I want to share a story with you on identity and motherhood.
My sister organized (on my request of course- being the organized Virgo that I am) a beautiful Blessingway when I was pregnant with my first Rainbow baby. We gathered the most important women in my life to send me blessings as I was about to cross the threshold into motherhood.
I don’t remember the specific blessings (I am sure they were beautiful).
What I do remember is this feeling that I had and shared with those women that I DID NOT WANT TO “LOSE MYSELF/MY IDENTITY” through motherhood.
As a therapist and facilitator of deep transformative experiences, I heard way too many times women intimately share with me and be challenged with the feeling of losing themselves/their identity in motherhood. I heard this echoed by women decades older than me this weekend on a retreat (I’ll tell you about that experience soon).
At the time of the Blessingway, I was in my late 30’s and was proud and grounded in who I was and my journey to get there. There was NO WAY I would lose myself/my identity to motherhood.
I was wrong.
I LOST MYSELF
I felt like a failure
I had 2 babies back to back (one being a spirited), a pandemic happened, we moved to a new geographical area and left our “past life”, community and all, and most challenging of all, chose to live in an area (unbeknownst to us) with a serious childcare shortage.
So, here I was, new mom and all, with absolutely no childcare in the horizon and not able to return to work for what felt like much longer than the immediate future. (I still have not found regular affordable childcare btw)
My work was my passion. A culmination of my rich and unconventional life experiences and an expression of myself that honoured my journey. It was my heart. It allowed me to create, to metaphorically dance with people in their journey. It brought me a felt sense of accomplishment, connected me with humanity, provided space to self-reflect and grow and to make sense of my (and the collective) human experience. And most above all, GROW.
Somehow, I was not able to fully ground myself and surrender to mothering full-time and feel a deep level of satisfaction and purpose in this. Many of my mom friends seemed to feel that fulfillment.
For a long time, I felt a great deal of shame around this. (and it still shows up at vulnerable times)
I needed space to BREATHE
To connect to my essence
It was all too consuming
So, I lost myself HARD.
It became all too foggy in my brain. Between the mental load, the lack of sleep, tying to understand what was happening for one of my children, challenges in my intimate relationship, the feeling of being stuck and a prisoner in my own life, and financial stressors, my essence faded away.
I no longer had deep trust in myself, didn’t see my gifts, felt incredibly shaky, could not make decisions that pertained to me, felt deeply unimportant, questioned my place in this world, felt a deep sense of distress about my life and my future, and felt like I lost all uniqueness that belonged to me. Things were dark, heavy, depressing.
This was NOT how I wanted to do/experience motherhood. I was/am also REALLY good at expecting myself to be a conscious/intentional/gentle/respectful mother at all time (if this resonates, I see you).
So the shame crept in (hello old friend) and the essence of ME melted away or went on extended vacation.
It was not until the pain of all of this became so incredibly unbearable and burned me out on multiple occasions and confined me to bed that I knew a RADICAL shift needed to happen.
NO ONE WAS GOING TO COME SAVE/RESCUE ME.
I knew this in theory, of course, but really needed to FEEL IT DEEPLY.
So I did some things. (That’s a WHOLE post in itself but feel free to reach out now and ask if you are burning to know!)
And I slowly started to feel alive and to feel excited again. Things felt more hopeful. I was able to see possibilities again. I was curious about myself.
Don’t get me wrong, I did not fully embrace myself and my life everyday (and still don’t); but is was ok.
I now have a more nuanced view on identity and motherhood.
They are weaved together like a beautiful piece of fabric.
I no longer see “loosing oneself to motherhood” as a personal failure.
Change through such a jarring, transformative experience is INEVITABLE.
Experiences SHAPE us and sometimes they SHAKE us.
We have the personal power to alchemise the experience.
Slowly; when we are ready.
And you know what the most fascinating thing is?
I still carry with me the essence of the Jen before kids. I didn’t actually lose it. I’m still all those things BUT a new LEVELLED UP version.
It’s giving me the perspective to REALLY spend time of WHAT MATTERS and cut all the other bullshit out. I didn’t have the guts to do that before; now it’s necessary for my mental health and wellness survival.
No vision quest, women’s retreat, ecstatic dancing, processing circle, or other transformative experience has EVER allowed me to reach THIS deeply within myself and get real about ME.
So, if this speaks to you; this is my jam. To deeply explore YOU.
LET’S RE-STORY IDENTITY together and bring meaning, joy and transformation to your daily experience.
Yours in transformation and strength,