Last Wednesday, I announced that I would spend the next eight weeks -- the time leading up to the spring round of Self Care 101 -- reimagining the “Hero’s Journey” as the “Heroine's Journey.”
On Friday, I cried after I watched Donald Trump be sworn in as president, and wondered how we would ever recover. On Saturday, I marched slowly through the DC streets, packed in with other people who care about each other and the future of our world. I was amazed by how passionate and grounded the crowd felt. The air had a texture that felt ripe for making real change.
Then Sunday, Monday and Tuesday happened. The good feeling from the march is still there in the background, but when I look at what Trump has done during his first days in office, I feel mostly scared and angry. I want to do so much to help, but I still don’t know quite what to do with myself.
I’ve been carrying a secret that has been calming me down so much. I’ll explain what that is a little further on in this message. But first, I want to get back to the Heroine’s Journey.
Last week after I sent my message, my college friend Sarah wrote back telling me about Joan Scheckel, who has guided the development of cutting-edge stories like “Transparent” on Amazon and the movie “Little Miss Sunshine.” Sarah shared that Joan also believes that the Hero’s Journey is misused, and that it actually best suits stories where a character has to separate herself from her parents.
This is interesting to me because in this past year, I’ve done a lot of work differentiating myself from my mother. For those who have also endeavored to set new boundaries with parents, you will know how much strength and humility the journey requires.
I’ll spare you all the tears and the details, but essentially, after a year of focused efforts, things felt different between me and my mother. When I talked to her on the phone, I felt softer and more open to hearing her perspective. I thought that our rift had healed and that I had forgiven her. In this spirit of reconciliation, I decided to visit her for a week over Thanksgiving. My thought was that it would feel like a vacation.
I hope when you are reading this you are shaking your head, knowing that it did not end well. If so, you are seeing the danger of the situation with more wisdom than I did.
During the first day of being together, all of my old feelings of resentment bubbled up. I found myself being critical of her in my head, and I felt resentful most of the time, for reasons justifiable and not.
Nope, I had not forgiven her, not even close.
Because I wanted things to be peaceful, I dealt with my feelings by helping in the kitchen, talking to my boyfriend, Micah, on the phone (Yes, I have a new boyfriend who I’ve been dating since the early fall. I’m telling you this now because it becomes important later in the story.), and doing what I could to take care of myself. I thought I could just process my feelings on my own and get through the week. The last thing I wanted was a fight with my mom.
But on the last day, when my bags were already packed to go home, I exploded. I told my mom everything I was feeling and all of the resentments I am still holding. The mature woman I wanted to be crumpled. I was having a full-blown tantrum that was a byproduct of the feelings I couldn’t contain.
I complained, I cried, and I wanted to throw things. As I observed myself, I realized I did not like the person I was being. Finally, I decided to cut the conversation off because I couldn’t trust myself to be emotionally responsible.
Afterward, I went to my room and cried like I was breaking up with someone. The feelings of grief were so powerful. I was losing something -- I could really feel it -- and it hurt so badly.
An hour later, as my mom took me to the airport, I broke the silence by asking her if she was ok. She was, she replied. She told me she felt like she should be more upset, but mostly realized that this was my problem.
This was really my problem.
As much as I hated to hear those words, I knew they were true. If I continued to blame my mom for the past, I would never develop into be the woman I wanted to be.
Sitting there, I knew it was time to give up, and I felt a real peace in that resignation. At the airport we gave each other a good hug, and then I got on my flight home to DC.
That night, Micah came over for a quick hello. It felt good to see him and to finally feel like an adult again. I told him about what happened with my mom and announced that I felt free in a real way.
Three weeks later, after I still hadn’t gotten my period, I decided to buy a pregnancy test. There were two in the pack, and both of them confirmed what happened that night when Micah came over. Although my ovulation chart said it was nearly impossible to have conceived that night, we most certainly did.
On the day I finally separated out from my mother, I had accidently become a mother myself.
So that’s my news. I’m pregnant! Holy shit, right?
Yet, it’s so, so good. Since this summer, I’ve been clear that I want to be a mother. But I had no idea how to make that happen. Then, life worked it out more cleverly than I could have imagined.
When I found out, it felt so incredibly right, and I haven’t had a moment of doubt since. Micah is also on board to do this. We are both gearing up for a great, big, new adventure that will require so many new explorations of self-care.
So now, the question: Would I have gotten pregnant if I hadn’t had that deep childish meltdown with my mother?
Yes, I probably would have. But it wouldn’t be as good of a story. I wouldn’t have battled such a deep demon inside of myself and triumphantly lived to tell the tale.
To me, it makes sense that, as Joan Scheckel says, the Heroine's Journey requires a cutting of parental ties. If I am still trying to live up to my family’s ideals for me, or if I’m actively rebelling against them, I’m not acting as my own person. I am not free to know myself, really.
Letting go of the past and letting go of trying to control other people is painful. Letting go can feel impossible at times.
But when we take responsibilities for creating the lives we most want to live, the universe can shower us with blessings. We gain our big, beautiful lives and with these blessings and uncover the keys to healing that we so desperately need right now.
In this moment of blaming so much outward ( trust me, I see it as justifiable, too), I get curious about what could shift if we cut our ties to the controlling forces and took all of our own power back.
What space would that open up to truly be creative and take ownership of our world?
I don’t know, but I am committed to keep exploring it. These next seven months and the new phase of life that follows will give me some great material to work with, and you know I’ll be sharing it with you all.
Thank you for listening to my story. I’d love to hear your comments. Have you cut emotional ties with your parents? How did you do it? What has that opened up? Where are you still clinging? Please let me know, and we can keep the conversation going.
A note here: I’m nine weeks pregnant. A lot can still happen in my pregnancy, which is why most people don’t talk about being pregnant until later on in the process. I’m sharing now because if I miscarry or if something else happens, I will need support and I want you all to have known.
So, I’m breaking the cultural custom and sharing early and widely. Mazel Tov! Now we will let whatever happens from here be the next step on my Heroine’s Journey.
PS - Due to these huge changes in my life, I believe this next round of Self Care 101 will be very special. I am looking for women who are ready to cut old ties and manifest real magic in their lives. We will do it by creating a life of self-care routines and leaning into immense group support. Is that you? Want to learn more? Apply here!