walking with helplessness

graffiti of a woman holding a loaf of bread and a boquet of rosesEarly in the morning, and I am getting back to work — AT&T finally allowed us to get our internet access setup at home yesterday, after being here for almost two weeks. I’m grateful to be back at my desk with you.

I wake up with a feeling of dread, and then as I thought this morning, also of utter helplessness — like nothing I can do will change what’s happening, what’s coming.

What about that feeling of helplessness that lies on the other side of terror?
I pull a couple of motherpeace cards this morning (from an incomplete deck), and I get a 6 of discs (Generosity, healing others) and 6 of swords (Clarity. Tough but right decision, understanding consequences & necessity).

Tough decisions.

Some mornings, the helplessness hits me hard, I wake up in it like I’m washed through, like its seeping out of my pores, like it’s all I live within. That old feeling of, this is never going to get better, this is never going to change.

There are ways we learn helplessness, just to survive — if I quit acting like anything I do makes a difference, I can get through this awfulness faster, less scathed. What else is there? I should have started the blog writing sooner. Now it’s late, and how do I write about what I want to write about when I have to be in the shower in 10 minutes so that I can catch the bus to get to my day job? See this feeling of helplessness, like I’m not making the decisions, like forces outside of my control are shaping my will, like nothing I do can change anything. Like all that’s ahead of me is awfulness.

Yes, this can be a part of ptsd, this sense of helplessness and dread, this long training into and against someone else’s control. How do I let my body, my deep inside, know that we can make our own choices for our life now, and that we will choose what’s good for us, that we can be trusted with choices?

Here are some things that can undo/shift the experience of helplessness, in my experience:

  • writing it out
  • taking a long, scrubby, sudsy shower
  • calling a friend and telling them about it
  • going for a walk and telling the plants and hummingbirds and circling hawks about it
  • making a list of things that need doing, and then doing one or more of those things
  • writing out a list of the things I’m avoiding, or that I’m having a hard time making a decision about, and then writing some about one or more of those things (either a pros and cons list, or just writing openly about one of those hard decisions)
  • Write, asking the helplessness and/or dread to tell me its stories, so that I can honor how they have helped me survive, and so that we can walk together into the choices and agency that I have now, as an adult who isn’t being controlled and abused anymore.
  • What else?

Today is International Women’s Day. We can talk about how helplessness has been bread and borne and beaten into generations and generations of women, or we can talk about tough decisions and generosity/healing, organizing and speaking out, striking for bread and roses.

A couple of ideas for writing today: how do you (or your characters) walk with your (feelings of) helplessness? How do you move through that feeling, or against it?

How are you marking International Women’s Day? What does it mean for your characters that there is a day devoted just to honoring women’s work, and bettering all of our working conditions? What is women’s work? What is your woman’s work? What do you want it to be?

Thank you for the ways you are gentle with the things you want to change in yourself, for how you hold what you are most impatient with, how you are present with those deep, old lessons that still live in your heart and, some days, still move your hands. Thank you for your constant creativity with/in your healing/life. Thank you (even when I’m not here to say it) for your words.

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