Saturday, 8 November 2008
This time of year, autumn, always requires a big letting go for me. Letting go of the summer, which since moving to England always feels like it was too short, and letting go of my fear of the dark. And, yes, my fear of change. Especially this year, when I've so recently celebrated the turning of a full year's cycle since the birth of my son. I could let his babyhood be dragged from me kicking and screaming as it were - or I could let it go gracefully. With grace is the key.
Recently I've decided to let go of the notion that J will sleep through the night anytime soon. Or even sleep a longer stretch than two hours. I feel so relieved since making this decision. It was causing me (and more importantly, him) more torment to try and change his sleeping patterns, than it does to just go with the flow. It's such a cliche, but it's true in this case, and in so many others.
Letting go is hard in a culture that prizes making things happen. Right now I'm going through a process of sifting through the remnants of my old 'career life' and finding the bits that I want to keep, and make into a new whole. At first, when I hit six-months post-partum, I thought I would be able to do a complete 'organ transplant' of my old creative life, onto this new life. I started being madly productive again, and exhausted myself in the process.
And now, six months later, I'm realising that this was never going to work. Trying to re-write a novel that is in pieces all over the place, while writing non-fiction for the web and breaking into print media, while blogging, while following others' blogs, while reading and researching, teaching yoga, and reading astrology to try get back into astrological counselling...sheesh, sometimes I wonder if it's megalomania I suffer from or just a ridiculous lack of commonsensical perspective.
It's so, so painful for me to let go of any of the projects so dear to my heart. Even to let go 'for the time being', because I'm afraid I'll never come back to them. I'm afraid that at the end of my life, I'll look back and say 'oh I was doing this that and the other..then I became a mother and it all went out the window.'
I keep coming back to the fact that this time with J is so short. So fleeting. So not worth spending it worrying over other stuff. But somehow I need to keep feeding the parts of me that are creative, or I lose myself. I'm trying to extricate my sense of self-esteem from a need to earn money and be part of the economically productive sector of society. It's the first time as an adult that I've not been in that place. I'm looking around at my new world, and there are still empty spaces - I don't know what they look like because I haven't created them yet.
So, I'm letting go of the old me who needed to have ticked a million things off a list every day to feel good about herself. I'm letting go of the me who needed others' approval to validate what she does with her days. I'm letting go of the material values of our society that put making money above family and friends. I'm letting go of the need to know where this phase in my life is going, and when, oh when, I will have some independence and career success back.
Keeping journals has always been a big help. I've been journalling since I was about nine years old, and all my old childhood and teenage journals are still in a locked toy chest back home! When I'm a bit lost, I refer to past journals (at least a 2 year gap is ideal) and sigh in relief that I'm no longer that confused, that agonised, and mostly, that self-absorbed. There's nothing like motherhood to prick the balloon of your own self-importance. Hooray for that. But reading over my journal from September 2005, today, I also felt sad for the person with a multi-directional future, stretching out in front of her, full of limitless possibilities. Then I turned the page, and saw that my job seemed to suck up all my time, then, and I resented it fiercely. How more wonderful that what sucks up my time now is something as rare and precious as a child who loves me.
In the new year I look forward to starting the NCT breastfeeding counselling course. This is a direction I never thought of before having a baby, but now seems so right. It combines so many of my loves: counselling people, working with women, working with babies, research, activism (or lactivism), and, at a later stage, hopefully teaching too. Part of me is scared because it's yet another interest to incorporate into my life, and I know something else has got to give. I'm wondering whether to keep pursuing the yoga teaching actively or just doing a workshop and cover class here and there. Often I feel I'm being led in directions I don't understand yet. But how arrogant would it be of me to expect to understand, anyway. I'm going to let go of that too.
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