Wait…I’m Happy? Now what?!?

Me and my Boo Boo

Italian women bitch. We bitch, bitch, bitch. We bitch and moan over things big or small. It’s a known fact that if you marry an Italian woman you’re going to spend a lifetime listening to her bitch. We bitch so much that we don’t even know we’re bitching anymore.When you don’t even know that you’re bitching is it still considered bitching? Italian women start to bitch in a way that we’re not even really bitching at you, but rather with you. (That is if you’re Italian, too, because if you’re Italian, too, most likely you are bitching as well.)

Growing up in a big Italian family with several females – great grandma, grandmas, great aunts, aunts and cousins – I’ve learned to bitch as an art form. My bitching is not merely meaningless complaints, but rather argumentative statements and points of view. I have a niche for debating people while I’m in fact bitching. Even if I don’t know what I’m talking about I just pretend like I do.

I don’t know why all Italian women bitch. I don’t know if it’s in our genes; anger and annoyance boiling the red blood flowing through our veins, or if it’s a right of passage into adulthood. It might be a little bit of both. At 19-years-old I remember making my grandma’s home-made Italian pizza bread. I had five women hovering and hollering over my shoulder to do it this way…no do it that way.

Growing up in this environment causes you to have a flight or fight mentality. When you’re making Grandma’s Italian pizza bread and listening to the “psss pss pss” here and the “psss pss pss” there, you’ll want to cry out in frustration. But as the youngest – the runt – of the litter you can’t show fear or the alphas will stomp you down.

“Get outta here!” I holler back, rolling my eyes. They’re still talking about me behind my back. It’s not really behind your back though when you can hear everything they are saying. And they want you to hear them.

See, Italian women always have a better way to do it, a better story, … it always has to be better than someone else. I’m not sure where this competitive and aggressive nature comes from. Michelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel? Al Capone, America’s best known gangster, and the single greatest symbol of the collapse of law and order in the United States during the 1920s? (www.chicagohs.org/history/capone.html )

The “better than” mentality is a hard way to live. Sure there are positives to pushing yourself to do better, to be better, but in turn, that can cause many to feel that nothing is good enough. I don’t know, maybe I’m way off base here? Maybe I’m the only one who interprets that, due to my negative (or the positive spin ‘realistic’) point of view.

I’ve spent my entire life setting goals for myself that I’ve somehow managed to achieve. Even goals that I never thought were truly possible I was able to achieve. Even when other people told me that my goal wasn’t possible I still managed to succeed. I had to because I couldn’t let them tell me I was wrong or tell me I couldn’t do something that I put my mind to.

Sadly, each time I achieved my great successes I realized I still wasn’t happy. Why wasn’t I happy? What did it take to make me happy? I would try harder. I would get more.

I insisted that my husband and I MUST live in Downers Grove. There were no exceptions to that, not Lisle, not Westmont, but Downers Grove. We got our house in Downers. I still wasn’t happy.

I HAD to drive a luxury car. I would only look at Beemers or Porsches (Ha ha, fat chance!) or Mercedes. I bought my Mercedes. I still wasn’t happy.

I would ALWAYS dress to the 9s. Buy my clothes at Walmart? I don’t think so! Buy my clothes at Target? Uhhh…maybe sometimes. Buy all the latest duds at Express or Von Maur? Hellzzzz yeahhh! After racking up thousands of dollars in credit card debt I STILL wasn’t happy.

Would I EVER be happy?

Was God punishing me for my materialistic nature?

Maybe.

And I learned a valuable lesson – read my book, Concrete Boots, to learn more about the lesson that I ultimately had to learn the hard way.

I decided I was ready to have a baby. I was done with the bar scene. I was done with my materialistic nature. I was done feeling empty. I wanted more. I was ready to embark on a new chapter in my life.

Fast forward to the birth of the most ammmmaazzzzing baby in the world, my little Boo-Boo. I love this little girl. I would die for this little girl. She is so amazing to me in every way possible. I love how she has blue eyes – a sharp contrast to my chocolate brown eyes, I love how her right ear sticks out a little bit just like her Italian great-papa’s, I love how her left ear points in an elf-like manner just like her Auntie Kerry’s did when she was a baby. I love everything about my Boo.

Sadly, I didn’t magically feel this like many of my mom friends told me I would. I thought I would deliver my new baby into the world and feel so full of happiness and love and everything would be perfect and life would be grand and it would be everything that had been missing from my life. I would feel complete.

Harsh reality friends. Maybe this happened for some of my mom friends, but it didn’t happen for me. I delivered a stranger. A stranger who needed me. She needed me for everything except the air she was breathing. I felt exhausted and resentful. I felt like my baby was a stranger to me. I wondered what was wrong with me. I wondered why I was so sad. I wondered why I felt so alone. I didn’t know who to turn to or what to do. I wanted to run away to Vegas. I wanted to divorce my husband. I wanted to drown in a bottle of wine. I wanted a different life.

And then I got help. I saw a post partum specialist, I went to support groups, I talked to family and friends, and ultimately I needed to get on medication to help fix the imbalanced hormones in my body.

And then one day I woke up happy. One day I woke up and heard the birds chirping. One day I woke up and noticed the blue sky. One day I prayed to God thanking him for my beautiful daughter.

Life was good again.

I felt happy and fulfilled. I felt on top of the world. Medication did help me, but I also learned a lot of coping mechanisms in outpatient therapy that have helped me tremendously. I also met two amazing women; mothers who weren’t that different from me. Mothers who felt like I felt. I didn’t feel so alone anymore. I knew it was time to make a change – a big change.

I love being happy. But, just like a true Italian I must now bitch about being so darn happy. I’m so happy that I’m too happy! I’ve had writers block for weeks. How can I write a blog about bitching when I’m so happy that I have nothing to bitch about?

I left work thinking about this….thinking that if I’m sooo happy how am I going to write my blog? Finish my book? How am I going to drive anywhere without giving someone the finger? What if someone cuts in front of me in line? Would I still want to smack Eugene Levy, who did drop the door on me yet again the other morning? How am I going to exist as “me” if I’m no longer “me,” the crab ass Italian chick with a chip on her shoulder but this space-cadet “living on cloud 9” sunshine version of me?

And then yesterday happened. I was in the worst mood. The worst mood EVER. All day. I wanted to smack someone. I had major road rage. I was back to me. I was scared. Uh-oh. Me again?

And then I looked at the calendar. With my period just days away I almost felt happy to have PMS this month. See, I am normal now! I’m happy, I’m sad, I’m angry, I’m scared, I’m grateful, I’m frustrated….I’m blessed. I have “normal” feelings, and I’m very blessed.

3 thoughts on “Wait…I’m Happy? Now what?!?

  1. Awesome post Jen…LOVED it!!! so many woman are in denial about postpartum depression and don’t get the help they need. Thank you for sharing your story. I hope it reaches other woman that think they too are alone.

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