I decided amidst my anxiety last week to start seeing a therapist. Sure it was only 4 days of anxiety, but for this mama that was 4 days too many. I know myself well, and am quite familiar with the ghosts that like to lurk around in my soul. Those ghosts have lost much of their power over the years as I've built a strong wall of therapy, support groups and unconditional love around me, but I know all too well that with the right combination of hormones, significant life changes, and lazy brain chemicals they can grab me and suck me into their world. That's a place I am not eager to visit, especially when my life is about someone else right now….a tiny someone else who is relying on me to nourish her and keep her calm. Besides, I love the idea of therapy while pregnant. It's so natural for issues from the past and anxieties about the future to come up throughout your pregnancy. It's an enormous life change and there are so many unknowns from how you will experience pregnancy to the birth to becoming a mother to totally altering your lifestyle. Anyway, it's great to have someone (professional) to unload all that on so you can focus on creating a healthy, peaceful environment to bring your baby into.
So what's so interesting about seeing a therapist? Well, if you live in "the happy valley," as they call my area, you might get a little more than talk therapy (i.e. there may be singing bowls, energy work or dancing involved). This is one of the reasons I was drawn to the area—the hippie factor. It's pretty similar to the culture of San Francisco (where I thrived) with its open-minded community, focus on natural living and natural healing, and a wealth of intuitive people who seem to be living on a totally different spiritual plane than mainstream America. That being said, I wasn't surprised when my therapist asked me to go home, put on music that I love and dance with my baby. I admit, I was somewhat skeptical of this assignment and put it off until the last minute, but it was honestly the most therapeutic thing I've done in a long time.
Normally, my life is chock-full of therapeutic activities—yoga, painting, exercise, meditation, weekly support groups, etc. It is that lifestyle that keeps me sane, creative and motivated. But, I left that lifestyle back in Stamford, CT when I moved into temporary housing over the summer while insanely trying to find a house to buy in "the happy valley" with just 2 months to do so. All those therapeutic activities that make me "me" were pushed to the side….then I got pregnant and we moved. Don't get me wrong, learning I was pregnant was a joyous occasion and my husband and I were intentionally trying to conceive, but the reality of the timing meant being catapulted from a stressful few months of fearing we'd have no place to live to suddenly being in a new place, surrounded by boxes I couldn't for the life of me unpack, and spending my days throwing up and passing out from severe exhaustion. Where was I in that mess? I was lost. There isn't much you can do for yourself other than try to survive when you have a tough first trimester (which for me was more like a tough 17+ weeks).
So, by the light of a string of blue Christmas lights last night I turned on some music. At first I wasn't drawn to dance though, I was drawn to sing. And with one song, I found my voice again—the voice that is so full of emotion and passion, the voice I haven't heard in so very long. Halfway through the song I started to cry, partly due to the hormones, but partly due to remembering the "me" that has been lost in the shuffle of a chaotic transition. The tears made me feel like I was not following my therapist's instructions very well so I changed the music. Where would I find my joy, where could I dance? Phish.
Back before Alex and I were trying to conceive, Phish concerts were our thing (at least one of our many things). The hot summer nights, the freedom and carefree energy in the air, and the insane music….music that can transport you to places so enthralling and hypnotic. There is nothing like it, and the experience is such a release that you leave feeling light and euphoric for days.
With the flickering of blue lights in my dark living room, and my eyes closed, I was able to transport myself to a Phish concert. The memory of those experiences immediately grabbed hold of me….and of course, I started crying again (oh the hormones!). As I suddenly found the energy to dance to the entire 20 minute 57 second version of "You Enjoy Myself" after not being able to summon enough energy to get off the couch all day, I found myself there, dancing to the funk. It was amazing to feel my old self again—the self that was not stressed by mortgage applications, seemingly fruitless housing searches and attempts to conceive, never-ending lists of house projects, fighting to stay healthy while living on rice cakes and preggie pops, parades of contractors waltzing through my house, and the fear that I will somehow mess up this whole mothering thing. Ahhhhh.
As I danced though, I experienced a completely new sensation—the co-mingling of my old self/life with this new one I am growing into. I was lost in the music, but very aware that I was dancing with a partner. It was an ah-ha! moment of realizing this new, strange experience would be my life from now on….a balancing act, an attempt to be my own, whole self while being a fully present mother. As long as baby girl doesn't mind being strapped to my chest while I dance in hippie circles, I think we'll be all right:)
I was at this concert in Jones Beach 3 years ago:)
Damn I love those trampolines!