My counselor is very fond of telling me to increase my self-care. Read: my counselor is sick to death of reminding me that self-care is important. The trouble is, self-care usually feels selfISH to me.
- Eat better (try to control emotional binge eating, talk it out instead)
- Exercise (snort)
- Journal (does this count)
- Sleep Hygiene (get what I need, not what I want)
- Do things I enjoy
- Get OUT of the house
- Say NO more often
It’s that last one I have a really hard time with. Saying no. I feel so obligated so often, and I run headlong into situations that will inevitably upset me and derail self-care in the name of loyalty and being trustworthy. I feel, not just obligation, but guilt and expectation to take on these commitments and I pay for them emotionally.
I’ve been standing in one of these landmines for months. My sister-in-law’s baby. There’s a lot of expectation around it. Mostly from myself. I EXPECT myself to be the grown up I am and participate in the family joy. I EXPECT myself to hide my hope/fear/anguish and do for her what I’d want done for me. I EXPECT myself to do as I said I would and suck it up, let her have her time to shine and bask in the excitement she is entitled to without worry about Poor Little Infertile Me and my extreme emotions.
It’s significant I didn’t fess up to my counselor until last week that I’ve been helping plan sister-in-law’s baby shower for a few weeks now. I’m in charge of invitations and decorations. I’m a graphic designer. I LIKE doing the invitations. I just can’t read or consider them very much… I’m detached, like I would be for a paying client. Day-of, decorations may be harder. I’m trying really hard NOT to think about the shower I’d hope for were I ever pregnant. Further, I’m now essentially co-hosting this shindig so I won’t be able to escape, leave early. I’ll have to plaster that smile on my face and play games, coo over sweet clothes, and endure being the literal and figurative elephant in the room.
Will knowing that a short ten days later will be the time frame of our first IUI?
Sister-in-law’s party isn’t the only landmine though. Of course not. Remember, there are FOUR babies in my circle of existence being baked right now. Number one was born just last week. Fortunately, I don’t have a strong relationship with that cousin, so expectations were low for participation beyond Facebook stalking and good wishes. Sister-in-law is due about the same time as another cousin is though, and in the mail over the weekend came an invitation to HER (this other cousin’s) baby shower.
I wanted to throw a temper tantrum. I’m sure I’m invited out of courtesy. A nasty part of me thinks I’d be just another present so why not invite the Fat Infertile Non-Mother!? But what do I say? How do I get out of it? I didn’t go to her sister’s shower three years ago. And yet, I’m on the committee sending this cousin an invitation to the shower I’m throwing. Does that make me obligated? Worse yet, it’s *the very next week* after sister-in-law’s party. Great. Back to back displays of women who can do what I can’t. Of women who I know have their own struggles but for whom I’m jealous of.
Nasty, ugly, jealousy.
And… if I don’t go to these parties, what right do I have to hope they’d celebrate with me if HOPE prevails and God smiles on us to gift us with a baby next fall?
Is it possible that all this nasty jealousy will damage my karma and cause God to deem me unworthy of traditional motherhood?
What the hell do I do? I know that my counselor will say that I should just RSVP with a kind decline and mail a gift. That feels like a plan to me. But when I show up to sister-in-law’s the week before… it just feels disingenuous. I always want to explain myself to others when I think I’m disappointing them, but I don’t owe this cousin (or most anyone) an explanation. Were I to say what I want to say, I just succeed in making them feel awkward and I risk pity. Maybe I WANT to be pitied? “Hi there! I know that you’re coming to the party I’m helping to throw, but I can’t go to yours. You see, I’m infertile and jealous as fuck over your youth and breeding capability. Sitting with you and all the other Moms while you talk about birth plans, nursery decorations, vaccinations, and cloth diapers… well, I’d just be a third (twentieth?) wheel. I don’t think I could survive the knives in my chest two weekends in a row. Please put this Target gift card to good use!”
Social landmines indeed.