I don't know about you, but I am so excited to begin this journey together.
If you are just joining the group, please read these threads before you begin:Welcome to the Birthstory WorkshopWriting Tips
Let me tell you a story...
After the birth of my third child last October, I experienced a tremendous sense of lonliness and depression about the state of my friendships and support network. In the midst of my struggle, I read Anne Lamott's book, Traveling Mercies
. Strangely enough, this was the book I was reading in early September, 2001. Although the scope of tragedy during that September far exceeded that of my post-partum weeks, I found the same solace in Lamott's words on life and faith:...It turned out that this man worked for the Dalai Lama. And he said--gently--that they believe when a lot of things start going wrong all at once, it is to protect something big and lovely that is trying to get itself born--and that this something needs for you to be distracted so that it can be born as perfectly as possible.
At my two-week post-partum check-up, I drove toward my midwives office and I cried. I cried because I realized that I would not be seeing them again for another four weeks and that meant that I wouldn't be talking to any other women whom I loved and trusted with my life for an entire month. No one would understand what I was feeling, no other women would be there to validate my intense emotional needs. I felt stupid and high-maintenance. I felt crazy for loving them so much. I decided that if I could just hold it together for the first five minutes of our appointment, I would most likely be able to hold it together for the rest of the time. As long as I could make it though, "How are you?" I knew I'd fool everyone.
I arrived and checked in without any tears. I felt myself pulling it together, standing on my feet and acting the part of a mother of three with ease and grace. I managed to smile at the receptionist when she asked me how I was--no tears, thank you very much. I even made small talk and laughed. I laughed like I was happy.
My midwives worked in practice together as a pair. The midwife who wasn't at my birth greeted me warmly in the waiting room and gave me a sweet, warm, loving hug. She smelled of essetial oil. She smiled at my beautiful child. As we walked to the back room, she asked over her shoulder, "So, how are
you?" I took a deep breath and prepared to say, "Great!" but all that came was tears. I hardly made it into her room as the waves of lonliness and greif poured out of me. "I'm so sad that this is all ending," I sobbed. "I have no one in my life who knows what I'm going through and who I can connect with except for you guys. You're my only friends and the worst part is I have to pay
you to be my friend."
And they nearly cried. It was a heavy day for us all. I spent several hours in their supportive presence as they nurtured my vunerable spirit and helped me find the tools I needed to move from grief to action. I was going to find some friends of if it killed me. And I was going to write. Friends for support and writing for outlet--both for sanity.
The darkness after the birth of my third child gave birth to a new direction in my life. From somewhere deep within my soul, I gave myself permission to write and the strength to be vunerable both on the page and in the flesh. I do not profess to be an expert on either writing or vunerablity, but I am here. I"m keeping on and I keep writing.
In a sense, we are all beginners each time we take pen to paper. We, as writers and as mothers, create both tangible life and life on the page. Natalie Goldberg says in her amazing book on writing, Writing Down the Bones,In a sense, that beginner's mind is what we must come back to every time we sit down and write. There is no security, no assurance that because we wrote something good two months ago, we will do it again...Each time is a new journey with no maps.
I love this. This makes me feel confident and ready to take a risk with my work. How about you? Are you ready? Begin to think about what you have discovered from the darker side of becoming a mother. Think about it, take notes. Mull it over. We'll get back to it in a bit.For now, let's Freewrite:
Goldberg encourages, "You must be a great warrior when you contact first thoughts and write from them." If you're anything like me, you want to judge everything that hits the paper. I share a fear with Anne Lamott that I'll get into a fatal accident and leave behind garbage writing others will read and say, "Gee, it was shame she died--but did she really think she could write? Who was she kidding?!" I will borrow a mantra I gleemed from Writing Down the Bones--
say this to yourself when you feel yourself in hyper-critical mode:
"I am free to write the worst junk in the world."
Got that? Now repeat it. Again and again if needed.
Freewriting is a wonderful tool to get you writing. There are some ground rules in this exercise--All are taken from Writing Down the Bones
1. Keep your hand moving.
2. Don't cross out.
3. Don't worry!
4. Lose Control.
5. Don't think.
6. Go for the jugular.
Set aside time for these exercises--ten minutes to start. Commit to ten minutes and commit to at least three topics this week, if you can. Modify if you need to. It's all good.
I'm going to start a thread called "Freewrite A Go-go".
This will serve as a place for you to get down and share these frequent freewriting exercises. This will be a no-comment or feedback area, just a space for freewrites. You can go in and edit your space as you switch topics, it's not meant to be a static environment. It will be a working thread.
To recap: you're going to think about/take notes on the darker side of mothering and what fruitful things have come from it and you are going to freewrite. Sound good? Alright, get to it!
I'll see you here next Friday, if not before.
Goldberg, N. (1986). Writing Down the Bones
. Boston, MA: Shambhala Publications.
Lamott, A. (1999). Traveling Mercies: Some thoughts on f
aith. New York: NY: Pantheon Books.