I’ve learnt so much in the last year. I’ve learnt about the Cold War and the Russian Revolution … I’ve learnt about Shakespeare and Wuthering Heights; but what’s more, I’ve learnt so much in what it means to live. Survival was my thing. Just get through. There doesn’t need to be joy, heat and flare, just survive Sian. For them. Now, I’ve learnt how to bring my body into different shapes and in doing so have been guided to a path that speaks of truth. It doesn’t promise perfection; it doesn’t even promise peace. But it promises a life, lived whole. At times all this knowledge allows me completion. I feel that my edges are raw but dissolving. Slowly drifting and moving – not the static cage around my heart that they used to be. My mind expands and contracts. But every time it expands I fill my lungs with pure, sweet air and let it into places that for so long had been stagnant streams, growing tired and hard to bare. Some days I feel energy tingle in my fingertips. And it’s bliss.
But some days I still find fear. I find anger and frustration; self-loathing and discomfort so real, I simply can’t sit still. And then there’s disgust. Who am I – trying to follow a path of ‘equanimity’? One bad day and it all falls away – I’m and imposter and I’m so god-damned small. All those dreams of dissipating, fading into the soil where the world can no longer hurt – they come back, and I’m ‘me’ again, this self that deserves not one warm word, not one joyous moment. It all comes back and it HURTS LIKE HELL.
Today was one of those days. But …. Underneath all the fear and loathing; lying still below the waves of ruthless doubt – I have laid a foundation. A foundation of worth. I can communicate with my body and in turn unleash my mind. I can watch it, stand back from it. Allow it to pass … to settle. Allow myself breath. Allow myself to come back.
Lose myself, and come back.
It’s the coming back I live for. It’s the moment when everything – even the pain – only opened more doors. Stretched out my eyelids. Offered me tomorrow.
I haven’t got there yet, today. But I can rest, knowing it will come. I will let go. Again and again and again. I may have to live out these days of pain and letting go until my last. But it is far better, far better, than not letting go at all. I feel alive, even when I am broken.
Have you ever had to press the palm of your hand into your chest?
The ache in my heart is often so physical, I feel like there should be a yoga pose to access it. Maybe there is … It’s not necessarily a bad ache – sometimes it aches as it swells open and expands with love and shared, knowing smiles. Sometimes it contracts with pain, making me roll in my shoulders for a concave chest – fear, loss, and desperation. Yet the actual physical, tangible ache is real. I press the palm of my hand to my chest so I can absorb it. Feel it ache. Acknowledge it. It’s a sensation. It passes.
But what it draws attention to is the intricate, inseparable existence of the body/mind. My body translates emotion, and my emotions manifest in my body. Today I sat still with my hand on my chest – for 5 minutes or so – and was able to harness it. Like the warmth from my hand was keeping the hurt alive, reaching through flesh and holding it still. I wanted the ache to stay a while, so I could break it down, beat by beat … breath by breath.
The ache is gone now; and it will return. I can still feel the slight burn in the palm of my hand where my body shared heat with my thoughts, and my thoughts warmed through – fit to transpire.
To be honest, I’m a bipolar mother.
I’ll be in the middle of making dinner, whilst overly conscious of the ticking time bomb that is two Friday evening full-time preschoolers. My bottomless cat is nudging me in the forehead with his paws all over the salad and someone’s trying to call me on my god-damned broken cell phone. I’d forgotten to buy a new can opener so now I have to attack the can of chickpeas with a steak knife. It’s freaking freezing in this rental, but I can’t turn on the heat pump or I won’t be able to buy enough bananas for the kid’s lunchboxes. I’m reminded I have to renew paper work for my student allowance. Fuck. All at once and all without wine – and all to the soundtrack of Peppa bloody pigs snorting.
Snap. I’ve raised my voice (screamed) at my 4 year old for simply brushing past my leg, then immediately sweetened my voice to the ‘sorry mummy’ decibel and am kissing him on both cheeks.
I sometimes wonder at my own ridiculous attempts at parenting, and am downright terrified what damage may be done to these poor innocents who got me for their mother (bad day in the lucky-dip). I’m up and down, left of centre, hot and cold … and the moments when I find a pleasant middle ground are usually short lived and impossible to relive.
But I can sit with it. I can surrender to being bi-polar mum because all of it – the yells and forgotten sunhats, the kisses and the pancake breakfasts, all come from a place of complete love for those two tiny beings. If I’m rushing my two year old out the door who wanted just one more minute to put on her own shoe – it’s because I need to be at university where all of our futures can become brighter. If I’m backing out of their dad’s driveway as my son cries out for me to stay, it’s because I know how important a relationship with his father is. If I have a full blown melt down in the middle of chopping the carrots, it’s because I feel never ceasing pressure to behold their lives, and nourish them fully. I feel. I see them. I may be complacent with their sunhats and I may give them rice bubbles for breakfast – but I am never ever complacent with their hearts. And I give them a kiss and cuddle at bedtime that comes from my very core, from so deep that it’s hard to know where my heart ends and their lashes begin.
To be honest, I’m a bipolar mother. But I love those kids so completely; I know we’ll all be okay.