This is only a semi-pregnancy post, mostly because everything is currently anchored by this pregnancy, but life continues moving at full speed elsewhere too.
I’ve been holding on to how hard this year has been, something I’ve seen many friends and family members do over the past few years with social/political/environmental/personal stuff. 2019 has undoubtedly thrown the most difficult series of challenges my way that I’ve ever experienced, but I’m finding it useless and perhaps harmful to frame it as a bad or hard year. Especially as I’m preparing to birth this sweet baby.
A few years ago, my Unitarian Universalist congregation framed an entire year around being brave. It was a big year for the congregation with many changes, both as a fellowship and for many individuals. Some of the changes were good, some were scary, many were hard. But the year was not a “hard year”, it was a Brave year. I am realizing that this may be my turn to have a brave year.
What does it mean to have a brave year? I used to think it meant, primarily, choosing to do something scary that still needs to be done. But sometimes, I’m realizing, the brave year chooses you, much in line with the tradition of the mythological hero. It’s easy to be brave some years, when your emotional and physical and community and family reserves are full. Then there are years where hard events bombard us, like a neverending series of storm-waves striking a beach, wearing away at all defenses until a brief respite leaves me asking “is it over or is this just the eye?” And the howling wind responds.
That is my year, in metaphor.
Things I’ve learned this year include:
1) I, alone, cannot hold the line everywhere at all times. I must ask for help.
2) When I do ask for help, it comes crawling, running, appearing as if from thin air. This is the community I have embraced, and that has embraced me in return.
3) I’m responsible for my own happiness only. I should not and cannot hold responsibility for the happiness or unhappiness of others. What I am responsible for is my treatment of others, and my response to how others treat me. Bring mistreated is not an invitation to mistreat.
4) As a parent, my deepest and most vital responsibilities are to my children, especially in these early years. But, that is something that will never be untrue, it will simply change.
5) The people in our lives who can be counted on may change and shift, as people and relationships change and shift. However. There will likely be a few individuals who will always be there, no matter how long it has been or what hardship is faced. And I am that individual for a few people as well.
6) Boundaries are good. Boundaries allow us to do the work we need to be doing. Seeing them through is a brave act.
7) Be kind. If you slip out of kindness, apologize, and start again.
I’ll end with one of the things the minister at the UU here always says (in some variation) at the end of a service that resonates deeply. I’ve been using this as my touchstone anytime I’ve felt myself forgetting my own truths over the past 9 months.
“Keep alert to the way things truly are within you and around you. Stand firm in your faith. Be courageous. Be strong as often as you can, and start again today to try to let all you fo be done in love.”