That’s one of my goddaughters, several years ago now. But she looks like my insides feel. The last 8 days have been full to the brim of processing, processing, processing. From my brother’s visit from Denver last weekend, to support group, individual therapy, meeting not only with Anna’s photographer for the first time but also with 5 friends over 3 days, and babysitting for my very good friend’s 16 month old at our house Saturday afternoon/evening. That’s besides the everyday internal processing of thoughts and emotions...I’m completely spent on every level there is and as I read over this I’m doing a terrible job at explaining it. How draining it is just to live like a semi-normal person. Today I deliberately chose to try and stay as unconscious as possible ‘til noon. I was pretty good at it.
Yesterday when a friend asked how I was doing I said it depended on whose yardstick you were using. The general public’s - I’m out, dressed and groomed, walking and talking normally (I think). Looking okay! What they don’t know is that I’m several parts removed from my true self in order to sit here engaged in conversation in an upbeat restaurant loaded with babies and carseats. They don’t know my chest weighs 5 extra pounds and aches to distraction. They don’t know that it was just easier to get up and follow through with my plans than to deal with the emotional repercussions of canceling. (Concern on the part of my husband and friends, guilt, blah blah blah). My yardstick would measure much differently.
Today is a cocoon day at home then, but still wrought with “triggers” - a professional term I’m already sick of. Just in the last hour, for instance. I set about straightening some of my stuff in the storage room after Brad said earlier he really wanted to get it clean. I’d put some items for future dress-up on the top shelf a few months ago - old purses, a little blanket for her dolls. Trigger 1. To get to one of the dress-up boxes, I had to move a plastic bin of Easter decorations. I opened it to see if there was anything I might want to put up in the next few weeks and inside found the expected delicately painted eggs I’d brought back from Italy in 2002 (“Be very careful with those, honey. They’re very special to Mommy.”) I’d forgotten though that I’d bought 2 Easter baskets last year on clearance. At the time it was in anticipation of future Easters with our adopted Korean child. We’d gotten on the official waiting list just 2 days after Easter, and it was the first anticipatory parent purchase specifically for adoption (as opposed to all the things I’ve saved and bought in years past in anticipation of being a plain old parent). One in pink, in case it was girl, green in case we got a boy. We didn’t know yet we were pregnant with Anna at the time. Brad saying that he’d so looked forward to seeing our daughter jump up and down with barely bridled excitement at such holidays, as I had one Easter in a 8 mm family movie at 3 years old. Trigger 2. Getting to the dress-up box and seeing items on top I’d forgotten about. A crushed formal hat, a ridiculously bright red leather jacket that any American girl would think is the coolest thing ever...I know my jr. high cheerleading outfit is in there somewhere. Items I’ve saved for my daughter’s dress-up days since I was 13. Items I couldn’t bear to get rid of even as all these years went by without a child in sight. With Anna, I thought my foolishness in hanging onto them was finally, joyfully, justified. Trigger 3. As I came upstairs, Brad had changed the iPod from Neil Diamond to ABBA, thinking I’d like it better. Dancing Queen, a song that I can’t sit still to and envisioned dancing to with Anna - maybe even in that stupid red jacket that would be much too big on her. With my cheerleading skirt on. Trigger 4. I go into the bathroom to wash my hands and see a rubber duckie next to the sink. I’d put all other evidence of our evening with my friend’s 16-month old away earlier this morning (okay, technically earlier this afternoon). The large yellow-and-white striped towel with the duck head, the pack-and-play in the nursery, the speech therapy toys I’d taken out for her to play with. Because with her we got to play “The Parents We Could Have Been” and it was amazing but she’s not ours and it hurt too much to know how good it felt to feed her dinner, and play with her in the bathtub, and watch Brad read her books and rock her to sleep. But I’d missed the rubber duck. Trigger 5. By now I’m overloaded. And I’m home for godssake - in a “safe zone”. Truth is there is no safe zone.
Sounds like enough evidence to justify going back to bed. Try for unconsciousness again. Who’s with me?