The sun was shining in a crisp, deep-blue fall sky. My body and mind ached to get outside, roam, enjoy the fresh air, and exert myself. But I was pregnant with my first child, and long gone were the days I could attempt a mentally therapeutic run. I’d have to settle for a leisurely stroll.
As I laced my shoes, I longed for someone to share this moment in time. Someone to appreciate the ending of this chapter of life and dote on my third-trimester woes. Acknowledging my personal strength and wanting a partner to be emotionally available did not have to be mutually exclusive.
While getting ready, I could tell something was off with him, but I asked anyway. He didn’t want to go and I was slightly relieved, hearing the slur of his voice. So, I went alone, again.
As I began to move my feet, the blood pumped through my body and provided the kind of relief only exercise can induce. Being outside gave me the freedom and time to think. My thoughts wandered from what I wanted to eat when I got home, to the creation of the universe. It was my time without filter where anything and everything was allowed.
My baby was often lulled to sleep through the repetitive movements, which was especially endearing. As I touched my belly, I began to think about bringing this little human into the world.
My partner’s drinking was bad, and getting worse, even with all the time and money we spent on a psychiatrist, therapist, and medications. It wasn’t within my control to help him get healthy and he didn’t seem to be able to do it himself. How could I depend on him to care for us? Soon, this baby would be welcomed into the world. What if he had been drinking the day or night I went into labor?
I wanted to be angry, but couldn’t find it in me to yell. I wanted to be sad but had no tears left to cry. I wished I could rely on the one person who was supposed to be my partner. We had made vows to be there for each other and this was when I needed him most. I wanted to scream from the rooftops about how lonely I felt.
Instead of spiraling into the emotional abyss, I proceeded with the practicality I was accustomed to. I planned. I figured out how to get by if and when he was drinking. I decided, then and there, if I went into labor, I would call a taxi. It would not be impossible for me to lie at the birth center about the reasons why he wasn’t with me. If he missed it, he missed it. Part of me hoped that he wouldn’t make it.
At that moment, I felt deeply alone.
I reached inside and drew the strength within to fill my heart and move my legs.
Each step was my own.
All I had to do was take the next one.
Eileen Grimes is a parenting author, mother of two, and trained educator dedicated to helping parents build loving bonds with their children. Her book, The Us Journal: A Journey of Love and Discovery fosters open, heartfelt communication between parents and children.
This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.