I’ve always been a bit sensitive, in all aspects – physical, emotional, sensory, psychological. Since becoming pregnant with Devin, I (like many/most mothers) have found that I have a hair-trigger reaction to anything that is even vaguely emotional. I can tear up at a particularly joyous Facebook update, so you can imagine what it’s often like for me to encounter things that are sad.
I can’t watch crime shows any more, fictional or real-life. Well, truthfully, the only one I watched with regularity was Criminal Minds. I actually really liked it. Now, I don’t even think about watching it. If you know it, you know how horrible the crimes it portrays can be, and that they often involve children and families. So, no way. I’d be awake all night. I overheard it on TV recently – my mum was watching it (she’s also really into true crime, which I just can’t fathom at this point) – and I’m not even going to type what was happening. Just listening was too much. I had also built up a resistance to violence by virtue of the fact that the movies and television shows I was interested in were often quite brutal or gory – not that I went looking for that, it’s just that violence is so prevalent. Now, if Jene wants to watch a movie, my first question is, “Is it violent?”, and even if he’s seen it before and can tell me when to look away, I’m pretty hesitant. We’ve been watching Game of Thrones together, which is a violent TV series based on a very violent and confronting book series. I enjoy them both, but I wouldn’t be nearly as relaxed while watching the show if I hadn’t read the book first and knew when something graphic was coming up. (I haven’t finished the book yet, but I just have to keep ahead of what we’re up to in the show.)
I can barely stand to watch the news. If it’s not making me feel absolutely livid with the whole world, it’s making me feel desperately, hopelessly sad. There have been a few stories recently involving children that have made me feel physically ill, let alone the current horrendous barrage of natural disasters, human rights atrocities, war, poverty…
When you’re pregnant, you will probably be bombarded with everything from ‘it’s the greatest thing you will ever do’ to ‘say goodbye to freedom’, but rarely, if ever, will anyone tell you what becoming a parent will do to your heart. Because, basically, it will break it.
When I had Devin I suddenly had a lot more to lose in life, and, left alone with him that first night, I cried for a long time. I kept thinking, “what have I done?”
Don’t get me wrong, I certainly wasn’t regretting anything. It just felt, even at that point when I was still more in shock than love, that someone had taken a chunk of my soul and put it in another tiny, living, sentient thing. Outside of my body. Where I couldn’t protect it always.
So not only does the thought of anything bad happening to him fill me with unspeakable dread and horror, but I also feel guilty for bringing him into a world that I don’t have a lot of confidence in. It’s hard. It’s a tough place, and it’s not getting easier, and because I’m a Natural Born Worrier, I can work myself up into a real state thinking about his future.
Not long ago, I climbed into bed and ended up a hiccuping, blubbering mess as I poured my worries out to Jene. I had, as I am wont to do, put the weight of the entire world on my shoulders, and my fears were things like, “One day there won’t be enough land to sustain human food consumption”; “It’s bad enough now – what if Devin can’t afford electricity at all?”; “What if society deteriorates to a point where Devin’s kids, or their kids, their kids… have to fight for survival?”; “I feel like things are moving forward but aren’t getting better. Like everything has peaked, and now my offspring and everyone after them has to live with it”.
Jene stroked my hair and basically told me to stop being silly – They might be valid concerns, but lying awake at night worrying about them isn’t going to achieve anything. And that’s the thing about anxiety, isn’t it? You can tell a chronic worrier to stop it because it’s pointless, and they know that, but they can’t stop it.
If I could sum it up in an unavoidably schmaltzy way… It’s like everyone I’ve loved has a place in my heart, but Devin… he is my heart. A part of not just me, but Jene too, and we can’t keep it safely inside – it roams free.
It’s incredibly hard to describe, incredibly wonderful, and incredibly heartbreaking.