This has been a blog about a month in the making. Let me first start with a disclaimer of why I chose the title and picture. My birthday is coming up shortly and I’ve been bombarded with autonomic thoughts and visual images regarding identity and worth. When I was asked what defines me, or what I want to be most, my answer came quickly and strongly – a Mother. And with that came a smile, a picture of the Madonna and child, and Maxwell’s remake of “A Woman’s Worth” in my head (hence title and picture). This image has been following me everywhere – in cards, in posts, in signs, and in my head. To me it’s the perfect depiction of my feeling toward motherhood – loving, connected, protective and supported. All virtues which I greatly value and try to evoke everyday with myself, my friends, and my community. Mother, caretaker, doctor, teacher – they all are homologous to me in virtuosity.
In the beginning this image, all though beautiful, haunted me. Well time did. Birthdays force you to reflect on the past year and do an inventory of all your accomplishments (even if it’s done subconsciously). The past month that is what I did, and I did not like the results. Tangibly not much has changed and that disappointed me. To get my gratitude on and change my perspective I embarked on a 12 days of December (on my Instagram) to reflect on the treasures I do have and appreciate in my life. That truly got me to reflect on my life and mood (it’s a great exercise, I recommend it highly). Time creates anxiety. I see this constantly with patients in clinic – if things aren’t on schedule or they are not accomplishing what they want to in a timely fashion – it creates anxiety, aggression, anger or frustration. It’s similar to writing an exam – when there is a constraint of time once there are 5 minutes left in the exam and you haven’t finished all the questions then you become instantly flushed with fear and anxiety. What if you didn’t get all the answers right? What if you did worse than your friends? What if this mark defines your entire future and if you perform poorly than it’ll ruin your life (that last one is extreme but I assure you it goes through student’s minds)? The amount of constraints and pressure we put on ourselves because of our linear view of time is daunting. We can’t control time, but we can control how we view it. And how we view ourselves.
So why did this image original bother me? Because that’s whom I define myself as, put the most value in, but am not. Currently I have no children and sometimes absorb societal views of time constraining my opportunity. There is no window for motherhood, regardless of what the popular opinion is. Originally I thought I had to choose – school or family. I decided most noble would be to sacrifice my energy towards school for the greater good. I felt like I had to sacrifice what I desired most to be more virtuous in my quest for medicine. That’s how deep rooted my mother archetype was – already sacrificing myself for others. Mother’s need not to sacrifice themselves for their children and I did not need to sacrifice my motherliness for others. And that was the root behind my birthday anxieties for years – fear of losing time combined with not living my true identity. When we don’t live harmoniously within our value set we become disresonant – thus disordered or dis-eased. We begin to experience physical and mental emotionally symptoms due to this dis-ease.
Take a quick minute to write down what your values are. Prioritize your top 3. Are you living in resonance with these values? If not, what are your blocks? How can you change your situation so that you can be in harmony with these values? If you picked identities, describe them. What characteristics did you list? Those are the things you value about those identities and need to embody in your own life to be at peace with yourself.
What does a mother mean to me? Supportive, loving, protective, involved with children, caretaking, creating, teaching. Ironically those are the same descripts I would use to define my value set. I don’t need to be a mother physically, well not yet, to embody and live those values. I can incorporate them into my work, my family, my community, and most important myself. Magically then the fear of time dissolves away. I don’t have to wait to be my true self, I can evoke and embrace it now by living those definitive core values. Now I can see the true beauty of that picture, without anxiety, without judgement, without fear. With just pure love and joy of living.