problem, or at the very least, feeling like they’ve helped and thus the uncomfortable-feelings-burden has been passed back to me.

Let me be clear.  When I am expressing discomfort, it is not my intention to pass a burden onto the listener to fix my problem.  If you feel discomfort while listening to me, please know that means that you care, you’re tuned into me, and that’s awesome.  Seriously.  But please, don’t take on my discomfort as your own.  It’s not yours to carry.  And it hurts my feelings when you try to deflect the discomfort with advice.  My feelings are not yours to fix.

What I would like instead is empathy.  I know you already feel it for me, hence the advice-giving.  So, instead of covering up empathy with advice, try to give a voice to it.

I’m so sorry you had to go through that.

My heart aches for you.

I wish I could make your pain go away.

Let me know if there’s anything I can do.

These sound wonderful to me.  They are vulnerable.  They keep the two people on the same plane, as equals, as opposed to one who is suffering and one who gives advice as an expert.  I think they are harder to say than advice is.

I’d much rather have someone come join me in empathy than try to slap a bandaid on my feelings.

So please, I invite you to pause the next time you feel the urge to give someone advice.  Why do you feel like giving it?  How are you feeling in relation to this person’s news/problems?  What would it be like to refrain from trying to fix, and instead try to feel?

It might feel uncomfortable, and that’s ok.

Because my feelings (and yours) are not to be fixed.

Lost In Transition

I’m feeling all the feelings, you guys.

I had a mommy friend ask me if I wanted advice.  She had written a list of things she wished she had known before giving birth.  I said yes, and I read it.

Then I cried.

This thing really has to come out of me.  And it’s going to hurt.  Like, a lot.  Breastfeeding might be hard.  And painful.  Projectile poop really does exist.  All this responsibility…

Even though I’m the type of person who always wants to know all the good and the bad stuff, it was still pretty overwhelming.

I asked myself, how am I going to handle all this?

That voice inside me shrugged and said, one day at a time.

I’m also having some feelings around body image.

My body hasn’t changed much throughout my life, with the exception of cancer and the resulting surgery.  This week marks the highest weight I have ever been.  I knew it was coming, of course, and I know it’s healthy and it’s supposed to happen.  And I’m cool with it; it means that Little Duck is growing and my body is growing with fe.  At the same time, I felt a pang when I saw the number on the scale.  I’ve never been one to weigh myself, like ever, because I’ve never seen the point.  But with the pregnancy, I’ve wanted to track my changes and so I’ve been weighing myself once a week.

It’s not just the number on the scale, but a combination of that plus how I look and how I feel.  I’ve always been fairly petite, and sometimes it’s tough for me to see my waistline disappear.  Honestly, it depends on the day.  When I first started showing, I was so happy and excited.  This is real!  Look at me, how cute I look!  I feel so special!  And sometimes, a lot of the time, I still feel like that.  But on the days when I feel achy and bloated, I wonder how big I’m going to get.  Where is my limit?  What will my body do?  It’s the not knowing that can be unsettling.

What I’ve concluded is that my body is changing faster than my thoughts and emotions can catch up.  And I have to keep telling myself what I already know to be true – that my body knows what it’s doing.  Trust it.

Even when cancer invaded my body and I felt like it [my body] had betrayed me, it still let me know what was going on.  And when I stop to think about my progress during this pregnancy so far, I realize that my body has done all the work unaided.  All the medical procedures I’ve had have been purely for screening purposes.  Of course, if my body needs medical help along the way, that’s all well and good, but overall, my body’s in charge.  And she knows what she’s doing.

Lastly, I’ve been feeling all pent up.  I really need a project (besides growing life) and what I’d really like to be doing is decorating and organizing a house, but we’re just not there yet.  Not only are we not there, but we’re crammed into a one bedroom apartment with boxes stacked everywhere.  I feel closed in, it feels cluttered in here, and I have no idea how we’re going to fit a baby in here, let alone all the baby crap.

I know this situation is only temporary, and our next move, if it’s not a house, will definitely be someplace bigger and quieter.  We’ll only have to have the baby here for one month max, if at all.

It also doesn’t help that I am not currently working, or otherwise have something to do with my time.  I’ve been looking for work half-assedly, mostly because, while I do want to be productive and useful, I don’t want the added stress of having to learn a new job, and I certainly don’t want to have to sell my soul to any job – and that’s even if anyone offers this 5 month pregnant lady a position in the first place.

I hate how the American work force – and the social service professions specifically – expect you to bend over backwords just to work.  The job openings I’ve seen aren’t only full time, but the descriptions are peppered with lines like: must be able to work evenings and Saturdays, shifts subject to change with little notice, must be able to drive to multiple locations, may be exposed to clients with violent tendencies, must give up first born child to Satan, etc.  I’d be hesitant to take jobs like this even if I wasn’t pregnant, and forget it now.  I’m not even sure I’d want to keep a full time job after I have the baby, anyway, so that adds to my lack of enthusiasm.  Don’t employers want healthy, happy, well-rounded workers who have lives outside of work?  Sheesh.  Jobs are just jobs, and I want one that I don’t have to be married to.

That said, I do feel incredibly fortunate that I am being supported by my husband right now.  I have the privilege of having the choice to work or not, and for that I am very thankful.  I also feel a bit guilty about not contributing financially to the household, and a part of me really does want to get out there and do the profession I love, but Brian totally understands my priorities and he’s supportive.  I’ll keep looking for work, and if I find something that fits our needs, then awesome.  If not, we’ll adjust and get by together.

So.  It seems as though my theme for the moment is transition.

But, now that I think about it, am I ever really not transitioning?