I'm afraid that my November task got derailed.
I'm afraid that instead of successfully dedicating this time to compassion and actively being kind, I've turned inward, instead. It's been a wholly negative thing, folding more into my myself.
A lot of attention came my way, all at once. It's funny, because, if you asked my parents and siblings, they would bill me as something of an attention seeker. I've always kind of believed it about myself, that I yearned to be seen and heard on a grand scale. It turns out, though, that getting a lot of attention rattled me. It made me feel exposed and vulnerable, and made me realize that, as much as I believe in telling the truth of my life, even when it's hard or unflattering, I have a fear of being vulnerable.
The past few weeks have been an anxious time for me. I have felt pressured and challenged in big ways. At the hardest moments, my life has begun to feel unwieldy, like it was expanding out of my control. It has been so hard, sending my thoughts and ideas out into far reaches, where they haven't been before.
When I write here, on my blog, I am sharing my experience, for the most part, with women who believe in things, who think about things deeply and who have a wide and creative view of the world. Many of you are mothers. Many of you believe in the process of struggle. When I write my words here, while they aren't always met with total agreement, they are always considered thoughtfully and respected. I feel grateful beyond my wildest dreams for you, the women who have surrounded me, listened to me, and shared your stories with me, your thoughts and your fears and who have helped me to feel understood. I love you. You make my world a wonderful place.
You have given me a place where it feels safe to be vulnerable.
It has been hard, sending my love and thoughts and fears out into the public realm. It's been hard, writing about having babies and losing loved ones, about struggling with my self-perception and my hopes for my daughters... writing about the things that make me what I am, and to have people pass by me with barely a glance. To have them misinterpret and criticize me. It has been hard to open myself up to the world, because the world is a struggling thing. The world is full of good and bad.
I feel like I have been fighting some feelings, that I need to acknowledge them. I feel as though I'm supposed to be able to automatically focus on the positive, that by getting such a wonderful opportunity and not feeling totally positive, it might be perceived that I'm not being grateful, that I'm not appreciating what I've been given. I'm not going to fight with that, anymore. I'm just going to admit that yes, I'm getting something I've always wanted, and it's been hard,and scary for me.
That is not all there is to it, though.
It has also been amazing to find more of you. It's been amazing to hear from you, from mommies who are struggling, from women who have lost things, who believe the world can be better for our children, that the world can be better for ourselves. It's been heartbreaking and humbling to try to receive a world of compliments with grace. It's been touching and life changing to have so many women, (and a few brilliant men; I see you, too and I love you), reach out to me with such tenderness and love and gratitude. To read about your lives, how we're the same, how we're lonely and we're afraid, but we have each other. It's been amazing, too.
Mostly, it's been a lot to process. I've been experiencing anxiety. I've talked so much about here about how I was thrown into a state of anxiety after having my first baby. I believed for a long time that it was probably mostly a physical reaction, that the changes happening in my body were probably to blame for most of the ways I was feeling. But, I think I've learned over the past few weeks, that my PPD and anxiety were probably a lot more related to the bigness of the ways my life was changing, than to hormones, or whatever.
Some things are just true about me.
I am a person who is easily stirred up.
I do not handle criticism well.
I get overwhelmed by kindness and don't always know how to feel and what to say.
I feel simultaneously driven and talented, and crushingly self-doubting.
I'm feeling my way through this, trying to learn and grow. I know that I need to step back, to reach out and to try to fill myself with love. I need to hug my babies, cut paper snowflakes and steal candy canes from the tree. I need to cook slow meals, to eat good food, visit beautiful places and spend time with my infinitely brilliant and hilarious friends. I need to hold hands with my husband, wrap presents until way too late into the night. I need to sing Christmas songs and smell all of the candles in the store. I need to stay warm, to wrap my girls up in blankets and scarves. I need to seek the sunlight; it's becoming so scarce. I need to sit still and read. I need the woods. I need to take walks. I need to cry and write and keep my head high. I need to tell the truth. I need to tell it, instead of keeping it inside. I need to take it easy on myself. I need to be kind, to be compassionate, to try to see the people around me, to acknowledge them. I need to be open to all the ways things are changing.
I need to accept, somehow, that I am enough to handle it when things change. Things are changing all the time.