TRIGGER WARNING: Sexual abuse and Postpartum
I want to start off by saying this blog will not be the beautiful and poetic writing that I normally do. I realized when I wrote this that my writing is much different when I am writing about something I am going through as opposed to something I have conquered. I am still learning about my own self each day. This is not poetic, but it is very honest and that will just have to be okay.
I didn’t invite postpartum into my life. It felt like an invasion and betrayal of trust. I trusted my mind and my body to protect me from depression and anxiety. I was suddenly watching a young mother cry every time she held her Prince in her arms. I was completely overwhelmed by every little thing. If someone said they wanted to come over, I threw myself into a cleaning frenzy and sobbed in the shower while I would try to pull myself back together. I was a shell of the woman I imagined I would be as a mother.
Before William was born, I would have nightmares that I was going to have postpartum. I suppose my body and brain knew more than my soul wanted to let on. Why, though? Why was this happening to me?
Trauma. Let’s start there. Early childhood trauma. In our community we are now aware of the early trauma that occurs to children exposed prenatally to substance abuse. I am aware of my trauma due to it. I am also aware I’ve suffered more trauma than that. At a young age of about 4 or 5 years old, I was molested. My parents did everything in their power to get me the help I needed to recover. I was in therapy and counseling, I saw psychologists…they went to the ends of Earth to protect me from it.
Here I am a new mother, and I was uncomfortable. The thought of having to change my son’s diaper made me nauseous and sick to my stomach. I went to kiss his Buddha belly after he was born and I felt disgusted after. I had my husband give him his first bath. I began to isolate. Everyone wanted to know how I was doing and the response was always the same, “I’m great, I love being a mother!” I did. I loved being a mother but I wasn’t great. There were highs, but there were a lot more of the lows. I was crumbling everyday. My husband and I began to grow distant. I was out of my mind anxious and could not stop crying no matter what I did. He wanted to help and I couldn’t tell him how. I was convincing myself I was a monster. My son was the most beautiful thing that ever happened to me, but why was I uncomfortable? Why was I shell?
My entire life I have experienced not “normal” sensations to affection. I am a very affectionate person, but I also am aware that affection makes me uncomfortable at times. I haven’t been able to find the trigger or the common denominator of those moments, but when it happens I feel repulsed and anxious. When motherhood came, I didn’t feel worthy of being this perfect prince’s mother. I felt damaged and repulsive again.
My sister sent me an article of trauma and sexual abuse and it clicked. Everything this survivor was feeling as a mother was what I, myself was feeling. I looked at my son and wondered how someone could do something to a child like was done to me. I can’t fathom the thought of my child feeling my kiss or my touch and feeling disgusted by it. I can’t fathom the thought of my prince feeling repulsed by a hug or snuggles of someone he loves. I can’t fathom the thought of my son ever being taken advantage of. I wept. And I wept more. I have forgiven, but I have also had those wounds reopened and it hurts. They are only little for so long. I have to embrace these moments with him and get to a place where I am the care free and the open mother I want to be. I want to show all the affection I have for my son and never second guess it. I deserve to be happy and joyful as he is. William doesn’t know what has happened to his mother. He loves his kisses. He loves his snuggles. He loves his bath time. I am the one who is having the issue.
So where do you go from here? You get help. I had to admit to myself I need help and that’s okay. I love therapy. It’s amazing and wonderful. There is no shame in needing help. I have preached that my whole life and I have to take my own advice again. I am worthy of making sure my beautiful mind is at peace and the healthiest it can be. I am worthy of loving my child. My child is safe and loved and will always be and I have to learn how to believe it. I have to silence my own trauma and stop deflecting it into my own journey of motherhood. My journey of motherhood does not have trauma. I am not what happened to me.