Impulse control

I’m sitting at my mom’s “desk” (kitchen table), typing on her laptop.  I’m exhausted: last night’s poetic elegance has all been washed away as a result of going to bed at midnight and waking up at…  5:11 a.m., eleven minutes after my shift started.  (But here’s the incredible part: Doug and I clocked in just seventeen minutes after we woke up.)  This is only the second time in almost four years that I’ve overslept my alarm on one of these pre-dawn shifts.  Still, it’s not a good feeling.

Anyway, we’re here at my parents’ for an early dinner, then planning on going home and passing out at like seven, since we have to open again tomorrow, so I’m going to keep this quick.

When I walked into the house this afternoon, there on the center of the very table I’m now sitting at were not one, but four pictures of my cousin’s newborn baby.  And let me clarify, in case I haven’t before, or in case it’s been a while: babies don’t affect me in that twitchy, PTSD way that ultrasound pictures and pregnant bellies do.  My miscarriage was so early, and I knew about it’s inevitability so definitely (even during all those weeks of waiting while my HCG was doubling normally, even though the ultrasounds clearly showed nothing in my uterus), that I never got attached to the idea of a baby.  It was a pregnancy I thought I had, and it was a pregnancy I wanted, and therefore, now, it’s pregnancy that makes me crazy, whereas babies seem just as cute and fragile and alien as they always have.

My cousin’s baby, in all of these photos, is red and squishy and sleeping.  And part of me wants to pick up the photos to get a closer look, to see whether I can find my cousin (whom I haven’t actually seen, other than in photos, in almost 14 years) in his son’s nose, or mouth, or tightly closed eyes.

But I’m worried that, if I start picking up these photos, I might pick up the fifth photo, a wallet-sized portrait of my cousin and his wife, both holding her big, giant, pregnant belly.  And if I pick up that photo, my instinct might be to “magic it away,” like I want to do with everything that makes me so uncomfortable, and so my impulse might be to tear it in half.

This is not something that’s easy to admit to.  This is not something I’m proud of.  This is the unfortunate and ugly truth.

I set out on this journey hoping to heal.  Hoping that by the time I was finished with this nine-month project, I would no longer have these impulses, because I would no longer feel assaulted by images of, and stories about, and encounters with pregnant women.

Now, at the end of month eight, I’ve learned that this isn’t a realistic hope for me.  For me, healing isn’t about eliminating the impulses – because I cannot “magic away” my experience or my feelings about it; for me, healing is about allowing myself to feel the impulses, and then controlling them.  So tonight, the pictures stay on the table.  And from where I’m sitting, I can lean forward and peer at them more closely, to see whether I can find my cousin in his son’s nose, or mouth, or tightly closed eyes.

My cousin’s joy, which he chose to share with my family, is not intended to cause me pain.  My pain is my own.  My pain is as valid as his joy, and as deserving of being shared.  But I can’t hope to alleviate it at the expense of my cousin’s joy, or anyone else’s.  The only way to alleviate my pain is to keep feeling it, and acknowledging it, and hating it, and moving forward anyway.

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This entry was posted in family, miscarriage, negative thinking, positive thinking, pregnant women. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Impulse control

  1. Josey says:

    (re: your final paragraph)
    The fact that you know that and are taking that path means you HAVE come a long ways in eight months. I think you’re doing incredibly well – better than many of us have!

    I hope you sleep like a rog tonight (a cross between a rock and a log, as my husband says *grin*) and wake up well-rested, bright-eyed and bushy tailed tomorrow morning. 🙂

  2. Wow. The last paragraph of our post really hit home for me. I have a similar situation in my life except my cousin and I were really close. I found out about her pregnancy by accident, in a particularly embarrassing way in a public place. I’ve only spoken to her once since and that was over a year ago. It’s been too painful. Thank you for putting into words something that I have really been struggling with.

  3. Esperanza says:

    I’ve read many places that women don’t really get over miscarriages until they go on to have a healthy pregnancy. That doesn’t mean they DO get over them after having a successful pregnancy, but healing can’t really start until that happens. I think the fact that you had a miscarriage but then decided it wasn’t the right time to have a baby has made this whole experience a very difficult one. I’m not saying that some day, when you do have a successful pregnancy, that your miscarriage will not longer hurt you, but there is a good chance you’ll feel differently towards pregnant bellies and ultrasound pictures. You will probably never feel ambivalent towards them (I never have, even after my second pregnancy) but maybe the sting won’t be so intense or long lasting. At least I hope it won’t be.

    I’m sorry this nine month project did not bring about the healing you were hoping it would. I hope you are able to heal from this raw pain some day.

  4. C says:

    Ugh, sucks walking in on that. I don’t really think I have much to add to the dichotomy of this post. I think you summed it all up perfectly.

  5. Elphaba says:

    I think the previous commenters are right–you will never really get over this because this was a traumatic, life altering event. That’s just how it goes.

    I do think that your acknowledgement at the end does signal progress and you should be proud of that.

    I don’t think getting over it completely should ever be the goal–I think the goal should just being able to live your life where there are many more good days than bad ones.

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