I have been... unhappy much of this year. I have been hard on my husband, hard on my kids and harder yet on myself. I have been trying to dig up and up and up and hopefully, eventually, out of my depression. But I am digging with a teaspoon most of the time. And so it goes.
But lately I have been better. My healing is coming in the form of learning to let go. But that letting go? The releasing of dreams, disappointments, heart break? Is so much harder than I could have anticipated. So much more painful than I had prepared myself for.
There are moments in this last year I crave with all my being to redo. Moments that I can see, now, are steeped in depression, but at the time? I just thought I was a horrible mother and wife.
The one moment that comes to mind the most often? The minutes just after Isabel was born. I will never forget that morning, though most days I wish the memory was hazy, that I didn't see with shocking crispness all the ways I was hurting without knowing. Isabel came out in a rush - the doctor barely got his gloves on, never mind his scrubs, before she was lying warm and wet in his hands. My husband turned to me and told me we had a daughter and I could see the emotion in his eyes, the tears just behind the surface. I could see, too, that he was hedging his emotion on mine - if I cried, he would too. And all I was thinking was that I was tired and that now that she was here I could go back to sleep. I knew I was supposed to say something, do something, but I had no idea what it was. To fill the void I was staring at I kept asking "is she okay?" Over and over I pestered the peds nurses. The doctor was kind enough to reassure me time and again that Isabel was fine. Then I was holding her, this tiny bundle of a girl, wrinkled, bitty, worn out and weary from her journey. And all I felt was incredibly empty.
Those minutes? I play them over and over. Because I know that girl now, I am looking at her tiny lips and her round eyes and her trusting smile and I love her. I know this with every fiber of my being. And I wish I had been able to tell her that then, and mean it. I want to go back to the woman holding a baby who was hers, but did not feel like hers and say: "it's okay. You'll be okay, and this girl-child? Do not be afraid: you do love her, you just can't see it yet."
I want to go back to my daughter who knew nothing and understood less and say: "you have not done this. She is in love with you, but it will take a while for her to find her way back to knowing it."
In life there isn't a way to get back those days and weeks and months. So I am left with this hollow ache where joy should have grown. But I am healing now: I am learning to let go, to become okay with the fact that for me? The day she was born was not the happiest moment of my life. That day came later, and I can cling to that moment instead.
The letting go of that day? Is an incredible battle, one that I know isn't over. I will always wish it had been different. Always. But I am learning to let go of that sorrow and instead am thankful that I am here, now, loving her and her sister in all the ways I could not do before.