A pregnancy cliche, perhaps, but perhaps one born of reality. I feel raw. Overexposed. Vulnerable. And not in control.

For so long, I’ve wrenched my power — my strength and my pride and my sense of self — from the paradox of voluntary vulnerability. I have turned humility into a source of pride, weakness into a form of power, by choosing the when-where-how of coming out: as crazy, as queer, as fat, as broken, as a self-injurer, as an often-crappy parent, as an entirely fucked up individual — and I demand, reclaim, respect regardless. I light my torch and expose the dark-dank-dangerous secrets, and thereby steal their power to harm me. I get naked, and live the nudist’s life, happier for my exposure — not the anti-conformist’s pseudo-uncaring defense is my aim, but the non-conformist’s carefree disregard.

But it is by my choosing. From that comes the power, the strength, the resilience.

Now, though: I feel scraped raw, denied my coverings, outed against my will. I couldn’t even tell you why: is it the increasing visibility of pregnancy? the increase of inward-loving-quiet hormones? a quirk of my always-quirky neurology? I don’t know. I only know raw, exposed, not-like, run, dark, hide. I only know the feeling of pulling armor and protection around me: the timing is not-mine, the exposure is not-mine, the experience is not-mine, so I pull away, put up barriers, protect myself.

I blog less.

I delete social media apps from my phone.

I stop tweeting.

I cry, uncontrolled, but when it happens in front of others, I cannot talk about it after.

I yell, and I yell at myself for it, feeling ever more hopeless and helpless.

Is this depression? Maybe. But it’s something more, qualitatively different if not quantifiable. An in-down-bury-safe that turns sour when I and because I resist it. But give in — give up? — and… what? Stop writing? Stop doing? Stop being the who-I-have-made-myself-to-be? Stop being who-I-understand-myself-to-be? Return to desperately unwanted unproductivity? Declare the gender essentialists correct, and do naught but gestate? Or — scary hard oh gods not again — adjust to this way of being, come to know this new who-I-am, and… live. Practice the kindness and compassion for myself — scary hard! — I’d wish for others. Circle down, adjust expectations, protect the self, until, safe warm ready strong, I again step out,

strip down,

stand tall.

Yes. That.

Just… not yet.

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14 Responses to Raw

  1. Very Moving. Pregnancy is so difficult on mental illness, at least for me it was. Give yourself time to be who you are today and be ok with that person. The writer in you will return. You will find your self again. Hugs to you

  2. breathe! pregnancy is a *blessedly* torturous hell of hormones on the “average” woman, let alone a woman already balancing bipolar disorder… you. are. amazing! just keep breathing. ((hugs))

  3. *HUGS* It won’t last forever, it won’t last forever…

  4. Thank you for sharing this. You are an amazing woman!

  5. Ah love we understand. At my daughter’s school there was a mama, who is a normally a bubbly, vivacious, social woman, but who during her last pregnancy became a furtive figure, only glimpsed in shadows between the pillars of buildings. She would whisk her elder child away and vanish, and if anyone tried to engage her in converstaion they were greeted by a blank look, wild and feral, like a mama wolf, confronted in the wild. She became so insular and protective of herself and her brood, but we, as women, understood, and we learned to leave her be.
    Its two years after her birth now, and she can look back on that time and laugh about how incredibly unable to communicate she was, how deep into herself she went, and how scary the outside world seemed. But it did pass, and now she is herself again, the same self she was before the pregnancy tugged her under and she was lost, for a little while. This too shall pass. love to you.

  6. So many hugs. Want to get together and make things from fiber in silence? We could even eat mashed potatoes and asparagus…I know a good place. =)

    • Amy — Yes, definitely get together.

      Interestingly, I’m not especially introverted in person at the moment. (Though I will say I’m not a fan of the really gushing zomg-tell-me-about-your-pregnancy! thing, nor — and this is always true — the eyebrow raised, “so how ARE you, really?” thing.) It’s something about this Thing that I do here on the blog, and in a different way on Twitter, that I’m wanting to pull away from.

      But yes, please, to fiber arts and starch consumption and probably not silence. <3 It just may have to wait until I get back.

  7. I have said with each of my three pregnancies that I get so incredible insular. I feel like the mama cat, who hides in a secret drawer among the socks. I think it’s normal. It doesn’t feel good though. I think it’s part of why I don’t like pregnancy, as otherwise I am very social. Hormones are weird things.

    • Leah — I wonder why it is that it doesn’t feel good? Because it doesn’t much to me, either, though worse still when I resist it or fight against it. Do you think we just get so used to being one way, and it’s strange and possibly scary to be, fairly suddenly and dramatically, not like that?

      And yes, hormones are very weird things.

  8. Listening to yourself is so, so important. If your head and body are telling you to bury down safe for the duration, do what you need to do. We will understand and wait. <3

    P.S. I am envious of your lyricality.

  9. Our minds aren’t always our own, just as our bodies are not necessarily our own. They do things beyond our control, against our will. I sink into my reckless, wandering mind and body as often as I can; go with it, rather than fight it. I also repeat: this will not last forever, this will not last forever, this will. not. last. forever. It helps me. I love everything that’s already been said on here. <3

  10. Thank you all, truly. Your kind words have meant a lot the past couple days.

    I had some insights after I wrote this, while talking with a dear friend, about how the same phenomenon probably happened in my first full pregnancy, but manifested differently. I might write about the difference and similarities. One day…

  11. I’m late, but I’m reading and I’m thinking of you.

    Pregnancy is hard at the best of times. So I’m glad you’re doing what you need to do to feel comfortable yourself. You’re what matters most right now.

    Although, you’re actually ALWAYS what matters most.

  12. Ah Arwyn, this blogging thing is a very strange business isn’t it? Sometimes you can feel so comfortable and strong in this type of forum and other times you lie awake at night thinking what have I done, I should get up and delete my blog immediately, I need to RETREAT. Or is that just me? And then pregnancy, and later looking after an infant as well; it can really blow your blogging apart. All I can say is take it as it comes..

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