I’ve known for weeks that a call to my therapist would be a good step; a step down the path to a happier definition of normal, a door to a better understanding of where my depression and anxiety stand, and how parenthood and marriage are holding up (spoiler alert: not great).
I’m worried if I call in the morning, she’ll try and fit me in later that afternoon, and I’ll have to bother someone to watch the kids, or drag them along and bother her while we’re trying to meet. If I can’t find a willing volunteer, of which there aren’t a lot, we’ll then have to pay for a sitter, and money doesn’t grow on trees, and what a bother to waste a paid babysitter on a stupid therapy appointment.
I’m worried if I call midday, I’ll be interrupting the lunch hour. One of her few moments of quiet, when she’s trying to eat or get paperwork done. I worry that she’ll be in session with another client; the ringing phone derailing, bothering an important segment of thought or the middle of a breakthrough.
I’m worried if I call in the evening, in hopes of leaving a neutral voicemail, that she’ll instead worry it’s an afterhours emergency, and then I’ve bothered her unnecessarily and she’ll be hesitant to re-accept a client who has such a blatant disregard for specified office hours and her desire for a life outside of the office.
I’m worried that the recent revelation I’ve had about how I’ve been raised will be too bothersome for her to help me work through; unpacking the how and why it’s happened, and how to fix the brokenness, how to move forward with some semblance of dignity and self-worth, if there’s any in there at all. I worry that once we get my depression under control, then she can’t bill insurance, and it’ll be too much money to keep going to therapy. I worry, every month, every day, every minute, that I’m a bother. To you, to my family, to the general public. Practically every decision I make has a good component of ‘otherness’ embedded into the final product. I order the same thing when eating our 95% of the time. I know I like it, so I won’t take extra time looking at the other choices, it won’t waste money, and I won’t waste even more time by having to reorder something new if I had gotten a dish I actually ended up not liking. Even though I desperately could use it, I find it difficult asking anyone to babysit. Watching kids is hard, especially when the age range and interests are wide. Surely they could be doing something more worthwhile than coming over to watch my kids so I can do what? Go read in a coffee shop? Try on shoes without the circus in tow? Going for a quick workout? Psh. I don’t bother having the conversation with my husband that so desperately needs to happen about equality of household work division because it’s his busy time of year, and I’m anxious that I’ll yet again have him try to tell me that’s just how I feel, it’s not how it actually is. Is the bother of a potential (recurring) fight worth it? Or is it just easier to continue being the one that shoulders the load? Do I just resign myself to the fact that I’m a stay-at-home (works very part time) maid, or do I bother the status quo and fight to do more stay-at-home (works very part time) momming?
I’ve come to the conclusion that I was raised to not be a bother. To my mother, or to anyone. I was raised to stay the hell out of the way and create as few waves as possible. To silently trudge ahead, asking permission, thinking of everyone else, and somehow along the way losing myself. I don’t mean to sound like a martyr; one of those people who thinks she has to ‘do it all’ because everyone else around her is too stupid to participate. I get legitimate anxiety worrying about negatively impacting someone else’s life. Which, really, is probably just as detrimental to those around me as trying to claim I’m a martyr. They probably think I’m bad at delegating, or don’t trust them to watch my kids, or so on, and all I can focus on is the negative impact asking for help or my fair share of the pie might have on them. I don’t have any desire to become a selfish person. But I long to be self-aware. I long to advocate not just for others, but for myself. I want to stop trying to think it’s my job to carry everyone’s burdens, and ask them to carry some of their own. It’s funny, because so much of this has become clear over the past few months, but it’s one thing to see it in words and another thing entirely to try to fix it in your everyday life.
Seven years ago, on April 11th, I called my mom to ask a quick question as I frantically tried to complete my taxes. The tone of her voice immediately betrayed something horribly wrong; which she wouldn’t share over the phone. Being the dense person I am; I asked my hysterectomied mother if she was pregnant. My mind was trying to process what my heart refused. I dashed away from work, and confronted her at home. She was having an affair, had gotten in a fight with her lover, but still finally had decided she wanted to go file at the courthouse. A teary conversation ensued, and I remember few details, but I’ll always remember the following. She admitted marrying my dad (the man I know and call dad is actually my adopted father; I don’t know my biological father. Another story for another day) because she was just so tired of having to be my mother without any help. She was pinning her marriage, affair, and subsequent divorce on the fact that it bothered her to mother a baby she chose to have. I have bothered the world from Day One.
Do you know what I want? I want for my husband to be in love with me enough to make the coffee every morning like he used to, as a small gesture of love and knowledge I’m not a morning person. I want for him to be able to make a joke and be able to laugh with him, rather than worry it has an underlying critique.
I want to tell my old best friend (who was in my wedding party a short five years ago) I’m so sorry I lost touch, but I had ante-partum depression and her life deserved to go on without having to comfort me from thousands of miles away, or that I always felt awkward calling with kids in the background because I didn’t want to bother her. She’s getting married the end of May. I’m not invited.
I want to matter. I want to be enough of a bother to myself to see that it’s ok to be broken, ok to be depressed, and matter enough to seek help. I don’t want a parade, I don’t want the world to stop turning. I just want to stop putting myself last, so others will too. But first, I still have to figure out what the best time is to call my therapist.