Thursday 17 June 2010

The Present in the Brown Paper Bag

In the West, we like happy endings, shiny new things and we like our presents wrapped with bows.  But not all presents are obvious.  Some are very discrete, to the point that they don't look like presents at all.  But that doesn't mean they aren't presents.

At the beginning of this pregnancy I really felt depressed.  Not just down or blue, I felt as though I had lost the will to live, the energy to get me through the day and the optimism to smile.  I felt very isolated and I cried a lot.  Daily.

Eventually, I sought help.  I didn't feel that I had the skills to help myself, even if I am normally pretty self-sufficient and self-aware.  One of the people I was referred to by the midwife was a counsellor, Annie.* 

Now, in retrospect, that feeling of depression was an amazing gift.  If I hadn't felt so completely incapable and alone, I would have struggled through on my own.  Going to counselling has revealed a new dimension to motherhood that I never knew existed and, to be honest, I'd never even heard mentioned by others.

Annie helped me to understand that as well as the preparation for the birth of the baby, women also go through what is called, 'The Birth of the Mother'.  This phenomenon changes how women interact with the world and how they feel and, even, how they think: it can bring with it reduced ambition, decreased focus and drive, and an increased desire to almost 'bury down'.... I started baking and making jam, I even want to knit... It was disconcerting to experience so much psychological, mental and emotional change for which I was completely unprepared. I naively thought it was just physical change!

Another idea we've been exploring is the idea that, just as we inherit physical characteristics from pervious generations, we also inherit emotional and psychological traits, of which we are often much less aware, as they are more subtle.  Now, I've begun to notice how those traits have moved moved through the generations of my family and how they have limited us in different ways. 

It is my deepest commitment to - as far as possible - cut the cords to those limiting beliefs in myself, so that they stop here: with my generation; so that our child is not unconsciously burdened with the limiting beliefs of previous generations.

Awareness of these issues - the challenges and themes - that repeat themselves through the generations is one thing.  Healing and transforming those issues is a lot harder.  So I've begun asking the therapists I know, "How do you transform a limiting belief?"  "How do you heal generational pain?"

There are no easy answers.  Becoming aware of the issues I repeatedly stumble upon (low self esteem has been one constant in my life) is a start.  Consciously trying to do things that push me where I would rather not go, for fear of failure, is another step in the process.  Some say that the intention to heal and transform, is a potent transformation agent in and of itself.  I also believe meditation helps too.  But more on that in a later blog.

Not everyone experiences pregnancy in the same way.  This is just my journey and I share it with two aims: the first is to help others going through similar experiences.  It has helped me to read of other women who have experienced pregnancy in a similar way and reassured me that I'm not 'over-reacting or being over-sensitive'.  The second reason is more general.  It's to highlight the fact that, sometimes, events that seem traumatic, challenging and unwanted can have profoundly positive impacts on our lives, if we are willing to see them in a different light.

*Not her real name.

1 comment:

  1. As a man i initially struggeled to see the relevance but as i read on and stood back it became clear. I began to enjoy and took heart from, (what was for me) the theme of optimism and in essence the essential need for one (man and woman alike) to turn adversity into opportunity.
    Using one's strong will to not just get through the tough times, but utilising ones skilfull will to identify and act on opportunity. Turning strength to weakness.

    We're all in the gutter, the only difference is some of us are looking at the stars.

    Thanks Jennifer,