There are many things you get warned about when you about to give birth. But an unexpected one is that you are warned that you will experience what is called “the baby blues”.
You will have a time 3-5 days after the birth when the hormones in your body run wild and you run a roller coaster of emotions, even doubting if you are capable of being a mother or wondering if you can go back.
And the thing is despite the warnings, and the fact that you are ‘somewhat’ mentally prepared, you still have to let the emotions run their course. Even with the second child, when you have already experienced this tornado of emotion and hormones once before, it still hits you just as hard. It is not something you can avoid.
You may not have given birth, but I wonder if you can relate to that feeling? The feeling of holding a precious new-born dream in your hands, but you haven’t quite got the hang of it yet. The questioning why you did this in the first place and whether you can go back, (when clearly you can’t). The emotional roller coaster, the doubts, the questions.
Do you recognise this place? The place where you no longer know if the dream is ever going to be a reality, but also a place where you are so committed that you can’t go back and pretend the dream was never there.
Brené Brown tackles this middle time in chapter two of Rising Strong. The name she gives to this questioning, doubting, ‘what am I doing here’ phase is “Day two”. And it is the phase after you are vulnerable and you take a step in a new adventure. This is the messy phase, the dark phase when nothing is clear anymore.
You’re too far in to turn around and not close enough to the end to see the light
And no matter how many times you are vulnerable and you dare new things this is a necessary stage of the process.
Even today, I am writing this with the thoughts in my head of “Why-ever did I agree to be a part of this book club? What was I thinking? What if no one likes it?” running on repeat through my head.
So then I entered the next phase, “how can I get out of this, and not look like a fool … they have advertised it already. What could I do to not have to make this leap?” Even to the point of trying to avoid writing. (Cleaning my daughter’s room was more important today … gotta love procrastination!). In other words as Brené puts it I have tried to find “all kinds of creative ways to resist the dark”.
Yet in the end it is the wrestling that gets me there. I am scared, I am worried about people’s opinions, I am being vulnerable. But I am comforted (somewhat) by the realisation that this is important. No one skips day two as Brené says:
Experience and success don’t give you easy passage through the middle space of struggle. They only grant you a little grace, a grace that whispers, “This is part of the process. Stay the course.” Experience doesn’t create even a single spark of light in the darkness of the middle space. It only instills in you a little bit of faith in your ability to navigate the dark. The middle is messy but it’s also where the magic happens.
It is in the dark that you understand the lies that you are telling yourself. It is in the dark that you recognise the truth. It is in the dark that you make the decision that will eventually free you.
In the dark I have accepted that I am a people-pleasing person, but in the dark I choose not to let that define me and write anyway. In the dark I am afraid of what others will say about my writing in comparison to Elaine’s and Amanda’s but in the dark I choose to own my voice and believe that the diversity of voices will complement and not compete with each other.
In the dark I am wondering how I got myself involved in this crazy adventure (I blame Amanda … I always blame Amanda!) But in the dark I know that growth is never easy and stretching is often painful and I accept that I want to grow. (So maybe more me than Amanda!).
I am owning my own story, I am wrestling with the lies that I choose to tell myself.
How about you? Is there a new-born dream you held in your hand but have been struck with the questions and doubts of the baby blues? Comment below and join the conversation.
As Brené says, we need to “get honest about the stories we are making up about our struggle, then challenge these confabulations and assumptions to determine what’s truth, what’s self-protection and what needs to change if we want to live more whole-hearted lives”.