The Post-Traumatic Stress of Maternal Awakening

Kelley, Since the birth of my beautiful daughter 13 yrs. ago, I feel very emotional with too many things at one time. My work life, marriage, and neighbourhood, have caused me to have the feeling that someone or something does not want me to be comfortable in my own space/skin, and overall happiness. My dad passed just 3 months prior to his eightieth, Mom is eighty two now, and I fear my husband is leaving me. My resilience is gone. Could you help? Joy

The Post-Traumatic Stress of Maternal Awakening by S. Kelley HarrellThanks for your note, Joy. When I look into the era just after having your daughter, I feel a sense of being let down. This sense has nothing to do with your daughter, but with the general climate of postpartum and culturally finding one’s way into new motherhood. This feeling of having gained incredible insight and wisdom through pregnancy and childbirth, through the early developmental states of parenthood, only to share it with… every day life. You had this amazingly transformational experience that was so profound and life-altering, yet you didn’t really have anyone to share it with. Yes, you could talk about your daughter learning to walk, finding your way back to your own job and interests. This is not about those sorts of things. The deeper personal revelations about who you are and how you were changed went unheard, and eventually unspoken.

This unexpressed shift is where I see the source of the discomfort. When we have amazing experiences such as yours and have no one to witness them with us, no one who can serve as our tribe, the life force of that experience becomes bottled up. Instead of blossoming into new thoughts, new directions, it becomes a kind of post-traumatic stress cul-de-sac. Some people refer to this as spiritual emergency. The force of that wisdom is still there, it just needs expression.

To a degree coming from a marvelous experience back to the mundane is normal. We all have to pay the bills, wash the dishes. Yet underneath those things we still have to maintain some kind of current that supports our wild inner selves and hungry hearts.

At present you are undergoing many external shifts, which push buttons for these unhealed facets of your last major life change. Much of the tension you feel now isn’t really about the events happening now. It’s an echo from not being heard the last time you had such challenging yet formative upheaval. Knowing this distinction is critical to not becoming overwhelmed in the present.

Your guides’ direction at this point is to pause, observe, and learn what the current changes have to teach you. As you become aware of how they educate and affirm you, write about it. Paint it, draw it–some form of external expression. Also, now is the time to find like-minded others with whom you can share the changes to your soulscape. They don’t have to believe what you do, or be taking the same spiritual route that you are. They just need to be able to listen and hold space for you to have your own experience. My sense is the result of sharing yourself in this way creates a bond with someone unexpected, someone who not only relates to your experiences, but can foster your growth in them.

My best to you, Mother Joy.