The Notion of Bliss in Motherhood
“I’m done with the notion that the bliss of me and my sisters is to be found in childbearing and caregiving.” - Mary Agnes McNue on “Godless”
Amen, sister. I watched the Netflix series “Godless” recently, and this line from the tough Mary Agnes McNue (played by the amazing Merritt Wever), has stuck with me. It has become a mantra of sorts.
Let’s all just agree in advance that this in no way means that we don’t love our families? That we wouldn’t (and don’t) sacrifice ourselves for our children?
For too long I’ve lived under an unrealistic and impossible expectation that I should be completely contented as a wife and mother. As if these roles should be my entire fulfillment rather than just a part of who I am. I believed that if I didn’t feel completely satisfied then it meant something was wrong with me. I can’t tell you how many tears I’ve shed in frustration, self-criticism, and doubt, wondering why I’m the only one who feels like something is missing.
It has taken me way too long to realize the missing link is ME. I’d been so busy trying to take care of other’s needs, that somewhere along the way I forgot who I was, apart from my role as a wife, mother, daughter, and sister. Who am I apart from my role as a caretaker and family cruise director?
There was a nagging ache in my heart, and an emptiness in the pit of my stomach. It manifested as discomfort in sitting still, stressing way too much about messy countertops, snapping at my kids and husband, and outbursts of tears when I could no longer hold them back.
My essential self had been buried and was screaming to come out and breathe deep. The longer I hid her away, the greater my levels of anxiety and more frequent my panic attacks. I thought the answer could be found by ignoring it. Get on with it, get busy, get moving, go shopping, numb out.
Have another glass of wine.
My husband is wonderful and supportive and understanding, but he can’t rescue my essential self. He can’t find the path to my life’s purpose and calling. I’m the only one who can do it.
This exploration has never been more important. I’m in my 40s with two kids in elementary school. Life isn’t just going to be smooth sailing, and my body, my emotions are telling me to make a change. It is time to validate and affirm my search for my North Star, rather than ignoring it or apologizing for it.
I’m learning to tune into my inner longings and desires. To listen to the desires that I hushed for far too long. Sitting in that place of uncertainty and emotional upheaval can be uncomfortable. But, it is a lot easier to listen and deal with what comes up when I am alcohol free.*
Meditation helps. Long walks help. Reading and journaling help.
I’m finally brave enough to voice some of the ideas that have called to me. I am allowing myself to trust that my husband won’t think I’m crazy, my close friends will cheer me on, and my kids will think my transformation is awesome and beautiful. And for other people out there who may think differently… well it’s really not their business now, is it?
So, I’m becoming a writer, a blogger, an artist. I think about going back to school to become a therapist. Or writing a book. Who knows? Whatever is next, I’m doing it for me. And, truly, that also means it is to the benefit of my husband and kids who will have a mom who is pursuing her dreams and is able to be whole-heartedly present.
You may cover a million miles on the way, but ultimately you will come to see that all along, your own North Star has been, simply, you. You are the best destination you could possibly imagine or experience. Welcome home. -- Martha Beck, "Finding Your Own North Star"
- A big thank you to @this_nakedmind and the Alcohol Experiment for helping me transition to an alcohol free life. I highly recommend Annie Grace's book This Naked Mind.
- Also a shout out to my other sobriety heroes @hipsobriety, @brenebrown, and @laura_mckowen. 65 days sober today!
- Check out Brene's work at https://amzn.to/2HA5so4