I meant to blog just about every night for the last three weeks, but I’ve been so busy and I’ve been having such a good few weeks, and I don’t usually want to pour out emotions or anger if I’m in such a good mood…however, I was triggered by something the other day and it brought my attention back to what this blog originated for – awareness/attention/takethisinformationandapplyittopeopleinyourlife.
Triggers. Now there’s something I never thought I’d have to create a secret full time job for, in order to avoid them. I remember just a few years back, joking with people about when they would have babies after they got married. Egging them on. Slightly fist bumping their shoulders. Tee hee hee, I would say. Or following celebrities through social media and CVS front aisle magazines after a birth or pregnant announcement. Seriously, what is Jennifer Aniston waiting for? Talking up unique names with friends because I couldn’t wait for my little “Penelope or Desmond” to have play dates with their kids someday. Don’t judge me, I like Criminal Minds and I’m Irish. Couldn’t wait for them to play football, or cheer like I did. That is until all that got ripped out from under my feet, and everyone else’s lives kept moving forward.
An old coworker of mine, who knew my situation, sent me one of those chain email messages on Facebook. You know the ones. Send this to 25 of your friends and you’ll receive good news tomorrow. 199,433 likes and this child’s heart condition will disappear. You’re a gorgeous, beautiful mom and you’re doing a wonderful job – send this to 10 wonderful moms you know.
Cool, just what I needed was a chain message reminding me of my forever empty womb. I mean, not only can I not have children and she was aware, but I didn’t have children already, and she was aware. That message has actually plagued me now for five days. And I feel like my emotions are valid. I won’t allow anyone to tell me (including myself) that her message, or a picture, or that statement, should or shouldn’t bother me. I’m not saying everyone I meet, or everyone I know, should be a mind reader. I’m angry with myself for all the years I didn’t consider what others could be going through. That applies to everything, too. Sickness, trauma, loss. I can’t believe all the times I fist bumped people without knowing whether they could have been shelling out thousands of dollars for IVF, adoption, or maybe grieving a miscarriage and they were too embarrassed to even say anything so they just politely smiled at my ignorant humor. I haven’t even reached a point with my own story to have decided on how to go about becoming a parent or not. Which sometimes, makes it even harder. Especially when I’m being egged on. How dare I do that to others, years ago. I know, I know…”everyone is so damn sensitive about everything these days.” But this one can be pretty simple. Don’t continually bug people about their plans. Don’t nag. Don’t prod and poke.
Almost everything is a trigger, I can’t prevent most. Sometimes it’s the smallest things, like chain messages. Healing is hard when the wound is constantly reopened. Facing those damn gossip magazines, while waiting in line to pick up my estrogen patch and progesterone pills. A trip to the mall. Pregnant women surrounding me in the OBGYN waiting room. The fucking Pampers commercials. I’ll more than likely never be that mom in the diaper commercial holding her infant right after they were born. I wince every time I see a pregnant belly. You won’t see it, I fight like hell to keep that hidden. I’ve been triggered. When strangers, family or friends talk about their children, or plans to have them, no matter what age, I’m smiling and laughing with them on the outside, and on the inside I’m a dead, blank stare. I’ve been triggered.
I feel detached from them in that very moment. I can’t share what they all share. I can’t relate. I’m missing this connection with everyone that I had planned for since I had barbies and baby dolls. People form a bond with others through their children.
Mother’s and Father’s Day come around, and there’s celebratory brunch specials everywhere. Cards, flowers, golf clubs. Strangers wish me a happy Mother’s Day. I’ve been triggered.
And then there’s April Fools Day. Brace yourselves, the ultrasound and fake pregnancy posts are coming. Facebook is the mother of all triggers.
I quickly, without even a thought towards her defense, unfriended the woman who sent me the chain message. Sometimes, I know when it’s just time to snip a person out of my life. It wasn’t a big loss, we weren’t close at or outside of work. But it hurt enough that I could drop her just as hard as my heart dropped when my doctor said I was in menopause. I was triggered.
And sure, I could delete Facebook. But I have deeper connections on there through my network of family and friends and a support group I NEED, and can’t easily be without. And I love memes, let’s be real. But April Fools is the worst. There’s a few token days throughout the year that I have to protect myself from my triggers. I’ve found in the last two years how much I’ve LOVVVVEE pressing the unfollow button. I’m glad they have that option because I can safely follow updates if and when I feel like it. It’s not that I didn’t care about your Cinnamon Toast Crunch and feta cheese cravings at 2am. Or your child’s first birthday photos. Or your baby shower album.
It’s just…I’ve been triggered. And I need you to understand that on some days, 95% of Facebook is excruciating and painful for me as I learn how to navigate through this diagnosis and I need to know what’s going on with people on my own, guarded terms. If I take awhile to respond, or if I didn’t respond at all to the pictures you sent me, please don’t take offense. It’s just I saw my future self in those posts, annnnd then I remembered. If I seem to distance myself sometimes, or am silent, don’t think I don’t care, I always do, I just don’t always know how to behave when I am triggered, so I tend to avoid it altogether if I can. It makes me feel lost to not have that connection with you. I don’t know what words to say. I don’t know how to act around parents and small kids and I’m absolutely terrified of holding babies. I fumble with my hands and get anxiety because I am learning how to cope without running to the bathroom to cry or hide. Sometimes when I’m having a bad day I don’t even know how to talk to people. I get weird. When I experience the anxiety, I get my hot flashes. Sometimes crippling. My heart goes erratic at the most abnormal times. It’s draining to feel like that inside and still force yourself to laugh, joke and smile in spite of it.