Sunday, February 26, 2012

A Little Less Alone… and a Little More

First, I need to thank you all for your comments. It's amazing to know there are others out there and it helps more than you know. Still, I'm finding myself in the midst of a bout of depression that I've had a hard time shaking and this time, for the first time, I'm choosing not to find myself a new therapist.

This was a hard decision for me, but when I've spoken to therapists in the past they've always — ALWAYS without fail — felt the need to pathologize my desire to remain childfree. It's because my mother was a cold workaholic who didn't hug me enough. It's because of my low self-esteem. It's because my marriage is somehow unhealthy. It's because of my father's alcoholism. It's never simply because having children is not for me. It's always a symptom of some greater mental illness and I can't even begin to cope with that right now. Sure, these things may have contributed to my decision in that they've contributed to who I am, but I hate approaching the topic as if something's wrong with me.

The cruel irony is that a big part of my current depression is wrestling with my choice and coming to terms with it being my forever choice. This in the midst of all my closest friends having children or, in the case of the latest friend, going through the process of adoption. It's about my desire to fit in, my guilt for not liking children outside of a controlled setting, and not wanting that life for myself. Of course, if I wish I wanted children I must secretly want them, so why am I denying myself this? I don't need a therapist to make me feel even more like there's something wrong with me.

Additionally, I feel, more now than ever, that my femininity is part of what's being judged. It isn't friends but family in this case. As a women entering my late 30s, what am I if I'm not a mother? I see the discomfort in peoples' eyes when I tell them I have no children as they presume some sort of catastrophe or infertility problem. I can feel them deflate and become uncomfortable in a way they really didn't do before. I stay chipper, I talk about my niece or my friends' kids who I'm close with. But there's always an air of "oh, you poor thing…"

This is, of course, my childfree blog, so I'm focusing on the childfree component in my current bout with depression. The childfree issue isn't the only one contributing here; I've been stressed about starting my own business and my dying father, his dying brother, and my tense relationship with my in-laws all contribute to me being less than 100% happy 100% of the time, and that's not taking into consideration my Seasonal Affective Disorder and general brain chemistry. There's a lot there, but I can just see, as has happened in the past, my therapist focusing on the kids issue to the exclusion of all else. Or my weight… that was a fun round with *that* therapist, who blamed my fat for every thing that ever went on in my life. But I digress…

I can't deal with a therapist doing that again. I can't spend an hour each week talking about how broken I am while ignoring the elephant in the room, which is awful because I'm in a situation where I feel like I might need to go back on medication to break free from this funk. But for now, journaling helps. Hearing from all of you who say my story strikes a chord: that helps. I'll make it through this.