Most people are quite happy to suffer in silence, if they are sure everybody knows they are doing it

When Corrigan was in the hospital last week I found myself really angry at Mark.

You would think it might have been because I thought he was sleeping-in too long over at the Children’s House (he wasn’t) or because I did not feel that he was helping me enough with an agitated toddler ( he did help. a lot.) Or maybe because he kept timing his gas for right when the nurses would waltz into the room (he did) but that was not it either.

I was angry because he was eating.

Every time he would walk into the room with food, even though he was bringing me food too (despite my protests that I was not hungry), I would feel my blood boil a bit.

A few minutes after they wheeled Corrigan into surgery, Mark was hungry. He wanted lunch. I was so mad that he could even think about eating let alone be serious about going 7 floors down to the cafeteria. How was I supposed to hear Corrigan screaming “Mama!” if I was on floor 1? ( he doesn’t even call out for me by name yet, but you never know!)

But I did it. I forced myself to leave the 7th floor, stand in line and order food that I did not want, and then anxiously counted the seconds as Mark chewed…and chewed…and chewed….and then, as if all of that eating because it is necessary CRAP, was not enough, he stopped at the vending machines on the way out to grab an ice cream bar. It felt like it took another ten minutes for that stupid vending machine process to complete.

The entire time my brain was screaming” who eats when their baby is in surgery? WHO?”

See, I have a problem with intentional suffering.

When Corrigan is in the hospital, no matter how hungry I am I will tell Mark that I do not want anything to eat.  He knows better which is why he brings me food anyway.  I will pack little microwave oatmeal cups or something and tell him that if I really needed something I would just have that.

I do not feel like I deserve good things when things are not perfect. I will suffer to the point of ridiculousness to make my point. Which serves NO POINT.

My baby is suffering? Then I will suffer too.  The car insurance is due? Well, I do not care if we have food assistance…I will just live on coffee, thanks.  If someone asks us to go out to eat, the bill on them, I will not go.  I feel like if I cannot pay my bills then I should not be treating myself to restaurant food even if it is on someone else’s dime.

I always swore that no matter how much money my husband made, I would not be that wife. The cliche spouse that spends way too much on shoes and hides the credit card bill from her hard-working man. My goal has always been to never be a burden.

So even when Mark was making enough money that I only balanced the checkbook monthly…I would not spend money on clothes for myself. I would tell him, when he would plead for me to buy new pants, that I was fine. That I had plenty.  Or that I didn’t deserve to have new clothes at this weight…I shouldn’t be rewarded for being a size 16.  If he bought me clothes, I would take them back.

I found some strange strange pleasure in denying myself things. Some of it is probably a power issue. I like knowing that I can do without…push myself to see how long I can wear a pair of shoes or pants.  One pair of pants I wore before I was pregnant, somehow managed to keep wearing through the entire 9 months of pregnancy, and wore them still last week, until they finally gave in and exploded at the seams.   I was upset that I could not make them last 4 years. Four years would have been enough for me.

Maybe.

I would be an amazing anorexic.  I cannot imagine, once I decided to simply quit eating, how much pleasure I would get out of ignoring hunger.  Each day that passed would be such a validation of my inner strength. I would be dead in a year.

I am wearing a pair of sandals, right this moment, that I bought the day after Corrigan was transported to Hopkins by helicopter at 4 days of age.  We arrived with only a duffel bag of clothing and found ourselves in suddenly 101 degree heat and only jeans in our bags. We made a trip to Target where I was FORCED to buy three new summer outfits and a pair of sandals.

I was, even in my adrenalin fueled state of Mama Bear mode, still trying to hang onto that sick, strange desire to prove that I can do without…only Mark was not having it…and I found myself the proud owner of new clothes.

I have not purchased a single piece of new clothing since and Corrigan will be 2 years old in three weeks.  I have picked up a few $2.00 tshirts from Goodwill but nothing brand new. I told myself, in a tiny whisper, that if I had to have new things, then I will make them last forever.

Yes, my new goal is forever. Reasonable, no?

Only clothing from Target lasts three machine washes…but the sandals? Amazing. Except, they are not amazing to look at. I would post a photo but you would have to bleach your eyes.  I have put a lot of miles on these shoes, back and forth from the hospital as my baby lay between life and death and the sweet respite of the Children’s House a block away.

I have walked miles in these shoes throughout my own home. Comforting a colicky baby, teaching him to walk, up and down the stairs to do laundry…nearly the entire winter, I wore these sandals and nothing else.  I rarely left the house so why not?

Part if the reason I hang onto these stupid, stinky shoes is sentimental. These were the shoes I was wearing when ____________ happened, or _____________this was diagnosed. But mainly it is because I feel like I didn’t deserve them back then and I certainly don’t now.

Only now, someone wants to buy me new sandals. For Mother’s Day. Every fiber of who I am wants to say, “I’m fine, thanks…these are perfectly wearable!” however part of me is soooooo tired of intentional suffering. I feel like these last two years have been full of unintentional suffering and that maybe, just maybe, I am worthy of a little bit of happiness after all. Maybe I should allow myself a nice meal, a new pair of shoes or a roll of paper towels! ( I have a weird motto that if you are poor you shouldn’t be buying paper products…paper towels are for middle-class people!) <–stupid, right?

Maybe Corrigan’s new start can be mine too?  It is going to be hard.  Really hard. But it is worth trying.  Maybe I will buy a pack of paper plates and see if I hyperventilate. Baby steps, you know.

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