Thursday, January 10, 2008

Don't Stop in the Middle

Can I just say that women way overuse birthing metaphors? It's annoying. And what's doubly annoying is that I'm about to use a birthing metaphor. Sigh.... a thousand apologies for the limitations of my metaphorical thinking.

I'll spare you the gory details. Let's just say that it took 70 hours to get kid #1 birthed, and 24 hours for kid #2 to show his pretty face. Long labors like that give you way too much time to think. And somewhere in the middle, I realized that a) I wanted to quit and b) I couldn't quit. Every other single thing in my life I could quit if it got too hard. I didn't always quit, of course, but I knew that I could have. Once you're in labor, though, the only way through it is through it. There's no stopping in the middle and asking someone else to do it for you, if it's so damn important that it get done.

Getting through the first labor and then doing it all over with the second one taught me that I can get through really hard things when I have to. And there's merit in knowing that you can buckle down and endure when there's no other choice. And, the very act of that endurance changes you. Perhaps it allows for the possibility of the parenting to come, I'm not sure. But really, I am going to spare you the parenting metaphor. I have some principles.

Of course, I now find myself in another one of those transforming times. And I don't seem to be in charge of the trajectory. Nothing -absolutely nothing- about where I now sit has anything to do with my choices. Some good has come from this time, no question. But there's still pain and discomfort and none of that certain-joy you feel when you know you're doing the right thing.

The next-right-thing in this whole process has frequently felt enduringly awful. And I'm far enough into it now that I have more choices. I could quit some of this personal transformation. All Dave cares about is that he not have to spend any more of his life with me. What I make of me-without-him is entirely up to me.

I want to go back to the known, the safe, the predictable. I want that so very much. But I've done that so many times before - aborted personal transformation when it got too hard. (Oh fabulous. Now we're into abortion metaphors.... Note to self: buy thesaurus.) There must be some middle ground that allows me to intentionally but still radically transform myself. I think if the only possibility is that I fling myself into this process and hope for transformation, I'll find that too scary and I will just quit. Gentle transformation -is there such a thing?


Elisa said...

Well, I don't see why not. And honestly, I don't see why you need to transform yourself at all. I think you are just fine as you are. You're going through a hideous time, so why not let the other parts of your life be safe and predictable, for now.

Anonymous said...

Yes, there is such a thing as gentle transformation. Or so other people tell me. Mine usually seems to begin when I feel the Cosmic 2x4 impacting the back of my head.

Lexy said...

So you adopt. ;) Try on the different transformations for size and comfort and adopt the one that fits.

I, too, like you just the way you are but it's not about me. But if you become Fifi, I'm disowning you.

Lisa :-] said...

I think you will transform at the rate you can handle. You won't stay static or "abort." You've proven that you know the only way out of this is through it. But there is no need to go through it any faster or any braver than you can handle...

Andrea Rusin said...

You guys are brilliant. I love you.

Emma said...

You say that "nothing has anything to do with your choices" and yet, I would encourage you to consider that you always have the choice in how you respond. That is always in your realm. And no one else's realm.

And perhaps there is no "right" thing - there is only the best response that you have to each situation - and that will change as you grow and transform - hopefully a lifelong process.

There is such a thing as a gentle transformation - and the way to get there is to treat yourself with gentleness, to allow yourself the grace of accepting where you are right now and holding a vision of where you want to be - and to know what the essence of that vision is.