So much of our identity is linked to titles, jobs and labels. But what happens when a longed for label doesn't arrive in the way we wanted? What impact does that have on our identity?
When we wish and long for something, and then don't get it, we experience annoyance, frustration and sadness. When we are dreaming of a title or label, and that doesn't happen, likewise we experience sadness and frustration.
As parents, and particularly as mothers, our identity as a mother (and even our identity as a woman) can be intrinsically tied to what we are creating and growing; our child or children. Our identity as a mother is therefore what we are striving for, hoping for and assuming will happen throughout our pregnancy.
Identity = suffering
But then, our baby is miscarried, stillborn or dies within days of birth. There is no visible child for others to link to our identity of 'mother', and we have suffering linked to the identity of 'mother'. It's a bittersweet title; we longed for it, were it and yet now the very label mother brings nothing but pain and sadness.
Suffering because we know we ARE a mother yet others don't necessarily see it. There is limited tangible evidence of our motherhood (no newborn to bring home, no pram with baby sleeping), and we live in an evidence based culture.
The loss of our child and the huge grief we are experiencing is then compounded by our identity based suffering. We experience grief for the loss of our child, grief at the loss of our future with that child in it, and grief at the loss of our identity as a mother. And so, we have identity based sadness mixed in with the anguish about our lost baby.
Self-worth, sorrow and loneliness
As humans, so much of our sense of self-worth comes from external, observable factors; what we have done, made, created and achieved. As parents, and as women, our sense of self-worth can hinge on what we have grown and created (external) and whether it is seen by others (observable). So when our baby is not seen, our sense of self-worth takes a massive hit.
The double whammy of identity based suffering as well as low self-worth can lead us to feel very low indeed.
We find little solace in society as our identity is not necessarily acknowledged.
In our suffering we can feel alone. We dive deep into ourselves as we journey through our grief and pain.
In the solitude we can find and accept our true identity. We ARE mothers. Our self-worth is based on who we ARE, not what we can do, have or haven't got.
We find solace in the love we have for and give our angel baby. An eternity of love.
We learn that we are not alone. We are connected to all the other mothers who have lost a child.
We learn what really matters and what is essential; life is precious.
Life is so very fleeting, we must love each other.
And slowly resilience comes and it builds.
Love is Strength
After a time, we return to the world stronger. We know that we are a mother and it is true; regardless of whether there is a child on display for the world to coo over. In our soul we are always a mother. And in our heart.
We learn that the only way we can move through the suffering associated with identity is to lovingly accept ourselves. Love ourselves for all that we are.
It takes a lot of love to get to this place.
A lot of love for yourself.
A lot of loving forgiveness for yourself and others too.
When we give love widely and freely and see the beauty in the world, without judgement, then others will acknowledge our identity as a mother, with a smile and a "welcome to the club".
And that's what we want - to be acknowledged in our identity as a mother.
Are you feeling there is a label or title you'd like to add to your identity, but unsure where to start? Get in touch and we can have a chat about what this might look like for you.