On August 27, I decided I was done with binge eating. I knew how much it hurt me to binge, not only emotionally but physically. It hurt everywhere. And if it could hurt someone as big as me, I didn't want to even imagine the impact it would have on the little sesame seed-sized baby inside me.
And the sesame seed grew to a lentil, the lentil to a blueberry, and so on - all the way up to the size of a small pumpkin.
And then, the pumpkin was born.
On May 6, 2013, I gave birth to my son, and for days after, I was in a euphoric state. Things were not perfect, but they felt as close as could be right now, and I was at peace with everything. I had my support system in place for reaching out to in case of postpartum depression, which my midwife strongly suggested given my mental health history. But really, everything had been going so smoothly - I was surprisingly well-rested for the mother of a newborn, and the most stressful things I had to deal with (overwhelmed by family, and Noah's bris ceremony) were all over before I knew it.
On May 10, I got an e-mail from the head of a search committee for a teaching position I had applied for, asking if I would be able to interview for the job. It was the first interview I'd been granted in nearly a year, and my heart soared. As happy as I am with so many aspects of my life, there is definitely a giant void where satisfaction with my career ought to be. I miss teaching. I miss using the French language skills I worked so hard for so long to perfect.
So, I researched the school. I researched their basic French program, and the faculty/staff I would be working with. I researched the city. And I refreshed myself on my own history, reviewing my curriculum vitae and thinking about how to answer possible interview questions in French, should they ask.
On May 16, I interviewed. It was via Skype, and I was incredibly nervous - first, because I hadn't had an interview in nearly a year; second, because I'd never done a Skype interview before; and third, because getting this position would change everything for us. The pressure was incredible.
Right now, Matt is on paternity leave for about four more weeks, and I'm out of work. We can't afford for me to stay home on just Matt's salary, but we can't afford a good daycare either. We're already using state aid for medical expenses; we should also qualify for food stamps, it's just a matter of getting down to the office and filling out the paperwork. I'm not ashamed to do what I have to for my family - I'm not too proud to ask for help. But still, my heart aches. I want to be able to give Noah everything he needs - a nice home, healthy food, clean clothes. I know how horrible kids can be, and I don't want anyone making fun of him for not having what some other kids might have.
I gave my all in the interview, and hung up feeling confident. This was it. And I tried not to get too excited or count any chickens before they hatched, but looking online at possible apartments felt so wonderful - a considerably bigger apartment that wouldn't be much more expensive than we pay now, and with the better salary and Matt able to be a stay-at-home dad, it would be a wonderful life.
I went to bed hopeful, kissing my sweet baby on the forehead and fantasizing about what life would be like without some of the financial/career worries that have kept me up at night since August 27.
On May 17, Matt left before sunrise to drive with his family down for his brother's college graduation. Starting at 10 a.m. (8 a.m. in the university's time zone), I began compulsively checking my e-mail. Every five or ten minutes, I'd push to refresh the page, waiting for the news I knew was coming. I tried distracting myself - Noah and I did laundry, we relaxed in the rocking chair, I nursed him and changed him, we took a nap. And nothing, all day.
Finally, around 4 p.m., a generic e-mail from the school arrived in my inbox:
Interview results have been reviewed carefully and after considerable deliberation, the number of candidates has been narrowed. Unfortunately, your application was not one selected for further consideration at this time. We appreciate your interest in employment at University...I clutched Noah to my chest and started sobbing. I cried and cried, then put him in his crib, went to the kitchen, and ate until I felt sick.
262 days binge-free, and this is how it ended.
All of a sudden, the urge for sick comfort came back, and I gave into it without thinking for even a second. The negative thoughts flooded back as well. You're a failure. You're not good enough. You can't provide for your family. You screwed up when you left California. You'll never get a great job again. Your son deserves better. Your boyfriend deserves better. You have absolutely nothing right now, you're fat and gross and unemployed and completely broke.
I stopped eating, and went back to get Noah out of his crib. If he is in my arms, then my hands are busy, and I am not eating. I laid down in bed with him, and contemplated admitting what I had done to Matt. I was so ashamed - not only was I afraid to tell him I didn't get the job and we were back at square one, but he was so proud of me for keeping the binges under control while I was pregnant ... I didn't want to let him down.
I told him. And he understood, and comforted me as best as he could while being out of state. When he gets home, we'll hold each other, and he'll let me cry as much as I need to in order to get the weight of all the feelings off my chest. And then we'll work on figuring out what our next step is.
I'm not going to hurt myself any more than I have with overeating. And I'm absolutely not going to hurt Noah, not in a million years. But right now, I'm aching very deeply. This isn't postpartum depression, I don't think - it's entirely situational. It still hurts, though, and with my hormones out of whack still, I'm sure I'm taking it much harder than usual.
I always have a hard time remembering that even though sometimes it feels impossible, in the end, it's all going to be okay.