HG Part 5: Standing in Awe
Sometimes it's not about lightening the load.
Sometimes it's about repacking it.
Moving the heavy stuff around.
Turning things over. Giving them air.
Enveloping sharp edges with soft things.
I don't want to remove this big thing from my bag.
I don't want to ignore or stuff down my HG experience.
Simply to repack it.
So I take those feelings of retching despair and hopelessness,
wash them with compassion
and bring them into awe.
I start by looking back
In so many ways, I don't remember much.
So I open my phone. Go back in time.
And find the solitary photo between week 4-13 of pregnancy.
Chunks of my freshly cut hair all over the bathroom floor.
A memory jolted.
The feeling made real and alive for a moment. My whole body feeling the pain of it.
A reminder of the moment I stood in front of the mirror,
and cut off my own hair.
I take a breath in the presence of fear and pain. Stay with it.
Oomph. I am scared by these memories.
Triggered by them.
The emotion of these moments not diminished in the slightest with the passing of time.
Emotions so powerful I want to push them away.
But they're stuck fast to my bones.
And I absolutely know that holding these emotions (or them holding me), rather than allowing them, is causing me great pain.
So I face them.
Look straight at them.
Relive them. And release them.
Only then do they untie from my bones,
create divine space
and float softly around me as a sign of what had been.
I float questions through my consciousness:
How do I make peace with my pregnancy experience?
How do I step out of memories like these?
How do I reclaim my big love for food, and for life?
How do I revive the pure joy of nourishing oneself?
And I let what comes up open into layers
My daughter is now approaching the age my son was when I became pregnant.
When HG began. And the reminders are endless.
The books she is playing with now
are the ones he was playing with when I got sick.
The spinning toys she gravitates towards now
are the ones he was playing with.
She is wearing the clothes now
that he was wearing when I lost the ability to parent him.
I look at her. She is so divine.
Just like he was. And I missed all of this with him.
It feels so uncomfortable.
The guilt of being not able to parent my precious boy.
Of having to ask too much of my own mum and my partner.
I sit with it. Gently. Talk to it. Encourage it to open.
Shining bright light on the pieces of me that don't feel peaceful.
Under the fear is shame. Under the shame is anger.
In all those moments of holding onto the life raft, I felt angry.
And this is big news to me. Somehow, I didn't know.
Encourage it to open. Allow it to be.
I feel angry that I was made powerless.
I feel angry that this was my pregnancy experience.
I feel angry that I couldn't mother my baby boy for such a long time.
Couldn't play with him, feed him, nurture him.
I feel angry that every day, and in every way, I had to fight to continue to choose to stay pregnant.
I feel angry at HG because the sacrifices it asked me to make.
I feel angry for all the anger I have not allowed myself to feel.
For all the anger I was so deeply saturated in, without even being aware of it.
Compassion rests its soft hand on my shoulder
Whispers to me that there's a different way.
That I don't have to deny or block or silence or dismiss my anger
just because ego tells me that 'I am not an angry person'
as though anger is an all-or-nothing experience.
Compassion allows the space for anger to move though me.
And the anger shifts. Instantly. Even after all this holding.
Anger melts into the sweetest compassion. The deepest understanding.
It was almost as if I was giving anger permission to tip its hat and continue on its way.
Hello anger, I see you there, Thank you for your fearless rally. Thank you for showing me all that you have shown me. Things I couldn't have learnt without you. Thank you for moulding me. But not hardening me.
Compassion recognises the anger as worthy, and they move through me together. Softer somehow.
I explore further.
I flood the most excruciating and pivotal memories with compassion
I close my eyes. Go back in time. And I sit beside the memory of myself curled on the floor on the very worst of all the nights. I put my arm softly on her back as she cries. Say nothing. Just be with her.
I follow her as she crawls to the floor of the shower in the middle of the night. Sit beside her as she lays with the warm water pouring over her lifeless body. Offering her just enough distraction. Filling her with just enough life to go on.
I sit beside her and let her sob those big hollow gut wrenching tears. I listen to her as she moans the deep guttural sounds of a truely wounded animal. I don't try to fix it. I stroke her hair gently. Sit with her. Sit with it all. Allow it all. I know she feels like it's not possible to survive this. To still be alive. I tell her that she will survive this.
Standing back and seeing her now, I can see that no matter how low she got, she was so beautifully exceptional.
I feel such intense compassion for her.
And it floods this memory now entirely.
Panic and terror and anguish wash away.
Washed over and cleaned with compassion.
The images in my mind of this passage in time becomes bathed in the softest pink light.
The softest pink with a touch of gold - a touch of awe and magic about it.
The mess of my despair is the grit of my courage
'Despair naturally destroys courage and stops all effort,
but may produce a new kind of courage and fierce activity
founded upon the sense that there is nothing worse to be feared.'
Despair is the feeling I couldn't pin down until I stepped back through these memories.
Reaching despair not only feels gut wrenchingly awful, but it brings with it a sense of shame.
Shame because my courage had an end, and I reached it.
Shame that I could continue forward only by crawling.
That I stopped all effort.
Reached the absolute hard edge of my limit.
Couldn't ask my body for an ounce more.
I sit with that despair and shame.
And allow them passage.
Once I allow shame, and give it permission to move through, it lifts.
It lifts and I see with clarity something so god damn beautiful.
The fullness of this rich rich miracle.
This despair is not a fault, or my great burden of shame. This is the human capacity for the grittiest form of courage.
And now that I see it so clearly I will not be silenced about this.
Because so many of us stand in shame about moments like these.
Just as I did.
Yet these are the very moments that allow us to see what we are really made of. That allow us to tangibly reach in and see our divine strength.
If we allow ourselves the space, we can stand back and marvel
at the goddess-like beauty
that the mess of these moments reveal of our souls.
Standing in Awe
Awe: 'an overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration, fear, etc., produced by that which is grand, sublime, extremely powerful or the like'
Awe shares it's word origin with fear, terror and dread.
Even pain and grief.
Awe and awful come from the same roots too.
And so it is, that awe has an element of fear and terror about it. And I love that.
Because that is certainly my experience.
Allowing these huge and hard emotions - of fear and terror and all their friends - to filter through is exactly what made room for the full glory of their godliness.
I stand in awe because of the fear that I faced.
The terror that I felt.
The pain that engulfed me.
Without the terror, the dread, the despair and the pain, there would be no awe.
This triumph is sublime and powerful
because of the horror of the terrain crossed.
Awe comes to me from terror and dread and all those things.
And in return, it is awe that allows a place for despair and pain a seat at the table.
I am so grateful for them all.
And I am grateful for the divine re-learning
Relearning the ability to step back though time and heal my own soul.
Of deep wounds, tenderly cared for.
Now I stand here. Having walked through the fire with my feet bare
I stand here.
Holding space for it all, Unafraid.
Punched in the guts. Heart cracked wide open. Awake.
Feeling it all.
And I emerge with the certainty that the capacity for human suffering, resilience and power is a full spectrum of divine colours I had never seen before.
Oomph, I am in awe. And giddy with joy.
It has truly all been for something.
I can finally stand tall and see -
My unhinging and unravelling was really an unfolding.
It has been truly healing to piece this together. To articulate it, release it, and make it something beautiful.
Thank you for reading. For holding this space.
I hope you've found something here that brings your life the deepest kind of joy.