26 years ago I was in turmoil. All attempts at carefully planning my world turned upside down.
With two boys in school full time, our family felt complete. My husband had taken time off teaching to start a business, and my attention turned to shifting my own career from nursing to facilitation.
Having conceived our first son with an IUD in place, I was unwilling to leave anything to chance, so had chosen a colleague I really respected to perform my tubal ligation. No more babies for me – that part of my life was done. I was ready to move on!
Yet here I was several months later staring in disbelief … watching the preganacy test stick I was holding (purchased at a drug store I never again visited!) turn blue.
What happened after the stick turned blue.
Everything inside of me screamed “NO! This can’t be – I did everything right!”
At 35 I was brought face-to-face with my complete impotence at controlling life. This brutal wake-up call to the illusion of control in our lives – we can’t know what will happen next – was big enough. But the thing that really evoked terror in me was the thing that had precipitated my attempts at sure control in the first place.
Never in a million years would I have chosen to be a mother again. I couldn’t have named it then, but deep inside I knew this would require wholesale changes in the way I lived. I simply didn’t have the energy to add caring for an infant to the already long list of things I felt responsible for and was trying to control.
I was just starting out on my conscious journey of personal growth. I was aware of my longing for more intimacy and adventure, but my desire for stability and predictability – the things that at that time made me feel safe – was also deeply entrenched.
Thankfully, I knew enough even then to not try to make myself feel things I wasn’t feeling. People around me were ‘encouraging’ me “maybe you’ll have a girl!” (I didn’t want a girl, I knew how to be with boy babies!)
It was several months before I really felt that even though I couldn’t imagine what life would look like, I would have access to the resources I needed. And it took even longer – not until I was reflecting around Rachael’s 2nd Birthday – for me to realize I no longer thought “If you weren’t here, I’d be ______.”
Of course the rest is history. The changes I’ve experienced have been great. And the resources have been there. I sometimes joke that I’ve grown up with Rachael. The person you know me to be today, and the person I was back then are in many ways poles apart – though I remain true to my core codes, they are way more fully and freely expressed now than I’d have risked then.
The experience I’d done everything I could to avoid turned out to be
one of the greatest gifts of my life.
Navigating high ropes together …
and other lifegiving possibilities!
Over the years, in my willingness to walk that path, I discovered an expansiveness of possibilities and continue to find greater freedom in choosing my responses to life.
To quote Stephen Schwartz, “Our life here is taking place on a glorious and adventurous edge. It is not stable or predictable. There is nothing in it which is safe as long as we consider safety to be the anticipated routine of the hum-drum of knowing what comes next. It is all mystery, adventure and change.
… It does seem like risk, putting your life at a certain risk level. It makes it impossible for the mind to use its old system to define or explain what is going on and then something else has to take over. It’s what one might call trust but it’s much different than trust. It’s a kind of an open willingness to participate without knowing. It’s more creativity than it is trust.”
I know I’m not unique in having had these ‘out of control’ experiences. I share mine now for a couple reasons. These days, as I imagine many of you are, I’m being invited to expand my capacity for holding all the events of our lives as Life’s invitation to even more full creative engagement. And I’m very clear this requires a practice of deepening trust in our relationships with ourselves, others and Life.
How we respond to these unanticipated, uninvited events in our personal lives and in our world is key. The journey of honouring our own pace and rhythm as we loosen our grip on our illusion of control, and love ourselves as we step into the creative possibilities before us is not for the faint of heart!
Being supported by a community can make all the difference as we make these courageous choices. This is the kind of partnership you can expect from me as your Coach and from others in our Community.
The other reason I share this story is that I’m celebrating a significant milestone this week – her graduation from University! This baby whose existence initially triggered such terror as well as incredible growth in me has herself grown into an extraordinary young woman. She has, and continues to meet challenges in her life with a sensitive and perceptive eye, an enormous and courageous heart, and a generous and wise spirit. She brings light to all she touches, and I am more grateful than I have words for that she (despite my best efforts to make sure it wasn’t possible!) chose me to be her Mum.