I Choose Both
Or my soul work?
So often I have felt that there was a choice. One or the other. I know I am not alone. Many creative women choose not to have children because they know this choice. Others choose motherhood and realise too late, the choice has been made. Society adds to it, tutting at women trying to have it all. A subtler version of the prejudice that for centuries kept women’s voices and power out of the public sphere.
The way my brain is wired, makes me very susceptible to black and white thinking. And fortune telling. It happens on such an unconscious level I rarely identify it. This choice. But it is one that filled me with terror as I wrote Burning Woman. And as I saw the news of Jo Cox. The choice – stay safe, stay home, stay quiet and discard half of my self, but ensure my children have a mother. Step out, speak up, and risk it all.
Which will you choose?
There is something deep, deep within that believes I have made a Faustian pact. I can have professional success, or be a good mother. Not both. If professional success comes, then I will lose my children. In some karmic deal. Whether by death or divorce.
Perhaps it happened in a past life. This choice. Children or soul work. Not both.
Perhaps it happened many times.
As I prepare to go to the US tomorrow for soul work, my terror is triggered, what if this choice means that I have forsaken my children. I have put my ambition, my desires, my soul before them, before theirs? I will be punished. I will never return and I will leave them motherless as punishment. How selfish am I? How stupid?
I love them. I don’t want to leave them.
I have struggled for years, publicly, with my less than perfect motherhood – something with insight I realise 90% of is spectrum stuff… if only I had known. If only.
This anxiety, the specific anxieties are mainly spectrum stuff too. That helps. A little.
But when I feel this terror, not just of losing my children (if I’m gone, I probably wouldn’t be aware) but more of them losing me. The final, dreadful abandonment any person can experience. I want to stop it all right now. Take it all back. Take back the books, cancel the flight and stay snuggled up safe in our home forever.
This is what I long for… safe…
Until safe becomes unbearable and my soul longs to reach out beyond.
This deep, strong, furious, beautiful love I have for them runs through my very depths.
And so does the need to do my work.
It cannot be one or the other. It must be both.
And so I let my shaking body feel the love for them, that I am so, so scared they will lose, that they will never feel again, that will never hold and protect them from the storms of this world. This love is entwined with fear, the fear of loss, of abandonment, of either or. This fear is old, so very old. How can I – can I? – disentwine them, or are they the twisted spiral of our DNA? Or is it that the love is all there is, and fear is the gauze, the sieve… and if I can just let the gauze fall to one side then all there will be is love?
I don’t know.
But I know this, my heart is sore. Physically sore. From this deep, deep belief of either/or. From the fear of the price to be paid. As I prepare to say goodbye to them for a week, my soul is screaming, please don’t let it be goodbye forever.
I love them. I love my work.
I choose both.
I choose both.
With all my heart.
And I hope that putting words to it will break the spell.
PS Just moments after I wrote this… this happened.
Burning Woman is currently #9 in Women in History on Kindle – behind Lean In, I am Malala and Women Who Run with the Wolves… and ahead of The Female Eunuch and The Beauty Myth. This is MASSIVE!!!! It’s #10 in Feminist Theory (Kindle) on Amazon.co.uk and #14 in the same genre on Amazon.com – grab your copy for just $2.99/ £1.99/ €2.99 on Kindle, till midnight tonight.