Beautiful one –
You are reading this, somewhere along your healing journey. Perhaps you’ve just discovered you are pregnant again, perhaps you are cradling a newborn in your arms. You are nurturing yourself and another life, and chances are, you are still missing and longing for the life you lost. Where ever you are, I want you to be patient with yourself, to accept yourself, and to let go – know that healing continues to ebb and flow. I am reminded of the flow this weekend, as I write this.
I’m spending the weekend on a yoga retreat. A time for reflection, for peace, for restoration. When I went to leave home on Friday, I was hit with a stream of panic attacks. The kinds of panic attacks to which I thought I had bid adieu.
Sheer panic about my babies and their safety. About my own. Panic that we would be separated or tragically injured. I live in Seattle, and our area was predicted to get the brunt of the “storm of the century” – “fifty foot waves” – “category three hurricane winds” – and so on. I was to drive over the mountain pass into a different part of the state for the weekend, leaving my babies with my husband – should have been a cozy weekend with Daddy.
My throat felt tight, my heart was beating, my stomach kept clenching and flip flopping. Leave my babies? I can’t. Wave after wave of fear crashed over me, and I let it. I wanted to see what was on the other side.
When I was able to breathe, I stopped, and I asked my fear – what is this really about?
The answer that bubbled up inside floored me. It had to do with my miscarriages – the babies I lost nearly seven years ago. When I lost them, I not only was devastated that I wouldn’t get to meet these little beings, but my world view was also shaken to its core. Previous to miscarriages, I had naively believed that tragic things wouldn’t happen to me. When life was taken from my body, I lost trust. Trust in the world to be good, and trust in myself. Trust in my body, and trust in my good enough-ness.
When my son, Tucker, was born after an anxious pregnancy, I found myself worrying about the strangest things. I was afraid to cross bridges, having visions of us falling into the water below. I was scared of traveling far from him – that one of us would have a fatal accident. I finally recognized these fears as part of PTSD, and began to treat them as such, until they faded away. When my daughter arrived 21 months after my son’s birth, I was a very different mother. Her surprise pregnancy was the antidote I needed to the fear around my son’s pregnancy and birth – she reminded me that the world is, in fact, primarily good – and I don’t need to prove myself to be on the receiving end. She taught me that the world is full of grace, and so she is aptly named – Grace.
Anyhow. I thought I had done the work and completely ridded myself of the PTSD. I thought I was “healed.”
And then the idea of a mega-storm hitting my home, my babies without their mother, me across the mountains mid-sun salutations, was too much. A primal fear took over my body and mind – I was certain one of use was going to be hurt, or worse, killed. Broken limbs could fall, my car could run off the road, something could fly through our large front windows- who knows. It could happen.
I took some breaths and stepped out of the situation for a minute. I talked myself into trusting. And I left for the retreat.
Now, here, getting the chance to slow down, re-center, and re-group, I do feel trust restored.
It’s not that I trust nothing bad is going to happen – because, it could. Honestly, something bad could happen anytime, anywhere. But I know that I’m not in charge of it all. I can’t be. I need to let go and trust that something larger is holding me. I need to trust that I’m making the best choices for me and for my family, and I need to trust that by and large, my kids are going to be fine. The alternative is to work myself into a panic about nearly everything – and raise children fearful of their world.
As I walked into my yoga session this morning, I stumbled upon a mama deer and her fawn. They were eating, nuzzling their noses around the soft foliage covering the earth. The mama stopped, looked up, and locked eyes with me. “What choice do you have but to trust?” she seemed to be saying to me. “We mamas have to believe the world is good, or how can we keep going?”
A deep peace settled over me as the baby deer inched closer to her mother, and they continued foraging for breakfast.