“The essence of Autumn – a season for letting go, accepting the impermanence of things, and balancing inner darkness and inner light – naturally invites us to begin slowing down and retreating inward. It’s a time to arouse compassionate insight for getting clear about the root cause of what’s holding us back from being our best self in our current phase of life. It’s the perfect time to change our relationship to how we respond to uncomfortable feelings such as sadness, powerlessness, or pain of feeling disconnected.
How? By slowing down enough to softly and compassionately turn toward the uncomfortable feelings we’re avoiding. If we can stay open and welcome the discomfort rather than be repulsed by it, even for just a few minutes, it’s possible to notice we’re going through a phase and that it will pass and we will come out the other side. This is a natural and necessary part of our growth. Riding this energy is like holding the wheel steady when we unexpectedly drive into a dark tunnel. The more we become familiar with our reactions to uncertainty, the less power they have to throw us off course.
This Autumn, I’m reflecting on how I’m nearly 2 ½ years into my relatively new role of mother. Like the beginning of any life transition – new job, marriage, divorce, loss of a loved one, retirement, promotion, moving, a life threatening diagnosis of self/loved one – there was a period of adjustment, and opportunity for self-discovery. Growing up without a healthy role model of what mothering feels, looks, smells, tastes, and sounds like, I was often overwhelmed and disoriented while trying to settle into this profound phase of motherhood. On one hand, I was mesmerized by the magnificent new wings I had grown, yet I just couldn’t quite get them gracefully fluttering. I would gaze at those glorious wings and feel paralyzed by not knowing how to use them. Sometimes I thought I didn’t have what it took to be the mother my son needed and deserved. Along with the joy, exhilaration, and magic that naturally emerge when becoming a mother, I struggled with feelings of doubt, overwhelm, and disorientation.
Over time, relying on my spirituality and the support of my tribe – beloved husband, remarkable friends, a skilled therapist – I learned to re-parent myself with the same gentleness, patience, and softness I was simultaneously mothering Oliver with. Self-compassion became my watchword – the mantra that kept me grounded, balanced, and true to myself. I learned to check in with myself to see how I was doing, just as kind friends would do for one another. I would then respond with the self-care needed to get me through that moment – welcoming anything/anyone that nourished me, and letting go of anything/anyone that drained me.
As I self-reflect on this beautiful early Autumn afternoon, I recognize that phase of immense struggle is over, and I am on the other side. I am confident, comfortable, and proud of the mother I’ve become. I’m soaring. Left is a strange mixture of exhilaration and sadness as I say goodbye to a wounded part of myself that was doubting herself as mother, and make way for a whole new courageous, empowered, stable identity to emerge in it’s place.
To any mamas who are struggling with their role as mother, and to those adjusting to a new life season, may you remember it’s just a phase. It’s a necessary and organic part of your growth to be the mother or person you were meant to be. You may find inspiration in working with the image of an animal who molts or sheds in order to make way for new skin, fur, feathers, or wings to emerge. For example, keeping a duck feather, piece of tree bark, or some other symbol of transformation, can remind us that death and rebirth are simply nature’s way of evolving. We can surrender to this process, letting go of our past self with great love and gratitude, and welcoming the new with an open mind and heart, ready for our next phase of life.”
photo credit is: “Perfection of Autumn” by Margarita