My body began its transition to cronehood about four years ago now. I noticed it first with palpitations, cold sweats at night, lowered mood, irregular bleeding.
That wasn’t very comfortable, but I could live with it.
What I am finding most trying at present is the complete confidence drain. I vaguely remember (through the haze) being a confident woman; always a little over-reflective, always a deep thinker, but confident.
Aged eighteen I travelled across Europe by train on my own. I trained in ministry, which involved regular public speaking and worship leading. As a mum of two small children, needing to find work work which fitted around caring for them, I took two post-graduate teaching courses. When I wanted to find a more balanced way of working after my stroke I spent four years training as a Dyselxia specialist and assessor. I took on management roles with very little notice to cover for colleagues, I taught students from aged five to adult.
Later I planned a career change and trained as a complementary therapist, I continued to build a small practice despite marriage breakdown and teenage challenges (theirs, not mine 😉 I have taken on committee roles and run in council elections.
More recently I have embarked on a new relationship (now marriage) worked through burn-out, overcome further family challenges, packed up our entire home in order to move to support parents, and given up my education consultancy business to create space for more creative work and for family needs.
I like to see the options, the ways around or out of situations, rather than wallow in them, helpless. But over the past two years I have found this more and more difficult. The spark which used to inspire and drive me has gone.
I have in some ways lost faith with myself.
I pick over the evidence, like a forensic scientist, tweezers in hand. I try to reassemble the skeleton of that life, but there is too much, and the time has warped the pieces, they no longer fit. I cannot remember the reasons for it, and it feels like a photograph found in a thrift shop, of people you don’t know.
I cannot “see” the possibilities in the way I used to and this makes me afraid. How can I jump, take the fool’s leap of faith, without this vision? It would be like stepping into a void.
Or is this, in fact the essence of faith? Is this the crone’s teaching? There will be darkness, and in this darkness you will be unmade. Not just taken to pieces and laid out, bone by bone, but pushed into the fire where you will be transformed completely.
I have “tried” various fixes; books, spells, mantras, self-development. They have their place. But right now? The words which come counsel me to stop.
Sit a while. It was, they say, a different life. It was, they say, the journey to now.
And now. You have to give it up. Open your tightened fist. And throw it away.
All the while you hold it you cannot heal. All the while you imagine that it is coming back you cannot move. You are stuck here. You have to will it gone. Surrender. Choose your own unmaking.
From the shadows a bony finger beckons.