Don’t comfort me please - I'm good
I completed my first ever triathlon yesterday. Instead of being tired last night, I couldn’t sleep for excitement because I was still hovering somewhere above cloud 99. The baby obligingly didn’t sleep either, and fed for what felt like the whole night. During the triathlon I laughed a lot, shouting and receiving nothing but encouragement from volunteers, other triathletes and passers-by (the lying people shouting “you’ve nearly made it” from about an hour in did start to irritate me). I sang “don’t think twice, it’s alright” over and over again, counted intermittently until I forgot what number I was on, frequently tried not to throw up, and cried. And I’m REALLY annoyed about the crying. I didn’t cry at the overwhelming welling up feeling of having finally completed it, no. I cried because some very silly person tried to comfort me for having come last. I blurted out something about not having had much opportunity to train lately. (Why did I feel I needed to excuse myself?) I didn’t mention that I’d had a baby 4 months previously. That would have provoked a dump of some other misplaced emotion from the woman I’m sure. It was so deflating, and it reminds me of the even sillier person who tried to comfort me because I was going to need a caesarean section after 3 days of induction, which also made me cry. And when my midwife tried to comfort me about needing to bottle feed the baby sometimes because I wasn’t producing enough milk.*The midwife at my ante-natal course had told us not to have too high expectations about giving birth – that we might need an epidural for the pain but we mustn’t punish ourselves. Well I needed not one but two of the buggers and at no point did I feel bad about it. Rather, embarrassed that I needed the toilet straight afterwards and had to negotiate several corners while attached to a trolley full of drips, with numbed legs. Every woman I’ve spoken to since has prefaced “I had to have a caesarean” with “unfortunately”, like sad automatons.

It’s a horrible, insidious thing when you are actually feeling great, and heroic, and someone unwittingly programs a notion of failure into you. It might be a form of failed empathy; it may be an odd type of competitiveness, but I want to resist it in the future because I would hate to look back on the two most amazing experiences I’ve had this year with anything but joy.

*Very likely not true, but now he’s used to bottles and does often want one to get to sleep at night.


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