I’ve been in a state of exhaustion for most of the past two years (since my son was born).
His birth was long (67 hours) and difficult, complicated by an infection, a last-minute c-section, and birth trauma. The first weeks home were filled with sleepless days and nights while he cried and cried and cried.
With time and care, the trauma held in his body and nervous system from the birth did resolve. With time, my nervous system began to decompress and the tension/trauma it held also began to unwind and resolve.
Throughout it all, including now, there haven been two questions running through my mind. These questions became a touchstone for me – reminding me to slow down, to check in, to be more present – with everything.
That questions are: What am I receiving now? How am I receiving now?
What am I receiving?
Initially: the tears and wails of my newborn… the excruciating ache in my low back… the grittiness of my eyes from yet another night with no sleep… the sweetness/peace when he did surrender to sleep for a moment or two… the support and love of family and friends… the intense, all-consuming love I felt, deeper and vaster and more alive/painful/joyful than anything I’d experienced before… the feeling of watching my husband snuggle with him…
Now: his contagious laughter… the constant chaos of our home… food everywhere… the joy of him running to me to give me a hug (or running to me in tears to be comforted when he falls)… the glint in his eye as he looks at me right before doing the thing I’d just asked him not to…
And throughout it all: exhaustion – day after day after day…
How am I receiving?
This might be the more important of the two questions.
Am I receiving from a place of contraction? From resistance? “Yet another mess to be cleaned up?! Yet another sleepless night?”
Often, I was (and am).
Or, was I in this place of presence, of love, of openness – allowing it all in, feeling it all, embracing it all?
Sometimes, I was (and am).
In the end, this question actually served as a reminder TO receive – a reminder that everything is here to be received.
What I’ve learned over these past two years is that the more I can receive my experience, whatever it is, the more I will discover the gifts that are held there for me.
The gift of receiving the love and laughter of my son is obvious.
Not so obvious are the gifts I’ve discovered through exhaustion.
For instance, the glorious feeling of a 3-4 uninterrupted stretch of sleep (still a luxury).
Also, learning how to simply be with exhaustion without needing anything else.
Time after time I have taken exhaustion to my altar, sat with it, and it has transformed (without sleep). We have, in a strange way, became friends. I no longer resist it. I welcome it. While this may sound odd, it is a gift. I’m no longer controlled by a need for sleep (at least not entirely). I know that even without sleep, I will be ok.
Conversely, I’ve learned to listen to and honor my body’s need for sleep and now nap when my son naps if needed vs trying to get something done (it took me about a year to learn this).
Also, I’ve became much better at reaching out for help/support – something I’ve struggled with my entire life.
What and how are you receiving?
I’m speaking today about one (quite consuming) aspect of my life.
There are many other things that I am attempting to receive as well:
- the news;
- our current political landscape;
- the exhaustion/hopelessness I feel when I see how far removed the world at large is from how I believe it can be;
- the thought of a potentially very hot summer here on the West Coast (I do not do well in heat)…
Perhaps you can relate?
And yet, the more I resist these things, the less possibility there is that I will do anything proactive; it’s hard to take action when my energy is bound up in resistance.
When I can receive it, I can then feel it, process it, move through it. The opportunity exists for me to come out the other side.
This opportunity exists for you as well.
So, again, what and how are you receiving?
my love to you,
ps. The Medicine of Owl is incredibly useful when it comes to receiving challenging things.
pps. Here are two (non-toddler) things I’m receiving with joy these days: the chickadee’s song drifting through my window and the support of the earth as I lie on my back looking up at the sky.