Saturday, 26 February 2011

Only Love Can Break Your Heart

When I first started up this blog I was intending to write about my adventures as an entrepreneur. You know like, hey - I got this new account, or the cookie machine broke etc... but I've been on this extended mat leave and I must say that the adventures I'm having now seem to be far juicier than a new scone recipe.
So here goes. I'm going to be honest about some things...
In my earlier posts I wrote about the anxiety and insomnia I'd been experiencing. Well, it didn't really let up. In fact, it started to get worse, and I went into some very challenging and scary places with the sleep deprivation. I understand why it is used as a form of torture. This all lead me to finally reach out and get some help. I was hoping it would pass, or thought it was normal, or was just completely out of my mind that I wasn't thinking straight.
So here's the diagnosis: postpartum anxiety/depression. On the assessment checklist, one of the questions is "are you a perfectionist?" That one really struck me. I had some extremely high expectations for what I thought new motherhood would be like, and how I'd be feeling in it. Instead, it seems the opposite has occurred. It's been heartbreaking.
Since I am still a baker, I am going to tell you the recipe for what I experienced:
1) High expectations of motherhood
2) Expectations of an easy baby who just sleeps and smiles and eats (ha ha)
3) Extremely high expectations of myself
4) Wham-bam cocktail of hormones
5) Idea that I could return to work and just be my normal old self
6) Total life change in the blink of an eye
7) Being really hard on myself for all the above things

Motherhood is a tricky one. It is showing me the complete range of human emotion, and my own capacity to hold these emotions without falling apart. On the one hand, being a mom is earth-shattering, and on the other hand, is the most normal and common practice in life. So what's wrong with me? Why am I not strolling around with a goofy grin on my face, drinking a latte?
And why has that become an icon for what motherhood is? And why are women generally secretive about their dark sides?

At this point, I've had many conversations about these postpartum symptoms. I've seen two naturopaths, two GP's, two doctors of Chinese medicine, and one Reiki master. I've also had many conversations with women who experienced similar symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Here's what I know to be true: in the midst of the biggest change in my life - emotionally, spiritually, physiologically, mentally - I cracked open. Nothing was as it was. Everything felt unknown, and that made me shake in my boots. In this cracking open, there is a lot of debris, there is a lot to let go of, and there is A LOT to feel.
And why did I crack? To make space for love. A new love for my new self, and a new, huge, crazy love for a human being named Cedar. I have never felt so vulnerable and unsure. This is the craziest adventure of my life so far. I have no misconceptions now of what motherhood is - it takes you to the edges and far reaches of yourself so that you can hold a space for another human being to thrive and feel safe in. It is a giveaway. An act of pure service. And let's be honest, for some of us this is not so much our natural way... It's a serious learning curve.

The doctor of chinese medicine I am seeing put it so beautifully, 'You've lost your spirit. And your spirit is looking for a way to come back in. You are homesick. Home isn't where you live, it's where you belong.'
Last night I lay in bed and had the overwhelming desire to get home.