In July, I shared my story about how attempting something difficult—physically, mentally, emotionally—prepared me for being a leader of conscience today. In turn, I asked our AoCC community to share their own stories and inspiration with us all. Many thanks to the brave souls who stepped up in this 8-part series!
S.F. in Boston, Mass
What’s something challenging you’ve done or experienced?
After my son was born, I was overwhelmed with anxiety that sometimes collapsed into depression. The pain of the world flooded me, perhaps because I was newly attuned to a newborn who required more of me than anything ever had before, and opened up pathways of empathy for other children that were deeper and rawer than any previous experience.
Nursing him during the family separation crisis in spring 2018 I would just stop breathing out of agony. For the first year of his life, I went in and out of suicidality—not ever actually suicidal, but wishing I could die—and then I would hold my baby, and know I absolutely had to pull through. And I did.
What did that experience teach you or show you about yourself?
I discovered that I am capable of completely remaking my sense of self—this time by transforming into a mother. Tumbling onto the new continent of love I have for my son, I glimpse the depths of mystery that are here in existence, and which daily life usually clouds. I found out how much psychological pain, extreme exhaustion, and physical discomfort I can endure and still survive.
How does that serve you as you engage in the work of social and political change?
The experience taught me—again—that resistance to grief hurts more than grieving. My child is born into a world that is beautiful, and also dangerous, and there is nothing I can do to change that fundamental truth. But I can grieve. I can cry and feel my fear and sadness that this is the way things are. Then I can show up with love and integrity to him, feel my feelings and support him in feeling his, and practice wonder and gratitude even when tragedy strikes.
This clears the channel to do good works in the public domain.
I also learned, when he was a year and a half, that it is better for me to not listen or read the news. I get AoCC emails, and take action that way. I get a few select emails from organizations, and am involved in select community projects. My husband and I strive to tithe our incomes causes and direct giving each year.
I have done civil disobedience and organized campaigns. But I cannot, with the nervous system I have, consume the news. For better or worse, I find out the big things anyway.
Abstaining from regular consumption of news is a form of self care, and instead of staying in a freeze response all the time, lets me offer the gifts I have to the world.
Ready for some good news and clear ways to speak up?