What is this called? When motherhood makes its presence known. Text. FaceTime. Phone call. Then and only then I realize that I am feeling this. And I wonder, what is this called? Dear God give me a word to name it! A definition, much like a diagnosis, might help me understand my condition and more importantly, I could give that word to tell others to explain my state. It seems we always need a point of reference when we are mothers to others. Let me try some words on for size.

heart·less /ˈhärtləs/ adjective. displaying a complete lack of feeling or consideration

I am not heartless, even though I have considered buying a stethoscope on Amazon to see if there is one still lurking in my chest. No, heartless is not right. Let’s try…”numb”.

numb /nəm/ adjective. deprived of the power of sensation. “my feet were numb with cold”

I am not numb, as I have all sensation. I am not without sensation. I am not deadened. See? I am writing this right now so there’s proof of it. Proof positive that I am not numb. What about, “sad”?

sad /sad/adjective. feeling or showing sorrow; unhappy. “I was sad and subdued”

God, too dramatic. I have no awareness of dolefulness, nor unhappiness. I don’t feel sad at all. And subdued? Hardly. In fact, my mood is good most often. I have wonderful moments of happiness, joy, hope, awe, humor, and wonder. I do recognize the synonym attached to the end of the definition, however. The word “miserable”. Yes, that rings a familiar fucking bell. Miserable- yes, yes, of course, I know miserable–he used to call me that regularly. Let’s give it a shot…

mis·er·a·ble /ˈmiz(ə)rəb(ə)l/ adjective. (of a person) wretchedly unhappy or uncomfortable. “their happiness made Anne feel even more miserable”

As previously noted I am not unhappy. Nope. No woe to be gone here. No, miserable is not what I am (his vocabulary was consistently limited). How about, “disconnected”?

dis·con·nect·ed /ˌdiskəˈnektəd/ adjective. having a connection broken.

Disconnected. The metaphor matches. But the definition tacitly implies a lack of consciousness, a severed awareness, when I am, in fact very much aware. Of everything. Aware of everything. Connected to everything. I am very much connected. Too connected. Flipping the pages of the dictionary, I land on “empty”– laughing a little at the irony of a word waiting for me that is inherently not there. I know, not that funny. You had to be there (or not). What the heck, let’s give “empty” a drive around the park!

emp·ty /ˈem(p)tē/ adjective. containing nothing; not filled or occupied. “the room was empty of furniture”

Yes! There we go. Empty.

I am unfilled. The opposite of filled. Walker has been emptied, like the tiny paper cup of mouthwash sitting emptied after rinsing and spitting dutifully in the sink at the dentist. Emptied of contents, but retaining original form. Still capable of holding matter, but empty of the matter previously held inside. Not a shell, shells suggest a fragility. I am sturdy. I am solid. Durable. Capable of containing. But different. The DNA on the container no longer matches that stuff. 

This is helpful. This taxonomic, diagnostic rule out of adjectives usually used to name a feeling. Not heartless. Not numb. Not sad, nor miserable (never was, asshole). Not disconnected. As a matter of fact, I am caring, loving, feeling, happy, connected, and capable of containing goodness.

What I am, when I feel this, is empty. Not filled. Not occupied. The previous furniture, stuffed animals, love that knew no limits, the holding of hands pressing flesh into forever with my babies. No longer occupied by it. The implications have been dangerous, deadly, and immeasurable.

I will find my filling, on my own. Back to the beginning at the end. Go, girl…go. Fill up yourself. Like always, no one will do it for you.


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