The Shadow of Fear- A Look Inside a Post-Partum Mind

This post has sat in the draft box for a long, long time. Two months after it was written I was pregnant again and had our son in October 2014. I read it again this morning, because I am having a hard time. A harder time, I think. Things are different but it still rings true. This morning the sheer thought of getting up and starting my day was more then I could take. I took Rescue Remedy thinking “I need to be rescued.” I don’t know how, but we are all dressed, eating breakfast and listening to music in the kitchen. It is a fragile day for me, and for someone who shares a whole lot, this post pretty tough for me to share!


On October 29, 2013 my Ana baby was just over two months old. This is how and where I was.


I let fear in. I don’t know how it wheedles its way, but all of a sudden it is THERE, a threat in a big way. A storm in my mind. I let fear in and then I don’t know why the storm is there, because there is no instant to pinpoint- “Ah, that’s where I took a turn, that’s where it slipped between my cracks.” When the fear is there, it is a shadow on love. The great, great love that I have, extended in limitless form to these two people who make up my existence today- a baby girl and a strong man. My love goes everywhere, but here with them it is most intimate, it is most threatening. It is where I am most easily wounded, where I could be broken into a thousand pieces that might not ever go back together. I allow my heart to break in the best way, to little things everyday- Ana’s smiles and the baby smell of her warm head, John’s hands and the scent of his neck below his ears- the love between us all that is felt so strongly in the proximity of our skin, bear hugs and holding hands in the car. Their blue eyes when they look at me.

There exists a scared little kid inside of me that wants to run far, far away from all of this, lest it should cease to be while I am still here. She is always, always afraid, and that is why she grips so tightly and why she shuts off when things get hard. Her body and her mind scream to guard her little self from a heartache she was hidden inside for a long time. I ran and ran from everything, to find something that was never outside and always was within. Now she is here with me, needing reassurance like water and seeing a tragedy in a single misspoken word. It is learning to let my heart break for that little girl, letting it break for her pain- that is the most urgent thing.

It is also the hardest thing, because my selves are slated against it. When I feel the knot, when my heart squeezes into itself and my whole chest feels about to cave in, I am never ready to give into it. I am never ready to see behind the curtain and let the strong emotion move through. So it comes like it came on Sunday, in a body wracked by sobs so loud I thought I’d choke or my lungs would collapse or my throat would close from the sheer inability to let it all out at once. It was so full of force, this expression of sadness and pain and anger, too.

I read once about Brooke Shields, about how after she had her baby she experienced such a debilitating depression that she couldn’t even bond with her baby. The thing I could never get out of my head was her description of sitting on her bed and crying, and how this deep sound came out of her that she had never heard before, a sound of intense despair.

Melancholy is defined as “a feeling of pensive sadness, often with no obvious cause.” This feeling is intrinsic to me. A Spanish professor once said, upon showing him poetry of loneliness and longing and frustration of being caught between two worlds and two languages and still not being able to express what I felt, “no pierdes esta sentimiento de melancolico- esta profundo.” It was such a great relief to hear someone give merit to the state I spend so much time in, to call it beautiful, to name it as useful, as something that I would not want to lose.

But how to spend time in the beauty of melancholy without letting in fear? How to notice when the fear slips through, before I get to such a point that I cannot recognize myself or anything around me? It is a disturbing thing to wake up and not recognize your life, or how you got here. It is disturbing and hard to talk about. It’s easy to blame it on things happening around me, because I look to those things for explanations. I look to people for explanations, to circumstances for explanations. Usually by this point, the storm is so loud that I lose the ability to look within.

Thank God I always come back.


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