Motherhood is a complex, heart-opening, gratifying endeavor, and a choice that very few fully regret. Motherhood is also physically and emotionally taxing, and the experience is almost never what we expected.
The process of becoming a parent involves suddenly turning all the attention we had focused on ourselves onto someone else. The flood of emotions and attachment takes us by surprise, and the responsibility is overwhelming.
Mothers experience frustration, anger, grief, and guilt about the losses that come with motherhood, but we often do not feel safe to talk about them. It seems culturally taboo to be anything but overly joyful about the privilege of being a mother. Most women don’t realize just how many other mothers share their sentiments, or how fully they’ve taken on cultural expectations on how to be in motherhood.
If we reject or block the flow of emotions, our emotions back up and overflow like the dam that chokes a river. A dam can erode land, deprive the downstream areas of nutrient-rich sediment, and destroy ecosystems. Emotions are like water meant to flow through us, adding richness and helping us navigate life. They are an important kind of energy that adds wisdom and flavor to our experiences, and they need to be in motion. They provide a connection between our thoughts and our body. When we block, shame, or otherwise avoid facing the ones we don’t like, it doesn’t feel good.
Also, we can actually manifest various physical health issues via blocked emotions, just like the health of a river is affected by a dam.
- Low libido
- Mood swings
- Food sensitivities
- Hormonal imbalance
- Brain fog
- Muscle tension
These can all be the downstream effects of blocked emotions. And we truly cannot fix these imbalances with a pill, not even a natural one.
So what do we do?
We must unblock the dam. We must work to get clarity about our emotions, and allow them to flow through us by feeling them without attaching to them.
The experience of parenthood is a spectrum of intense emotions, both positive and negative. We must be brave and vulnerable enough to work with all of them to trace them back to their root.
Emotions guide us back to our personal narrative, or who we think we are in this life. But the emotions themselves are not who we are, and we do not need to identify with them or get totally swept up in the torrent.
I know this is incredibly hard to do.
We have to retrain ourselves to understand that emotions are simply a bridge of communication between our body and our mind. The water can flow through without being blocked. Emotions can shape us, instead of destroying us, just as water shapes the riverbed.
Allowing emotions to flow is not always easy. It’s a skill that needs to be honed. We can look at our emotions and use them to trace back to our understanding of ourselves, and see if that understanding is true or false. For example, is it true that I need to be a perfect mom? Is it true that a good mom always puts herself last? Is it true that I am worth more if I work harder?
Learning to feel the feels, and honor those feels for what they are is key in motherhood (and life in general).
The bonus of doing this work is that not only do we improve our physical health, but improving our emotional intelligence helps us welcome back more peace, clarity, and creativity into our lives. Motherhood is a fantastic opportunity for personal growth.
We are designed to heal with others, and this work isn’t as easy or efficient when done alone.
The choice is yours – how will you experience motherhood?
Author: Dr. Emma Andre