It's 7:05 pm.
I'm in my pajamas in bed. My sweatpants are pulled up high over my bellybutton, because, even alone, I'm uncomfortable with how my stomach feels and looks. It's... loose. It's like pancake batter. Lumpy and mushy. I stuff the top of my pants with the mushy batter and then stuff the pants under the covers. I finished dinner 45 minutes ago. I had leftover rice, soft boiled eggs, and roasted brussel sprouts. I ate at the dining room table and looked at my phone. I pretend I'm not going to look at my phone during meals, but I do. I did the dishes and swept the kitchen floor and then turned off all the lights except my bedside lamps.
Melby is asleep. Every now and again, I look at her on the baby monitor, not because I'm worried, but just because I love seeing her little body flopped there in total peaceful resignation.
I google "best movies on Netflix" and filter out anything that sounds scary/ too serious/ political/ sad. I just want to not be alone. I want a movie to keep me company in bed, something to pass the hours between her bedtime and my bedtime, something that doesn't require too much of me.
There is not a lack of time. Maybe the lack of time or energy to get things done that comes with motherhood is later. I am not working. Or maybe even if I were, time wouldn't be the time. Time isn't my thing. I have plenty of time.
I have too much time. To sit and spin in circles in my brain.
Motherhood is lonely. SHIT motherhood is lonely.
People said it to me beforehand. They said, motherhood can be lonely and boring. I, of course, thought I understood what they meant.
I did not.
I took it at face value. Motherhood must be lonely and boring, because you are in a house with small creature(s), who, while communicative and precious in their own way, just don't offer the most endlessly stimulating interactions. Because you are quite physically tethered to them for a time.
But, now that I'm in it, I see it quite differently. I was almost always in this bed at this time. I stopped going out long ago. I became a homebody, always choosing Netflix and a snuggle with Nic over anything wild. It is not the 7:05 pancake batter in bed that is lonely and boring. It is not missing out on whatever events I'm constantly saying no to, reminding people that Melby goes to bed at 6, and most of the time, I'm home by myself.
It's the feeling that this is all I am. And then the deep, deep sadness that "only" giving all my love and energy to the most beautiful creature I've ever met, whom I also created with my body, is somehow not enough. Feeling like what I still actually think is the most important job ever is so unfulfilling during the day-to-day, THAT is motherfucking lonely. Waiting for nap times to start so I don't feel guilty about spacing out for a moment is lonely and then waiting for her to wake up, because I just want to hug her again is lonely. Just moving between the micro stages of each day is lonely and breathing a sigh of relief when it's sweatpants time is lonely and then staring at the monitor because I miss her is lonely. Feeling dissatisfied with each moment is lonely. Wondering what makes you feel valuable is lonely. Having people tell you you're valuable but not feeling it one iota yourself is lonely. Wondering if you ever feel better is lonely. Being alone is lonely. Being with other people and still feeling lonely is lonely.
Sometimes, when I'm writing, I flicker back to the girl, who wrote the postpartum piece about crying in the late afternoon each day as Nic worked in the backyard. I cry much, much less these days, but I am beginning to realize I'm still that girl. The one, who feels hopeful and capable and satisfied each morning as I nurse my baby girl and make coffee with her and look out at the day with her in my arms and do my small collection of sun salutations with her smiling face beaming back up at me. The one, who does the errands, checks off the list, keeps up communications, exercises, hits all the marks, and then still, come afternoon, spirals into a pit of existential questions that just can't seem to be answered.
I hadn't seen my therapist in over three months, and when I told her that I had fallen into a serious depression and now I was okay, she asked what I did to become okay. I said something about food and moving and whatever else, and then, she said, maybe we should consider that you're not fully recovered from that and that's okay.
I do feel better. On so many levels. I feel connected to my baby. I feel wildly in love with her. I no longer feel like I made a mistake in having a child. I feel baseline (for me) in control of my body. I'm sleeping. I have good relationships. I get time to myself. I am beginning to feel physically strong again.
But I am still so lonely.
I am lonely when Nic is gone and I'm lonely when he's here. I'm lonely when Melby's asleep and I'm lonely when she's awake.
I am lonely and bored.
I'm not asking for a solution. I'm not asking for a claim that I'm good or valuable or doing the right thing.
I am telling you that this is the hardest thing I have ever done, because I am sitting with myself and it's not my body that makes me unrecognizable. It's the feeling that maybe I need a whole fucking lot more and maybe this is everything and maybe everything is not enough and maybe I'll never love myself and maybe if I don't figure it out really fast, I'll never be able to teach my baby girl to be different than me. And maybe it's the feeling that I believe it won't always be this way, that one day I'll walk tall, with my shoulders back, and own the fact that I am a motherfucking badass and I do actually know it. But that time feels impossible to get to. And I don't know how to get there. And I'm scared that I'll be stuck under the covers, hating myself and feeling alone forever.
That I'll LET myself stay here. That is scary.
That took 40 minutes.
I don't know if I feel better. But for me, there is solace in just saying it.
I am lonely and I'm terrified that I'll let myself stay here forever.