I’m writing this while sick. I’m close to not being able to get out of bed. I need to heal and rest because I’ve got choir concerts at the end of the week. Adam has wrested the most important household tasks from my stubborn little fist. Gods, I’m stubborn.
Some things can be let go of, to make more space for other things, to allow for some healing rest. You know what I have let go of? I didn’t do my Sunday observances. Or my Monday ones. And I’m skipping my Tuesday puja too.
I took October off – off of writing, off of religious observances. It was an act of grieving, giving me pause to assess. I changed some of my practices and rededicated myself to others. So why do I feel like I want another vacation? And why do I feel so guilty about being tired?
As a mother, not just a parent of small children, but as a mother specifically, there is always guilt. Some stupid “mommy war” article makes the rounds on the internet reminding us that our kids should get less screen-time, more outdoor-time, eat more kale, but don’t be a hipster hippie and eat too much kale, don’t wear try too hard to be a MILF, but don’t not try either. Breastfeed, but not where too many people can see. Stay at home to raise your children, but don’t go on welfare. Work outside the home, but don’t be too ambitious. Females are damned if they do and damned if they don’t.
I do a very good job of deflecting this bizarre cultural stranglehold. I work hard to follow my own ambitions and to practice exquisite self-care. But I’m not always good at knowing my own limits. Part of this stems from being ambitious, from being a person who marches to the beat of her own drum. Part of this stems from growing up in a house where neither of my parents asked for help. Part of this is the legacy of my own lifetime of anxiety issues. What if I’m not working hard enough??
My own meter for accurate self-assessment is broken. Because of my history, I don’t know the difference between indulgence and discipline. Is indulging myself an act of self-love or of self-sabotage? Is discipline an act of love or self-flagellation? I never learned that distinction. With singing, hard work usually meant I still had an anxiety attack at the audition, so it didn’t matter how well I’d prepared or how nice I sounded every other day of the year. My parents never modeled asking for help or taking a day to rest. They worked until they were too sick to get out of bed. I learned all of the work ethic and none of the self-care and little of the rewards. Always a “should” lingered behind everything. I “should” do one more thing. Conversely, I “shouldn’t” eat that second slice of pie or keep reading my novel. And so on.
Being sick highlights the “divine discomfort” I’ve been sitting in all fall. I can’t distract myself with one more chore or offering. Lately things haven’t felt like they fit quite right. We’re still not quite moved in to our house. I’m still resisting taking my singing seriously. My devotions have lost some of the joy they used to have. In many aspects of my life, I feel like I’m going through the motions. I have a list or two of topics to write about and never seem to get around to them. There has been a dearth of magic.
Thankfully I know that this discomfort is not permanent. I’ve been in this place before. I have to sit and wait. Eventually, I will be struck with inspiration or make a realization on my own and the pieces will fall into place. I’ll find the rug that draws the room together, or figure out which piece is jamming up the works. Is this not the time for one of my ambitions? Should I be focusing on one thing, but not both things? I’ve taken on a lot of responsibility – all of it I have asked for, but some days I don’t know how to fit it all in.
I’ll probably get in front of my altar later today. I’ll lay out some water and ask for assistance from my gods, letting them know that I’m not just walking away from our usual dates. I’ll tell them how I’m feeling. I’m pretty sure Kali’s response to my “I’m overwhelmed!” will be “Good!” She keeps asking me to “stay ahead of the beat” as one divination put it. She wants me to be more active, but how? Surely I can ask how, even as I dare not ask why.
The only thing for divine discomfort is to sit in it.
If you need me, I’ll be pouting a little, sitting in bed with a book and baby, sitting in my divine discomfort.