If you're a regular reader, you know I have shared a little bit about my past struggles with self confidence and depression. I battled a serious darkness in my teenage years that spread to my early twenties. From around the age of 10 or 12, I can remember thinking I wasn't as good as everyone else. I wasn't as pretty or as smart. My clothes didn't fit right. My hair didn't lay right. I always kind of felt like I was on the outskirts. I had friends who liked me, but I still felt like an outsider even among them. As I got into my teen years, the twilight that loomed over my self-esteem settled into complete darkness. One I couldn't really see any way out of.
Through the darkness, I would hear a voice. One that would whisper and hiss. One that would spit words at me that cut like a knife. "You're not good enough", she would say. "You'll never be good enough." "You're horrible. You're disgusting. You don't deserve happiness." Any time I started to even think about trying to be a normal person, there she was. Screaming at me. Telling me how terrible I was. Telling me how nothing would ever work out for me. How I was destined to live a life of misery - because I deserved it.
And I believed her. For years. When friends would shake it on the dance floor, I would hang in the corner because she told me I'd just look stupid if I tried to fit in. When boys tried to smile at me in the hallway, I'd turn and look around for the prettier girl who must be behind me. Surely, it's not me they're looking at. The Voice was very clear about the value I should place on myself - which was none. And for a long time, I didn't. She had convinced me that I was sub-par, and so that's how I treated myself.
But then, the years of darkness began to take their toll. I began to crave the light. "You don't deserve the light," she'd tell me. "The light is not for you." Only then did I begin to question her. Of course I deserve the light! I am a person. I have worth. I have value. I began to rebel against her. Little by little, step by step. When she would hiss into my ear how fat I was, I refused to listen. "I'm not fat! I'm curvy!" When she would tell me how I would never find happiness, I told her to shove it. She didn't give up, but then neither did I. It took me years - from about 18 years old till about 26 - of fighting tooth and nail, but I defeated her. She didn't disappear, but she retreated back into the shadows, her tail between her legs. Every now and then, she'd try to pipe up with more of her nonsense, but I shut her down immediately. I've lived Voice free for a while now. And it has been wonderful. Finally, living the life I knew I always deserved. The life I fought for. My life run on my decisions - not the orders from a twisted sense of self.
But, she's come back. When Kenley died, the Voice slithered back into my ear, hissing "It's all your fault." "Everyone will forget about her". "You deserved this!". Even though I was weak from grief, I readied for battle against her. I was not going to let her take over again. I did a pretty good job keeping her at bay - until I got pregnant again. And now, she's louder than ever. She tells me over and over that this baby won't make it. She tells me I don't deserve a child - that I'll never have one. With every body twinge, every moment I'm not nauseous, every second of every day, she's there. In the back of my head. Her sinister smile revealing a mouth of dripping fangs. She will not rest until I am broken.
Now, I know my enemy. I know how to fight her - and fight her I will. But, there is one big difference from what she has said in the past and some of what she is saying now. Some of it actually has validity. The first time she crept into my head, I was not the disgusting person she made me believe I was. I was a great girl who had not yet discovered how to be great. I triumphed over her lies because I realized they were just that - lies. This time, though, it's different. Not all of what she says are lies. Not all can be waved off or dismissed as rubbish. For the last eight months, I have lived in a world where babies die. I have seen too much to turn a blind eye to this reality. When she wraps her claws around my heart and tells me my baby isn't going to make it to birth, it sends an unimaginable chill of terror straight through me. A fear I can't shake. A fear that refuses to be soothed. I can rise up against her telling me I am undeserving or unworthy because I know that's not true. I can steady myself against the blows of guilt and fault because I have been able to work through those lies and accept them as such. But, I can't do a damn thing with the fear. It washes over me in waves, knocking me to my knees.
I am afraid - pure and simple. I am afraid of losing my baby tomorrow. Of losing my baby next week, or next month, or the day before my scheduled delivery. You can reassure me all you want. You can tell me you have a good feeling about things. That you are praying for me. That you know everything will work out. But, that isn't going to help. I've lived in a harsh and terrible reality since February - one that won't let me be unafraid no matter what people tell me. A world where 25% of babies don't make it to birth. A world where by first baby was one of them. Why not this one too?
I'm not telling you this to be negative. I'm not telling you this so you will boost my confidence with kind words of support. I'm telling you this because I want you to know that this pregnancy is not the joyous romp in the meadow many pregnancies are. I want you to know that I am scared out of my mind. Every day. And that it takes every bit I have to keep myself from spinning out of control - including the bits that are already ripped to shreds with grief. All of my energy goes towards silencing The Voice - to reaching towards the sunlight when she tries to plunge me into darkness - to trying (yet failing) to not be afraid.
All I can really do is take it one day at a time. Today, my baby is alive. Today, I am pregnant. Today, I am one day closer to holding my live child in my arms. Who knows what tomorrow will bring. And although The Voice wants to tell me what she thinks about tomorrow - I am doing my very best not to listen. And it is never easy.