On June 6th I welcomed my son into this world, and within one week’s time I had broken a toe, chopped off the tip of a finger, and fell into a depression the depths of which I had only experienced twice in my life before (and those two experiences were doozies… life-changers). This was my big entrance into the world of parenthood.
The first few days were nice while the three of us were huddled together in the hospital room getting to know each other, but the decline started when we got home. I guess the mix of hormones running through my system kept me going during the hospital stay, but once they wore off my experience started to change. The exhaustion started to set in and my clarity and coordination started to head out.
It was the day after we arrived home that I tripped in my backyard and broke my toe. A simple accident that could’ve happened at any time, but it was my first warning, a warning I completed glossed over. The second warning came while I was chopping vegetables for dinner the next night and sliced right through my fingernail taking a chunk of skin with the blade. (Luckily neither the fingernail nor the skin ended up in our food.) These little accidents could have easily been written off as such, however knowing that these occurrences are so out of the ordinary for me, it was a wake up call.
Having recognized these warnings I turned inwards to look at what was going on, and that’s when I realized that I had been distracted by my thoughts. And these thoughts were not pleasant in any sense of the word.
Becoming a parent sounded so nice when described in movies and magazines and even by other parents, and when they said how difficult and challenging it was, it never came across as that hard. But it was a great challenge in different ways for everyone. Perhaps I simply ignored those comments or just brushed them off with an inflated sense of confidence thinking to myself, “I got this!”
And now here I was 6 days into being a parent, and I was broken. The thoughts that were flowing through my mind were something along the lines of:
“Why did we do this?!”
“We had such a good life. Why did we ruin it?!”
“This is the biggest mistake we ever made!”
“This is so bad that I bet this is the real reason Siddartha Gautema left his wife and infant son. He didn’t leave to find enlightenment. He was running away from suffering!”
et cetera, et cetera.
I found myself hating life, and this was not me. This was not the person I became through years of meditation and a commitment to my Reiki practice, yet I couldn’t deny having all of these thoughts flood my mind. I found it difficult to find the smallest positive happy thought anywhere inside. I could not go on like this. I had to resolve this issue fast before I ruined my relationship with Joei and with my newborn son.
By noticing the warning signs of my descent into a downward spiral I knew it was time to use the tools in my toolbox that I’ve learned over the years to stop my fall and pull myself back up. The first tool was to be aware of my thoughts and the quality of them. The fact that all of them were negative was a big sign. Not that all of my thoughts were negative. It was the fact that I thought “ALL” of them were negative.
Whenever we use Universal words to describe a situation (e.g. all, none, everything, nothing, etc.) it’s a clue that we’re not thinking clearly, and we need to step back and calm down before proceeding.
The next tool that I used was the realization that the only things that happen to me are the ones I allow to happen. This “negative” situation I found myself in was my choosing. Joei and I chose to have a child and become parents. There was no one else to be mad at but me, and so the truth was that the anger I was feeling was directed towards myself. No one else was deserving of this anger, and yet that anger was being dealt out to everyone around me. I was not big enough to contain all of the energy of this anger by myself, and so I had to share it with others by making mean comments or snide remarks.
It was time to accept this energy of anger towards myself and not try to hand it out to everyone else. This was my anger. I had to own it and have the strength to handle the size of the energy around it. That means I had to dive deeper into myself. Investigate internally.
“If I wanted to be a parent, how could I be mad at myself for now having a child and all of the challenges that come along with it? How could I be mad at myself for having something that I wanted to have?”
This introspection started to disrupt the pattern of negative thoughts, creating space for clarity to come to me. I realized that the thoughts appearing in my mind were comparing my current situation to the past, the way things were. It was as if I was driving forward while staring into the rearview mirror longing for the scenery that I was moving away from.
I was mourning the loss of the life I recently had. My ego, my former identity was dying, and I was pulling away from it. It did not want to go gently into that good night, and it was not going down without a fight. The ego never does.
Our egos, our identities never want to change. They want to keep things the same because it helps us feel safe. We create and build these identities over time and that is an important process for us to undergo. Without a sense of self we have no confidence and are unable to powerfully walk through the world. It’s important to build a healthy ego/identity, however if you don’t keep an eye on it, it may gain the upper hand. An unchallenged ego will lock you into patterns that may have once been good for you but over time tend to hold you back from doing something different and new.
At this point I had a choice to make. I could keep moving forward while staring in the rear view mirror being upset and living with regret. Or I could listen to my true self that over the last year had been wanting to take a different path even though the terrain was not paved and quite rough. The ultimate battle between the ego/identity and higher consciousness.
Luckily my ego accepted defeat, and I am in the ongoing process of expanding the definition of my identity to fit my new role as father. The war is not over, however, for the shadow is a trickster. I will be challenged as I move forward, and I will face those challenges as they show up. I know I can get through this or else I wouldn’t have taken it on. I know this because not only do I have the tools of mindfulness and a spiritual connection to my truth, but I have a strong partner and teammate with whom I have chosen to walk this path.
Alright kiddo, let’s get this party started. Your enrollment in the University of Earth has begun, and you’ve chosen quite the team to help you navigate your way. Let’s walk this path together.
“A man and a woman had a little baby
Yes, they did
And they had three in the family
That's a magic number”