This Isn't a Test
The good news is - you aren't being tested.
The bad news? Even when you get that these challenges and this turmoil aren't a cruel twist of fate, even when you know you aren't being graded, that doesn't make it any easier.
A quick story. Well, maybe not that quick.
Six days ago I gave birth to this little darling.
The labor wasn't terribly long or difficult - about 5 hours of smooth sailing, 5 more hours of what I mistakenly thought of as real labor, and then 6 actual hours of labor - but it pushed me to my absolute limits nevertheless. After the birth I remember having the thought that I had just done the hardest thing I'd probably ever have to do.
That turned out to be some dark irony. I quickly came to the realization that though labor was "difficult" and not exactly pleasant, it couldn't hold a candle to the reality of the situation I found myself in.
I'd had the labor I wanted. Unmedicated, uncomplicated, in a wonderful setting that I was barely cognizant of because I was exhausted and hallucinating the entire time (I have a vague memory of telling my husband we had to send greeting cards to the Baldwin brothers).
I'd gotten the baby I wanted. Healthy. Beautiful. I feel like I've known him forever.
And despite these blessings, I've been overwhelmed by anxiety and fear. I can't stop crying. I'm exhausted - naturally, but it goes deeper than physical exhaustion. I understand why many women give up on breastfeeding, and I have a whole new respect for parents.
I'm aware that some of this is thanks to the hormones. I may even be teetering on PPD. But, more than that, much of this overwhelm is an acute understanding that my husband and I made the choice to bring this little guy into the world - his health and happiness weigh so heavy in our hands - and nothing has ever scared me as much.
I thought I knew fear. Going full-time self-employed. Falling in love. Giving birth.
Nope. Trying to imagine what the next weeks, months, and years hold triggers a fear that makes me question the sanity of everyone who has ever chosen to become a parent. And to think, some people choose to do it more than once!
I know that this is a physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual issue for me right now.
And as I feel my way through it, I get gentle nudges. As I start to stumble off the path and into the thorns, a hand catches my elbow. My husband reminds me: You've got this. We can do this. I'm so proud of you. My mother calls to check in. My friend reminds me that people manage to raise perfectly fine children putting in half as much effort as I do.
I've got support. When I fall out of alignment with love, my little community sorts me out.
Today, on top of the exhaustion and the anxiety, my cat fell ill. It was a minor emergency, but an emergency nonetheless. I had to rush him to the vet while my husband held down the fort. The GPS didn't work. My cell phone didn't get service when I tried to call them to get a landmark. I must've broken down in tears (I've got a little trauma around bringing cats to the vet) at least four times on the 20-minute drive.
In the moment, I wondered: Why this? Why now? Why am I being tested so hard?
When I caught my breath, I remembered that the universe doesn't test us. We take our challenges and we turn them into tests because then we get to succeed, or fail. We have something that we can measure. Some way to judge ourselves.
We can be so awful to ourselves. And even when we step back and see the challenge for what it is? Just...a series of things? Unrelated to our worth. That doesn't change the fact that they suck.
But we can always take the wider perspective. There are always sources of love and guidance out there.
So take a deep breath. This isn't a test. There are no grades.
Re-center. Re-align. Soften.
If you feel that you, too, are going through a trial, then this week's guidance (click here) should be helpful. It was channeled and written last week. I looked at it today with a little bit of bitter humor - little did I know how much it would end up helping me. And if you feel that you could use touchpoints and a community to help catch you when you start to wander - there's still time to join the Soul Growth Society.