When I was pregnant with my first child, it was kind of a miracle. There was a lot of counting, waiting, praying and modern medical technique involved. But it also felt like I had, at last, been accepted into an exclusive club. I thought I would finally be "complete." I would be the woman I already was - only better. I was going to kick ass at this mothering gig.
I was wrong.
It turned out that becoming a mother kicked my ass.
It took me a while to wade through Guilt and her BFF Shame to recognize that I had some mixed feelings about my new situation. I had idealized what being a mom would be like and reality was not quite living up to my expectations. Whenever I felt any sense of loss about my "old" life, my mind quickly followed up with a "You are LUCKY to even HAVE a baby!" --- i.e., you wanted this so shut it.
Somewhere in the process of becoming "Mommy" I lost something fundamental: I lost contact with my Essential Self.
I would catch glimpses of her from time to time but she was like a shadow, getting bigger when the light was right, taunting me with her elusive and mercurial appearance.
Eventually I figured that the person I'd been had forever disappeared into the person I had become. I still loved movies and music and cooking and reading. And I loved my family and my life as a wife and a mom. But the memory of feeling truly connected to my "old" self was getting fainter. There was a feeling of resignation. Those were the olden days. That ship had sailed.
Cut to a couple of years ago.
Life was fine. Except that sometimes life was happening all around me and I felt like a ghost. My kids were tweens. I had stacks of family photos depicting events that I dimly remembered. Clearly I was there - I am in the pictures. But I can recall certain things that happened in my twenties more vividly than large portions of those years.
I started quietly freaking out.
Following a persistent whisper, I enrolled in Life Coach training. One outstanding by-product of training to be a Life Coach was learning how to walk my talk. If you are going to work with people to help guide their course, it's a pretty good idea to first learn how to do it yourself.
To make a long story shorter, what I needed to do was reconnect to the "me" I assumed I'd lost. She had not disappeared at all. I had unwittingly abandoned her for stories of what I thought my life was "supposed" to look like. She had been calling me back to myself for years but those "should" stories were so loud and righteous that I couldn't hear the calling.
I learned how to Pay Attention. I remembered how to trust my gut. I stopped thinking so much about what I "ought" to do. I began taking small steps in the direction of things that felt right. I re-gained my sense of possibility and excitement.
My Essential Self and I were reunited and it's been a virtual love fest!
By abandoning the stories of what I assumed motherhood and being a grown-up "should" be, I have been able to create my own narrative.
I get to decide how I feel and what I can do - and that's wickedly empowering as I dive into the next phase of my adventure.