Writing...is about some of our deepest needs: our need to be visible, to be heard, our need to make sense of our lives, to wake up and grow and belong.
Becoming a mother is one of those things that is almost impossible to prepare for, one of the few experiences in life that changes you instantly: one day you are not a mother, and the next day you are.
It happens so fast you wonder what happened, exactly, suddenly flung into new territory without a road map. While nothing can really prepare you for the labyrinth of this life transition, it does help to have tools to light the way. The tools you use are as individual as you are, the only requirement for the job being that they work. Yoga, girlfriends, books, therapy, martinis, or some combination of all of these, or more, may work for you. What I have found works for me is a writing practice.
When I say practice, I mean practice in a mystical sense, almost religiously, as a sort of devotion to myself. I also mean it in an athletic sense, for it is a type of mental athletics for me, a way in which I practice knowing my thoughts, a way of keeping up with myself as I change. I would not consider myself a writer, although I aspire to being one, but I write every day, as a tool for understanding myself. I write when I do not make sense, especially when I don't make sense. I write when I am not politically correct. I write and then I throw the writing away. I write to release myself from myself.
Writing has always been a part of my life, a way I could dependably clear my head and slow my speeding thoughts. A way I could savor life by slowing my experiences to the pace of my pen. My writing life began early, by being home taught. Diary writing was part of our cirriculum. By keeping a daily journal, my sister's and I learned about spelling, vocabulary, and grammar. It was consequently an impersonal recording, mostly of the days events and highlights; mostly of what we had for dinner.
I had always had a hard time communicating my thoughts into words. As a child, my thoughts fluttered by as feelings rather than words, a shorthand that I understood but that did not translate well into speech. As I grew, I practiced slowing down to sculpt words out of my feelings, whole paragraphs and chapters and books of feelings with no punctuation.
I practiced translating my feelings into words and soon writing became a habit and my journal more private, it's contents evolving to record my interior experiences. I still included what I had for dinner, but this time in much more lavish detail.
And then I got busy, and life whizzed past faster than I could write it. My twenties were filled with major life transitions and experiences happening in rapid succession, leaving little time for introspection.
Motherhood was the catalyst for my return to writing. I found myself laid completely bare after the birth of my daughter, a tabula rasa. My whole perception of life had changed overnight. My whole perception of myself changed overnight. Even my nervous system changed, going into a consistent state of high alert.
Becoming a mother was a very difficult transition for me. I stared at myself in the mirror. I looked how I felt: different. I wondered as I stared, who this woman was, what she thought about things, As I felt my internal compass shift its true north, I wondered who I was now, trying to fit into a new mold as scratchy and uncomfortable as an ill-fitting turtle neck. Feelings of suffocation and aloneness blurred my vision.
In order to make sense of my jumbled inner landscape, I once again turned to writing. I asked myself questions and waited for answers to come. And waited. I persistently faced the sound of my own silence, my own distance from myself.
I persisted in hopes of not only discovering my voice again, but in also discovering a new career. Writing seemed the perfect work for a stay-at-home mom. I struggled with this new concept of myself, of my life. I wondered how I looked to those looking in on me, wondered again who I was now, and where I would go. I still want to write as a career, to be published, recognized; to be heard. But I now recognize how important writing is to me on a fundamental level; that it anchors my very being. I may not fully know who I am now, or where I am going, but I do know that all along the way I am writing myself into being. And perhaps that is most the important part of the journey.