I was in such good spirits today. I knew we were going to decorate the Christmas tree tonight, and I live for that. That's what I love about Christmas...the lights outside, decorating the tree, the snow, and buying people gifts and that giddy feeling you get when you know they've just going to love it. Last Christmas was tough, but I think I was still fairly numb. Arianna was less than two months old, and I was still settling into the fact that I had been pregnant AND the fact that I was now a birth mom. I got an email from her adoptive parents on Christmas day, and that also helped more than they'll ever know. All in all it was okay, aside from when my mom and grandma were sitting at the kitchen table with me and we were doing some sort of puzzle and I burst into tears and ran into my room. Other than that, honestly, it was nice. This year, though, I feel like it's expected of me to be 'better.' I feel like if I have a crying spell in the middle of Christmas dinner or tear up as I'm tearing gifts open, I'll make everyone uncomfortable. That pressure alone, that fear alone, is enough to build the tears up as it is. Honestly, I'm scared.
I've been irritable lately. I feel like I'm a ticking time bomb, ready to go off at any minute. Don't get me wrong, when I smile or laugh, I'm not faking it. It's just like there's this 'elephant in the room' wherever I am; there's this obvious reminder that something (someone) is missing. It's hard to explain to my friends when they say 'cheer up,' or try and get me out of the house. It helps, temporarily. I hate to sound cliche, but it's so hard to convey the fact that I feel sick on the inside. I don't have a headache, or a stomach ache, or a cough, or any other ailment that would stop someone from wanting to go out and have fun. I have those things on the inside, and no one can see them. I can barely make sense of them. I feel bitchy or antisocial, but the mere thought of getting in the car and heading out for the night, even to go watch a movie, drains me. And when I try to explain that, it just comes out all wrong. I get it, none of my 'real life' friends have lost a child to adoption, and most have not had a child at all yet. I'm sure they've experienced some form of depression at some point, but I'm not one to say 'oh, pity me.' That's why I write here. I write because I'm not talking to one specific person, so it's easier to not feel like I'm whining quite as much as if I were to say this directly to someone. I guess what it is is depression, yes. Depression, anxiety, irritability, and no motivation to do anything but be in my bed, where I know if I burst into tears, I can just go under my covers rather than have to run and find a place to be alone like I would if I were in public. Nothing makes me feel truly, truly happy besides seeing an email from C. And that can't be healthy, can it?
This all came about this afternoon, when I was getting in the car to go visit my grandfather with my mother. We were walking out to the car, and I had a recent picture from A's birthday party in my hand. I was excited to show it to him, because he hasn't seen any pictures of his great-granddaughter since September. As I opened the passenger door, it came flooding over me all at once. It was like hot lava. My face started burning up and I wanted to smash in the window of the Jeep. There I was, holding a 1/1000th inch thick piece of paper between my fingers, rather than a tangible, real child. I should have been walking over to the backseat, with her walking that bouncy walk that all babies do before they master walking, and opening her door for her to put her in her car seat. Instead of a paper thin photograph, I should have had her hand in mine. I could literally feel her little fingers, grasping onto my hand for dear life as she walked in tandem with me - but not in tandem, because her little legs would take three steps to each one of mine. I could feel the pull of her arm as she tried to balance herself, and I could almost feel her weight against my chest as I lifted her into her car seat. I lost it. Instead of her, all I had in my hands was a picture. Nothing separating me from the car but air; no child between us, no one squeezing my fingers til hers turned white at the ends, no one making little grunting noises for me to pick her up and put her in the car. It's not to say I realized what I lost, in that moment, it's more to say it hit me all over again, in a way that it hasn't in a while. How different my life would have been...harder, but happier. I got so angry that I decided not to give him the picture at all, because I was scared that I would start crying all over again. Call me selfish, but he didn't know it was coming to him today, and I'll give it to him another day this week.
I should focus on the positive...I should be thankful I had that photo in my hand at all. Some birth moms aren't even afforded that gift. But this is the truth, this is how I feel right now: how can I be grateful for a photograph when it's given to me in place of my beautiful, breathing daughter? How am I supposed to say I wouldn't prefer the latter? Of course I would, I can't think of anyone who wouldn't.