Monday, December 3, 2007

stories from the front

"There was a woman I knew during my teen years who one morning abandoned her family and stayed at her mother's for a period of weeks. This was unheard of. I didn't know of another such case. She was loving, kind, an excellent mother, active in the church, highly regarded by everyone. In fact, I think it's safe to say her family was our town's model family. One explanation was whispering hotly around. The woman was going through her change. I overheard my mother and my aunts before they noticed me listening. Later, when we were alone, my mother attempted to appease my curiosity by explaining that some women, even the most respectable and charming, when going 'through the change' went a big mad."

from An Indiscreet Thing, by Miki Nilan in Women of the 14th moon editors Dena Taylor/Amber Coverdale Sumrall

I'd have to add, sometimes it's the most respectable ones who need to get away the most, find their inner wild woman, as Clarissa Pinkola Estes might say.

I spent the last 5-6 years wishing I could get away all the time. I didn't understand it. I was afraid of doing anything about it. It was a yearning so deep I thought it might be a call to divorcing my family, but I didn't want to do that. I saw a therapist for a while to help me sort things out.

Peri-menopause is actually where the angst is. Once you hit menopause, something calms, at least for me. Once you listen to the voice calling for change, and really listen deeply to see what it is asking of you, and then make steps even though the path is unclear, the inner angst lessens.

What did I do about the need to get away? At first I was writing stories about women who were facing this dilemna, who woke up one morning and wanted to follow the wild geese flying south. I listened to Joni Mitchell's song, sometimes I feel like going (can't remember words exactly) and I'd cry every time. It was about seasons and a woman who needed to move on in her life.

I did get away on retreats as often as I could leave my children. My friends were always asking J, my husband, where has she gone this time? and inviting him over to supper, as if he had been abandoned. They have gotten used to my leaving for meditation and yoga retreats, singing with my choir retreats, workshops on writing, or singing. Sometimes it's a 3-day weekend in Vermont or Massachusetts. Sometimes it's 10 days in Amaroo, in Australia, a very magical place with a special teacher of mine.

Sometimes it's a weekend in Fort Lauderdale, and sometimes I even bring the family along, like the time we spend a February weekend in New York. While they did sightseeing, I was in a poetry workshop. My teens were actually loving visiting boutique hotels and trendy architecture!

So I started just writing about it and complaining to my on-line writer's class at that I couldn't leave but I needed to get away, be by myself. One wise woman said, Leave, and come back again.

So that's what I've been doing, once or twice a year. My kids have learned to heat up frozen meals, my husband has even started cooking dinner once a week on weekends. They survive without me. When they were littler, I hired babysitters, dog sitters, whatever was necessary since grandparents were either not close by or not in shape to care for wee ones.

Bottom line ladies, you heed the call, or feel like you're going crazy. You do not have to 'up and leave em' all of a sudden. Just get them used to handling the house without you. Show them where the laundry soap is, and how to find stuff in the back of the fridge. Let the house get a little messy while you're away. It's worth it.

The bumpy parts will smooth out. The sisterhood of other women helps immensely.

safe journey,

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