Sorry, dear readers, that I’ve been so reclusive lately. I haven’t had the energy or passion to document anything that’s going on in our lives right now, mostly because so much of what’s going on right now is a total suckfest. Prepare for a doozy of a post.
I thought I was taking it all in stride, but on New Year’s Day, I really had a meltdown and all of the very large feelings I didn’t realize existed came pouring out in a tsunami of emotion, tears and snot. A friend once compared keeping one’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity a secret to trying to shove a beach ball deep underwater. There’s always resistance and the harder you push, the likelier it is that the ball will eject upwards out of the water. Emotions are a lot like that. If we don’t tend to them, they’re going to find a way out, and it never seems to be at a very convenient time.
On January 1, one of my only days off, K confirmed plans with his parents and grandma, which seemed a lot more extensive than anything he’d previously communicated to me. For some reason, this very fact was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. Until this moment, I didn’t realize how exhausted and resentful I was of having to work almost every single day during the holiday season while K enjoyed regularly scheduled time off with pay. I hadn’t realized how overwhelmed I had become by how the frenzied pace of my work and personal life. I was surprisingly unaware of the layers of emotion that had built up, given so many challenges I had recently faced and would soon be facing. Until it all came out. It involved a lot of yelling, ranting, weeping, and then an energy depletion induced nap. Afterwards, I opted not to attend the family gathering, allowed K to handle it solo like he could have done at any time during his vacation instead of on my only day off, and stayed home to assemble some IKEA furniture for the nursery. Sometimes, dear readers, focusing on inane tasks when I’m overwhelmed allows me to feel like I have some semblance of control.
Besides the recent loss of my only surviving grandparent, a growing, hectic list of tasks in my work and personal lives, and resentment about not having time to appropriately care for myself, I did something very challenging and emotionally draining this week. Cal (short for Calypso), our orange tabby who was previously misdiagnosed as being severely constipated but actually had a terrible abdominal tumor, was facing a rapid decline in his health and quality of life. He began uncontrollably urinating blood (and it wasn’t an infection), seemed significantly weaker, likely due to anemia, and was losing weight at an astonishing and heartbreaking rate. I knew that we needed to make the decision to say goodbye and it happened a lot sooner than I had ever imagined. On Wednesday afternoon, I came home from work and spent as much quality time with Cal as I could, which mostly involved me holding him and violently weeping while he purred. He has never been a fairly cuddly cat, so I think he knew that the end was near. When it was time to pick K up and drive to the new veterinarian’s office, Cal fought me as hard as he could as I put him into his carrier. Seeing his fighting spirit made the experience even more awful than it was, but I still feel like I made the right decision. He, like his human mama, was stubborn and probably would have fought to stay here long after was humane for him to remain here. The vet’s office was really great. They were all really empathetic and took us to a room that was outfitted with a snuggly, hand knit blanket and an ample supply of Kleenex. When it was time, Calypso curled up in my arms, his sweet head resting on my arm, and purred his way out of this world. It was beautiful and terrible all wrapped up into one experience. It seems ridiculously obvious to mention how extremely devastated I am about this loss.
As joyful as I am about the impending arrival of our little one, I am starting to realize just how ridiculously sucky it is to be a non-gestational parent. When you’re carrying your baby-to-be, there’s an ever-visible reminder to others to empathize with your journey – how exhausting it is to grow a human and carry its growing frame inside your own, all of the other not-so-pleasant physical symptoms that accompany the experience. I’m finding as a NGP, no one seems to empathize with all of my sacrifices of time and energy to offset all of the things my partner typically handles, or the physical symptoms I’m experiencing as a result of the pregnancy hormones in my environment. I am willingly, lovingly and patiently (trying my best, at least) doing this work, which I see as my contributions toward building this family, but I’ve recently realized how resentful I’ve become by how little my contributions are acknowledged or considered by others, K included. I feel a bit lost and uncared for right now, and it’s making all of the rest of my challenges feel extraordinarily raw.
How the hell am I supposed to turn this around and get back on the joy train when I feel like I’m in such a pit right now? While listening to The Takeaway on NPR the other day, one listener contributed on the subject of optimism: “Sometimes you have to encourage the hell out of it.” Well, world, I’m certainly open to suggestions.