Thursday, August 11, 2005

Saving Myself

Some mornings are easy. I wake up to find all the pieces of my soul in their good and proper places. I can find beauty and meaning all around me and like Neruda I could probably write an Ode to just about anything. But other mornings , well I just don't recognize my life anymore. The reflection in the mirror is the same, older yet still familiar, but nothing else seems to belong to me. I know I opened the door and willingly invited in this intruder - this intruder call motherhood - but some days...It's much easier to write about beauty and consciousness, about letting go and trusting, than it is to actually live it. Lest ye think I'm kidding just stop by unannounced one morning and peer through our windows. There is a very good chance you'll find a woman gone mad, maybe even hurling something across the room at the wall, or a woman doubled over in tears. Don't worry. I'm learning to befriend my anger, to let it teach me about limits, needs, wants, boundaries. And I'm of the belief that a good temper tantrum is quite cathartic. I'm taking care of myself, seeing a therapist once a week and will soon, much to Tom Cruises dismay, be discussing with my primary care physician my options for medication. It's not the first time I've paid a visit to a therapist since entering this wasteland called parenting. I just kept thinking I'd shake it by now. Afterall, can you still have postpartum depression when your baby is now 2 1/2? I's not necessarily that I overestimated my strength. I underestimated the staying power of this funk I've been in. I'm trying everyday to reach my hand out to myself, an offering of grace in a time of sweet craziness. I'm doing what I have to do to save myself. In April, when Trey and I decided to move in together but forgo the wedding vows I received my fair share of disapproving nods and disappointed glances. I've answered all the questions. Believe me. I expected it all. But I really had little choice. When the demands of single parenting leave you so broken you want to disappear then it's time to make a change. When you fear being left alone for an extended period of time with your own child because it's just too overwhelming then you have to make the necessary adjustments. I asked for help and took the help that was offered. It's not easy for a mother to ask for reinforcements, at least not his one. I wanted to do it all, be it all, have it all. Supermom. I had to learn the hard way about my limitations and inadequacies. I'm still learning. Humbling to say the least. Difficult, of course. But so very, very wise and courageous. So I did what I needed to do to save myself. I feared the alternative would be ending up as many of the women whose creativity I admire so much have ended up...Sylvia Plath - head in the oven, Anne Sexton - found in her garage, car running, radio singing, vodka in her hand, Virginia Woolf - face down in the River Ouse, pockets full of rocks, Vincent Millay - journals full of the tedious details of her drug addiction instead of her poetry. I'm learning to have the courage and wisdom to save myself. I'm learning not to have so much fear of my dark places, that there is treasure in the shadows. I'm learning that God is there in the darkness and she is glorious.

But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do -
determined to save
the only life that you could save.
The Journey by Mary Oliver
For a full version of this beautiful poem (one of my favorites) see here or purchase this wonderful book which includes 9 other equally fabulous poems.


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