So we’re back from our weekend in the forest. Four generations in two log cabins. The children have been in absolute heaven – water pistols, candy floss, parks, soft play, cake, frogs, swimming, running and, in a departure from our standard holiday procedure, glorious sunshine! Very nice it was too.
But for me, there was at least one cloud in the sky this weekend. The knowledge that my first therapy session was scheduled for our return. So this afternoon I found myself sitting in a waiting room, looking round to judge my level of crazy against the others. It’s a fun game, until you realise that some people are just there for blood tests. Joke’s on me.
I’ve been worried about therapy for some time. Worried about having to go over the same old ground again. Worried that I don’t have the energy to put in to recovering. Worried that they’ll judge me for not being able to ‘stay better’ after beating it once. Worried that just having a therapist makes me sound like a self-obsessed New Yorker.
It wasn’t as bad as I thought. When will I learn? She was very sweet, listened well and, if she did judge me, she hid it brilliantly. She even told me that people who’ve suffered from PND before are more likely to get it again. Which was kind. During the conversation she asked me about my triggers – what sets off all the gloomy fireworks in my brain. There was no hesitation – my main problem at the moment is Wes going away, or getting unexpected work that I’ve not had time to plan for.
The reality of life with a working-away husband is tough. Especially if they’re self employed and the working-away has no pattern. It’s confusing for the children; they’re too young to understand dates and days and times so, much as I try to explain it, all they know is that sometimes Daddy is here and sometimes he’s not. It’s confusing for me too – I get into a rhythm of having Wes around and having an extra pair of hands, and suddenly he’s gone. Then I get into a rhythm of doing everything by myself and suddenly he’s back. There’s no consistency, and that’s hard. I end up resentful and irritable that he’s coming and going as he pleases, disrupting our routines and leaving me on my own with the babies. Which is something that he will never understand. Obviously.
This afternoon I heard myself say that “it just makes me feel like I’m not important.” Which surprised me. I’d always thought it was the lack of control that bothered me. Turns out it’s not. It’s that all this leaving makes me feel as though I’m not worth hanging around for. Like he has better things to do or more exciting places to be. Like he’s ready to drop everything for work, but not for me. And then my stomach gets heavy and all my energy falls out of my feet like a balloon that’s been popped.
I know from the bottom of my heart that none of it is true. I know that he works because he has to, because he wants to make our lives better and keep a roof over our head, and that he misses us horribly while he’s away. I know that there have been times that he has called off work to get me through a really dark day. It’s not that I’m worried about him being unfaithful – although I could do without all the naked French models, damn you Paris Fashion Week! It’s just that there’s something deep inside me that takes all this leaving as a personal insult.
It’s ludicrous to take everything so personally. I know that. But I still do it. Even with the children – if Joel is whinging in his highchair it’s because he wants to stop me enjoying my dinner, if Elvie decides she needs the toilet while Joel has just fallen asleep in my arms it’s all a ploy to attack me for daring to have another child, and if either of them wakes up in the night it’s a calculated attempt to stop me sleeping. Not just that they’re small children. Don’t be ridiculous. Even the helicopter that’s circling at the moment has come deliberately to annoy me by waking up my too-hot, fretful baby. It’s such nonsense.
I’ve decided to tackle that nonsense head on. I don’t really have much choice – he goes away again on Saturday. For a week. So I need something that works. Other than hiding under the duvet and not getting up until he’s home. Tempting though that is. I’ve decided I need a new mantra. To go against the voices in my head that tell me I’m not good enough or I’m too dull or he’s going away to escape. And this is it. “He loves me.” Simple as that. Because he does. That’s the truth of it.
Every time he goes away, or takes on more work, or stays on later than planned, I’m going to make a conscious effort that my first thought is “he loves me.” Even if I don’t feel like it. Especially then. I suspect that starting from there will make it harder for all the nonsense to sneak in. It won’t solve everything, but it’s worth a shot. At least I’ll have something to tell the therapist.