I am halfway through my pregnancy. HALF freaking WAY! I can’t believe that 20 weeks has gone by so quickly. I mean, I can and I can’t. I feel like Nick and I have gotten so many “things” done, and yet, we have so much more to accomplish before nugget arrives. And then… at the same time… I realize that there is literally NOTHING in the world we can do to prepare for the day that he or she actually takes a breath in this world… and what will follow in the days, weeks, months, and years to come. I am coming to grips with the fact that we will just have to “figure it out” like everybody says.
Part of the reason I can say that is because I’ve had to do a lot of that lately. By lately, I mean, in the past few years of my life… I’ve spent a lot of time “figuring it out.” What I’ve been thinking about recently is how this new phase in my life has affected me in so many more ways than I can possibly describe, and this baby hasn’t even arrived yet. Some of you are like, “What in the hell is she talking about?” and some of you might have an idea. I want you to know as you continue to read this post that it has taken me YEARS to build up the courage to discuss this stuff publicly.
Why? Because it’s the hard stuff. Why is it difficult for us to talk about the “hard” stuff? Because we don’t like to put our problems on others. For me, it is like a disease. Like… I would rather DIE sometimes than risk not pleasing the people around me. That’s right, hello, my name is Sarah and I am a Type A, hardcore, people pleaser. So what does that mean? It means that when you ask me how my day is, I will tell you that it’s fabulous. I will tell you all about my weekend and who I was with and how great school is going, and how much I love my soccer team, etc… (the best part about that statement is that it could have applied to me in the past, could apply to me now, and can apply to me in the future… when I was 16 I loved my family and school and soccer and now that I am 27, funnily, I still love all of those things as a mom, wife, teacher, and coach). If I was having a bad day, the only person who would know it, was me. These days, if I am having a bad day, I’m a little better at talking about it. Why? Because I’ve gotten help from family, friends, and professionals for it. That’s right, I see a therapist. I’m not saying that my life is perfect now, and that I never have bad days, but when I do, they are a little more manageable than they used to be. I could not be more thankful for it.
I woke up one morning, about 9 months ago, after a very long series of events (including but not limited to: alcoholism, divorce, infidelity, grad school, new house, new job, etc.) that had built up over the course of (approximately) ten years, and finally admitted to myself that certain parts of my life were out of control. What I had spent a lot of those ten years doing was focusing on all of the bad thing that were “happening to me” or “being done to me” … and what I wasn’t focused on were the things that were going on “with me.” Around the time I was 17/18 years old, I became aware of this new “thing” I was developing. I have, since then, struggled with this “thing” during different times, different highs and lows, at varying levels of awareness and difficulty. This “thing” is what I’ve come to call “Ed”. I didn’t come up with that term – I have to give credit to Jenni Schaefer – because she is a woman who wrote a book called “Life Without Ed”, that I read a few years back. I came across this book after calling a random therapist I found on google in a hysterical state because I was tired of running from/hiding from/denying my eating disorder. There. I said it. Eating disorder.
My heart is already racing because I just typed those words, and now they are out here on the internet for everybody to see. The problem with talking about this stuff, among other things, is that I get really hung up on what people will think of me AFTER they find this stuff out. Will their opinions change? Will they think of me differently? Will they think I’m weak? I’m afraid that people will think I’m not fit to be a teacher, a mother, a coach … all of those things include being a “role model”. Well, here’s a little piece of MY personal experience. The few people who already know about Ed seem to love me more than they did 2 years ago, 5 years ago, 10 years ago. Do you know why? Because everybody has their shit. And it is no better or no worse than yours. The fact that we talk about it is what makes it real, and what makes it possible to connect with one another. It took me YEARS to figure this next part out: I thought that what made me a good person and a good friend and a good role model was having what everybody thought was a “perfect life.” But guess what that does? It makes you untouchable. Un-relatable. People can’t reach you on a personal level. They can’t get close to you. Real human connection comes from sharing your truth with others, and having them share their truths with you. THAT is what builds relationships. Another part of that, that took me YEARS to figure out, is that the people in my life who I looked up to the most, respected the most, trusted the most… were the people who were honest with me. People who shared their “scary” truths with me became stronger in my eyes. Not weaker. I loved them MORE than I did when I thought they were perfect.
So what does this have to do with “eating for two”? Well, lots of things. Not only am I physically feeding myself and my baby, I am mentally feeding myself and my baby. I want to be the kind of parent that can admit I have made mistakes. I want to teach my child that I have weaknesses, just like everybody else, and that it is OK to not be OK sometimes. I want to teach my child that love and honesty is what breeds acceptance and comfort, and nothing else. When I found out I was pregnant, some of my thinking was: “this is healthy for the baby” or, “I need to eat this, do this, do that, for the baby”. Over the course of the last 20 weeks, my thinking has shifted. It hit me one day in the form of this thought: “There is no way I can be the best Mommy I can possibly be if I am only ever thinking of what I need to do for my baby.” Sure, that is a HUGE part of it, and any parent knows that. But part of being a healthy person and a healthy parent is taking care of yourself. If the baby is “worth it” (putting all of the hard work it takes into being physically and mentally healthy) then SO AM I. I was worth it all along. It just took growing a life inside me to realize it.
I hope that this post can serve to help any women who are currently struggling with, or have struggled with eating disorders in the past. You don’t ever “cure” yourself. It doesn’t ever fully go away. You have to work on it, maintain it, TALK ABOUT IT. When one more person comes out and shares their story, the stigma loses its power over us that much more. Living your life inside that disease is one of secrecy and despair. I pushed people away for years, and lost some of those relationships permanently along the way. Don’t do the same, don’t be that person, don’t make my mistakes. Make your own… you have to. It’s the only way to come out on the other side alive and well. For those of you reading this who know me well, continue to love me and support me just as you have in the past. I am the same person I’ve always been, I just have a new sense of awareness and appreciation for the world these days, and I wouldn’t change one single moment of the journey that I took to get here 🙂
Blessings to you all on this lovely December day! ❤
Side note: Nick and I got to see Nugget on Friday and he or she is beautiful, thriving, and in constant motion! Nug also heard his/her first story on Sunday as Daddy read Brown Bear, Brown Bear!