Thursday, June 11, 2015

Self Love and Soul Wounds

"Yes, Mother. I can see that you are flawed. You have not hidden it. That is your greatest gift to me."
-Alice Walker

In just over a month, it will be Orion's first birthday. The one year mark since I became a mother, and it has been a winding, hilly road for me to navigate. But with each step I take along it, with each stumble, perceived failure, each small victory and giant toothy smile, I am grateful to be on this journey. Grateful to be the mother of this boy who is as changeable as the Seas near which he was conceived.

Surprisingly to me, motherhood has not just been a discovery of love and caring for another person, but has been a rediscovery of how to love and care for myself. It drove me deep within my heart and mind to sort boxes of cobwebbed memories, hurts and baggage and to perform a healing burn. It's taught me that though I may love this little soul unflinchingly and without judgement, that I need to love myself more. Otherwise everything else which I strive to build will ultimately crumble around me.

As he has grown, so have I. Yet, had you told me this while I was pregnant, or even during those first sun soaked, milk damp, sweet skinned weeks of his being with me I would never have believed you. My focus was on being a good mother, a better mother, perhaps a perfect one. With endless wells of patience and reserves of calm that would inspire awe. With honey sweet words, thousands of kisses and never a sour word or askance look at the little piece of my heart I held tightly against my chest. Always trusting my intuition, never doubting, never letting anyone's criticisms get under my skin. I'd pace the floors endlessly as he wailed if needed and be grateful for the opportunity to do so, so much more grateful for the fear of not being able to conceive and the marathon of strength and endurance that was his birth.

I was so prepared for all the light and perfection, that reality threw me directly in to the waiting maws of the Darkness. With each pain that shot through my back, with each tear that stung my eyes when he rooted at a raw and bloody breast, with every whispered prayer to the Universe for some motherfucking sleep my heart was torn asunder by strong waves of guilt. When my illusions shattered around me, I hated myself as much as I loved my son. I was a failure, a horrible excuse for a mother, I didn't deserve this blessing that so many other women wished and prayed for. I felt like I was betraying the sacredness of motherhood, like I was letting my son down, like I was letting my husband down. I felt so very weak, small and unworthy.

How could I expect to raise him up to be strong, confident, free spirited, happy and emotionally healthy when I couldn't even keep the promises I had made waiting for him to be born? How could I teach him the skills he'd need, model how to approach emotions in a healthy manner when I was so ruled and ripped apart by my own? Crying with joy and guilt at the drop of a pin for the better part of most days? How could I interact with him and help him to develop properly, when I was adhering to unrealistic expectations to perfection that I couldn't seem to let go of?

I didn't expect Motherhood to leave me raw and wounded, but it did. I remembered the promise I'd made to myself, to Joe, and our unborn child months before when I'd said that I was worried my depression could lead to PPD and I sought help. And now the wounds are healing and I'm discovering new parts of myself sprouting from the scar tissue cracks that pepper my heart and mind. I'm softer, kinder and more patient. Not just with my family, but with everybody. I'm less negative than I can remember being since my incredibly jaded teen years. Slowly, but surely, the Darkness is dissipating. More slowly than I'd like, to be sure, but the very best things in my life have been worth waiting for - I waited for both of my boys for difference reasons - and so, I will keep doing the exercises my therapist recommends, keep eating as well as I can, keep sneaking in sleep and me time when I'm able and let the dishes sit in the sink for the night. Even though it drives me bat shit crazy. Because the moments I spend with my family and with myself are far more valuable than a clean sink. And I know I will never regret those, though I may regret missing something in favor of a daily chore.

Postpartum Depression scars deeply though. Not only am I having to heal from the day to day effects of it, but I need to heal from the deeper wounds it's given me. Namely regret, guilt and sorrow that I wasn't the mother I am now when Orion was so very small and new to this world. That I can never get those days back, can never change the way that I felt when sadness and oh gods, even resentment, washed over me. I can never be the mother I wanted so desperately to be, because that level of perfection is unobtainable. And though I know it's an evil fucking fluctuation and imbalance of hormones, that it's not my fault that this happened, I wish to hell that I could change it. That I could go back and hold my own hand at 2 months postpartum, that I could whisper in to my ear to get help NOW because in 9 short months I'd be missing all of these little moments and sobbing with guilt.

I think I finally understand what people mean when they talk about a soul wound. Postpartum depression has wounded my soul.

But, it will heal in time. Because the love I have for my son has kindled something new in me, a flicker of love for myself. And as I tend this fire of self love, I know I can find forgiveness.

And one day, those pictures of that wounded woman holding my newborn son won't make me sob with guilt, but with love for them both.


I've been writing a lot recently about postpartum depression and the state of my mental health. There are a few reasons for this:

1) I am fucking proud of myself for reaching out for help, for not trying to tough it out and for making progress. Pride in myself is sort of a new feeling for me, so I'm shouting it down from the rooftops to anyone who will listen.
2) It helps me to rationalize it all and to heal to get it out. And months from now, when I reread this it will serve as a benchmarker of my progress.
3) It may help others know that they aren't alone and that it's OK to talk about it. I felt so ashamed of the way I felt, but I reached out to a few very close friends to talk and was shocked that most of them had suffered similarly. And that of those that had, most had not sought help and wished they had.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Rogue Spirituality

Hello, loves! I'm back from my sabbatical, but am only returning to this space. Hopefully the mindfulness I've been practicing these past weeks will overflow into my tech use now that I've "detoxed". Orion is snoozing so I'm gifting myself a meditation mo

Labels. We carry a bunch of them around with us that we pull out to help us define ourselves to others. If we try not to label ourselves, others will do so for us. We flit in and out of different categories and add and discard labels as our lives ebb and flow and we evolve and change.

Why am I bringing this up? Because over the past few months, I've found one of the labels that I, and many others, have used to define an aspect of myself no longer feels right. I've been pondering it, poking at it like a canker sore and it no longer fits, because, it's not what I practice or who I am. Unless you're sticking to the now dated, and sometimes considered derogatory, dictionary definition, then yes. I cant argue that.

But in the context under which it falls to most people, I'm not a Pagan. I've checked the little box next to it under the religion category in profiles for years, but I've haven't felt a true connection to or ownership of the title for a while , unlike some of the other ones I bear: artist, witch, wife, bookworm, etc. I've never felt entirely a part of the Pagan community, often feeling annoyed and confused when people would talk about community elders, how "we" as a community are represented, or traditional this and thats which I should adhere to. I've always felt a little out of place in a group that, for the most part, seems to shy away from the darker aspects of life, spirituality and magic. I seek balance; male and female deities, darkness and lightness, life and death as the wheel spins. All aspects represented.

Maybe I'm just too much of a solitary, a one woman heart led show. Too much of a rugged individualist, a spiritual drifter.

I'n grateful for the time I've spent with the blanket of Paganism wrapped around me. For the understanding and expression that it has afforded me over the years. To the homecoming of putting a name to my spiritual leanings for the first time ever, back in my teens. But to grow, we must shed that which no longer fits.

So, I'm claiming a new title for myself. One that doesn't feel like it's boxing me in with a community filled with views, opinions and leaders that I didn't agree to. I'm a polytheist, animist, witch, healer, wind talker, crow friend, trance seeker and bone collector. I follow the beat of my heart as it echoes the beat of the Earth's pulse. I speak for myself and with my own spirits and deities, no one else speaks through or for me.

I'm a Spiritual Rogue. Wild, free and untamed. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Such a pretty, if frustrating, flight. #nature #nofilter
Photo from my flight last month.

“There is nothing more beautiful than a warrior woman standing in her power, courage, and confidence. From this place of strength, she is capable of loving the world in a way that transforms pain into promise…and hell into heaven.” ~ Debbie Ford

I'm more or less through the woods of postpartum depression, so my therapist and I have moved on to tackling deeper, darker things. I cried for the first time in a session. The work I'm doing on my own is hard; excavating old memories and unlocking old hurts and anger. It's easy to let the ugly of the past take the wheel, to make me a cranky mess.

But I'm fighting it. I'm pushing through, owning my anger, my hurt and I'm pushing forward in to forgiveness. For the first time, I'm learning to forgive and heal old soul wounds. For the first time, I'm speaking to myself a little more positively, realizing that I AM worthy. For the first time, I feel a little confident, powerful and free.

Even as the darkness swirls around the messy room that is the mind I'm working so hard to heal and transform, I'm standing in my strength, in a place of love.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Healing and Stealing Minutes

Towards the end of February, I scheduled a yearly wellness visit with my doctor. Before my visit I made a list of all of the things that were concerning me so that when I was there I wouldn't forget to mention any of them.

And for the first time ever, a doctor took every single one of my points seriously. He asked me questions about them, did his due diligence in checking each thing out, took a boatload of my blood and referred me out to a hand full of specialists for the things he felt others would better be able to help me with. We even talked about my visits with the therapist, who it turns out he knows and refers all of his female patients to (because she specializes in women's issues) and he checked my thyroid levels just to be sure there was no underlying physical cause to my issues; aside from being tired, of course. ;)

Needless to say since that visit, I've been very busy visiting a bunch of doctor's offices. It hasn't necessarily been fun, and I've still got about a dozen or so more appointments to go, but I've been getting answers and help and am finally starting to feel better. Just having someone take me seriously when I complained about arthritis pain, as opposed to brushing me off as "too young", would have had me feeling better.

Between physical therapy, the GI doctor, a scope and a procedure to fix my esophagus, the eye doctor (because you know that flared up again!), the ear doctor, the rhuematologist, the therapist, sleeping, eating, cleaning, animal caring, wifing and mothering (especially soothing a child growing 6 teeth at once) there really hasn't been much time left over for things that involve a lot of time or ritual. Even my Beltane was celebrated by speaking thanks to the Universe while I was driving home from an appointment with the windows down and the warm breeze making a million and one knots in my hair.

We do what we can, right?

In the midst of all of this, I quit social media. So if you've been following me elsewhere and noticed I've gone missing, sorry! I'd been mulling it over for a bit and this felt like the time to do it. In the 2 weeks I've been offline, I've noticed a drastic improvement in my moods and I've gotten a lot more little things started or finished. My free time has been spent napping, meditating, reading or working in what I'm calling my stolen minutes art journal.

I met some friends for coffee this past Sunday and one of them had her art journals with her. And they were beautiful and filled with so much energy and devotion. Thumbing through them made me miss my own practice terribly, but I found myself lamenting how long it took me to put together the pages in my book. SO LONG. SO elaborate. I don't have time for that!

Oh, but I wanted the time for it. And so, I'm changing up my practice, tossing the "rules" aside and fitting it in when I have a few minutes. It doesn't need to be elaborate (unless I want it to be), I can jump around from page to page willy nilly. It doesn't have to be deep or beautiful, it simply needs to be a soft place for thoughts, paper, paint and glue to land and be a rock for my need to make things to cling to. And if ah ha moments, beautiful art or secret messages appear there, so be it.

P.S. I'm feeling disconnected and dissatisfied with the name and feel of my beloved space here. It's one of the myriad of reasons I haven't been blogging, because I feel like what I want to write about won't "fit". So I'm pondering a new name, one that better encompasses all that I am, since this is, in fact, a personal blog.

So after a solid 6 years, soon The Whimsical Cottage will be renovated.

Friday, March 6, 2015

First Snow

These photos are from our "big winter storm" here a few weeks ago. I used quote because it was all melted by the following afternoon - sorry, Northern friends. I really enjoyed our Winter's last hurrah and, unlike most of the folks I know down here, really enjoy when we get snow. There's something so peaceful in the silence that show brings to everything; standing outside with the only sound being the soft pattering of snow hitting more snow. Wonderful. It sleeted as well, so when we awoke, everything was covered in a gorgeous sheen, all the greenery encased in glass.

To make it even more special, it was Orion's first Wintry experience! So, you know I took a bunch of pictures. Enjoy!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Lessons in Paint

The other day, I woke up realizing something inside has changed. A shifting had occurred, slowly, nearly imperceptibly. I would have missed it entirely if it hadn't been for my purposeful invitation of presence and mindfulness in to my life.

I feel better.

Out of the woods may not be accurate yet, but seeing the light at the forest edges definitely is.

And as I'm beginning to come out of the heavy, dark fog, my Muse has been beckoning gently. I set out on my birthday earlier in the month to purchase a fresh giant canvas from the art store, but instead returned home with a new art journal.

Working in it has pushed me further than these small periods of painting usually do. I've been frustrated, ready to unleash Hell upon the unfinished page with black paint or use the magical delete medium that is Gesso. But instead, when I hit that wall, that place of being pissed off, frustrated and lost, I put it aside for the night. I give myself a time out, space to breath, and permission NOT to finish my daily pages in one day.

And as I apply this approach, these lessons in patience, grace, and space to my art practice, so to do I apply it to other aspects of my life.

Take time out. Let go and let things happen. Breathe. Repeat.