*blows dust off*
Been a while since I’ve cracked open the blog, eh?
But I had an epiphany this morning, and I felt it was better to do the long-form post than to post this on IG or whatever. So here we go.
But first, a bit of background…
If you’re new to Sushland, back in 2013 I ended things with a guy I thought I was going to marry. You can read more about how it all went down in Empath. More importantly, it sent me down into a dark hole that I did a good job pretending didn’t exist. I finally sought therapy in January as a New Year’s Resolution, and in the first meeting, I told the therapist that it felt like there were two people living in my brain: the normal one (Whitney) and the crazy bitch (Suni). Whitney did her best to keep Suni at bay, tamp down on her more whimsical nature, keep ourselves professional and stoic and unemotional. The therapist told me, very plainly, that I should let them have a conversation, and Whitney should let Suni talk. On the walk home, Suni very clearly said, “I want to publish a book.”
The rest, they say, is history.
Quarter Life Crisis, Revisited
During those months between January and June, I wrote a series of blogs called the Quarter Life Crisis, where I laid bare all my fears, anxieties, and worries about starting over at 27. I was able to have those conversations between Suni and Whitney until we came to an understanding about what we wanted out of life. I then quit my six-figure job, sold my house, moved back home, and completely rebuilt my life into what it is today. In 2018, I met my husband, knew within three months he was the one I wanted, married him in the pandemic in April 2020, and we had our beautiful little girl in August 2021. I thought all was fine – except for one, small detail.
During our wedding, and later, after the birth of Baby M, I was mentally checked out. Like, had zero emotions, was going through the motions, and woke up three weeks later like, “What just happened?”
I’ve been toying with going back to therapy to dissect this, but at the end of the day, I figured I might be able to recreate the magic from 2014 if I just let the two halves of my brain talk it out. And this morning, while nursing my baby girl to sleep, it finally hit me what was going on.
Let it Out
Our wedding was not what I’d expected. We were in the middle of the first pandemic lockdown, and the 200-person love-fest I’d envisioned was gone. I won’t go into details, because I already did last year. Long story short, I should’ve been a ball of emotion, but all I felt was cold numbness until the drive to our cabin in Alabama wearing a wedding dress with a new ring on my finger and a husband.
Fast forward to August 2021, and thanks to a very stubborn little girl (no idea where she gets that from), I had to let go of my dreams of a natural birth in favor of a planned c-section. The surgery was a drug-induced haze, and when I woke up, there was a baby at my breast and I was wondering when her mom was going to come get her. The weeks after, I expected a roller coaster of emotion, but all I felt was, yet again, numbness. Much like our wedding, I hated myself for checking out just when I should’ve been feeling everything so acutely. It wasn’t until very recently that I actually felt somewhat bonded with my baby – and she’s three months old.
This morning, as I was talking it out silently while my baby was falling asleep, it finally dawned on me. Suni (my emotional side) was skipping town during these big events, and Whitney was furious with her. But at the same time, Whitney wasn’t letting Suni feel honestly – how dare she be sad on her wedding day? How dare she mourn the birth she wanted? She got the husband and the baby. Suni should just let go and be happy, for god’s sake.
But that’s not how she works. Suni wants everything to be Just So, and when she wanted to feel a certain way, Whitney shut her down. And it wasn’t that Suni skipped town – she was banished for not behaving correctly. And thus I went through the motions, feeling nothing and wondering why I couldn’t muster real emotion during the most important days of my life, and feeling harrowing regret for all of it.
Knowing the why behind my behaviors usually helps me to course correct. I think it boils down to the fear of showing the wrong emotion, to hear someone tell me to “buck up,” my constant need for absolute perfection in everything I am and do or else the world will end. The fear that if I mourn the things I didn’t get, that it’ll hurt the two people I love more than anything in the world. That it’s not possible to feel regret for the event but not the outcome – and that perhaps I somehow don’t want the things that I’ve prayed for my entire life. That I’m ungrateful.
Which is silly, written out. But most of my fears are when I finally get around to admitting them.
Of course I love my husband. I still get butterflies when his car pulls in the drive, and he’s still the first person I tell about everything. In fact, I was thinking this morning how much I miss him and how we don’t seem to have nearly enough time together. And I’m enjoying the HELL out of getting to spend these first few months with my daughter and wouldn’t trade it for the world. But I can both fiercely love them, want them, cherish them – and also be incredibly sad about the events that we shared that didn’t match the dreams in my head.
Now, more than ever, I hope that I can change my ways. As I was writing this, I realized that I have a chance to show my daughter a good, healthy example of how to contain multitudes. That mourning something that doesn’t go exactly to plan doesn’t mean you’re a bad person, it just means you’re a person with a penchant for dreaming. That you can be grateful for all you have and still mourn what you don’t. That there’s no such thing as the suffering olympics. And perhaps she might be able to skip all this angst – and develop her own problems about an entirely different subject.
And speaking of, she’s waking up so I guess I spent my morning work time on this blog and not on book writing. But it was productive all the same. ❤️