When you decide to have a child, you expect that there will be big changes in your life, and everyone tells you what those will be. Almost nine months in now, I can honestly say that most of the things people told me to expect were crap. Maybe crap isn't the word, but the negative things in particular just haven't come to fruition.
What I have noticed is that I've had an emotional reawakening. When I was in college, and really for many years after that, I was emotionally intense. I remember about a year into my first real job, I had a bit of a breakdown because I believed so much in what I was doing, but the politicians I was working for just didn't get it. Part of that was just being young and stupid, sure, but I remember very vividly that everything in life seemed so intense back then.
Over time, everything became more bland. I didn't respond emotionally to anything the way I did before. This wasn't me leveling out or maturing, I don't think. I'm not even sure why I got that way. I think it was a combination of work that was not satisfying, a relationship that I knew deep down had issues and a general lack of ambition. I just didn't get fired up about anything.
The divorce was a bit of a starting point for reversal of that emotional dullness. I remember coaching and my first new relationship that year being intense. With the pain came heightened ability to love and be passionate about things.
Fast forward to this year, March 5, in the delivery operating room. My self-defense mechanism kept me stoic, but when I saw that little guy, all purple with red hair (Diana was, by contrast, white as a ghost), things were definitely going on inside, and an hour later life got very real.
Every day since then, I've noticed that my emotional intensity grows exponentially. The love that a child can bring into your life is like nothing I've ever experienced. As much as I want him to sleep through the night, every time I get to feed Simon and hold him in that dark room, it becomes one of the greatest moments of my life. I'm not even kidding. You have great days like college graduation, tropical vacations, your wedding and such, and every time I get that little quiet time with him, it's like that.
There are some amazing positives that go with this. It means more love in my marriage. It means more passion toward things I care about. It means intense drive to be a better person, do a better job and make the lives of others better.
But with all of that intensely positive emotion comes a great deal of negatives. I find that I get angry more easily. I don't like myself at all when I'm angry. I also feel a great deal of fear, and that's something I've really spent many years letting go of. But now a lot of everyday things that I used to let roll off cause me anxiety, like money issues, things at work, and of course that fucking house in Cleveland. I don't want to live with all of that anger and fear when there is so much love and happiness in my life.
In a lot of ways, I feel like I'm reliving my early 20's, because everything feels so intense. The truth is that I feel so alive. It's breathtaking. The challenge now is to embrace the intensity and shape it with the wisdom that comes from the last 15 years or so. I'm at peace with the idea that pain and pleasure seem to go hand in hand, but hopefully I'm better equipped to process the former more efficiently and enjoy the latter richly.