“I had finally reached the point where it no longer mattered what other people thought—what I thought became more important.” ~Holly Whitaker
I do not wake up at 3 am with nausea, but instead, I wake up at 6am with nausea.
Morning sickness usually dissolves during the second trimester of pregnancy, but not in my case. I’m shocked I ever put up with hangovers for so long because this sucks. Morning sickness is the closest thing to a hangover I can think of except you know your body is growing a human and not fighting off ethanol, so there is some kind of honor badge you wear knowing you’re actually producing life instead of slowly draining your own. And unlike having a hangover, I can put on my “sea bands” (motion sickness pressure point wrist bands) and head to the kitchen for avocado toast to ground my stomach.
This is a big morning. We’re going to see our baby at the doctor. I shimmy into the only pair of lululemons I feel comfortable in at this point and mentally prepare for the ultrasound—for another peak into this life inside of me.
As a person who works hard to build and control most aspects of her life, knowing there is a little human inside of me growing without much conscious effort on my part, feels almost too good to be true.
I still worry.
Before each appointment instead of learning how to transform my nervousness into excitement, I just get nervous. My chest flutters. What have I done now to mess this up? Is something from my past creeping in to steal my joy like I always knew it would? But no. I am wrong again. And there he is, bigger than last month with an even stronger heartbeat (160!). It is always all right. Hanging here in the universe, we’re always all right.
I’m sure I’ll learn how to trust more and more as the pregnancy progresses—as I transition from Maiden to Mother, I will have to let myself trust more. I’m already more assertive, compassionate and more willing to get the job done.
After our appointment, the day unfolds with regular things in our Winter Garden life. Michael practices music for the new show in our bedroom while I write and read trying to pump out some kind of purpose even though I still don’t quite know what that looks like.
Around 5pm I decide I want to wander, so I do what most of suburbia does in this case: I drive to Bed, Bath and Beyond next to World Market. Because this is what I used to do when I was living in Dacula, GA and couldn’t sleep. I was a consumer. Even as a window shopper sometimes it feels good just to wander and imagine what lamps or shower curtains might appear in your home.
Living in another country will take your consumerism from you though whether you like it or not. There are not big shops that have everything in one spot. The shopping carts are smaller, and when they are all out of ground beef or spinach, they mean they are all out in the whole town.
I step through aisles of bed things hoping to find something for the baby. It’s starting to feel like us. Like the two of us doing things together. Two lives in one walking through florescent lighting. And now more than ever Michael and I are a team. So it’s really like the three of us. And as Glennon Doyle says about she, Craig and Chase, “we are a braid”.
It is dark as I leave the busy parking lot across from Target. I roll my windows down with the comfort of knowing I did not make any purchases but am still fulfilled by a familiar consumer experience. I pass the amber glow of windows through our neighborhood as evening carries on. Each has its own secret. Each its own world revolving in a lit up box. Every few garages are left open and lit up like a stage showing clutter and comfortable guests in plastic chairs. I love how familiar Florida is for this reason. I pass one garage with three men sitting at a plastic table. This is their party for the night: a plastic table full of liquor and an ashtray that will most likely need to be changed out at least once over the next few hours.
I used to sit at many tables like this. Sitting in garages. Sitting, smoking, drinking and talking in garages all night. Some of the deepest conversation are held in garages—a beautiful place for a dreamer who doesn’t want to see reality, or for one who has seen too much reality. In that case I guess they are in their version of paradise. At least it feels that way. I know it did to me at one time.
“The answer [in recovery] was to heal all those things that made it so desperately uncomfortable to be in my skin, so I wouldn’t want to do those things to myself. The answer was to learn to love and respect myself so much, I didn’t want or need to do the harmful things anymore.” (Holly Whitaker, Quit Like a Woman)
As I walk from Maiden to Mother and learn to mother myself, I rebuild interactions with others. From the ground up, I see the relationships in my life clearly. I’m not afraid to be disliked.
If first feminist perspective is not what do they think of me, but what do I think of them, then, there a lot of things I need to start embracing from my own view point.
So here is a list of things I’m not putting up with anymore:
1) I’d rather keep self respect than be “nice”. (thought credit to Emma Zeck, @emma_zeck)
I’m not afraid of being a person who says “back off” when someone is being inappropriate. I don’t think sexual harassment is funny. I don’t think aggressiveness is funny. I don’t think backhanded compliments and degrading passive aggressive behaviors are funny. I’m tired of swallowing everyone else’s behavior just to keep this appearance of “nice”. I’m not afraid of being disliked, and I’m finally at the point where I don’t need you to like me to feel better about myself.
2) Feeling morally responsible for takers.
People who only give with the intention of getting something back. We all know someone like this. They get let down if we give them the wrong reaction. They come to us fishing for something, but are never clear as to what they are looking for. It’s a shady situation, and we typically get the feeling that our genuine reaction isn’t what they want.
I don’t feel like faking it just to make them feel better. I don’t want to be that person for them anymore, so I’d like to add that I don’t want to be around fake people in general. I’m not fake. Small talk actually hurts me to be honest. So no more fake friends.
3) Not letting other people invade my piece of mind. Unfortunately, being pregnant means a lot of people feel they can say whatever they want about your finances, your body, your food intake and your weight. I don’t know why this all of a sudden opens the flood gates for people to say inappropriate things, but it does. And it happens to be the ultimate test for setting boundaries.
There is a longer list somewhere in me, but that feels like a separate post. I’m happy. Stationary life is proving to be exactly what I needed, and well, I’m going to be a mother. I already know how to access compassion and love. My soft edges have been so soft for the majority of my life, but now I can finally add in some assertiveness. I’ve always had this in me, but now I have even more reason to let my body take over and guide me into this next phase of life. Feeling grateful.
For more on the creative sobriety journey check out my facebook page The OAM, or follow me on Instagram @jacqui.hathaway.
You can also find me as a guest on last week’s episode of The Unruffled Podcast.
*Cover image by Karen Cairns.