53 days until due date
I was doing a little bit of recon work on the back-end of my website – looking at stats, etc. – and it seems as though people connect a lot more with my regular content than with my Christmas content! This is neither here nor there, however it did get me thinking that perhaps it would be better for me and for my audience if I were to just speak from the heart and post whatever I feel inspired to post as opposed to keeping to my content calendar.
Today is a good day for me to share some raw and honest content that doesn’t have anything to do with Christmas. I had my second last hospital appointment last week and I was asked by the midwife, “How is your mental health? I only ask this because it is around this stage of pregnancy that you get another big surge of hormones.” I responded that I felt fine, that I felt happier and more stable than I have ever felt.Apparently, my appointment was a week too early because yesterday, I completely fell apart in what turns out to be the best way possible.
I am a co-dependent partner. In life, in my work and in my hobbies I am independent; from a very young age I assured my mum that, “I can do it myself” and you will rarely hear my asking for help. I don’t like to go out all that much, I enjoy spending time by myself and my hobbies of writing and reading are very much solo ventures. When it comes to relationships however, I am needy and have pretty bad separation anxiety.
At the heart and soul of the issue,I have a deep-seeded fear of abandonment and being forgotten, particularly when it comes to men. My biological father didn’t meet me until I was nineteen –something that I initiated and fought for and made into a reality when I flew to the north of England to meet him. Even after getting to know me, he didn’t have it in him to be any kind of father to me, abandoning me once more. I have had a similar experience with my step-father who, when separating with my mother reminded her that I am not his child nor his responsibility (financially or otherwise) even though he is who I have called dad since I was eleven months old.
Put simply, I have been of the belief that I am not worth much when it comes to father figures or men in general for that matter. My thinking very quickly became, “Even after getting to know you, they still chose to have nothing to do with you.” I took that belief into every single relationship I have ever had. Initially, it didn’t affect my relationships too much. Sure I was a bit needy, but it was nothing really to get into a fight over but slowly, as my relationships ended and I jumped into new ones trying to find the love or validation I ever had from the men in my life growing up, I became dependent on them to make me feel whole. If ever they were to go out, or want to spend a night at their place or with their mates instead of me, I took that as, “They don’t want to be with you.” So for as long as I can remember, I have made sure that whoever I am with has me around as often as possible.
Great idea, Leah.
I have always been sensitive and always a little bit anxious in places and around people that I am not familiar with, but it wasn’t until one particular relationship that my mental health depleted almost to the point where I didn’t want to go on anymore. I chose to be with someone who was emotionally manipulative, condescending and cruel. He starved me of affection and love often, but when he did show it, he showered me with praise and presents before taking it back again. I’m not sure how it happened because he did it so slowly, but I completely lost myself in him and his misery. He was incredibly confident in himself and preyed on the fact that I wasn’t, often keeping me in the dark with where he was or whether he was coming home at all. He would often leave in the middle of the night without explanation, and I, not knowing where he was or why he left was made to feel like it was my fault upon his return. He was dominating and instilled fear in me, but I thought that that is all that I deserved. My family and friends all saw my light and my entire person completely fade away. I was a shell.
It took a lot of my strength to leave that relationship, and I am still picking up the pieces of myself that are lying around, shattered. For the most part, I have moved through and dealt with a lot of the grief I feel around my father/s, as well as the shame I feel at allowing myself to be treated so poorly by so many men for as long as I was.I have been abused both physically and mentally and yet I am the one that carries the guilt and the blame. I am proud of how much I have grown this year,both within myself and as a part of a relationship. What I am yet to deal with however, is that attachment I have to my partner. My co-dependency is the last thing that I need to shed to be the woman, the partner and the mother that I want to be. I came to the realisation yesterday that I see my life through the lens of my past. I still rarely believe men who say that they can’t wait to be dads because for me, that is not something that is real. I feel like I am constantly waiting and expecting to be let down by my partner because that is all I have known. I am absolutely petrified to trust someone so completely forfear that if they do make a mistake (like all humans do) my heart will bebroken and everything will fall apart.
I am irrational and I make mountains out of mole-hills. Whenever a partner of mine goes out with friends,I make it as hard as possible on them no matter how hard I try to be okay and calm and loving and supportive. My fear taints everything and it is the one thing about me that I truly dislike and I don’t want to be that person anymore.Yesterday was the first time that my actions have been shown to me in a way that I can actually acknowledge and, instead of defending my behaviour, have been able to look at it from so many different angles and come up with ways of moving far, far beyond it. Like a lot of people, I have always sought advice from those that I knew would either agree with my point of view or coddle me and however I was feeling. But now, for the first time in my life I am surrounded by people, friends, work colleagues and family who challenge me and who call me out on my behaviour, and do so with love, respect, understanding and patience. I don’t need people to agree with me anymore, I need to be questioned and be open to the opinions of those close to me because that is how I know I will grow. I am getting more and more comfortable in exposing myself to new experiences and people, as well as learning more and more about my emotional triggers and where they are coming from.
The challenge for me moving forward is learning how to separate what is real and what isn’t, what is logical and what is emotional. And, for the first time, I feel that I can actually achieve that. I have such a beautiful support system around me, and whether I acknowledge it or not, I am a lot stronger than I give myself credit for and this last year is proof of that. Another thing that I need to learn to strengthen is my own self-love and self-care. When I am in a relationship, I completely lose myself to the other. I spend every waking moment worrying about them, wondering what they are up to, wanting to know what they are thinking. I have always struggled letting my partner simply be. Again, not a great quality.
I often find myself admiring characters in books, characters in television shows and movies, and other real-life personalities, peers and sometimes (ever so rarely) celebrities who are strong, outspoken, fierce, independent women. I admire women who are everything I’m not. I am petrified of everything. I am scared to call out someone’s behaviour for fear of how they will react. I rarely speak up when I don’t agree with something or someone. I don’t think I am strong or fierce or independent – and I want to be.
I have seven weeks until I deliver my son into this world, and I am determined to be the woman and the mother that he deserves. I want to be able to look up to myself. I would love, one day, to be someone that others look up to.
Pregnancy is hard. I did not expect it to be this challenging, I really didn’t. Pregnancy has thrown things at me that have seriously challenged me and I have had to admit things to myself and come to terms with a lot of things that I have kept hidden and ignored for a very long time. I have found myself being much more negative than I ever want to be and it has forced me to make decisions and changes that I have been too scared to make previously. I am hot from the inside out and feel so NOT myself that I cannot put words to it. I miss being able to wear my clothes and to getup off the lounge without groaning like a beached whale. I only have seven more weeks of being pregnant though, and why the hell should I spend it feeling sad and annoyed? This is my first pregnancy and I will never get this time back.
I have been victim to these feelings and this co-dependency for too long now and you cannot imagine how excited I am to NOT be this person any more. I know that this post has probably come from left-field for most of you, but that’s how this kind of stuff works, right? You learn things about yourself when you least expect it. More often than not it is painful and it hurts to look (and I mean REALLY look) at who you are and who you have been, but it is so worth it.