Both discomfort and power lies in transitional times.
Since I decided to stop doulaing in April, I have felt unsettled, agitated and overwhelmed. I’m having a hard time feeling comfortable in this transition time. I’m finding it difficult to surrender to what is, and to trust that the path will unfold before me at the pace it’s meant to.
I’m an impatient person at heart, and this is a big challenge for me. In previous blogs I have shared about my leaving doula work and the wisdom of fallow times. Today I want to reflect on embracing the void.
The void is the fertile space in which you are no longer what you were and you are not yet what you are to become. It is a death space of sorts, a bit like the time where you are heavily pregnant and you wish your body would hurry up and give birth. Being heavily pregnant often comes with both physical and emotional discomfort, and this is no different.
There are many metaphors, from the metaphysical process of transforming lead into gold, which goes through a phase called Massa Enigma (where is it neither lead nor gold), through to the death and rebirth of the mythical phoenix.
I’m in this space now. And like waiting for birth, I have moments of quiet acceptance and moments of rage and irritation, as well as moments of despair. I notice that I will myself to be further along the path, and there lies the suffering, in not accepting what is.
I am undergoing a huge transition in my sense of self and my work. There is added discomfort in the complexity of my family situation, with a child who is too anxious to attend school and on behalf of whom we are fighting the education system to get the support needed, and a young dog whose needs are intense, much like a new baby.
I feel stretched and overwhelmed a lot of the time, with balancing the demands of my family and my work, and end up feeling that I’m not doing any of them very well. The fact that I am nearly menopaused, so going through an inner transition and discomfort at a physical and spiritual level is a big part of it too.
I notice that there is something in me that wants to be ‘ahead’ of where I currently am. That I have impossibly high expectations of myself (of which I mostly fall short). I think this is a very important thing to be curious about and to learn to recognise and tame. I’m currently reading a book called How To Keep House When You are Drowning, by KC Davis. She talks about self-compassion and of recognising when your inner voice isn’t kind.
Last week-end I met with a young couple who have offered to look after my dog from time to time. My dog is a 6 months old, 25kg, energetic golden retriever puppy. I’ve spent the last 2 months taking him to dog obedience classes, and I’ve been berating myself because I haven’t practised the training exercises enough for my liking. I was worried that the couple would find it hard work (he pulls on the lead and his recall is hit and miss still), but instead they said they found him very well behaved. And these are people who are used to dogs, and the woman is a vet. I felt this deep sense of relief. Then one of my daughter’s tutors commented on how amazing it is that Blue doesn’t jump on visitors. I reflected that, once again, what was stressing me was the impossible expectations I put on myself.
I told my husband of my overwhelm (thankfully he is a trained counsellor) and he replied that if an athlete was unwell he wouldn’t be expected to run. And I stopped and nearly laughed because I use this analogy all the time, but I had forgotten to apply it to myself. Isn’t it funny how we have this inner wisdom, yet how blind we are to our own process? Indeed, nobody would expect an injured athlete to train until they had healed. Yet when it comes to mental health challenges we try to push through and force ourselves to carry on, when we need to focus on our healing first, and cut ourselves some slack. After all, we are doing the best we can.
In her book, Rising Strong, Brene Brown asks herself and people if they believe that people are doing the best they can. At first she believes that no, people aren’t, and that they are annoying on purpose. And then she asks her husband who says “All I know is that my life is better when I assume that people are doing their best. It keeps me out of judgment and lets me focus on what is, and not what should or could be.”
After the athlete’s conversation, it dawned on me that I was, yet again, trying to force myself out of a funk by working harder. I realised that I needed to surrender to my discomfort and take the time to tend to the struggle and emotions inside. Instead of trying to push through and tackle my ever growing to-do list, I took myself to the office to do some work on what I need to start doing to be more connected to my heart. I will write about why I am doing this and why it is the most important thing I need to do right now in a separate blog.
I took this time for myself, about one hour, and I lied down and listened to a drum journey track, asking to be shown how to connect to my heart, and I was shown what to do. I felt much better afterwards.
A few days later, I was listening to Lee Harris’s energy update for this month (I used to feel I didn’t have the time but now I listen to this kind of things on a speaker in my kitchen whilst making diner and I love it) and he said that there is wisdom in overwhelm, because it is teaching us what is no longer working for us. I hadn’t thought of it this way, and it helped.
As serendipity would have it, later that day not one but two people I follow shared a similar message. In my inbox, I received this message from Shelley Young, who channels Archangel Gabriel:
“Dear Ones, you can’t be controlling and guided at the same time. You can’t decide you are going to do it all yourself and be open to receive at the same time. You are going through profound change, both individually and as a collective. You are being made aware of what is not working for you so you can let go of the old and find new solutions and ways of being.
If you are perpetually exhausted by your life it is a sign that you have outgrown where you are and you are ready for expansion and new discoveries. It is an indicator that you are ready to up-level into something that is a much better match for you and your soul’s agenda. Your soul is beckoning you forward into the new.
So allow yourself to be led. When you don’t know what to do next, get curious. Ask to be shown what is possible that you aren’t aware of. Give the reins to your team who have the vantage point of being on the other side of the veil and allow them to show you the way.”
And then Toko-Pa Turner, the author of the wonderful book Belonging, Remembering ourselves home, shared this on her Facebook page:
“Drop your maps and listen to your lostness like a sacred calling into presence. Here, where the old ways are crumbling and you may be tempted to burn down your own house. Ask instead for an introduction to that which endures. This place without a foothold is the province of grace. It is the questing field, most responsive to magic and fluent in myth. Here, where there is nothing left to lose, sing out of necessity that your ragged heart be heard. Send out your holy signal and listen for the echo back.”
These messages were very soothing for me. They were just what I needed to hear. I don’t need to force it, to be further ahead in my path than I am right now. There is power in the in-between now, and power in embracing the void. It is a fertile ground for the new.