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The Unforgiving Sea

How to begin?

Begin with today or yesterday ...

Woke up feeling that I hadn't slept. Which wasn't true because I had, but felt exhausted anyway. I felt that I should get out of the house, but I was too tired. Spent the entire morning being nice, concentrated on being patient and calm, gave my whole being to being rational and safe, to not giving in to the anger and the irritability that was there. Can't work out why I feel this way, but some days are worse than others. Some days I need to hide, but my children need me so I can't.

In the afternoon I wanted my son to sleep, he was tired and needed to rest, I was tired and becoming increasingly irrational and irritable and needed him to sleep, so I could try and relax. I felt that I was losing the battle that I'd fought all morning and those horrible feelings were just going to come spewing out, so I physically needed him to stay away until I'd worked out a way to be calm and safe. But it was not to be.

Isn't it always the way that when you need your child to sleep, they don't? I'm sure he knew that something was wrong. He was worried for me and I think scared of me - and that right there is one of the most shameful sentences ever. This person who looks to you for everything in his world is SCARED of YOU (I started to smack him because I didn't know what else to do to make him stay in bed, I'd tried everything and he just kept opening the bedroom door, and the more I yelled and smacked and slammed doors the more afraid he became and the more he needed the comfort that I couldn't give him and the terrible circle went on.)

Isn't that a terrible thing to admit, that your little boy, the person who was once the light of your life is frightened of his mother, and that she is frightened of and angry with him. I say was once the light of my life because my life no longer has any light in it. The feelings I have for my baby girl, my son, my husband have disappeared. I know they were once there, but all that's left in their place is hardness, and anger and frustration, but most of all despair.

My children look to me to show them that the world is a safe and loving place, yet how can I show them that if I can't believe it myself. How can I teach my babies to love and respect themselves, each other and other people, if I am incapable of feeling love and respect for anyone or anything? I yell and scream, I hit (when I promised myself that smacking would not be a form of punishment that I used). I am inconsistent and irrational and at times wish to god that they would all just go away, wish to god that I could just go away.

But I also want to keep them close even though the next minute I'm pushing them away. It must be so confusing for all of them. It's confusing for me. If I can't understand what is happening to me, how can I expect my husband or my babies to understand. I'm sure my 3 year-old thinks that it's somehow his fault even though he doesn't say it. How can I reassure him that it's not, convince him that I am safe when I'm not sure that I am.

Sometimes I want my children to shut up ... sometimes I sit and think of ways to shut them up ... It's those times that I hate myself ... It's reassuring to know that research has shown that a mother with PND rarely hurts her children, reassuring, but not very comforting ... Would a good person, a good mother think those thoughts? And where is all my anger and frustration going to go?

I've always been a loner to some extent, needing only one or two close friends, never before have I felt isolated or alone until now. Sometimes the feelings of having no one to turn to and no where to go are so overwhelming that surely they will swallow me whole one day when my defences are particularly low. That's one thing that's hard about feeling this way, you have to keep straight inside, like a tin soldier tall and strong, because if you let one muscle sag there is always the fear that everything will let go and then not stop and if that happens - what then?

So you stand tough and don't look left or right, you don't look up or down, just straight ahead. Yesterday fills you with guilt about harsh words, a little boy's fear, a baby that you wish you could feel something for, a husband who tries so hard to understand and jobs around the house left undone. Tomorrow fills you with fear about what mood it might bring and you'll be alone and today there is no time for thought because you're too busy staring straight ahead and not looking, too busy trying to hold it all together to keep floating.

And that's the real fear, what happens when you can't tread water anymore? And the life jacket's got a slow leak and there isn't anyone around to throw the ring ...

Then what happens?

©1998 Leanne Uwland

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