Monday, August 23, 2010

Feeling feelings. Too much for mama.

When I was pregnant, I stopped reading. Which might not seem like such a big deal if you’re just a casual reader, or a non-reader altogether, but for me, reading has always been a major part of my identity, having fancied myself Anne Shirley for as long as I can remember. When I was pregnant, the possibility of being taken on an emotional journey was terrifying (I also stayed away from any movie that wouldn’t be found in the “romantic comedy” section of itunes).

The idea that I might connect with feelings of loss, or love or even hope and joy was too much to handle. I thought it was a unique eccentricity of my pregnancy, maybe related to past pregnancy loss but having talked about it with other mums now, it seems to actually be fairly common. I vaguely recall reading once that there is no one closer to life, but also to death, than pregnant women, and so I suppose that walking that precarious line opens up a very fragile vulnerability in some of us.

Since having Oliver, I would say I’ve been too busy to really read, but the truth is I am still a little scared to open myself up to feelings I can’t control (that’s a sentence for a shrink if I’ve ever heard one). I’ve had lots of strong emotional responses to this amazing new life in my arms, but I’m reluctant to let myself deeply feel from another source. In some way giving myself over to an artist’s portrayal of the world maybe feels a little cheap -  I have this real and true and vital experience right here, why chase false emotions through books and movies and music?

But just now, while performing my bedtime preparations, steaming my face with a piping hot flannel, I caught the last strains of a piece of music I used to use in my yoga class, drifting up from the remains of our little dinner party, and I felt it wash over me. Feelings. Contentment, peace, comfort in my body, warmth in my skin. And sadness in my chest pulling at the joy in my belly.. and it sort of felt good.

I am sure that for the rest of my life the deepest and truest feelings in me will be stirred by my son and my family, but it’s good to remember that while my world begins and ends in the little room at the top of our stairs, there are other worlds worth experiencing too.

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