Recently, I sat in a circle of women revolved around one woman in particular in order to honor her passage into motherhood. They blessed her with their prayers, words of encouragement, tears of friendship, and nourishing food. I have no doubt that her village, so carefully cultivated, will continue to hold that space for her in her final weeks of pregnancy and well into her postpartum period. I know logically that this family is one she has built, not one that was born to her. But in my heart I feel so isolated.
I looked on with wonder and affection. I poured my heart into hers sincerely, and I struggled to trap the thoughts seeking to focus on myself. The next few days I spent looking deeply into each of my friend’s hearts in an attempt to find what this woman had found in her circle. What made those special few so special? Why do I feel so without?
My upbringing has left much to want an emotional connection and heart bonds. My siblings and I are years and miles apart. My cousins spent much of their teenage years without much notice from me as I flitted from one childhood fantasy to the other. Fantasy is probably not the right word, because I spent most of my time acting out my childhood traumas and envisioning an angsty pierced isolated adult version of myself, which is exactly what I’ve become; isn’t it amazing what our intuition knows and can predict? Where my friends’ parents met them with honesty, knowledge, and ceremony, mine met me with silence, shame, and distance. Where my friends have become further rooted in their communities, I have become more isolated.
The positive mommy movements are all about finding your village/tribe and leaning on them. While I’m definitely behind that idea whole heartedly, I can’t seem to foster it into my own life. I have the outlets to speak to mom friends and commiserate about every step along this fraught journey. Yet whether by my own pride or honest lack of scheduling compatibility, the heart to hearts with a face to face interaction just don’t happen. I know that I need people to be my village, but the realities of full-time working schedules, moving across state lines, and mothering young children make it nearly impossible to see people we perceive as our village let alone sew into each other the way we all need.
So what do we do? I personally turn to social media. I scroll the supportive pages on Instagram and comment my two cents in a desperate effort to connect. Someone must know how I feel. And that notification that someone liked my comment or miraculously replied to it sends my heart soaring. Someone sees my words, hears my voice, and agrees with me. And that is a magical thing for a few minutes. Until the sensationalism wears off and I’m still alone behind my screen staying up way too late to show up in a meaningful way for my family/village in the morning. Don’t get me wrong, these pages certainly provide interactive support, and they’re infinitely better than nothing. But they simply don’t compare to that circle of sisters I witnessed tending to each other’s hearts.
All of this is to say, I don’t have an answer. I don’t know how we develop friendships with the kind of heart connections to form into a village. I don’t know how we defeat the obstacles and get in front of each other and spill our guts without our kids needing us in the middle of it. I envy your ancestors who held each other, witnessed each other’s depths and heights, who attended each other’s births and celebrated rites of passage together. I was going to publish this piece anonymously but realized how painfully ironic and self-sabotaging that would be.
So if you’re a part of my village, please know I don’t mean this to criticize or reprimand you. I’m writing this in a melancholy attempt to reach out to you and others and hopefully speak to a part of us all that we’re glossing over with curated photos for our grids and timelines.