Shields

what is the nature of your intentions?

grabbing the warrior’s shield

hanging in the great hall

what do you fear more?

the maiden who carries a knife in her boot

knowing her aim hits its mark

or that you cannot protect her from yourself

will you chain and lock yourself in the tower

when the full moon reaches its orb

transforming before the mirror

unprotected by shields from yourself.

 

(c) Amanda Wilson 2014

 

 

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Run…run…run

Oh how we distract ourselves,

from expectations gone awry,

subject behind our addictions,

such silent afflictions,

so afraid of what society does spy,

scared sheep placing dreams onto shelves.

~

Lost in the fear of suffering,

run…run…run…

don’t dare to look back at your reflection,

calling ourselves the names we hear,

ego tripping on itself,

when I choose courage over fear,

residing in a joyful moment,

when I stand my ground.

Curious Paradoxes of New Motherhood

The arrival of a new life is a little like a hurricane has come through shaking everything up to the point where you don’t recognize the landscape any more. I had a reader comment on one of my recent poems that the adjustment to motherhood appears to be agreeing with me. Becoming a first time mother is exhausting, scary, joyous, frustrating, and can feel like you are going a little nuts. In some ways I have enjoyed the transition that I am adjusting to as a new mother. In other respects I find the change to be very overwhelming. 

My son, Dylan, is now two weeks old. He has no qualms about making himself known when he needs something, or even just wants to be held. As a new mom, I usually start with basics. Does he need to be changed? Is he hungry? Is he too hot or too cold? Is he overstimulated or overtired? Does he just want to be held? Is he gassy (big source of discomfort for babies)? Sometimes though a baby will just fuss, and there isn’t too much you can do about it. This last one is frustrating when you’ve had very little sleep, and your son or daughter seems uncomfortable. 

Once you have a child you will find yourself laughing at, or saying things you never thought that you would. A few days ago I was getting ready to give my son a bath when he peed all over the towel, so I had to get my husband to fetch me a clean one. Baby boys require very fast diaper changes by the way. If you have had a little baby boy and been peed on enough times you know exactly what I am talking about. Once the cold hits his little penis it is like dealing with a fire hose. A few minutes after the pee incident, I was laughing, because my son was making bubbles in the bath water from his farts. Bathroom humour normally doesn’t make me laugh yet now it appears to. 

As a new mother, you worry about things that you never cared about before or that prior to having a child weren’t a concern. For example, if I want to take a shower or even go to the bathroom then I have to make sure if I am home alone that he is either in his crib, or another safe place. I normally leave my bathroom door open so I can hear him if he starts to cry. 

Self care is an important part of me staying well myself, and bare minimum for me is eating 3 meals per day, a shower, and brushing my teeth. Emotionally I speak regularly on the phone or have coffee with those friends of mine who have had young children. With a newborn sleep is probably the most challenging basic need for me to meet. My husband during the weekends takes the night shift to care for Dylan so I can get some rest, and during the week my mother will take him for a few hours so I can get sleep or a sanity break. I love my son, but appreciate him even more when I get short periods of time away from him. At first I felt a bit guilty about taking the time away from him, and I think most new mothers do feel like they are being selfish if they are away from their children.

Labour, delivery and the adjustment to becoming a new mother have not been easy on me emotionally or physically. Physically I am still recovering from a c-section. My staples that held the incision together came out shortly after Dylan was a week old. I am still in some pain from my surgery, and have another two weeks that I am restricted in what I can and cannot do physically. I have been lucky to receive help from family members, so cleaning, dishes and laundry are kept up. I have had to relax my standards quite a bit as I am trying to find the balance between what needs to be done, and what isn’t that important. My body also underwent a huge change physically as I dropped down 28 pounds when I gave birth from the loss of fluid, no longer carrying my son, or the placenta.

Emotionally, hormones have had some fun playing mind games with me and sleep deprivation probably doesn’t help matters either. My anxiety has been a big challenge recently as I have had a hard time trying to relax, or rest. I also find that I do not tolerate large amounts of visitors very well. It has been important to set some strict boundaries to limit how many people come to my house at once. I have been making it a point to get out of the house every second day for a walk, or even for just a coffee as I know that isolating myself will make things much worse. The first week that I was home from the hospital I was very weepy, and this is getting a little better over time. What I was wondering at the time was why am I crying when I have this beautiful little life in my care? Some of the tears came from the knowledge that his care is largely all on me. I just learned how to take care of myself not too long ago and now I am responsible for a little soul. 

New mothers don’t talk very often about the fact that it can take a while to feel a bond with your offspring. I loved my son when he was in the womb as the connection felt so very intimate. I did not finish labour and delivery with Dylan as he would not have made it through my pelvis. His entry into the world felt very surreal to me. Day by day though I am slowly getting to know this little soul who appears to have a strong personality already. My favourite moments with him are when he is snuggling with me after a feeding, taking him out in the stroller, or he is watching TV with me on the couch. It’s in those quiet times when it is just him and I that I can feel love slowly growing. 

Amanda

 

Zen Cat

Zen Cat

Life can be chaotic. Friday morning was one of those days where life got a little nuts. The hydro went out in the middle of the night. This meant that my alarm clock did not go off at the time that I needed to get up for my prenatal appointment. I actually was awake an hour later than I had planned.

Now potential lateness is one of those things that can trigger my anxiety. Normally, I arrive at least 15 minutes to half an hour early for my appointments or prior to starting a day at work. I very quickly took a fast shower and brushed my teeth then my husband and I left on the 45 minute commute to see my ob/gyn.

Before I go any further I should mention that my doctor works out of two clinics in the same community. We hit traffic on the way there, so we were already running late by about 10 to 15 minutes. We reached the medical clinic that my doctor works out of and she was not there. The office was undergoing renovations, so the receptionist and I were communicating via shouting.

We got the address for the other clinic and I was about half an hour late for my appointment. Now please bear in mind that I felt hormonal, hot (it was very humid here), and irritated by this point. When a pregnant woman reaches 31 weeks, and has an anxiety disorder it can make for an interesting combination.

Once I reached home the cat pictured, Teddy, climbed up onto my lap. He gave me his calm expression then began to purr very loudly once he settled down. It was like he was reminding me that after all the chaos there will be a moment of calm. I am hoping as I become a mother that things will start to ruffle my feathers much less and that I will be able to embrace the chaos more easily.

Amanda

Mental Chatter

incessant late night chattering

interrupting ability to enter swift dreams

plagued by an unanswered question

why do I feel so unseen?

even when viewed in plain sight

this nowhere woman

invisible

to them I am a ghost

nobody sees the true me

even in the garish light of day

a ghost cannot cry

they cannot hear this noise

monkeys…mental chatter

 

(c) Amanda Wilson 2013

After Catharsis

After Catharsis

Knowing a strange kind of black rain,

one that imprisons you

from wind driving in all directions.

Came out of the cold: trembling,

and deeply worn out

crying oneself to sleep then falling.

Safe and warm, wrapped in blankets,

hibernating until crocuses poke

through thawing ground.

Until then safe in dreaming cocoon,

waiting in Love’s soft arms

for morning light after catharsis.

(c) Amanda Wilson 2012

Archaeology of Self

My last blog post was written on October 31st, and it has been a hectic two weeks since then. When I was not paying attention my heart transformed itself. I looked around and realized how far I have come in my journey of recovery.  A survivor reaches a point where his or her identity is no longer about the wounds of the past.  I began in the past few months to engage more with the world outside my door again. My participation in activities that I loved long ago is for me to do an archaeological excavation of my sense of self.

One of the things that I decided to do was to join a mixed adult and children’s choir. In high school, I participated in musical theatre, played the clarinet, and was in a choir. Music was a love that I abandoned, because my confidence in myself dropped when I became depressed. I was nervous during my first choir practice, but met some wonderful, friendly people who share my love of music. Laughter and fun quickly replaced my anxiety. I have also started to venture out to attend concerts and performances. I am no longer willing to allow my anxiety to stop me from doing what I love. Love is far more powerful than fear is.

In the past few months, I started to volunteer a few days a week with a mental health organization in my community. This organization runs a drop-in centre where I make coffee, assist with social events, and talk to those who come in. One challenge I am finding is how my anxiety level will rise when we have a large crowd of people. I have always been more comfortable personally with working one on one, or in a small group. The volunteer work, and pushing myself to get out in public regularly do challenge me to move outside my comfort zone. I am an introvert and still in recovery from post traumatic stress disorder, which is an anxiety based illness.

I am enjoying where I am at in my journey of self-discovery, and I feel a little bit more whole as each day passes. Above I posted Joni Mitchell’s song “A Case of You.” Love really is the most powerful force in the universe; not fear like I had once thought. Joni sings:

I remember that time that you told me, you said
Love is touching souls
Surely you touched mine
Cause part of you pours out of me
In these lines from time to time

Something so beautiful was poured into my heart and soul that changed my perspective on so many things. I have no idea where my journey will lead me, but I am so excited for the wonderful possibilities.

Amanda