Where many women struggle to say no and take on to much. I’ve struggled to say yes out of fear of taking on more than I can bear.
Becoming overwhelmed and out of control is still my biggest fear. Because of that, I have a wave of emotions that flow within me every time I consider taking on a task, project, or adding something to my plate. I’m constantly searching for my path of least resistance.
I have a history of tapping out quickly when I’ve felt like I was becoming the ‘out of control’ version of myself. I know what it’s like to become filled with debilitating anxiety or just stuck out of fear of losing control.
My overarching fear is losing control of my mind.
From a very young age, losing my mind was presented as my possible reality. My mother was diagnosed with schizophrenia when I was around 9 or 10 years old. Due to our previous family history, my sister and I were warned that our mom’s mental disorder was hereditary and that we could show signs anywhere between our teens and our 30s. We were also informed that stressful or emotional life events could trigger a psychotic break.
Needless to say, I thought I was losing my mind at the age of 19 when I began suffering from intense anxiety and major depression. Becoming a prisoner of my own mind was appearing to be my greatest fear coming true. However, it turned out to be Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD), a hormonal mood disorder that I’ve been battling for the past 20 years.
Throughout college, I self-medicated. Yes, I was a “pot-head”. But once I became a nurse, that crutch was no longer an option (not that it was legal in those days anyway, shhh). However, I was still smoking cigarettes and had become more frequent in my drinking than I had in my past. Besides that, for the first 10 out of those 20 years, I thought controlling my situations was the answer to my peaceful mind, until I tried to enter onto my maternal journey.
My “perfect” future began crumbling around me, my vision fading before my very eyes. I felt out of control when 3 doctors told us we would never conceive naturally. I felt like God was playing a sick joke, impregnating me with this passion to support women in labor. All the while, I was being sentenced to witness others experience an experience I may never have.
In the past, my efforts and strategic planning resulted in my moving forward on “my life path” with success. I finished college, passed my boards, got the job I wanted, moved where I wanted, got married to who I wanted. But then, the “meconium” (sh*t) hit the fan, as a doctor, I used to work with says.
I spent the first year of infertility depressed, angry, and mentally exhausted. I felt hopeless, stuck in an undesirable reality and I didn’t have the ability to change the outcome. PMDD didn’t help the situation. I remember going to my manager and telling her I could no longer work in this specialty. But when she asked me what area of nursing I wanted to move into, I had no ideas.
God’s twisted plan had me trapped, I thought. I’d originally only even became a nurse to become a midwife. I’d been obsessed with maternity since the moment I saw Dr. Huxtable on the Crosby show teaching pregnant women at the local community center. But being raised by a pastor, I knew I had to let go of the thought that the Divine was working against me. I knew that I had to believe that all things were working out for my good. I was aware that I needed to have faith that this portion of my journey was just designed to be an exciting part of my story, that would end with me sharing the results of my great blessing and favor. It turns out, the journey itself was my peaceful blessing.
It became clear that my control was not in how soon or even if I’d become pregnant. I discovered that in order to replace depression, doubt, and fear with hope and inner peace, I had to find windows of opportunity that would allow me to keep moving forward. Otherwise, I would not only become trapped in my head but I could get trapped in my emotions. I became focused on being able to handle the experience, as opposed to preparing to control it.
Wanting to start a family and being told that it was impossible led to my praying, hoping, and wishing for the impossible. I realized that I was asking for a miracle, which meant it wasn’t up to me. I told myself, that when asking for a miracle pregnancy, it could happen at any time. I imagined that I’d be like those women on “I didn’t know I was pregnant”. So, I needed to be ready and stay prepared by keeping my body and mind in a state of peace. I wanted my womb to be serene and welcoming for my unborn child. Most importantly, I wanted to know that if I was blessed with a pregnancy, my stress, smoking, and alcohol consumption would not be the reason I lost it.
I began reaching for any form of motivation and comfort that would help me keep my hope and peace alive. I began to look at women in labor through new eyes. I saw their fight to release tension during the middle of a contraction as my fight to surrender my plan to the Great Divine. I watched their struggle to relax throughout the process of labor as my struggle to release control. I let their stance, motions, and breathing become the tools I used to ride the waves of my sadness, doubt, and fear.
There were times when I fumbled. Like when a fellow nurse found me on the floor of a clean utility room, balling my eyes out filled with so much hurt and pain. It was very hard watching and helping others birth their dreams into reality. But I learned to give myself grace as I discovered more and more about myself and my process. I learned what I needed to balance the emotional sensations that filled my body and the thoughts that overpowered my mind.
Over the years, I’ve seen the patterns between what is taught during natural childbirth classes and what is preached in all of the self-help books, from neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) to cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and by the motivational speakers I’d binged on to get me through. My journey taught me the importance of self-awareness, mindfulness, and emotional intelligence. As I continue to learn more about myself, I learn about the patterns in humanity, the Uninverse, and how I’m connected to everything and everything is connected to me.
I realized that my fear of becoming trapped in my mind is more about becoming trapped in my experience.
I discovered that what I feared, was that if I became trapped in my experience, I wouldn’t be able to endure the stress and pain. If I couldn’t endure the stress and pain, I’d be overwhelmed by the suffering. Then, I wouldn’t be able to give anything to anyone, most importantly myself.
Through that experience and more, I’ve learned that triggering peace quickly so that I can open up that window of opportunity provides me with just enough space in a moment to take one step towards my yes, one step toward my freedom. And I’ve helped other women do the same over and over, through one contraction after another, in the labor room and in life.
It’s because of the hundreds and hundreds of women who allowed me to be apart of their birth story that I became aware of the power of feminine instincts and spiritual intuition. It’s because of them I came up with a theory…
“The maternal journey is our pathway to spiritual growth.”
I realized that in each struggle, within labor or life, the biggest struggle is redirecting our minds and overcoming the physical sensations we experience. Contractions of life will continue to come and go but if we can learn to refocus long enough to open that window to peace, we can keep moving forward. With work, that window can remain open for longer periods of time. I have to continually redirect my mind from depression during the months PMDD tries to take over. I had to redirect my mind away from shame when acne was causing me to tilt my head down to hide my face and when over 240 pounds threatened to shut the best parts of me in. I realized, that we can’t control the labors of life and we can’t eliminate the contractions. We can only control how we ride the waves and experience the experience.
Now, when I create a plan, the interventions must include a way to prepare me to be in a state of inner peace, mental and physical balance as I work towards fulfilling my goal. So, when I or another woman find ourselves feeling stuck, spiraling, or out of control, I focus on the natural process of labor, the series of actions, or steps taken in order to achieve a particular end. I work to discover and review the personal process, the series of actions or steps one uses to experience peace, and present peaceful power. I’ve realized that if I can figure out the route that was taken to end up where I am or she is. I can figure out how to reroute or reorganize the steps and develop a personal power plan to move forward. We all need to discover how to manifest our window of peace. Because when that window is open, it’s easier to move forward to a new, more desirable, divinely orchestrated destination, and place of Peaceful Power.