I’ve been struggling with hope recently. I have two sick loved ones, democracy in America is crumbling before our eyes, healthcare coverage is in a shambles, many of my clients have been in crisis. I have been feeling the weight of this. I’m not going to go into details because, as a wise colleague of mine advises: don’t disclose a story until you can be the messenger of hope. Then it is medicine. Before that, it is spewing more unhealed shit into the world. (For the record: it is wise and helpful to disclose the story that is still in-process in your therapy! That is the place to spew it so you can get to the medicine!) One place I find refuge when cynicism, grief, and despair are fighting to take down hope, is to go to those who are carrying the torch. For me, one of those people is Marianne Williamson. In a Beautiful Writers podcast interview, here is what she had to say about hope:
“Hope is born of participation in hopeful solutions. So when your hope is intimately connected to your own sense of responsibility to provide hope for others, then it’s something beyond optimism. It’s knowledge.
If I want something down on the ground and I let it fall from my hands, gravity will take it there. I don’t just hope that gravity will work; I know that gravity will work.
If you’re an airline pilot and you can’t see the horizon because there is a strong cloud cover, you still know the horizon is there, you just know that today you can’t see it. So the pilot doesn’t just hope that the horizon is there, s/he just knows that s/he can’t see it right now so in that moment, you fly on instruments.”
What does it mean to fly on instruments in recovery?
It means acting as if the horizon is there. It means following your food plan. It means showing up for your support system: meetings or group, therapy, nutrition, doctor. If you are further along in recovery, it means providing service to the newcomer, your friends, or your clients. Tell them you’ve been there. Be a listening ear. Provide hope for them. Be the message that it is possible. Remind them of the horizon they can’t see.
And in Mommyhood?
Similarly, flying on instruments in motherhood means acting as if, even when you have lost sight of the horizon. Show up for the daily tasks: make breakfast for you and kid(s), pack the lunches, take a shower, get some sunshine and outdoors time, practice gratitude for what you can see in the present. Last night my little one expressed gratitude for the air.
“Thank you for the air, sunshine, mama and papa, and my hamster.”
It is good to be grateful for the air we breathe. It is god to listen to the little ones. They are the carriers of hope. It is good to practice gratitude for loved ones, air, sunshine. This is the fuel that will help us keep going when we can’t see the horizon.
Back to Marianne. She says:
“We are living in an extraordinary time…”
[I know – my pessimistic critic isn’t fully on board with this silver lining either, but let’s just act-as-if the horizon is there]
“…Blessed are those who have faith that cannot see. So hope in things unseen means knowledge of things unseen.”
May you find this knowledge in your daily actions today. May you breathe the air of hope, eat the food of hope, be the message of hope. Hope doesn’t mean pink icing on the garbage. Hope means traveling through the cloud cover, sure and steady, one tiny millimeter at a time.
PS As I was finishing this post, the American healthcare bill that would have taken coverage away from my sick loved one and many of my clients was withdrawn due to lack of support.
Carry on flying, people. Carry on. Revolutions are built on Hope.
Common sense disclaimer: this blog is not intended to diagnose or treat Postpartum Depression (PPD). For a list of resource referrals for PPD screening and treatment, see end of blog.
Recently, I attended a talk at a well-known research university and teaching hospital in San Francisco on the maternal brain. I was so excited to learn more about how the brain is affected during pregnancy and postpartum for mothers, especially as it affects women in recovery, women who struggle with Postpartum Depression (PPD), and their bonds with their children, I excitedly prepared to meet other clinicians and mommies working with mommies and their postpartum brains.
To Read the full article, go here: http://psychedinsanfrancisco.com/?s=postpartum+depression
If you have PPD or if you are in exhausted new Mommy boot camp, consider that your vulnerability is actually your greatest gift. Consider that the emptiness is the way out, because the way out is through.
National Postpartum Depression Hotline: 1-800-PPD-MOMS
Suicide Prevention & Crisis Hotline (415) 499-1100 It is important for women who might be experiencing suicidal thoughts/ideas/plans to call this number.
Postpartum Support International to provide resources in your area:
TALK Line Parental stress, child abuse prevention, emergency respite care, single parent network, parents’ group, crisis counseling, substance abuse services and ongoing therapy. (415) 441-KIDS (5437) TALK www.talklineforparents.org/
GoldenGate Mother’s Group therapist referrals and resources:
Postpartum Stress Center:
Linda Shanti McCabe holds a doctorate in Clinical Psychology and works with women (including pre and postpartum) recovering from food, weight, and body image issues. She holds SoulCollage® groups for women (including pregnant and postpartum) using expressive arts to find and express the many parts of the Self. You can find her at: WWW.DrLindaShanti.com