You have wanted kids for as long as you can remember. After you got married, you knew that it was the next logical step. Yet years went by and no baby. You tried and tried and prayed and prayed and just when it seemed like your dream wasn’t going to come true, you found an alternative. After rounds of IVF, your miracle was finally here and all was well with the world, right?
Except it wasn’t.
Except it was very exhausting and very overwhelming and very isolating and just very very stressful. You love your children but you are also depleted beyond anything that you ever thought possible. What’s even worse than that exhaustion and overwhelm and frustration and depletion is that you are suffering in silence. Who are you to complain about something you have wanted and wished for and prayed for years? Who are you to complain when the women in your infertility support groups are still praying every day for what you have?
The collective experience of modern moms
As a reminder, I am painting different scenarios that may apply to the modern-day mama. These scenarios are stories of friends and strangers–clients and colleagues– and even though they are not directly my own, they are the stories of our collective experience. We all have our struggles and traumas and exhaustion, and seeing ourselves in each other’s stories helps validate our feelings and ultimately helps us heal.
Mom rage is that feeling of underlying resentment, frustration over unmet needs, and a deep sense of injustice. As mamas connected to feminine energy the need for expression exists within our systems, but as mentioned in my last post, our society isn’t set up to support our needs or our cycles as women. As a result, there is a lot of repression, oppression, and an overall feeling of being unexpressed. And so we get into a cycle of lying to ourselves by invalidating our own feelings and not speaking truth to each other for various reasons.
In his groundbreaking work on trauma The Body Keeps the Score, Dr. Bessel Van Der Kolk says, “As long as you keep secrets and suppress information, you are fundamentally at war with yourself. Hiding your core feelings takes an enormous amount of energy, it saps your motivation to pursue worthwhile goals, and it leaves you feeling bored and shut down…ignoring inner reality also eats away at your sense of self, identity, and purpose”.
So many mamas that I talk to feel this inner war or lack of self and purpose and the only way we are going to revolutionize that is to move from victims of a society that suppresses our voice to one that values the expressed woman. So many of us have experienced dis-ease in our bodies in the form of adrenal fatigue, thyroid issues, autoimmune diseases, pelvic floor issues, and so much more. There is a danger to being an unexpressed woman–and as Dr. Van der Kolk says “the body keeps the score”. Our bodies are communicating with us. Our bodies are literally breaking down so that we can breakthrough.
An inner revolution
The revolution starts internally by practicing expression–first to ourselves. I find writing to be therapeutic but whatever method speaks to you to move this energy and express yourself is a good starting place. It can be art or movement or therapy or a combination of all of the above. The Body Keeps the Score is a great resource that includes strategies for healing and moving trauma. And the next piece is to set up those safe circles and sisterhoods where you can unapologetically show up and express all the feels, even those that feel unflattering or shameful.
Ruth King in Healing Rage: Women Making Inner Peace Possible discusses our rage child and how rage is an oppressed child emotion that is housed deep within us. She goes on to say (rage) is “the daughter of our traumas, the twin of our shame, the burden of our denied histories, the foreign language of our emotional pain, and the wisdom that helps us heal”. King’s book is also a tremendous resource on this topic and she truly empowers us to move past the victims of our circumstances to the empowered women who use rage as a catalyst for deep healing and a true sense of inner peace. She teaches us disguises for our rage and how it manifests in different emotions and reactions to things.
Bringing awareness to these feelings and their roots helps us understand them, empathize with them, and most importantly listen to them. These feelings are communicating with us. If we get stuck in the resentment and feeling of injustice, we are victims. If we use that resentment to communicate our needs and if we start meeting our own needs, we will be fueled for action. Our response to the injustices that we feel will not make us a victim of the system but instead, an empowered woman who will express her truth, honor her needs and transform a system that only benefits a select few into one that benefits all.
So my advice today is for you to speak up! Even if it feels uncomfortable. Especially if it feels ugly or unflattering. The world needs us whole and expressed–so how are you going to start speaking your truth today?