It’s funny how life moves in cycles and seasons, and just when we think a particular cycle or story has ended in our lives, it comes right back up to remind us that it’s still here, hidden deep within our psyche, just waiting for it’s turn to resurface and teach us how to swim through this running river of life. For the last three years, I have been immersed in a new chapter of life: that of early motherhood. It rattled me to the core, shifted my beliefs and values, and had me learning to surrender and accept a number of things: my changed and changing body; my lack of time to myself and my work; and a shifting relationship with my husband which became far more raw and real than I could ever imagine.
I poured myself into the natural rhythms of my body – the only thing that seemed certain during those early years, was the arrival of my bleed every twenty-eight days. Night after night, spent at home with a little baby, had me creating rituals around my new way of being: watching the night skies darken and the moon blossom and fade, journalling, setting intentions, cleansing crystals, reading oracle cards, setting spells even, if you will, every new and full moon. For the first time in my life, I started being kinder to my body. I started listening to my body. I recognised and accepted her patterns. Understood she did not want to be busy during the beginning and tail-end of my cycle. I fed her intuitively. I treated her too. Spoke to her. Nourished her. Stopped weighing her. Dressed her in clothes that were comfortable and breezy. It was more than just an act of self-love and acceptance. It was an embracing of the matriarchy. It was a rejection of the patriarchy that had controlled my mind for so many years through restrictions around body size, sex, menstrual blood, clothing, food, body hair and the things we can and cannot speak about.
And then my body let me down.
On Father’s Day, ironically enough, my back gave in and I couldn’t move for hours. I lay still on the bedroom floor, staring at a forgotten world of fluff and abandoned toys underneath my bed. It took a full two months and many physiotherapy sessions to recover properly. My soft, feminine, mama body had failed me. I no longer had the power to breastfeed. I was determined to get strong. I needed to build my core, squat, run, jump. For my child. I couldn’t be injuring myself just leaning down to pick her up. I had to protect her and nurture her and I couldn’t do those things if I couldn’t move.
I swapped my morning walks and yoga for strength training and running. I took it really easy at first as I was still listening to and respecting myself. But then, somewhere along the way, towards the end of last year, the lines blurred, and perhaps we can blame it all on my 35th birthday looming in the distance, but I started repeating old patterns of comparison and obsession and began weighing myself again. Daily. I even tried out intermittent fasting for a few days. I mean. Pffffft. I started exercising more intensely (I forced myself to do burpees, which I had long sworn off), eating more strictly, restricting certain foods, all in an effort to see, a little curiously, at first, if maybe I could just get down to the weight I was when I fell pregnant. Before I was mama. Surely, with all this exercise and restrictive eating, I would hit that irretrievable number on the scale? (Spoiler: I didn’t).
I stopped tracking my cycle, I stopped moon journalling, I stopped speaking kindly to myself. I became disillusioned with the spiritual and wellness world on my Instagram feed. A community which had once inspired me, now seemed to consist of voiceless goddesses, all namaste and smoothie bowls during the week and chemical dwelms at outdoor music festivals on the weekend. The stronger my body got, as my mind became more analytical and judgemental, the more my feminine softness, compassion and understanding escaped me.
Lo and behold, out of nowhere, my body started letting me down again. My shoulder and hand started throbbing with pain. My bleed, usually as regular as clockwork, started arriving later and later very month. When my body feels pain, I know it’s Source trying to send me a message. Last year, through my back injury, my body was telling me to ask for more help and to get stronger and healthier so that I could be the best mother I could be for my daughter. Now my shoulder pain was telling me a new message: I’d taken it too far.
A slow-burn realisation dawned on me as I put two and two together: the last time I had suffered from the same neck and shoulder pain, I was in the depths of the 2014 Bikini Body age, smashing burpees and X-jumps every day in an attempt to make myself stronger and smaller. My wayward period was telling me I was neglecting my feminine self – how did I get to the point where I had no idea what day of my cycle I was on, and how then, was I meant to know how to nurture myself? Between all the runs, squats and pushups, I had stopped writing and podcasting too. Any spare time I had was dedicated to my work, to Human Design, which, luckily, I love doing, but I was neglecting my one true love: speaking my truth. Playing with words and ideas. Communicating. I had moved into a masculine mindset and energetic state of being without even realising it. I was trying to make myself smaller (for whom, I don’t know?) and working every single moment I could to make money and provide for my family.
After some deep reflection and healing sessions with Colleen of Healing Your Spirit, who always guides me gently to see the things I already know inside, I realised that it was time to find some balance in life. There is nothing wrong with masculine or feminine energies – both are important and both need to be nurtured within each of us to thrive, but when one takes over the other, we start losing ourselves and the tight rope of our balancing act wobbles. Ironically, the card I had pulled for 2019 was Balance. At the time, I had laughed at at how silly and overused the term was. Well. Don’t lol at God, my friends. She’ll get you.
And so here I sit, typing on the couch with my little two year old nestled into my side, surrendering once again to the wisdom of my body and the universe. Finding the Balance. I haven’t stopped strength training completely, but I’ve slowed it down to ten minutes of planks and crunches before I pop in the shower. I haven’t stopped running, but I will only run when I feel like it, and walk when I don’t. I’m eating what I want, when I feel called to. I’m waking up early to write and stretch and breathe. And I’m talking kindly to myself again. This is always the hardest part, a continuous and conscious mental exercise, but the most necessary when it comes to building the bridge between our masculine and feminine energies. The body keeps the score. And so I surrender to, and settle into, the next cycle, awaiting the next bump, the next lesson, the next learning, the next resurfacing.