Reflections on being always-broken and a farewell for now...
You know those moments where you come face to face with the reality of how little you can actually control? The moments where you can feel the intense pressure of all the things you’ve tried to hold together and accept and make sense of it all... just before the tension reaches maximum capacity and it all overflows the edges, spilling onto the floor all around you?
Last week was that week for me. Let me explain.
Almost 9 years ago exactly I became a mother for the first time. I was in an unhealthy relationship and the baby wasn’t “planned”. I had finally realized that I needed to get out of this yearlong relationship when I found out I was pregnant. I knew though, that having the baby was somehow my perfect path and I opened up to welcome him into my life. You see, I had been married for 6 years with no babies and no contraception, followed by a 2 year relationship with a man I adored, also with no babies and no real contraception efforts- so I knew that this baby that had come to me was truly meant for me. I tried to make the relationship with his dad work. That experience helped me write the joke that if you have to say, “maybe this will work”, then you’re probably already fucked.
I ended up leaving with a 7 week old baby because it became horribly unsafe to be there another moment. I stayed with some generous friends for 2 months. I went on welfare and saved the $550 cash aid for a few months to get the deposit for an apartment while I worked under the table for some extra cash to live on. My son’s dad immediately took me to court over custody, telling me later that he thought it would have scared me into coming home. It didn’t work.
I got into my apartment. I somehow made it through the stress of legal negotiations as well as regular exchanges of my baby with his dad. I got off welfare in 6 or 7 months because it is actually a lot of work to stay on welfare with very little reward (we could talk more about this, and maybe another time we will!) I rebuilt my entire bodywork practice because most of my clients had already moved on thinking I was taking time off with my new baby, which had been the original plan.
I allowed myself to grieve and mourn the loss of a dream of raising a baby in an intact loving family unit. I was converted to a lifestyle of Radical Self-Care during this time. I could see very clearly that I needed to be well in order to support my little family. I could see and understand that I could not pour from an empty cup or serve with a broken body. I received no child support and the daily stress was still very high because I was dealing with an angry, rage-full man who was following me, watching me, and stalking me for those first three years.
I was determined to overcome. I was unwilling to label myself (or my son) as a victim. During this time I made choices that felt empowering to me. I spent hours on the phone with the domestic abuse counselors only to decide that filing a restraining order was not the right choice for me and would not lead to the outcomes I desired. I found ways to nurture my health. I learned how to budget and save the money I was bringing in. I allowed myself to dream of what I wanted for my life.
We lived in that tiny apartment for 3 years while I rebuilt my life, or rather, built a completely new life. I paid off my car and saved enough money to move us into a house in the nearby town where my office was. It felt really scary to double my rent, but we had two bedrooms with a tiny yard, and my own washer and dryer. We also renegotiated custody when my son was 3 years old and went to a full 50/50 agreement. His following and stalking finally stopped with the new house and the added physical distance between us.
Over the next few years I continued to build my business and gain a level of mastery over my own deep healing and the arts of Radical Self-Care. During this season I also somehow scraped up enough money and time to pursue my dream of becoming a yoga teacher. Time and money were tight but the Universe continued to provide all I needed time and time again. I experienced great thriving and expansion in my business as I poured my hard-earned knowledge and wisdom back out into my clients. I began to expand my dreams as I realized my desire was to facilitate more healing with others through a coaching and mentorship practice.
I kept dreaming. I stayed devoted to my path of Radical Self-Care. I developed new skills. I kept learning and growing and living. I magnetized a loving relationship. I did expand my practice to include teaching yoga, coaching and mentorship. I faced fears, I softened my edges, I received, multiplied and expanded and poured out my life. There are obviously many more details and stories here but I will save them for a different day.
My son was the catalyst for these radical changes in my life. In giving birth to him, he gave birth to me. I was able to access and channel love, power, creativity, and strength that I couldn’t seem to utilize for myself before he came.
My path and offerings in the world have been all about my brokenness and the vast whole-ness of what actually lies beneath the cracks. The wounds and fractures of my life have led me to be a Devotee of Healing and Redemption. My purpose is and has been to remind myself and others of our innate Resilience. The perfection of our human imperfectness. My dharma is to facilitate us in living from this place of recognition of our worthiness, thereby transforming years of generational rejection of ourselves (and one another) in the deepest places. My path is and has been to move into a place of recognizing the beauty and perfection of who I am already, and let go of thinking I need to be fixed or saved to become more whole, lovable, or acceptable.
And that brings me up to last week.
Up until last week I was planning on having my second baby at home. In peace. Without the stress of the hospital and the medical approach to birth. I have known throughout this pregnancy that I have a velamentous cord insertion. This means that part of the umbilical cord is not covered in the Wharton’s Jelly that protects the cord from rupturing if crushed, pressed or squeezed. The potential complication from the velamentous cord could be hemorrhage or suffocation of the baby in the womb during birth. There is also a question of how well the cord is secured to the placenta and the possibility that the placenta will have to be manually removed after birth if I can’t push it out myself.
I have been going in for extra ultrasounds every month and asking at every appointment about the status of the cord. Up until last week the clinic was being rather vague, so I have continued to prepare with my blessed midwives for a home birth as planned. Last week one of my amazing midwives finally called the clinic for better clarification on the cord issue and determined that it is simply not safe to birth at home. The obvious response from others at this point is that I should just be happy to do whatever is safest for my baby. The truth is, the home birth was a way for me to avoid the trauma I experienced being in the hospital with my first birth. Of course I want safety for my baby and for myself. I also want to be able to relax and trust my birth experience with as little unnecessary interventions as possible. I didn’t even realize how afraid I was of having to repeat my first birth experience until I was told I had no choice but to birth in the hospital again.
It was another busy & jam-packed week. Baseball season. Work. Chores. I had final client appointments in my office. I met with the midwives to come up with a plan to have this baby in the hospital but with only the absolutely necessary interventions. And I came home at the end of it all and I was at the bottom.
The bottom. More aptly put, the bottom-less, groundless space between. Here I am in the in between. Wondering how the fuck I got here...In between the Self I am now, and the Self I will become as I give birth for the second time. Here I am laying down my business that I have nurtured and grown and delighted in for the last 9 years, with no idea how she will withstand or transform in this new transition. Here I am laying down my financial freedom as well as my physical freedom and mobility as I devote myself to cultivating a fresh new baby Life.
I sat in my house surrounded by all my fears and insecurities. The fears of being at the mercy of the medical staff. Fears of losing my baby after growing him all this time. Fears of dying and leaving behind the son and partner I adore. Fears of losing everything I have worked so hard to create in the world. Fears that I will lose my place and others will pass me by. Fears that I am losing my chance to do the work I love in the world. Fears that I don’t have what it takes to cultivate my partnership through this new incarnation as parents. Fears that I will be at the mercy of another. Fears that I cannot trust. Fears that I am not worthy to be cared for. Fears that my life will crumble when I am vulnerable and in need. Fears that I never really had anything to offer anyway and I have been putting off the inevitable truth of my own not-enoughness.
By Grace, I remembered that the midwife had encouraged me to look up the story of the Descent of Inanna. So I started searching. I did find the story of Inanna, an ancient Sumerian tale of a goddess journeying to the underworld and being stripped of everything along the way, dying and being reborn. It is indeed a powerful allegory for the initiation of pregnancy, birth, and motherhood.
But as I was researching, something else happened. I was digging through old Pam England blogs and I found a post with her reflections on a little known Hindu goddess she had just been introduced to, Akilandeshwari (AH-KEEL-AN-DESH-VA-REE), the Crocodile Goddess. I was immediately captivated by her. For one thing, though I am no longer religious, I resonate the most with the Yogic Tantric philosophies and traditions, and they feel like the language of my own Soul. Here I am in this puddle of grief, fear, and brokenness, and this Goddess of the tradition of my Soul has made her way into my consciousness, and my living room. I knew she had a message for me. So I searched for more of her, anything I could find.
She is Akilandeshwari, which means the Never-Not-Broken Goddess.
What?! The Never-Not-Broken-Goddess?! In other words, the Always-Broken Goddess. In her always-brokenness she is also the Undivided One. Just like me and you she is vast and whole beneath the cracks. She is not hustling for her worth or trying to be fixed. She just IS. She is riding on the back of a crocodile. Crocodiles represent our deepest darkest fears. They spin their prey to death beneath the river’s waters. They are also amazing mothers (who knew?!) and symbols for motherhood and primordial wisdom.
Akilandeshwari does not ignore her fear. Nor does she fall prey to her fear and let it consume her. She RIDES ON THE BACK of her fears and she flows.
She is also seen as a diamond or a prism in the Yogic traditions. The prism takes in one ray of light and breaks it into many lights and colors. In this way the Light becomes more of itself. The way that mothers become MORE. The way that Source energy became the many and here we all are experiencing embodiment.
There is no destination to get to. We will never get it all done. Time and time again we are reborn. Spinning and whirling and recreating ourselves and our lives. Becoming more.
Last week in my brokenness I was visited by The Never Not Broken Goddess. She invited me to surrender to the spinning. To let all my resistance fall away. To surrender to the birth of this new life however it will emerge, and to the rebirth of myself as a woman and mother and healer and entrepreneur. She reminded me that I have done this before and that I too have ridden on the back of my Fears. She reminded me that I am eternal and this is not the end of my story. She reminded me that I AM the crocodile. A fiercely loving and attentive mother. Wise. Patient. Trusting and flowing among the waters. Connected to the ancient power of all that IS. She reminded me that I AM the Waters and I can surrender to the waves and currents. She reminded me that I am one with all that IS. That beneath the fractures there is no separation, only vast wholeness. She reminded me to feel all my feelings, and not to be in a hurry to push past them. She reminded me to witness and love my own Always-Brokenness. She reminded me that I am being born again, that Life is living me, and that every day is a gift and a miracle rather than a problem to be solved or a goal to be reached.
Akilandeshwari is the saint of my coming birth and I am infinitely grateful that she found her way to me in the moments of my drowning and spinning in fear. Again I was reminded that the Universe will speak to us in the language we speak and the words of our own hearts- if we are willing and receptive enough to listen.
So I will see you again beloveds, when I emerge from the rivers. Yet another transformation. A new incarnation. Reborn. Starting a new chapter that is yet to be written. I will see you again after breaking my own body to create more Life the way a prism creates rainbows of Light. In the meanwhile, may you too remember the power of being Never-Not-Broken. May you remember the vast wholeness that lies beneath your cracks. May you see the perfection in the world and your life exactly as it is. Always broken, yet never divided.
Listen to the podcast of this blog post and learn more about Akilandeshwari here. I am taking a break from weekly shows until July. In the meanwhile, please stay connected with me via social media and email, or in my online community, the INHABIT Self-Love Community Lab. Loving you all near & far!