I haven’t written for a while. I haven’t felt clear on what to write about for a while. I have written about my little journey over the last twelve months, bits about myself and my state of mind. That has felt very vulnerable, because I know that many of you can see right through me. I have to remind myself that being able to see me clearly doesn’t mean you don’t love me. Doesn’t mean you don’t accept me. Doesn’t mean you don’t understand. Everyone has been there. Is there. But being seen during times of stress and upheaval is much like being seen half dressed. This last year, blogging for me has felt like coming down in the morning to greet house guests whilst still in my PJs. I have not been presenting “Helen: the finished article”.
Hilarious I know. As if any of us is ever the finished article. But back when I was blogging about maternity and breastfeeding I felt like I was presenting fully formed thoughts to the world, I was fully dressed, I was neat and tidy and I knew what I was doing. I had a cause, I had something to say, I had a message! And the world was going to hear it whether it wanted to or not.
And then things changed. I didn’t lose my belief in those causes, but I did move further away from them. And I met people and had experiences that made me question a number of my beliefs. And in questioning I found freedom. We do not have to always know. We do not have to be certain. We can question. And consider. And wonder. And learn. And question some more.
But this doesn’t lead me to write blog posts. Because where are the big truths that I want to present to the world? Where is the thing that I know that I want to wrap up neatly in words and present as the finished article?
I have the freedom to think this week. I am in America, up in wintry Buffalo, indulging in a week of having nothing to do. I imagined blissful happiness at all of the relaxation and lack of responsibilities. And those things are wonderful. But I had forgotten that I would also have time to think. Beautiful and terrible. Without the distractions of the day to day I can actually get to the end of thoughts. It took me a couple of days to embrace that challenge. Because not all thinking is pleasurable. That’s why we all avoid it on a daily basis.
As is often wise in times of contemplation, I watched a couple of Brene Brown talks on YouTube. She was talking about showing up and being in the arena, and I felt inspired but then I thought “I don’t have an arena right now”. What is my arena these days? And until I figure that out how can I contribute?
I am not yet ready to present a truth so I am not showing up.
What a ridiculous thought. Show up. Jump in. Let’s go! Because I will never get anywhere if I don’t connect. And writing has always been my route to connection.
So instead of giving you my fully formed thoughts, I am going to give you my “not sures”. Because I don’t really know anymore. And that is probably a good thing.
Race. I am so confused.
Feminism. I am less confused but still confused.
There is so much anger and vitriol surrounding these topics. Bile being spat out on Twitter every day. It is off putting so I back away from trying to learn.
Yet not where politics is concerned. There I feel more confident joining the anger and vitriol over Brexit and austerity and our current government. And I thereby no doubt become off putting to others who would perhaps like to learn but find the spewing bile difficult to navigate.
And of course the topic of infant feeding is still as difficult to navigate as ever. Even though with that one I am more confident in my certainties.
I carry around a huge cloud of shame with me the same as everyone else. So many topics appear to require more shame of me, or to require me to shame somebody else. This does not feel like the way. I don’t have an answer. I am simply not sure.
I don’t have a cause right now. But I still have beliefs. Ill-defined, not written down, but I have them.
I have been reading Marcus Aurelius’ “Meditations”. He says “Let your principles be few and fundamental – sufficient to clear your mind and send you back into the world refreshed.” That sounds really good. What on earth are my principles?
These days it feels as though I have myself so much more figured out than ever before. It is not a process that has an end point, but I have got a lot further down the road this last year. I have got far enough that I feel ready to get stuck in again, with things that are not self preservation and the management of grief. A friend of mine is finding the Ten Keys to Happier Living very useful right now. They do not resonate with me so much, but one of them has stayed with me, nagging at me: Meaning. Be part of something bigger. Be connected to something bigger than ourselves. I am not sure yet what that is going to be for me at this point in my life.
I have just finished reading Glennon Doyle’s “Love Warrior”. Boy does that resonate. I see Glennon, I see Brene, I see the people they point me towards and the other amazing people with whom they are connected. But I do not want to dive back in to the liberal bubble. I know too many good people who are outside of it. It feels right for me to be out here a little bit, in no man’s land. I would love to have a tribe. But I don’t want to be tribal. So I’m just not sure.
As I wrote the notes for this blog, as they came pouring out of me and I realised they would be a blog, I found myself writing this:
- Speak truthfully
- Be vulnerable
- Face uncertainty
- Keep showing up
- Ask questions
- Think clearly
- Love imperfection
- Own your self worth
- Own your mistakes
- Keep going, keep trying
- Don’t give up
Well what do you know? In writing my uncertainty I think I have found my principles. Alright then. Let’s start there.