Dear mamas, I don't know about you, but the energy of this season is hitting me hard. I've noticed I've been feeling my feelings a bit more intensely lately and I've read this can be due, in part, to our ever changing skies. Our bodies are 70 percent water, right? If the moon signals tidal changes, it must have some inﬂuence over us, the ebb and ﬂow of our moods creating tide changes within. But it can feel like the man in the moon is treating us harshly at times, letting the tide stay high, forcing us to choose between getting lost at sea or making it to shore.
This is the unspoken reality of motherhood - can I keep on keeping on or is today the day I don't? And for so many of us, making it to shore has nothing to do with surviving or thriving but denying our internal experience in service of meeting the expectations of a culturally distorted deﬁnition of resilience. As women, and especially as mothers, we have been conditioned to "just get over it." We are supposed to be the anchors of our families, showing strength in the face of trauma or hardship. We offer empathy and understanding while offering none to ourselves. I am unbelievably hard on myself and I think I'm hard on others too. "But at least..." or "it could be worse" feels as though my feelings are being dismissed yet how could others know how I feel when I myself deny my experience. Phrases like "I'm ﬁne," "I'm ok" and "it's nothing" is fear in strength’s clothing, allowing me, in true Elsa fashion, to conceal and not reveal, so as not to face judgement from others, but most especially, myself.
Well, my dear mamas, it's not just time to let it go. It's time to let it out.
I'm not saying we shouldn't have perspective but I'm also not talking about the twinge of disappointment I felt when I couldn't get my white chocolate iced coffee at Dunkin anymore. We struggle with big feelings every day about big stuff. What else is bigger than mothering our children? It is the most important job we will ever have and with that responsibility comes a complex web of thoughts and feelings. Within the course of a day, while managing the basic, not so basic and emotional needs of my two young boys, never mind everything else, my feelings ﬂuctuate, shifting between basic emotions and the more nuanced. And every day I hold that in and wonder can I keep on keeping on this way or is today the day I don't?
Throughout my lifetime, giving voice to my inner world has been more than a challenge. It still is. But I have also experienced the sweet relief that comes from acknowledging my pain and setting it free. In August 2017, as I was having an ultrasound to meet my second little one, I could see the joy slip from the radiologist’s face. She sent us back upstairs where we were quickly ushered into an exam room, only to be told there was no heart beat. At 8 weeks along, I was having a miscarriage.
This loss was profound. My husband and I had been trying for baby number two for almost a year and I had my fourth laparoscopy to remove Endometriosis to make it easier for me to conceive. We were overjoyed when we found out I had conceived only a month after the surgery. Then we went for our 8 week ultrasound. As I handed the goodie bag filled with pregnancy magazines and handouts about caffeine intake and reminders not to eat lunch meat to the nurse, it felt as though we were being pushed out of the office so my grief couldn’t serve as a reminder to the other mommies to be that miscarriage could happen to them. And the cold reality is that it can happen to any of us and does. In fact, one in four women have experienced at least one miscarriage during their childbearing years. I didn’t know this until I myself experienced one. I didn’t know many of my friends had experienced miscarriages, sometimes multiple miscarriages, until I had experienced one. The women in my life who shared their experience with me did so to offer me comfort and it wasn’t lost on me that this kindness was an act of courage. They gave voice to their hidden pain and in doing so gave me the courage to do the same.
While I didn’t often talk about what I was going through, I found, over time, that I was able to acknowledge my loss within myself and that this was enough. I learned to surrender because fighting against the tide was too hard. I sat with feelings of grief, shame and self-blame. I allowed myself to cry when I needed to because if I didn’t, my body forced the tears at inopportune times, such as on the way home from the grocery store or when I was playing with Connor. I started running again to help that energy move out of my body and filled that empty space through affirmation and breath work. Charting this journey with pen and paper also helped. I kept this up and realized that my angel had been a bridge, guiding me back to shore, connecting me to that place inside where my strength lies.
That little love showed me that denying my experience, pushing it down in the service of appearing strong, would have been a slow, painful death for my light within, for it was in surrender that I was able to let go and let it out. It was in surrender I learned of my true strength. Dear mamas, the next time you ask yourself can I keep on keeping on or is today the day I don’t, I hope you look to your own light, feel the strength that’s already within, and let that keep you afloat as you give voice to whatever IT is for you. Our pain is the bridge to strength. Being a mother is what let's that strength out.