The almost free birth of Forest (part 3)

How in Fuck’s holy name would I survive a twenty minute car ride???

 

Giordano may not have “lost it”… but nor did he have it together…. He asked me if Forest was moving anymore… I reflected on this, and then realized, no, he hasn’t moved for a while.  Still riding the swelling wave of fear that “going to the hospital had catalyzed, now I was paranoid that my baby was in distress.

 

I waddled into the hallway.  I braced myself on the small white desk that abides there (for lack of a better home).  Another vicious contraction and furious push.  Another.  And another.  OMFG.  Rapid fire.  “Good position or NOT, this baby was on his way out.  I took my police pants off again and somehow made it to the living room.

 

I climbed into the ugliest brown armchair you’ve ever seen (I’d been wanting to excommunicate it from our house since the moment it found its way in), braced myself with hands on the wall.  Gave a few more colossal pushes.   COLOSSAL.  I had no other choice.

 

THE RING OF FIRE.

 

The women on video chat had instructed me to “hang out here” for a bit… rather than pushing straight through it… so as not to tear.  Stretch open slowwwwly.

 

I had not met the ring of fire while birthing Serena.  Up until this moment, it was but a dramatic and terrible title.  Well… for those of you who, like me, haven’t a lucid intimacy with this fearsome BEAST…  It truly lives up to its name.  Irreconcilable BURN.  Like a dragon breathing fire on your genitals, burning them to oblivion.

 

I “hung out there” (haha, there was nothing casual or relaxed, as “hanging out” implies…) for maybe two contractions.  Three at most.  And then BAM!  Out popped…. SOMEthing.

 

Giordano was standing behind me, pouring with intensity and panic.

 

He announced it was Forest’s head.  He said Forest looked dead.  Like a damn fool (or maybe just a vulnerable, birthing woman in an altered state), I believed my doom and gloom husband!  Desperate to get his whole body out ASAFP, I pushed again.  And again.  The second time, part of his body slid out.  Third push, VOILA!!  Giordano and I clumsily caught him together.  Blood guuuussssshed out of me, drenching the ugliest chair in the world.  (A dried up, crimson splash still remains on the wall next to the radiator!  I want it to remain forever.)

 

The umbilical cord was wrapped around Forest’s neck one loose time.  I untwisted it.  (I want to “normalize” this occurrence.  Hospital culture would have you believe this is an “emergency situation”.  Rarely.  Many babies get benignly tangled in their cords.  I discovered this on the freebirth podcast, so I was not alarmed in the least.)

 

I held my jumbo, blood-bathed son!  He gasped for breath.  He sputtered, still full of amniotic fluid.  I sucked his nose and mouth.  This didn’t seem to help.  He cried.  (Giordano says he cried immediately… but as I had just pushed a nine pound human through my vagina, my chronology is not quite as crisp.)  Little Forest looked like a “fish out of water”… Alienated by this lickety-split miracle of moving from  spirit to form.  Breath, body, blood, otherness…  Ugh.  (We all must be NUTS to come here and subject our Selves to all this hoopla!)

 

I asked Giordano to hand me a towel.  Of course it was white! Speaking of white, my white tank top was now mostly RED.  The towel too.  I cradled my slimy baby in the rough, line-dried towel.   He was alive!  After he cried for a minute, he quieted and looked around.

 

Watching my newborn son register his arrival on planet earth was perhaps the most incredible moment of my entire life.  (With Serena, the nurse wiped her off with objectionable wet wipes from a package, which caused her to scream her head off for a few solid minutes before passing out on my chest.)  Forest was calm and wide awake.  His open gaze slowed time and silenced mind.  He abided in this sober, wakeful presence for at least an hour.

 

Meanwhile, I cradled him and waddled around the house in a wide-eyed stupor, his umbilical cord still plugged into the depths of my womb.  Blood gratuitously spilled from between my legs, leaving an artistically rendered trail of my haphazard course.

 

Giordano had called his Mama back in the “we are going to the hospital” chapter, asking her to accompany us.  (Apparently the Italian stereotype about men being super attached to their mamas is no joke.  I tease him that she is his first wife.)  Within minutes of Forest’s arrival, in came “Nona”.  This was a plot twist, but it felt right.  Forest called in Family.

 

Hubby-Dearest and his Mama tag-teamed with the mop, cleaning up endless puddles, streams, rivers, dribbles of blood.  (One “pro” of birthing in the hospital, is that the family can just chill and swoon while the “hired help” does the dirty work.  And trust me, it was a lot of dirty work…)  I remember standing at the bathroom sink, cradling Forest, and marveling at my two smeared, bloody footprints.

 

Blood continued to flow like wine rivers after I found my way to bed.  We had been so good about covering the bed with a shower curtain and a janky old duvet cover… I forgot to account for the messy aftermath.  Our *one* pair of summer sheets now shall sing the story of Forest’s birth forever more.

 

Oh.  And Forest’s HEAD.  Whoa, people.  When he first came out, he looked like an asymetrical UNICORN.  His head went on a magical mystery tour to pass through my vag.  Good gracious.  I think I texted or called Karen back and asked her if this was “normal”.  To my profound relief, she affirmed normalcy, and reassured me that it would quickly reshape.  It did.  But Lordy, I wish I had snapped a photo.  It was remarkable.  (I wish I had photos and video of the whole birth…. But there was no one I wanted to invite into my sacred space to play the roll of photographer.  This is a minor tragedy.)  I took a selfie when I got into bed.  Then I asked G to snap a couple more.  The rest must live in the mythic distortion of my and Giordano’s memory.

 

When got back in bed, my body shook violently.  This continued for at least half an hour.  Completely involuntary.

 

I offered Forest my breast and waited for the urge to birth the placenta.  Nearly two hours later, I was still waiting.  I consulted Karen, and she told me to get the thing OUT… so I lightly tugged on the cord, as I pushed.  My placenta was not so jazzed to part ways with my womb, but finally blubbered out into  the plastic, orange bowl.  What a fucking relief.  Now Forest was not attached to the inside of my body any longer, but to a bowl hosting a blob of bloody meat.

 

Next on the thrilling itinerary, Giordano and I burned the umbilical cord.  (This coterizes it, so a clamp is unnecessary.  I also preferred this means of release, for its ceremonial and elemental aspects).  I wanted  to give Forest plenty of time to reabsorb all the goodness the placenta had to offer… and yet, after two and a half hours, I was done with the large-scale production of cords and bowls and bloody organs.

 

The cord burning was the quintessential scene for a movie… though living through it was traumatizing.  Giordano, who by this time was crabby and way less than generous, was holding the candle.  I held the baby and the cord?  G kept scolding me for holding the cord too close to the flame.  He had the patience of a piranha.  Thanks dude.  I guess he forgot that I had just pushed a human out of my vagina, and was still in the process of losing gallons of blood.  I kept asking him to be nice.  But apparently he didn’t have access to this particular virtue at this particular moment.  It probably took eleven minutes.  The longest eleven minutes of my life….

 

Our bedroom now smelled like a barbecue.  The three inches of remaining cord protruded from Forest’s little belly like a white worm. I ate a ripe banana and went to sleep.  It was a little after 4am.

 

Advertisements

The nearly free birth of Forest (part 2)

The facet of freebirthing that was most compelling to me was not being “checked” to see how dilated I was, or being told when to push, or any other externalized reference points along the Journey of Laboring.  Instead, the birthing woman is totally undisturbed and able to experience from the INside-out.  (I’m imagining that some readers will find this perspective audacious.  Like “WHAT??? YOU CAN’T POSSIBLY KNOW HOW TO GIVE BIRTH WITHOUT A TRAINED PROFESSIONAL TELLING YOU WHAT TO DO AND WHEN.”)

Well guess what?  You CAN.

Except here’s where I lost connection with my inner authority:

Expectations…. I imagined that the second baby would be easier.  It was taking waaaay too long.  I was in waaaaaaay too much pain.  When would I feel the fucking urge to PUSH???

Night had swallowed day, candles danced wiggly, golden light about the dim ambiance of my pink bedroom.  I finally felt a mild urge to push.  I guess I texted my doula friend Karen in California… and asked her…. something.  She video called me on fb messenger.  As Grace would have it, she was about to give a chiropractic adjustment to three mamas (two of which I had known for over a decade).  Suddenly I was being supported by FOUR women from across the world.

Mostly this was soothing and helpful.  But in retrospect, the call lingered beyond its expiration date.  I lost touch with the inner authority that had been the coveted treasure of my freebirthing quest.  I was lost in the wilderness of pain… Vulnerable and reaching outside for salvation.

The call sprawled on for over an hour.  Contractions.  Pushing.  Lioness roars.

I asked Karen if breaking my own bag of waters (which was still intact) would accelarate the process (I had heard this in other birth stories…) She said go for it. When I reached inside, I could feel the bulging bag… At first I was tentative about breaking it with my nails. But after three or four tries, it burst. Gusssssssh….

Nothing changed, save the manky bedspread, which was now cold and wet.

I felt inside to see if Forest’s head was at the door yet. I felt SOMEthing…. But it was not very “head-ish”… It felt like two squishy peaks, with a valley in between. WHAAAAAT??? Not a foot. Not a head. Too small for a butt…. Was there REALLY a normal baby-shaped person inside me??? Or just some random, alien scraps, all smashed together….

When my waters broke, Karen said “He’ll be out in two pushes.”

My inner authority flew out the window and I placed the weight of my salvation in this statement. Time bled on…. My concern mounted as my endurance dwindled.

Now, please allow me to pause and comment.

My writing style is especially feminine. Rooted in and informed by feeeeeling. Decorated with poetic metaphors. Striking, abstract imagery. Frivolous, philosophical meanderings. Bursts of unapologetic raw-ness…

And then there is Athena Grace writing about BIRTH.  Exponentially feminine. I notice a voice inside who is critical of my “failure” to walk a straight line of “chronology”. Well, I am going to grab my ovaries and overtly affirm– FUCK THAT SHIT. I am a WOMAN.  I have a woman’s (heartful) mind, and I am sharing my Woman’s Voice. I never really identified as a “feminist”… because I’m not into raging against the machine. But it turns out that at heart, I AM. The world held hostage by our severely crippled systems NEEDS women’s’ voices to resound boldly through the Collective, heal the heart of ALL, and purify the waters.

This story is a wild, bucking spiral montage of images, mOMents, feelings… and of course a juicy climax (or three). By the Power Vested in Me, I declare that this is RIGHT and BEAUTIFUL and perfectly natural. Not to negate straight lines. I reserve the right to ride those tamed beasts as I please.

At the start of this account I forgot to mention that as during my labor with Serena, it was increasingly impossible to pee. I was hoping this condition would not recur with Forest. Frown.  I had to squat or sit on the toilet for a million years of discomfort before a pathetic trickle would dribble out. Not being able to release deterred me from drinking too much. I was hot and sweaty. I needed fluid. I drank sips and tangoed with the terror of bursting my bladder.

I also forgot to mention an essential, terrible (and retrospectively comical) thing about Giordano’s role during my labor. If I had a nickel for every time the man asked me “WHY”…. I’d be one rich bitch.  MEN— Listen. When a laboring woman makes a request, DO NOT ask her WHY.  Fucking never. Each time he did, I told him this. But obviously, it didn’t go IN. Because his WHYs fired off like a machine gun, driving holes in my peace and sanity.  WOMEN— if your man asks you WHY while you are laboring, send him to me and I will personally rip his over-active head off. And for anyone who finds themself asking “WHY not ask WHY?…”

I’ll tell you.

BECAUSE. It engages a part of the brain that should NOT be active while a woman is in such an intense, intuitive, altered state.

And NOW, back to our riveting story.

I didn’t feel that I was progressing. (I WAS… but not in an outwardly measurable way, like I WANTED to be…)  Karen said if Forest wasn’t out in another half an hour, I “should” go to the hospital.  Eeeeeeeeeek. This would be a major MESS. It was after eleven pm. Would they cut me open? Give me a hodge-podge of horrific interventions? Give my baby antibiotics and injections? Burn me at the stake for birthing outside The System? There was nothing bright about this proposed path.

Except the survival of my child and myself.

Giordano became anxious. Ugh. Just what I needed. He did NOT want to go to the hospital…. Which was actually a surprise to me. I thought he would be the first to subscribe to conventional protocols.  But at this point, he was scared of all the same shit as me. Only more so… because dude tends to expect the worst. But actually, I was impressed by his ability to stay grounded and “calm-ish”… given where the current was carrying us.  In the end, he didn’t lose it.

Through brutal contractions and involuntary baring down, I made a phone call to Manuela, who was holding energetic space for us… and told her that I thought we should go to the hospital. She said “Be wise.”

I forgot this part, but apparently I had also texted Benedetta– “HELP”, at some point.  (She reminded me of this a few days ago, and I had a good laugh about it.) She said she awoke to my text and freaked out. She had become a contact point for a slew of people who were eager to be updated about our progress and wellbeing. She said she called me. I vaguely recall trying to speak to her through excruciating contractions and pushing. Haha. It sure is funny now!

Then I pulled on my beloved, well-worn Berkeley Police sweatpants and a WHITE TANK TOP (what was I thinking???) and attempted to walk. I had to stop every couple steps and breathe and puuuuush.

I HAD TO.

How in Fuck’s holy name would I survive a twenty minute car ride???

 

The nearly free birth of Forest (Part 1)

Forest

The second one is sposta pop out like a ping pong ball… right?

 

That’s what I thought….

 

I was wrong.

 

It took about the same amount of time laboring to get Forest out, as Serena.  Twelve hours.  But this time, I did it at home.  Alone.

 

Well… alone with Giordano.  Was this intentional?  Yes and no.  I wanted to have a woman/women with me… who would just sit quietly in the corner and hold a streaming vigil of prayer and presence.  But apparently God did NOT want this… since both of the women I asked to be with me were cosmically thwarted from attending.

 

“Free Birth” is the term for birthing without a slew of “trained professionals” getting all up in a birthing mama’s grill.  I was intrigued by this idea while pregnant with Serena… but not nearly courageous enough to trust my deepest inner knowing in the boundlessly deep waters of the feminine mystery that is birth.  So I deferred my inner authority, and opted for the hospital route with her.  Which was perfect.  (Marin General is the creme de la creme of hospitals that truly support natural birth.)

 

But this time, I was familiar with the territory. (As familiar as one can be with the cryptic wilderness of the Divine Feminine! Ha!)  Well, lofty philosophy aside, it’s what I FELT TO DO.  So I spent the months of my maternity gathering information and validation, mostly via birth stories told on the “Free Birth Podcast”, and by the time my tiny man was ready to emerge, I felt ready, and even enthusiastic, to do The Thing!

 

Everyone knows that expectations are the devil.  Of course I tried not to have any.  But this was impossible.  I imagined that as with Serena, I would go into labor on my due date, July 14th.   Or at LEAST by the full moon (lunar eclipse), July 16th.  Nope.  Besides the painful fights with Giordano, those days passed without much fanfare. Only a few egoic efforts to get my labor juices “aflow”… long walks, sex, orgasm… the basics.  But as it turns out, all “magic feathers” and lore aside, birth has its own cosmically informed intelligence, which I boldly hypothesize has NOTHING to do with the overlay of “wizardry” many of us get off on professing.

 

For about five nights straight, I went to bed fondling the precious hope that I would awaken in the night to contractions, as I had with Serena.  At two am on July 18th, my hope materialized.  Elated, I opened my eyes to the juicy, round, beam-dripping moon, dancing beyond my bedroom window.  I savored every twinge of deep, delicious ache in my womb.  God those moments live legendary inside me now… I felt totally alone and yet sweetly intimate with ALL.  My heart steeped in transcendent joy.

 

As with Serena, the contractions stopped when I got out of bed.  My labor had a very keen intelligence, and when I was focused on caring for Serena, it would ebb… After I dropped her off at camp, the waves resumed.  When she returned from camp, another pause.  It wasn’t until my saintly friend Benedetta came and picked Serena up (with her own nearly-newborn and four year old sun in tow) at around 4pm, that labor REALLY went full throttle.

 

I had imagined laboring in the little wooden house, nestled in my garden (which I have adopted as a temple…) but by mid afternoon, it was way too hot in there, and the mattress felt like a granite boulder.  After turning a few too many dizzying circles of indecision, I realized there’s no place like bed.

 

Oh dear… This event occurred exactly two weeks ago, and by now, the whole epic event is a goopy smear in my mind’s eye.  I guess I had a butt-ton of contractions in said bed… It didn’t take long for them to start firing off fast… which made me certain that Forest would soon emerge.

 

I was inspired by the birth story of a woman named Jinti Fell… She had an idyllic, peaceful freebirth in water, with only her husband, three year old daughter and sister present.  She said she concentrated on affirmations of opening and surrender.  So with each contraction, I relaxed my yoni and imagined my cervix blossoming open… melting INto the pain, rather than contracting in reaction to it.  I felt powerful and courageous doing this.

 

Until I hit a point where the contractions were coming so strong and rapid, that I lost access to this enlightened response.  It became a matter of survival.  No holds barred.  I felt that if I gave myself over in melt, I would be eaten alive.  This continued for hours.  I focused on my breath… and alternated between chanting gutterally based AUMs and “blowing through an imaginary straw” with each exhale (Benedetta taught me that technique, touting that when the jaw is relaxed, so is the yoni.  She said her first baby slid right out of her as a result… ummm… I can’t say that was MY experience…)

 

What of my wild card husband?  As I imagined, he was not the Masculine Rock that I wished he could be.  When I looked to him in the heat of intensity, his eyes were perpetually a-wander in far-off lands.  This was no surprise.  A restless, wild mind is his M.O.  Still, I wouldn’t help wishing for his solid, unwavering presence.  But given his nature… he did well.

 

As I had requested, he didn’t impose himself in my space.  He made himself available… but hung back until I made a direct request for support.  I felt the wounded place inside me, where I was tentative to ask for help from him… fearing rejection or disconnect.  (By now, our “track record” is brimming with disappointments and blood-bathed conflict…)  But when one is in enough pain, one must transcend the fear of rejection.  I asked him to rub my sacrum, which by now was screaming with ache.

 

At this task, he succeeded beyond measure.  I felt… profoundly felt.  He touched me as if he were inside me.  And at this point, I didn’t care if he was thinking about all the money we owe, or his perpetual craving for pizza, or whatever runs through that man’s mind… I was journeying through a realm of unceasing pain, and he was minimizing my suffering.

 

Until he got hungry.  And then the salvation of his touch withdrew and wandered to the kitchen.  A while later, he returned to the bedroom with a plastic tupperware full of tuna salad.  The smell ruined my life.  He innocently offered me a bite.  DISGUSTING.  I shunned him from the bedroom.  But the smell saturated the warm, thick atmosphere of late July.

 

When he returned (I had no sense of time by now), I asked him to light an incense to mitigate the terrible stench.

 

Then what happened?  Contractions raced through my body like a freight train with never-ending cars.  The sun crept toward the horizon, and eventually sunk into darkness.

 

The Poetry of Darkness

My inner perfectionist is ALL UP IN MY BUSINESS as I sit here contemplating what to write about.  I want to write something genius and get drenched in positive attention and validation, because these days, I mostly feel like a mediocre nobody.  If only I could show up here in Athena Graceland like a blazing comet that takes your breath away….  THEN I’d be worth the love and belonging I crave.

 

Ahhhhh feels so good to name that.  It was like taking a giant poop.  It’s the shit that lurks, unacknowledged in the shadows that can really “crush the ball”.  (My favorite Italian phrase.  Referring to testicles, naturally.)  It’s amazing how much stirring of the shadow is occurring in here lately.   I oft wonder “was this stuff always running me from the bowels of my psyche, and I just couldn’t make contact with it?”  This is my hypothesis…

 

Which makes it damn exciting that I am starting to be able to have some real, snuggly intimacy with it.  I guess.  If I give myself permission to digest, release, transcend.  Permission.  It sounds so easy.  But walking through it is like swimming through honey.  Except not nearly as sweet.  Maybe shit flavored honey…

 

I guess I could start by saying really fucking nice things to myself on a regular basis.  The kinds of things that would be glaringly obvious to say to ANYBODY I love and care for, when they are struggling.  The kinds of things I want YOU to say to me upon reading these words.  The kinds of things you HAVE been saying to me.  And for a few sacred mOMents, everything feels ok.

 

Like “Athena, you DON’T always have to be producing something in order to be valuable.  YOU are enough.  If only you could see the exquisite artistry of your BEing as you move through your days.  Even when you feel depressed and hopeless, your magic is contagious and inspiring.”

 

Yep, made myself cry.

 

Been feeling like a mediocre mom a lot lately.  Up until recently, at least I felt like I was succeeding at that.  Serena tells me how much she loooooooves me…. too many times a day too count.  Inside I’m like, “Really???  Even though lose my patience and shout at you too much???”  So much for “conscious parenting”….

 

I think I’m doing better than I give myself credit for.  It just hurts my heart so bad when I yell at this beautiful, perfect being who is my daughter.  (Tears silently spill down my face as I expose this intimate dimension of myself.  Maybe not “brilliant” writing… but honest.  Which is courageous.  Maybe lots of moms secretly feel like shmucks, but don’t want to admit it…)

 

Exhaaaale.  I just don’t know how to navigate the frequent moments when Serena yells and screams and rebels “for no reason”.  I’m sure in HER world, there IS a reason.  Even if she cannot name it.  She’s probably mirroring my emotional intensity.  Maybe this is glaringly obvious from your kush seat in the overstuffed armchair…. She’s also a scorpio.  I didn’t know exactly what that meant when she was growing inside me.  But it’s no joke, people.  Scorpion energy is emotional masturbation.  So indulgent and intense.

 

But I digress.  Sometimes (often lately), I feel like I just can’t handle my girl’s said intensity and unwavering push-back.  I wonder if it would be different if I was adequately reSourced.  I don’t have fuckin’ ANYBODY who shows up to take Serena out for the afternoon and give me a break.  Not even my husband.  (He’s too busy bacon hunting.)  I chose such a fucking hard Path.  Dianne says to keep going and never give up.

 

I’ve always been a spiritual PollyAnna at heart.  My Ma used to passionately wish that this was her last incarnation on earth.  She was OVER IT.   And I’d feel so damn good about myself, replying that I would come back here as many times as I was needed.  But I guess the ingredients I needed to thrust me into “Camp Over IT” were motherhood and a painfully difficult marriage.  Oh, and a seeming lack of ability to plug into higher Purpose.  That’s really the one that slaughters me.

 

Mom, I get it.

 

Did I ever tell you that when I told my mom I was pregnant with Serena, she stopped talking to me for like three days?  Seriously.  And we were living together in her sweet little one-room loft apartment.  It was INTENSE.  I didn’t get it.  But now I imagine that she foresaw the terrain ahead, and was grieving for me.

 

She WAS seeing through the filter of her own struggles, of course.  And probably I will triumph at some point.  Probably some day I will heal my precious inner child, get my writing off the ground and enjoy a more autonomous, focused and gratifying existence.

 

I guess I can lay the groundwork now.  By being sublimely kind to myself no matter what.  And appreciating the Grace of everything that Life is laying at my feet.

 

I’m grateful that it’s summer.  I might be conflagrating in soul-angst… but I’m no dummy!  I am still able to luxuriate in frequent near-nakedness.  I am still deeply moved by the ambiance of overflowing birdsong that pours upon the warm, bright world each day.  The disarming, supple softness of Serena’s three year old skin.  And the way everything is play for her.  Gorgeous trees dripping with glistening, red cherries, of which we are free to eat as many as we please.  A husband who often falls short… but is a die-hard who stands the fuck up after he falls, and sincerely does his best to learn and grow and evolve.

 

A husband who loves his unborn son more than I do at this point.  Giordano’s love for Forest is palpable.  Sometimes I’m scared that Forest will be too much like Giordano…  Sometimes I feel like Forest is the steel-jawed trap that keeps me bound to a life I hate.

 

OMG.  A monk and a nun exiting the grocery store, pushing a full shopping cart!!!!  One of those monks that looks like Friar Tuck.  And a nun who resembles…. Whoopie Goldberg.  Haha, just kidding.

 

Anyway, I’m looking forward to holding my son in my arms.  It’s still hard for me to believe that a baby is going to come out of me.  Even though I’m giant and exhausted and insanely emotional.  It was like this with Serena too.  But I imagined that the second one would be different, given that I’ve done it before.  Nope.  Still unfathomable to me that in about four weeks, I will have a SON.  A tiny human will emerge through my vagina and depend on me for EVERYTHING.  Whoa.  And he will be oozing with the fresh scent of Heaven.

 

Okay, I guess this is the part where I just breathe.  Dunno what else to do now.  Oh, except to keep being earth-shatteringly sweet to myself.

 

From my heart,

Athena Grace

 

Breathe. Write. Heal.

I think of this blog as my Life Story.  Sure, there’s a butt-ton (my favorite unit of measure) of mOMents that happen within the massive cracks of time between posts… but if you added these pages up and divided them by themself… you would get a fairly vivid and tonally accurate sketch of my Dense Adventure this time around.

 

With this in mind, what can I say today that will carry you along the shadow-carved carousel continuum that is my Life?

 

I want to make broad strokes, so you can taste the ALL OF IT that I am swimming in.  Broad strokes, intricately engraved with microscopic renditions of The Lord’s Prayer, naturally.

 

I often feel like captain of the Titanic these days.  In charge of a hopelessly sinking ship.  It’s a visceral feeling… the sinking starts in my heart and spreads like fire.  Sometimes it begins upon waking.  Others I am spared till mid-morning.  It’s a stiff cocktail of loneliness, isolation and poverty.  I flush with a sense of desperation and burn for someone to hear me and hold me and be a messy flesh-bag by my side. But my american friends are dancing with Mister Sandman…

 

I almost always find myself alone.  In my house strewn with the at once inspiring and despicable aftermath of the endlessly exploding imagination of a three year old.  Alone with Serena, that is.  Serena who needs so much of me. (Except in those said blessed mOMents of sovereign, bursting imagination.)

 

The haunted rabbit hole of desperation has a distinct gravitational hunger and suckles me forcefully.  I try to breathe deep and stay awake.  But the pain is intoxicating.  I can’t believe THIS is what I was born for.  I start to quietly beat myself up for losing my Way.  For living a life that is waaay less than extraordinary and glorious.

 

While Serena is napping, I scroll down my instagram feed and see Tony Robbins juicing up audiences the size of twelve football stadiums, acknowledging his soulfully gorgeous, supportive wife, recharging his batteries in Fiji… I see healthy, bright beings telling it on a mountain about how they start their day with celery juice, and I feel eternally fucked, because where I live, it’s near impossible to find organic celery.  I see mamas who are raising their littles immersed in nature, without the festering devil that is “screen”.  I see pregnant women who are committed to regular “work-out” routines, promenading around local farmer’s markets with their three year olds and having satisfying intimacy with their husbands.  And so much more.

 

I hate social media.  I never felt like this before.  I guess I should take a break…  But I’m afraid if I unplug, I will be hopelessly alone.

 

In other news, I don’t think I mentioned here that “Misha”, the cat who hangs around our house, had three kittens in our living room on the night of April 10th. (The auspicious birthday of my legendary childhood bestie, Amber…)  One kitten died days later.  Another one died yesterday.  Serena and I loved her to the Other Side.  There is one left…

 

Why do kittens drop like flies around our house?  I’ll tell you why.  They are Giordano’s dad’s cats.  He does not spay/neuter them… and they just breed prolifically and shit everywhere.  Giordano says there are about thirty… but I have no idea how he can know this.  They occur as infinite to me.  They are all inbred my now, and infested with ticks and worms and lord knows what else.  A few of them have set up camp at our house… And it’s impossible not to love them.  But this entails living with a broken heart for the conditions of their existence.  Such a different mindset than “where I come from”.  I grew up with Bob Barker’s relentless, devotional plug at the end of every Price Is Right episode, reminding viewers to spay and neuter their pets.

 

Anyway, the remaining kitten, I named Pleiades… because she has bulging, blue alien eyes.  She seems slightly retarded: scrawny, trembling and weak.  But also adorable.  Now that her siblings are dead, she is always under my feet.  Needing warmth and another heartbeat.  The same things I am needing.

 

When left alone, she pours with incessant, agitating cries.  So I carry her around in my pocket, or hold her close to my heart.  This soothes us both.  I hope she survives.

 

I never thought I’d be one of those moms who lived only for her children…

 

But lately, in moments it feels like Serena is the tread that keeps me going.  However imperfectly. (And.  The deeper me lives for Humanity.  At my core, I know that all I feel through and live is in service of The Collective.  Digesting the energies that few have the courage to encounter and embrace.  The True Me is passionate about this.)  Yesterday was swimming day.  I drove us to the pool at half the speed limit, because I couldn’t find the will to do more.  The ache inside was debilitating…

 

Lately I find myself thinking of Sylvia Plath… imagining that I know the crippling depression that drove her to take her own life.  I’m too spiritually minded/hearted to do such a thing.  But I understand it…  I also think of my recently deceased, schizophrenic maternal grandmother.  I’m not mentally ill.  But these days, I recognize the homeopathic dose of her that lives through me.  I wonder about the burden she carried… A genius with no support in expressing her brilliance.  So instead of playing oboe for the symphony, she married a jolly man, fresh from prison, (grandpa robbed a train station and did… ten years?) made three daughters and a home.  And went crazy.  That is such a simplified version… but suppressing creativity, dreams, desire, brilliance in the name of survival, cultural “appropriateness”, lack of support/validation… I blink in astonishment as these themes live through me now.  I want to hurl them against a wall of stone and fire.

 

That’s why I am here writing, even as my life seems to be sinking and I come undone.  I might not have “IT” figured out.  I might be failing in the eyes many of the peanut gallery who live inside me.  But I can still write about it.  I can always write about it.  This is my sanity and salvation.

 

And speaking of sanity and salvation, back to my swim.  We made it to the pool, and miraculously, I found my way into my neon, sport bikini, my massive belly bulging like this burgeoning full moon.  We set up camp on the (indoor) tile pool deck.  I opened Giordano’s laptop and put the Peppa Pig DVD inside.  It wouldn’t play.  I tried ten times.  It got stuck on the FBI Warning.  A man came and took “my lane” while I was wrastling with unwieldy technology.  Desperation filled me to overflowing and tears poured forth.

 

Getting my ass in the pool had seemed like a dose of disgusting medicine, moments ago… But suddenly the threat of having this life-line robbed from me was a cosmic injustice that I could not endure.  “Luigi”, the kind-hearted man at the front desk came and asked (in Italian, of course) what was the matter.  We mutually grappled with the language barrier in attempt to right this Royal Wrong.  He offered for Serena to watch a program in the office, where there was WIFI.  Serena refused to be that far from me.  I told her she could sit at the edge of the pool and watch me do laps.  Nope.  Not gonna happen.  All I could do was sit there, stupefied by IT ALL.

 

After eternal moments of glazed desperation, I prepared to close the computer… and got a hunch to try restarting it.  So I did.  And then Peppa Pig played like a Boss.  The cool water swirled and swaddled me in love.  Buoyant movement and breath, I floated through an interdimensional world beyond time.  Alchemy.  Life didn’t get any easier when I emerged forty-five minutes later… but I was tenderized and able to keep going.

 

My wise and luminous friend Elizabeth told me to keep breathing deep into my heart.  To stay in my heart no matter what.  She said that hitting rock bottom is “auspicious”.  She said “A light will go on if I can stay in my heart and embrace my pain.”

 

Yes.

 

Breathe.  Write.  Heal.

 

For the well-being of ALL.

 

Amen.

 

Broken into twisted Bliss

IMG_1755

I’m gonna write my guts out this morning.  Because it feels like I’ll explode if I don’t. Because this is what I am made for.

 

The pressure inside me is excruciating.  Like I’m in some kind of labor.  I woke up at four in the morning missing California so much, it felt like the prelude to a panic attack (which is a condition I’m not accustomed to).  I called out (audibly) to God to help me, because it was too much to bare.  But God seems to swoop in and help me when I least expect it, rather than when I directly beg.  So I just marinated in the ache… and tried to “coach myself” into a state of surrender and appreciation.

 

I want to go home so bad.  But if I was “home”, would I want to be somewhere else?  Is this an initiation into truly making peace deep down in my soul?  Where hOMe truly is….

 

Probably.

 

I love writing one word paragraphs.  I feel so all powerful.

 

I’ve been doing a weekly facebook live conversation on my Sourced Circles page for the past couple months.  It’s strange… barely anybody tunes in…. And yet I know I must do this.  The fire in my soul says so.  Life is so strange.  Anyway, my point is that each week, I am fortunate to speak with a deeep soul, who illuminates realms that are essential inside ME, if no one else. It’s sorta like taking a quenching swig of soul medicine inside a vacuum.

 

Last week, Tara Divina spoke of the nature of the deepest joy… being eternally entwined with the deepest pain… how in their purest essence, they are ONE.

 

Of course you’ve heard this a million times.  But have you truly introduced rubber and road on your insides?  Lemme take a feel right now.  Right now as my heart is smashed in a million pieces.  Is it ecstasy in paltry disguise?  Are all these unanswerable questions and quench-less longings my most treasured allies?

 

I breathe.

 

Writing it through me, I feel beautiful and right, blessed and heroic.  But when I’m trudging through the tangles of perpetual Relationship dissatisfaction, endless floor-sweeping and dishes to be washed, it doesn’t feel a fraction as sexy.  It feels like being wide awake in a meat grinder.

 

But the birds in spring sing the most exquisite songs….  And the scent of the blossoming lilacs is a secret portal to Heaven.

 

Even though my relationship with Giordano rarely “hits the Spot”, I have mostly surrendered to this.  I guess the current tides of my Life are not about getting my Spot hit.

 

My language *totally* makes sense to ME…. but just in case it doesn’t penetrate you straight to that place of implicit understanding, I will say it a different way.  As far as my marriage goes, I rarely (if ever) rest in a pervasive, peaceful sense of affinity and fulfillment.  I mostly feel lonely and unmet.

 

BUT.  In most mOMents, I have made peace with this.  Especially because I look over at Giordano, doing his Giordano dance…. And I see him doing his very, very best.  And I respect that.  I see him boldly flailing at his own Edge.  Being courageous and willing.  I see him breaking a sweat to love me (and Serena) as best he can.  He is rarely mean anymore.  And this allows my heart to bloom a bit.  Not like a summer rose, mind you.  But a shy, early spring bud, still wary of the threat of potential frosts. I honor this delicate space.  I do not need to force bloom.  After living on lock down all winter, a shy bud is euphoria.

 

WHY?…  This question still whips through the infinity within me like a bitter wind… but I let it.  I have no answers.  I have no fucking clue why Life is living me this way.

 

But I am brave.  And willing to feel the feelings that few others have the courage to embrace.  I don’t mean YOU, of course…. I mean the zombie-walking, TV watching, Costco-shopping, Pringles popping, cocktail slogging masses who ritualistically await their daily force-feedings of fabricated media reality.

 

Or maybe I DO mean you… I don’t know WHO feels this deeply.  We all have our role in the Cosmic Choir.  And feeling to the core of IT ALL (and then writing it down) is an essential dimension of mine.  Inhale.  Exhaaaaale.

 

I just wish I could overcome this poverty bullshit.  It’s really shitting on my parade.  I want to get my women’s circles going (not to mention become a famous writer already)… like LAST YEAR…. But becoming a savvy entrepreneur feels like learning chinese.  I have so much to offer.  But how do I get people to give a soaring fuck?

 

A lot of the work is on the INside.  Valuing myself.  TRUSTING myself.  Feeling worthy. Feeling safe enough to dish IT out with abandon.

 

And then, some of it is just straight up consistent, *inSpired* ACTION.  Forward motion.  This builds new muscles.  Creates unstoppable momentum.  But raising a three year old (while concurrently growing another) without much support makes this a fucking FEAT.  It feels like trying to canoe up a sky-scraping, gravel mountain.  I’m doing my best.  I sense that my day will come.  With galactically impeccable timing.  In the meantime, I am being artfully carved; God’s own reed flute.

 

I was gonna end it there, but all this talk of reed flutes naturally made me think of poetry.  Last night I had a sudden craving for David Whyte’s “House of Belonging”, and Mary Oliver’s “Wild Geese”.  I read them both to Serena at bedtime.  I don’t think she “got it”.  But my own heart broke so damn good.  The Ocean of uncried tears sloshed and churned inside me.

 

“…this is where I want to love all the things it has taken me so long to learn to love…

 

This is the temple of my adult aloneness and I belong to that aloneness as I belong to my life.”

 

“…whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting- over and over announcing your place in the family of things.”

 

Such perfectly arranged words.  Soul Carving Words.  I relish stroking myself with this shattering Mastery.

 

Abiding deeep within my own heart, I find you there and love you with all that I AM.

 

Xoxo,

Athena

 

Write or Die.

tumblr_static_angelshadowpic1

Write or die.

 

It’s like that this morning.  Write or die. I’m marveling at how displeasurable life can be!  Even in a cafe brimming with the cutest little pastries and cakes in the world.  

 

The heating in our house is broken.  We just have an impotent wood stove in the living room that nips at the heels of hypothermia.  My body is always tense and shivering. Giordano says there’s something wrong with me, because he and Serena do not suffer as I do.  This really isn’t helpful. He’s gonna fix the heating someday. If he ever makes it back from the all-consuming Epic of The Olive Harvest.  And if we can ever come up with a thousand euros to buy the used stove he found.

 

I could get deep into the horrid nuances of my current psycho-emotional existence.  But I think it would make me feel even worse. Plus, I’m not sure if it would add value to your life.  Which I aim to do. I’ll just encapsulate it by saying that my heart and soul feel sick. And my body feels perpetually nauseated.  

 

But I’m trying really hard to be strong and triumphant.  And to connect with community. Yesterday morning, Benedetta invited Serena and I to her house for a late “American Breakfast”.  You know, pancakes. And eggs. She has a sun who is six months older than Serena, plus, like me, she’s growing another. She’s married to an american man.  She also invited another family who has a three year old boy and a brand spankin new baby.

 

An older version of me might not have gotten off hard on the event.  I was never a fan of the intense chaos that is little boy energy. Or lite, surface conversations.  But yesterday, it hit my spot. I guess when you are starving, any food is champagne and caviar. (Not that champagne and caviar are even good….)  It just felt so damn nice to be with people. And to see Serena being with small people. To sit around a table and share food. Strange, exotic food, that I would never feed myself.  

 

PEOPLE!  I love them.  

 

It must suck for Giordano to feel me destroyed every day.  I’m sorry Giordano. I really am. I just don’t know what to do differently.  I’m doing my best to maintain my yoga practice. And have sex with you in the middle of the night once in a while.  I’m gonna brave the freezing cold weather, strip down to a now unflattering, sporty bikini and immerse in not quite warm enough water, so that I can do laps and hopefully enlighten my cells.  I eat damn healthy, even though I find food mostly repulsive. I am reaching out to friends near and far for connection and support. On paper, I’m doing everything right.

 

But in real time, I still feel hopeless and broken and disgusted.  

 

Maybe this is the stuff Revelation is made of.  All I can do is fall to my knees and beg God to breathe with me.  Atheists, hold your blasphemous tongues!!! This is Athena Graceland.  A land informed and inspired by the Greatest Love Imaginable That Pervades and Transcends All. Ha!  Such Unsayably Magnificent Being hardly flies in the face of my excruciating inner life right now.

 

But somehow, what I’m living HAS to be right.  HAS to be good.

 

I totally don’t understand.  

 

All I understand is my love for and devotion to Serena.

 

All I understand is that I must go on.  

 

All I understand is that despite how shitty life feels, I am deeply, profoundly loved.  

 

All I understand is that I have to go to the grocery store now and get seventeen euros worth of disgusting food, because even though I find food repulsive, I am a housewife and I must fulfill my duties.  

 

Thanks for listening.  May my honesty set you free.  

 

XOXO,

Athena

 

Previous Older Entries