Updated: Oct 23, 2019
My fatigue is chasing me again. Heavy arms and legs, eyes that can barely stay awake, a brain that feels foggy and groggy from too much of everything and no matter how much sleep I get I wake up feeling exhausted.
And this isn't about having poor sleep habits or having 'one of those nights'. This is me pushing too hard and overdoing it.
I can hear you asking, if you know you are overdoing it, why not stop? That, dear reader, is a great question and the answer is the Dark Mother.
You see, I, like so many others, get trapped in the dark mother syndrome from time to time. Where, sigh, we have to do it all. Or at least, that's what we believe. When I first heard this term I was curious and intrigued. I did my usual thing and researched it to gain a better understanding and while I did I was also confronted with having to accept in myself the same traits. That was the hard bit. It was easy to relate it to other women I saw around me like my own mother, my sister, my grandmother, and my mother in law. I saw it in the women who sat in circle, I saw it in my friends, and I even saw it in my husband - yes, men who have a naturally nurturing or developed feminine can be "dark mothers" too.
The Dark Mother concept was first introduced to me by The Moon Woman, I heard her mention it in one of her videos when I studied my Red Tent course. It is the archetypal shadow of the mother. Mothers are often seen as nurturing and supportive, they give to others from a place of love and compassion. They teach and tend to those around them without any desire for recognition. They love their children without judgement or condition. Mother Theresa is a prime example of the Mother archetype. In Greek Mythology the Mother is symbolised by Demeter, whose grief cast the world into winter and darkness when Hades kidnapped her daughter Persephone to the Underworld. Her desire to find her daughter and return her to the safety of Demeter's own care was all consuming to the point that she began to waste away - basically she put searching for her daughter over her own needs for survival.
Over the last 3 months, life in my family has been stressful. We've experienced a death, a funeral, an ashes scattering, and all the distant family appearing in one place with all the tension and ick that goes along with it. We've had illness, arguments, boundary setting, and self-assertion. I thought we were past it and then this...
Have you ever tried to keep a 45 kilo dog still and quiet while he recovers from a split ear? Turns out it isn't as easy as one might hope and ears bleed terribly (I have the blood splatter up the walls of my house to prove it). He cannot be left unattended and he's a crafty bugger so takes every opportunity to get into mischief. My days have been filled with sitting on the couch, trying to work and study while this hound - whom I adore, don't get me wrong - sleeps on top of me. I've slept on the couch to keep the dog quiet and to ensure my husband has enough sleep for work and my kid isn't a mess for school. I've spent the early hours of the morning freezing in PJs while standing on the lawn while the dog needs to pee - why are the sniffs so much more appealing at 3am? I've piled the hound in the car and taken him up to school so the ear can heal. I've driven across town so many times this last 2 weeks to pick up med changes that I'm sure my car could drive itself from machine memory.
I've dipped into my inexhaustible bucket of patience. I've had friends visit who walked into a crime scene and weren't afraid to pitch in a get blood (literally!) on their hands and clothes.
And then we got to New Moon and I was done. I started to feel it in the lead up, the irritability at either the smallest thing (a bowl not put in the dishwasher) or untrue perceptions (resentment at the fact my husband went to work one morning and I didn't hear him say goodbye). It continued to grow and grow until I woke up this morning and the simple fact that my husband was asleep in the bed made me want to kick him front and centre.
My message this morning to some women was "I am sick to death of anything with a 3D penis." I had reached capacity and the Dark Mother was upon me. I was annoyed at my son, I was annoyed at my husband, I was annoyed at my dog. I was angry at my perception that I always have to put my stuff on hold to take care of others. I was annoyed that I never get time to do my things without being interrupted. I was annoyed that I'm the stay at home parent. That I have to cook and tidy up. That I am, as I perceive it, trapped in these 4 walls to take care of the hound and his ear. And that I'm the only one that seems to care! And don't get me started on how exhausted I feel at the moment. Topped off with a 4am wake up from the dog because he needed to pee and seeing my husband sleeping deeply and soundly while I froze was the last straw.
There she was, Dark Mother. Resentment, frustration, martyr, and victim all rolled into one. Why hello, dear, it's good to see you.
I've watched all the women in my family and circle of influence play the Dark Mother. So well in fact that they all are suffering due to her detrimental influence. And here I am, with the knowledge of what it is and how to avoid it, falling into her trap. Believe it or not, when it comes to setting boundaries about my needs I have struggled. I am better than I was but in times of stress I still fall into the "[sigh] I'll do it all myself because..." and that's usually followed with either no one will help me, no one will do it right, or there isn't anyone else. I don't voice these thoughts or frustrations because, well, that's what martyrs do, right, they keep this to themselves so they can prove that no one will help therefore validating their own negative belief system. Yeah, see, I know, and I know I do this, yet here we are, dancing her dance and lamenting it.
This has appeared at the tail end of the cancer lunar cycle (one of the main opportunities of the zodiac year where the Dark Mother is shown to us) and at a time when we are reflecting on the month past to find shortfalls in our self care routines. Makes perfect sense that it all compounds now, yes?
Where does this leave me? It remind me to do simple things like ask for help and set expectations and boundaries. Plus, making sure that I'm taking time away from everyone and everything to be by myself because I crave solitude - and no, going grocery shopping for others, alone, does not count, she reminds herself.
On reflection I've had plenty of opportunities over these last few months to have my solitude; my downfall has been not making it a priority or feeling like it isn't owed me. Fatigue is my physical reminder that I'm depleted and not prioritising my own needs. It is the physical warning sign that the Dark Mother approach-eth. It is my call back to myself, back to self honouring practices so I don't want to kick my dear sleeping husband in the balls.