The Hero’s Journey

I was just watching Oprah and Liz Gilbert on Super Soul Sunday talking about the hero’s journey (Joseph Campbell’s ideas). Specifically, they pointed out that theirs and my generation of women are the first women who were not just expected to leave school, get married, have babies and support a husband on his journey. 

And it’s true. 

Joseph Campbell has always maintained that women do not have a hero’s journey because their journey has always been clear – have babies, keep the species alive. There has been no room for the Unknown. 

Yes, a simplistic view of it all. 

But the next point is that as a result women of my age struggle for role models which makes it difficult to take the leap of faith to live a life that is ‘other’.

For me, it explains why I adore and respect both women so much. Unable to bear children, their choice not to be mothers makes my infertility that little bit easier to wear in our society. I am still abnormal, but I’m not alone in that abnormality. So to speak. 

Also, women who have been pioneers in following their bliss, make it that tiny bit easier for me to accept that old adage, which I abhor, that everything happens for a reason. Infertility permits me to keep trying other things, mixing my life up a bit, dabbling in many things, to the point where I now believe that my role here in this incarnation is to continue my work as a healer. 

And I now embrace that. 

And am happier for it. 

That’s not to say that I no longer wish for children. I do. Every day, at least once, but it isn’t as intense a pain, more a yearning. 

I still can’t go to baby showers. I still struggle with the pregnancies of friends. I still dream and think of falling pregnant. 

But I don’t cry. 

There is an acceptance within me that that just wasn’t my path. And so a desire to find my path, and do the work, has substituted my baby dream. I am more resilient than I was. 

My wish for the younger women of this world is that they too, find their own path, realising that gender doesn’t preclude them from any path that they want to follow; they just might have to fight harder. 

There is not just one way of living, but many, and they are all equally valid and valuable. As are all people. 

Processing Time

My head has been working hard for the last month or so, processing many things, some of which I do not have access to. 

My birthday is coming up. 

I generally love birthdays but the last two have only served to remind me how different I am. How alone I am. 

Not lonely but alone. I blame my 38th birthday for this. That was the birthday that changed me. I came home from a lovely dinner to reflect on and then act on my childlessness. 

Six years later I am still childless. 

And I’m not sure how I feel about that. 

I sacrificed a lot to undertake that path. And I have lost a great deal as a result. And I’m not quite sure where that leaves me. 

I’ve always felt like I’m different to other people. My life hasn’t ever really followed a mainstream path and for the better part of my life I have been grateful for that. I have done a lot of things; achieved a lot of things; created a significant life for myself. 

And I do acknowledge that I have been mother to many. 

After my 41st birthday I stopped organising birthday celebrations for myself. Very unusual for me but I didn’t feel like I had much to celebrate. By my own choice. I’m weird. 

I’m not married. I’m childless. I don’t own property (yet). I’ve been in my school for a long time (people have said that I’m too scared to move and fail to understand that I am just, most of the time, happy there – still learning, still growing, still making a difference – so why must I leave). I’ve travelled. I’ve written. I’ve done many things; learned many things. I feel deeply. And I give way too much. 

Usually to the wrong people. 

I’ve almost accepted my weirdness. 

Almost. 

Liz Gilbert posted about shame this morning. Last night I watched Brene Brown’s TED talk on vulnerability, connected to shame. 

As much as I have lived my own life and been very authentic throughout the vast majority of that pursuit, which has yielded great fulfillment, and funnily this sentence now needs to change but I can’t delete what I’ve written. Aha. Epiphany. I have spent most of my life fulfilled in service. And happy. Blissfully. 

I have also experienced extreme depression, been suicidal countless times (none recently – in 2008 I painstakingly prepared my death and organised my life and only stopped the process when I realised someone would have to find me and that would cause trauma to them), but have accepted all of that as part of the process, my process on my journey throughout my life. 

And whilst I’ve always held strong to doing what I feel called upon to do, I still feel guilt sometimes for who I am. Shame. I don’t live a normal life and I’m not a normal person or teacher or writer or healer. And whilst I am good with that inside of myself, the older I become, the more shame I feel that I have not been normal. 

Devastatingly tragic. 

And funny. 

Childlessness has forced me to appraise myself and my life along a continuum of normal that I have never subscribed to – NEVER. In fact, that I have intentionally flouted for most of my life. And the last two years, since I lost connection with a soul mate, have left me feeling lost, disconnected and broken. 

Epiphany after epiphany this morning lol. 

One of the reasons I haven’t written much recently is that I’ve had minimal clarity in my thoughts; they’ve been swirling aimlessly trying to roost after consuming too much Red Bull (my thoughts, not me – I don’t touch the dangerous stuff). I feel like that is reflected here. 

I think the point that I was supposed to reach this morning is that none of it matters. None of it. It doesn’t matter that I’m childless or different. It really doesn’t. As long as I live my life, not just exist, and as long as my life is rich. And my internal life is very rich. My external life lacks balance – yep, still trying to rein that balance in. Have I spelt rein correctly. I don’t think so. Goddamn I used to have flawless spelling. There just isn’t enough time in each day to do all that I want to do. 

I think my childlessness will scar me. Many things have in my lifetimes. But I tried. I think there is more that I could have done but I wasn’t able to at the time and I’m at peace with that. I think that maybe I was just meant to try. 

I think I’m meant to do lots more in my life too. My head keeps returning me to my idealistic 15 year old self. I think that there are children in Africa and Nepal that I am supposed to meet. Not yet but soon. Other places to visit. And I’ve almost successfully conquered the fear regarding those adventures that have kept me reined in (again with that word. Why does the brain select words which create uncertainty in its own peace). Should there be a g or is that the one where we are in power. MFC! Exasperation. And I can’t google it because I’ll lose my flow. Nuts. 

I need to write my list. I need to set more goals. I need to say no to things that don’t fit me anymore. Work to do. 

Gotta love holidays. 

I’ve also come up with the first few chapters of a new book. Just need to start writing them outside of my head. 

PS. Hours later I find the following image on Facebook. Timing. 

  

Quick Post

So I made and followed through with some decisions today. I will work four days a week for the next two terms and I am going to go to New York in July.

And as a result of just deciding to do something different I am starting to feel alive again. My two decisions are at odds with one another. I don’t have the money to go to New York and dropping my days of work reduces my income but so what, where there is will there is a way 😳 or so I am hoping.

And funnily, today when I woke up, I liked my face again. I saw the pretty coming back.

I was scared to approach my boss, a very caring man, and when I say scared I mean terrified. I fought back tears several times. Fear really has held onto me. I think constant failure at conception has resulted in me not believing in myself at all, and as a result, in the last six or so weeks, not liking myself very much.

So after listening to Liz Gilbert yesterday in conversation with her fears, and giving them a seat on the journey but no voice and definitely no vote, I had a similar conversation with my fear today. I told my fear that I knew it was there but I had to ignore it because if I listened to it and failed to fight for my self, only disaster would come; I may as well be burned because I wouldn’t really be living. And I’ve never just wanted to exist.

And so, I moved beyond my fear. And now I will start working four days a week next term for two terms, writing on the fifth day, and in the middle of it I will manage to accrue funds to go to New York.

Reclamation of the self.

Thank you Liz.