If you’ve been pregnant (or lived with a pregnant woman), you know the hormones affect more than your body. They affect your brain and wreak havoc with your emotions. The belly is growing, the joints are loosening, the memory cells aren’t firing all the time, sleep can be elusive, and my emotions often run away on me. It can make for some rough days.
Every pregnancy, I’ve struggled with something that looks like depression, but in reality is more of an intense introversion. I don’t want to leave the house. I don’t want to socialize. Interaction becomes incredibly exhausting. I’m perfectly happy to chat with friends via text, messenger, or Facebook. My interests narrow to those I can do from the comfort of my recliner: writing, crocheting, and drawing.
Unfortunately, the pregnancy hormone cocktail makes me more inclined to anxiety and worry. I’m sure I’m not the only person who finds the need for security heightened during pregnancy. Life seems to have a way of shaking my security just when I feel I need it most. You can imagine that this drives up the level of anxiety some days–which is what led to me crying on my husband’s shoulder on Sat. over writing, of all things.
Writing, whether fiction or blogging, is not a highly paid (or in my case, paid at all) position. It is time-intensive, especially the parts that require research–and research is required for both non-fiction and fiction work. I’ve taken the time to put about 80,000 words into a novel draft since Christmas. That word count doesn’t include the parts I completely deleted and rewrote. I love seeing the progress come, but I also know that being nearly done with a rough draft is not even half-way to anything that can be marketed. There will be multiple revisions, possibly multiple rewrites. It isn’t out of the box to think that an author writes 5-10 times as many words for a book as ever see the final, published page.
With layoffs happening at my husband’s workplace, and my 6th grader’s new curriculum being more expensive than in past years, I felt I couldn’t justify taking the time to write when it doesn’t pour anything back into the family. I also couldn’t imagine not writing–and blogging isn’t enough. I must work on fiction. I must spin a story. I stopped for several years after finishing my first (unpublished) novel. I had a toddler, a second on the way, a stepdaughter who needed intensive parenting, and we were starting to homeschool her. I put down my fiction and told myself that I simply couldn’t invest the time into it. I picked it up again a few years later, but when Miss Bug, our #3, was born, I put it down again. I didn’t pick it up again until last summer(6 years). I don’t want to put that part of myself down again.
I don’t think I am supposed to.
My husband assured me that he sees my writing as valuable. He wants me to keep it up. I am happier when I have a creative outlet. (Relationship advice: it’s good to support healthy things that make your spouse happy.) But when anxiety gets its claws in, shaking it is hard. One person’s words aren’t enough, even when he’s the most important person in my life. Thankfully, God put a few other reassurances in my path. First, the Facebook page Authentic Catholic Femininity posted this:
Don’t neglect your hobbies and talents — even if you tell yourself they’re not important. There is beauty in things that exist only to beautify our time and refresh our souls. In our hobbies, we find new ways of utilizing our God-given talents , making friends, and gaining new insights into our own personalities. It’s so easy to spend all our energy on all the necessities of life and to forget to nourish our souls in cultivating them through art, sport, reading, or other leisure. Let’s remember to invest in ourselves: we weren’t made only to work!
I bawled. I sat there reading a Facebook page, crying about it because it was exactly what I needed at exactly the right time. I had amputated my creative drive over and over in the past years. I didn’t need to do that to be a good mom, or a good wife, or a good me. God gave me more, too. At the vigil mass that night, both the Psalm and the Gospel reading hinted at the same idea. The Psalm was 23, “In verdant pastures he gives me repose; beside restful waters he leads me.” The Gospel was Mark 6:30-34, “He said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.’ People were coming and going in great numbers and they had no opportunity even to eat. So they went off in the boat by themselves to a deserted place.”
There are probably a dozen different things someone could talk about based on that Psalm and Gospel. Our priest chose to talk about the importance of refilling ourselves through rest, recreation, and hobbies. That in addition to filling ourselves spiritually with scripture and prayer, we also need to refill ourselves mentally and emotionally through by doing things we love. All work and no play makes for an unhealthy human. It was a hectic mass, because Curlytop found a quarter, and Little Bird wanted it. I had to remove her to the cry room to calm down, and I managed to stub my big toe so hard on the way out that I separated the nail from the nailbed and it bled all over my favorite summer dress shoes. Somehow, I still managed to catch enough of the sermon that the point came through.
I don’t believe in coincidence. I did not run across that Facebook post, and my pastor didn’t choose that topic for his sermon, for no reason. I’m sure I’m not the only one who needed to hear those things on that day, at that time. Yet I know they were meant for me. God sent assurances into my doubts and fears. He sent comfort into my anxieties. The writing will continue, and may it give Him glory and honor.