I was born via emergency c-section. After a long and unsuccessful labor, my mom remembers watching the monitor as my heart rate slowed with each of her fruitless contractions. Back in those days (or at least in my mom’s case) the OBGYN went whole-hog knock the mama unconscious for c-section. Upon administering the medication to do this, my mom’s blood pressure dropped through the floor. The last thing she remembers about my birth is someone yelling, “GET THE CRASH CART.”
I entered the world blue from oxygen deprivation, with a wildly elongated cone head and a 15 inch circumference skull, making it quite obvious I was not built for vaginal delivery.
During our more surreal fights in my teenage years, my mother accused me of hating her because of some primitive pre-birth memories in which I remembered her body had tried to kill me.* This was also the reason she thought I smoked — my first breath was associated with escaping certain death, and inhaling the burn reassured me of my own survival. She also once suggested that since I had never been able to save myself from the womb, I had learned helplessness and was always waiting for someone to cut open my misery and rescue me.
For the record, these three accusations are on my Top Ten List of crazy assed mean shit my mom has ever said to me. There’s only like ten, and about a million awesome, supportive, insightful things she’s said over the course of my life. But the primary purpose of this blog is not to tell you about my mother, good or bad. It’s to confess embarrassing stuff. So here we go.
Despite my top-of-my-brain understanding that pre-birth memories are basically horseshit, the lizard-part-of-my-brain believes it Bible-style. When I get stressed, I stop breathing. Each sip of breath gets shallower and shallower. I take huge breaths, and the oxygen is useless. I am on Mount Everest, and the air is hardly air at all. Top-of-my-brain spends lots of energy insisting I not freak out: no matter what it feels like, I’m certainly not going to die of oxygen deprivation, living my life at sea level as I do.
I broke our family. Top-of-my-brain knows it was not only the right thing, but the only option I could live with. Lizard-brain keeps holding my breath, waiting for an adult to tell me what I did was OK, that I’m OK and loved and forgiven.
In those DYSFUNCTIONAL FAMILY DYNAMIC flow charts, I am perennially the child needing protection. Which is laughable, since in reality I am the 38-year-old-grown-assed-woman. In reality, I am the person who can say if I’m OK or not. If I seek approval for what I’ve done, that is me voluntarily putting myself back in a helpless, dysfunctional place, where my safety and rightness with the world are dependant on someone else. Screw that, Jack, etc. It has to be me who says if I’m OK or not — this is the requirement if I am going to approach normal.
The need for someone to tell me I’m OK is overfuckingwhelming. I can hardly breathe, I need someone to tell me it’s OK so bad. My own stamp of approval is so newly minted, it has zero weight. The pull to go back to the way things were is like gravity — normal and comforting and disturbingly seductive. I’m breathing all the time, telling myself I’m OK. I can’t get any air.
*It didn’t occur to me until writing that sentence, she might have been harboring deep-seated anger at me, since my birth basically tried to kill her.
I spoke to my dad on the phone yesterday. He sticks mostly to concrete thoughts now, perhaps because they are easier to articulate. We talk about golf, although technically he ‘went to the place…. and hit the thing,’ and I know, since the only thing my dad hits are golf balls, that this must be what we are discussing. He did tease my mom while on the phone, so it’s not like he’s totally lost his ability to discuss abstract thoughts. But I am starting to understand his request for me to be myself is his last wish, if only because it’s probably the last one he’s able to articulate.
And so, I am planning on BlogHer this summer. There are three options.
1. I can go Thursday in a small group (50 people per class or whatever). This is the cheapest, smallest, and least aggressive out-there behavior. Upside is I won’t be a freak-on-a-leash from three days of social interactions. Downside is it might be quite sad to leave before the real party starts.
2. I can go to the Friday/Saturday bonanza. This seems dangerous — two days of floating through a massive convention center with my paltry socialization skills and no buddies. There is no deodorant in the world that will save me from stinky pits in this scenario. At least the Thursday thing is smaller and I’m bound to corner some poor soul and make them be my friend.
3. I could do both and FUCK YEAH OUT THERE. This kind of seems like deciding to lose your virginity by signing up for a gang bang. On the other hand, I wouldn’t have to worry that maybe I was being a bit of a chicken.