…human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves.
~ Gabriel García Márquez, Love in the Time of Cholera;
Vocation does not come from a voice “out there” calling me to become something I am not. It comes from a voice “in here” calling me to be the person I was born to be…
~ Parker Palmer, Let Your Life Speak
Indeed most women chose to write about what is being birthed, or wanting to be birthed, in their lives. Lines like ‘I want to bear freedom into my life!’ and ‘what wants to be born into my life? Success. Being successful and happy’ flowed around the circle.
MEG, who will be released shortly, likens her newfound sobriety to its own birth:
Me trying to force myself to be sober and enjoy it is the same as giving birth to a child when you’re not ready to push yet … You cannot force a baby out of the birth canal that is not yet ready to be born. Let the contractions do their job and ease the baby down. Yes … now, breathe. It will all be worth it in the end. All the heartache, the pain, the loss, the endless condescending caseworkers and phony people disguised as friends of a friend, all the time spent wasted on people who won’t matter the minute I hit the gate … just breathe. Release the stress, the tension. Focus on the better you that’s about to start living real soon in the real world, in your second birth – your new sober self. Just breathe …
Even the writing to a line from the opening poem, ‘what gift will I bring him?’ harkened back to the experience of motherhood. Read this from AG’s words as she ponders what to give her son at their upcoming holiday visit:
… all I could think of when I read that is that I wasn’t the one bearing gifts at all. He was the one that gave me more gifts than anyone could ask for in a lifetime. When you’re hanging on by a thread, not much is left, really. You don’t want to look down because the fall is too far; but you can’t look up, it’s just too far to climb.
Then there is that moment where I realized there isn’t a need to look up or down. I could look directly into the eyes of my son and gather all the strength it took to forge ahead. So many times when darkness intended to swallow me whole, he came barreling through with a torch to light my heart, a flame again. Those are gifts you can’t buy. Those are gifts that saved my life.
‘Mom’ is a word that we all know. Somewhere, we all have one. The meaning of that word takes a whole new meaning when you have heard it from your child’s lips. It becomes you and who you are first and foremost. You become your all for your child. I know I have become my all for him. He has made me the best part of myself that I can be.
These women struggle weekly in our groups to find ‘the person [each] was born to be.’ And if that person cannot be found, she can be reimagined – rebirthed, if you will – with dreams, hard work and the promise of freedom in which to practice being new.