I’ve almost always known that I was either the 2% or more likely, the product of a missed birth control pill or two. Even so, I knew my parents delighted in me arriving anyway. I always felt loved and wanted by them. The truth is, I’m not sure if I ever loved myself. Not for more than a few minutes anyway. We learn in spirals and life tends to give us similar content to work with as it loops back around. Eleven years ago my dad and grandfather survived heart attacks and open heart surgeries. I lost a pregnancy and my dog died. All within a span of a few weeks. That gave me enough undoing to work out for a few years. In the past year, we lost my grandfather and my stepdad. One to a heart that gave out after 97 full years. The other was a heart that was stronger than ever losing to a “catastrophic event” we may never understand. I had a hysterectomy because my insides had enough adhesions to make a chrysalis with a couple of organs.
This time around the spiral of learning, I noticed the return of the abyss. I felt the dread and fear and I once again resisted the awareness of it. I thought, “I’ve been here before. Thank Creator I have the tools I fought so hard to find 10 years ago when things fell apart. I got this.” But, I didn’t get it.
Now, as I pull myself out of the shadow of the events of the last year, I am most grateful for the tools of my husband and children. What I failed to recognize was that I pushed beyond my new found boundaries. I pushed my family and friends away, mostly my husband.
I am fairly certain a defense mechanism kicked in when I sat with my mom after the sudden loss of her husband. I think my ego took up the challenge of finding reasons to create distance between me and my husband so that I could not find myself in the place she was, suddenly and utterly in shock and loss. Without my knowledge, my ego did such a great job. It conspired with my husband’s support and respect, twisting them into a projection of emotional distance. Without going into too many personal details, I will say, he is one patient man.
There is a lesson in everything. As I pushed to the edge of solitude, I realized that my husband has never stopped loving me. He has never stopped believing in me. The real issue is that I have not loved myself. I have not believed in myself. I can pretend like I do for a brief spell. The spell is easily broken. How can I love everyone else and not at least love that about myself? I think what I authentically feel for others is my best gift. Why am I so bad at it with the one person from which I can never get away?
I began thinking. What would it look like to love myself? What advice would I give myself? In other words, what advice have I been given many times that I resist with all my might? What if I treated my mind, body, and spirit like I treat our childrens’? Where would I start?
- Accept that you need some form of anti-depressant, you’ve tried wholistic and spiritual practices and they don’t have the traction they would if your brain chemistry were balanced. You do not judge or stigmatize others. Stop trying to muscle this one out.
- Consider yourself the 4th child to be born into this family. You are pregnant again. You are pregnant with your self. This child has been waiting 50 years for you to nurture her. Give up the unhealthy eating habits you easily gave up for the health of your other children. This time, you are worth it. Walk daily like you did when you were pregnant with the third child.
- Encourage yourself to put your chin up.
- Resist comparing yourself to others.
- Enjoy what you choose to do with your time on this planet.
- Be curious. Explore different ideas, cultures, and traditions.
- Don’t hold yourself back.
- Celebrate the victories.
- Learn from the losses.
I have been considering exploring other traditions with greater depth. I have been wondering if the mental gymnastics I do with Christian scripture to heal the damaging human constructs is worth the effort. I have been wondering if Christianity is my path to enlightenment or not. When I read Native American or Buddhist texts, it requires less work for me to get to loving kindness, compassion, and the practice of awareness and acceptance of what it. As I sat in Ordinary Life class yesterday, I was struck with the timing of this idea of being pregnant with myself and I realized that the notion came to me as an advent practice. It is funny to me because I decided not to have an advent practice this year. I literally laughed out loud when I realized the timing and the richness of the metaphor.
After Ordinary Life class, I attended Conspire. Lindsay offered a practice of Lectio Divina using two poems by Danna Faulds. Lindsay picked out one poem and her husband Cid picked out the other. Here are the two poems and the words I lifted and rearranged and added as a reflection.
Despite illness of body or mind,
In spite of blinding despair or habitual belief,
Who you are is whole.
Let nothing keep you separate from the truth.
The soul, illumines from within, longs to be known for what is.
Undying, untouched by fire or the storms of life,
There is a place inside where stillness and abiding peace reside.
You can ride the breath to go there.
Despite doubt or hopeless turns of mind,
You are not broken.
Spirit surrounds, embraces, fills you from the inside out.
Release everything that isn’t your true nature.
What’s left, the fullness, light and shadow,
Claim all that is your birthright.
Why wait for your awakening?
Do you value your reasons for staying small
More than the light shining through the open door?
Now is the the only time you have to be whole.
Now is the sole moment that exits to live in the light of your true nature.
Perfection if not a prerequisite for anything but pain.
Perfection if not a prerequisite for anything but pain.
Please, oh please, don’t continue to believe
In your stories of deficiency and failure.
This is the day of your awakening.
You are whole.
Soul known illumines
Stillness and peace inside
Surrounded and embraced
Fullness of Spirit
That which has been loving you since
Before you were born
Delights in you
Accepting and receiving this
Ongoing, never ending love
Your true nature.
~BSP word collection and reflection from Lectio Divina with Danna Faulds poetry
Grace in, peace out,