Travelling to meet my new niece

I am sitting in the airport in Frankfurt reflecting on the last few days here. There were times when I found it tricky, but for the most part spending time with my sister and my little niece was pretty relaxed.

It’s always challenging for me when I’m away from home. Less so when I have my wife with me, which this time I didn’t. She grounds me and I get a lot of comfort from her. Just holding her hand makes me feel more confident and secure. And at night, she always wraps me in a cuddle until I am calm enough to sleep. She makes me feel safe.

Since getting so upset about J dropping my Thursday therapy sessions, my sleep has been terrible. I had three nights in a row of almost no sleep at all before I left for Germany. I just lie awake running through potential conversations I could have with J and getting more and more anxious. Or I think about not having that conversation, and become angry and sad that it’s possible I won’t ever go to therapy again. It’s probably all very irrational, but I think a lot of things feel less manageable or logical when they occupy the space where sleep should be.

While in Germany, I just drugged myself to sleep. I knew the combination of all this worry, the absence of my wife, and a two week old baby wasn’t going to be conducive to me sleeping well. That’s meant I was quite groggy a lot, but the beauty of spending my time with new parents is that we were all groggy together.

My niece is absolutely beautiful, and I enjoyed interacting with her in the brief moments she was awake. It was also lovely to just sit quietly while she slept in my arms. What I found difficult was that I didn’t feel what I wanted to feel when I met her. I wanted to be overcome with love and affection and just let myself become besotted with her. I wanted to cry some happy tears.

That didn’t happen. I had one emotional moment, when her tiny fingers gripped mine (that’s the photo on this post), but apart from that I struggled to feel close to her. Yes, I found her super cute and I loved cuddling her, but I didn’t feel like I could fully connect with her and with any real feelings about her. That bothered me and made me sad. It’s hard not to worry that I’m a bit dead inside, when I can’t open up to those happy, loving feelings about something so positive.

I guess I do find it hard to observe the vulnerability of small babies. And especially one I do care about so much. I have to work at not being afraid for her; not running through in my head all of the horrible things that might happen to her in her life and getting distressed about possible future suffering. I am so cynical, I can’t just look at her and think about a bright future. What I see is a little person who will never be so innocent and carefree again. For me, the world is so full of danger, I get scared for her. I want to keep her away from it.

I suppose essentially my fear is that she will go through something like I did. When I’m with her, I am acutely aware that I was like her once. I was tiny and perfect and adored and protected. And then later it all went horribly wrong. It’s painful to think about that. To think about everything that was taken from me; what I had and what I could’ve had.

That’s another thing that’s tough about seeing my sister. Thinking about what my life might have been if my brother hadn’t abused me when I was little. He chose me and not her. And in no way would I wish upon her what I went through. But sometimes I see her, healthy in her very much together life, looking towards a wonderful future with her little family, and I feel pangs of jealousy. And a regretfulness. A sense of wondering if I might have turned out like her if I hadn’t had that trauma. That’s really difficult to manage.

Now I am going to put some distancce between myself and this stuff. I’m just about to board my flight home. I am excited that my wife will be waiting for me when I get back, I can’t wait to have a big hug from her and snuggle up in my own bed tonight.

Here are a few cool photos of the sunset I saw on my inbound flight.

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