Strength as a Shield
I am 34 years old.
I have spent 32 of those years being a single individual…whether that was a child, a daughter, sister, friend or girlfriend…those were the roles I played.
I spent most of that time being a giver, probably a codependent one at that.
But I spent much of my time and energy giving to others and doing my best to be there for them. To fulfill their needs. I felt strong, and confident, and sure of myself – I was really fucking good at it.
It wasn’t until I was 32 that I got married and pregnant that my sense of stability in my pioneering strength was put into question.
My first pregnancy I was put on bed rest because the baby was at risk for preterm labor.
I hated bed rest. I raged against it. The part of me that loved being strong and self sufficient hated the idea of laying on my back and doing nothing. Depending on other people; it was deplorable to me.
I created a lot of suffering as a result of my inability to relax into this phase of life. I told myself I hadn’t reached the levels of success or income that I aspired to so it was NOT OKAY to slow down. I struggled against motherhood because this meant I was taking my priceless time and energy and putting it into a baby rather than realizing my potential or my goals.
Surprise surprise, I even struggled with postpartum depression and had the equally troubling experience of being out of control of my own mental and emotional stability and mental health.
In short my first pregnancy & postpartum experience unearthed a lot. It was a tumultuous time. It wasn’t all baby selfies, and sweetness the way most mothers look on social media.
I struggled, and I struggled hard. I had thoughts and feelings about what a let down my dad was. How my mom was being beaten by him when I was in her belly. I believe some very old and deeply buried subconscious wounds were being unearthed, and it was painful.
As most moms do I adjusted, I recovered, and I learned to love my new life. I even saw how my ambition was to fulfill some deep need to feel worthy instead of a healthy desire to succeed so the unearthing was quite productive for me in terms of personal growth.
Life moved on.
Here we are 2nd pregnancy. Again at risk for preterm labor, bed rest again per the doctor’s orders but this time a month earlier. Hated it less this time since I knew the drill…
But guess what, it got even worse. I was hospitalized at 24 weeks pregnant. My first baby was born at 36 weeks with no hospitalization or drama…so I never foresaw this coming, but this situation was WAY WORSE.
At 24 weeks if your baby is born the doctors recommend allowing them to pass away instead of intervening to help save their life because their likelihood of living a happy healthy life with no neurological damage is slim to none.
At 26 weeks, they recommend you roll up your sleeves and fight for your baby’s life, with the odds of a happy healthy babe being about 50-60%, and at 28 weeks it goes up to 90%.
Ever since hospitalization about a month ago a lot has changed. They released me from the hospital in a little under a week’s time. I went home, enjoyed thanksgiving with my family and learned that things haven’t gotten any better, but they also haven’t gotten any worse.
Today I am 28 weeks. I can honestly say that I am happy to still be pregnant and all is going well. Many family members and friends have really stepped up to take care of my toddler so I can continue the hilariously boring act of laying on my back lol. It has been a miracle to watch.
The amount of support that has flooded in for this sweet unborn baby boy (and dare I say ME) has been overwhelming.
After a month’s time of laying around and letting everyone step up and take care of nearly EVERYTHING…it has left me with a lot of time to think, and some very clear realizations.
I am a philosopher by nature, so a full 4 weeks with no responsibilities other than making a healthy baby have left me with ample time to ruminate on the deeper truths in life.
So here they are…
1. There is more love in your life than you even realize is there and it can help you move forward in your life if you let it in.
Not sure if this one applies to you or if it’s just where I am at but either way let’s dive in. I am not a person who expresses distress or struggle on social media. When I struggle I usually withdraw inward and only talk to my closest peeps. However I was feeling particularly low on the day of hospitalization and posted something quick and dirty like, “I am being hospitalized for the unforeseeable future because the baby is at risk for preterm labor. I am feeling sad and could use some words of encouragement.” I never do this, and honestly didn’t know what exactly I expected to come of it I was just feeling kind of helpless and reaching out (something my old pioneering self would also find deplorable lol, are you seeing a pattern here?). Anyway, the response was overwhelmingly loving and supportive. People I didn’t think had the time of day to give a flying crap about me were all supportive and loving and giving of their genuine care, concern, time and energy into showing me support. This was so amazing. Now here’s the interesting part…it melted my anxiety and worry and stuck scattered energy into heart-warmed tears over and over and over again. I couldn’t remain stuck and funky, so much love was coming in that I couldn’t help but cry from the overflow of love and in turn felt blessed and grateful rather than worried or anxious. WHOA. I used to be so busy fulfilling everyones needs and avoiding my own that I NEVER had experienced anything like this before. Amazeballs. And very productive in terms of how to move through a difficult time with difficult emotions. Many of us stay stuck and in struggle because we aren’t willing to display the vulnerability required to reach outside of ourselves for support. I was like this, I was strong, I was pioneering, I was bad ass…and I also often times in the midst of mad popularity felt painfully alone. In the midst of a loving relationship felt painfully alone. You need to be willing to go to scary vulnerable possibly pathetic places to invite and allow in all the love that is actually there for you. Strength can be a shield that casts out love. Who knew.
2. You are so fucking fortunate it’s insane.
While my toddler and I were at my mom’s for the past couple weeks being taken care of like the invalids that we are (LOL jk jk I can’t help it)…I watched a lot of PBS. There was a special on little girls who grow up in an impoverished village who are forced or socially pressured to be married off at the age of 13-16 to make babies and babies and babies and live a life without choice. They are sometimes married off to a violent man, or an absent man who is also coping with the poverty and pain of his life through alcoholism and violence. There was a 6 year old boy with a rope tied around his ankle that was tied to the tent he lived in and left alone there while his mom and dad peddled stuff in the streets to make ends meet. He was alone and thirsty left like that all day. And I thought to myself HOLY SHIT MAYA HAS A GREAT LIFE. HOLY SHIT with all my ambition and desire and feelings of “not enough ness” surrounding my unreached potential…I now just feel like a silly spoiled brat. I HAVE IT SO GOOD. We live in a country where we get to choose. I know there’s a gender pay gap, and I know that there’s racism, believe me I KNOW. But HOLY SHIT we STILL have it so damn good. It is our choice to be in a state of suffering or a beautiful state (as my friend Tony Robbins would call it) at any given moment. It is our choice. So choose wisely. Because for some reason…by some bless-ed stroke of good luck you were born into the life that you have. And whether you believe it or not you live like a King compared to a majority of the world.
3. It can be hard to let others take care of you, but it is a spiritual act, so DO IT.
This whole “my anxiety melted into tears of gratitude” point that I mentioned in #1…let’s revisit that. Because it applies elsewhere. On my wedding day when my super cute new husband was doing the traditional slow dance with his mom my new Father in Law came and asked me to dance. At the time this made me uncomfortable, but when your super sweet new Father in Law asks you to dance in a room full of your best peeps, you dance lol. So we danced. I tried to look totally natural even though physically I was uncomfortable…what was this strange thing called masculine support? Love in the form of a fatherly man? UNHEARD OF! lol. So I was all guarded about it, and told myself that I would do the polite thing for his sake so as to not embarrass him. But guess what. Every time I would look at that moment in hindsight I would cry. How peculiar!? A moment where again I took on the role of doing what would make the OTHER person happy, I look back at it and cry?? What did this dance mean to me? What was going on underneath the surface that I wasn’t fully aware of yet? I wasn’t sure at the time, but fast forward – he was here over the weekend taking care of my sweet Maya and just left yesterday – and I think I have finally figured it out! I was so busy avoiding the void of not having a father…that it was more PAINFUL or UNCOMFORTABLE to open up to receive it than to just block it out. Often times in the face of pain I become STRONG. I become shut down, I become calloused. When I was a teenager I was such a tough bad ass that people used to call me “a rock.” I was just so good at being seemingly un-phased. But guess what?! After all I am actually a human being! I am not a rock at all! lol. I breathe, I bleed, and dare I say it, I FEEL. And clearly on some level that I wasn’t aware of – in my effort to cope with having a less than impressive father figure I shut down my sadness, my need, my natural childlike desire to be loved by a father. But it was still there. Even when you shut down your emotions so that you don’t feel the pain, THEY ARE STILL THERE. And they will find you lol. So after a weekend full of seeing Maya be loved and cared for by her sweet Dad and her sweet Grandpa, I saw it. I saw the thing that I missed. I also saw that she doesn’t even know how good she has it, and I didn’t even know how much I was missing out on. Now this is not a “whoa is me” moment. There’s a difference between being a grown up who displays victim energy and being an adult who won’t come to terms with some very real unmet needs when they were a child. So what I am saying is that this experience has been healing for me. Being on bed rest…stepping down from being the strong matriarch and letting others support me and my sweet Maya…I am being healed. I am being healed from things I didn’t even know needed healing, and it is beautiful. When you allow others to step in and take care of you, it melts away the calloused guarded part of you that has built walls where there was once love. There is an openness and healing and love that can only be experienced from receiving, not giving. Which leads me to this…
4. Giving Can Sometimes Be a Mask.
As the title states, your strength can be a shield. A way to say look I am strong. I don’t need you, but you need me. On a subconscious level this can be also saying, “I need to be needed so that I can prove I am worthy of space on this planet.” So just be aware of where your giving is coming from.
Don’t get me wrong…I’m down with strength, and I truly believe giving makes the world go ‘round. But what I believe the lesson is here is to have a balance. A balance of giving and receiving. A balance of masculine and feminine. A balance. This gives all parts of you the self expression and nurturing they need. If you have an imbalance in any direction it means you are overcompensating for something deep down that is probably running your life into the ground. So think about who you are. Are you the type who airs on the side of giving giving giving? Being the strong one who everyone leans on? Or are you the type who is a needy Nelly and needs people to carry your weight all the time? Whichever type you are, invite in the other side to invite some balance into your life. Your soul will thank you.
5. Success & Ambition Aren’t Everything.
I know people all over the world read these blogs so I am not sure this is accurate for all. But for most of my readers we live in a Western world. In this world we have most of our basic needs met so we obsess over being successful, important, making money, and being innovative. I love these things, truly I do. The opportunity for them gives me hope and passion and lights my fire. I have also come to realize they can be a massive distraction from the things that matter most. I founded Awaken The Rebel so that I could use my unique gifts, contribute to the world, and have ultimate freedom and control in order to put my family first. How silly is it that when I finally had a family of my own I was so busy obsessing over success, money and notoriety that I was missing the beauty in it all? I was actively resenting my family for coming first when that was exactly what I wanted all along? Sometimes when you awaken the passionate beast within, you gotta tame that bitch lol. Do not become so obsessed with producing results that you forget to BE a human BEING. It’s a tragic way to rob yourself of what we all want most – happiness.
6. There’s A Lot Going On Under The Surface
A lot of slowing dow has occurred since becoming a mom. So the past 2 years have really allowed space for me to re-evaluate my life, and how I live it. The super dramatic slow down that has occurred in the last 4 weeks has brought forth new realizations and solidified ones that have come through in my existence post motherhood. This is gooooood. Feels goooood. Give yourself time and space to be with yourself and hear what your soul has to say. It holds more wisdom and truth than you know.
7. Every Challenge In Your Life Is There To Give You a Gift and Learning.
It’s crazy how much this super tragically scary time has ultimately been a massive gift. It has been a time of balancing masculine and feminine energies in our immediate family. Shown me love in ways I’ve never known. Calmed me down and slowed me down to make space for another person in our family. Made me STOP being ambitious at the expense of myself. Helped me to really sink into motherhood and family life even more. Showed me all these juicy realizations that I shared with you today.
All this from a “horrible” situation. What horrible situation do you currently have in your life? What might it be teaching you about what direction your life wants to take you moving forward? What are you doing to get in the way of receiving those gifts and lessons?
Everything that is happening in your life is happening FOR YOU not against you. It’s all for your highest good. I truly believe that. Please share with me what you got out of reading this blog, and what steps you’d like to take differently moving forward in an effort to surrender to your highest good.
That would absolutely make my day.
Rebel love and high fives all day boo.