Thursday, April 10, 2008

PPD Chronicles, Chapter 3: Groupie

I encourage new readers of these Chronicles to start with Chapter 1 in order to become acquainted with the Gorilla. Thanks.

I have never been a joiner or a groupie. I only lasted 3 years as a girl scout when I realized two important facts. #1: I didn't look good in the green uniform for the big girl, girl scouts; and #2: Boy scouts were way cuter than girl scouts and got to do cool things like camp and light fires and stuff.

Even in junior high/high school I was never really a member of a group. I was always a bit too loud, too big, too smart (just too...) to fit into one social strata. However, I seemed to join every group when having a graduation toga party (but I digress...hopefully that videotape is long destroyed!).

In college I was the weird christian leader who did theatre and wanted to save all the poor children from illiteracy. I know, yet again, not quite fitting into any one group. (Thankfully, no video evidence exists.)

One would think joining a group at a church is a no brainer for a believer like me. Not so much. We learned some hard lessons on how destructive community can be and unfortunately there was a cross over the door as we exited.

So it isn't any wonder that studying, building and affecting community is something I have done professionally and personally for years. Though I can help you find and build community, (I'm a professional group facilitator), I had yet to understand what it meant to truly be a part of one...until recently.

It all centered on mothering and becoming a mother.

When having my second son, I was in the midst of a serious and deep depression. I didn't call it that. I called it, "being pregnant". I didn't know you aren't really supposed to be so incapacitated in your emotions, soul, spirit and body that the thought of getting out of the recliner was enough to generate tears.

However, in the midst of the 'blacks', a shower of baby cards came in the mail. These cards came from people we had met once, even never. They were from a church pastored by friends of ours, four hours away. We visited several times a year but are by no means regulars. Michelle, a soul professional if I ever met one, is the co-pastor and my very bestest of bestest friends. She created a hand stamped and embossed card (details meaningless to the uncrafted, however, for those in the know...you get it.) In the card was our address for a 'card baby shower'. Shel didn't tell us she did it until months later, just one example of her quiet, selfless service to those blessed enough to be loved by her.

As the cards came in, for well over a week, the clouds parted briefly. I felt engulfed in the care of a group of strangers from whom love and care seemed to be as second nature as breathing. I began to slowly realize what a miracle our little promise was going to be and how this group of believers had already embraced him and me. This was the beginning.

Yesterday, I went to my second meeting of the PPD support group. I had two prior weeks of clouds and a couple black days. I had a list of things to discuss. Instead, I listened.

To protect identities and the sacrosanct nature of support groups, no names will ever be used without permission. Instead I'll use prince and princess to describe beautiful baby boys and girls.

In the listening, we formed a community-a group of maternal warriors, reporting out on our battles, both won and lost.

As the beautiful mommy shared her raw and deep concerns about the reality of bonding with her princess baby, we all wept with her. We wept because we could plainly see that she was the center of this beautiful baby's universe, and because we could feel deeply her concern as we too wondered at our own bonds.

When a little prince's mommy shared she couldn't keep up with her french class and run a marathon, we smiled and assured her that every diaper, every nursing, every minute of lost sleep was indeed running a marathon-every day!

When a mommy of a 4 week old (4 weeks post partum and she was dressed, lucid and present at a meeting! wow!) shared she was a control freak who met the ultimate in control freak busters in her beautiful princess, we all mentally set aside our own to do lists and reassured her the only thing that doesn't change when mothering (at any age) is everything changes!

I shared a little. I admitted to the group I had indeed suffered depression for a long time and only now was beginning to deal. I had to stop and recognize this was the first time I said it out loud to anyone. They clapped, cheering the progress made and power in admitting.

Saying it out loud made the gorilla very unhappy, I had to deal with his howls of recrimination the whole way home. I tried to medicate away from him with McDonalds but the lady forgot to give me my extra food (damn).

I finally shut him up by remembering one thing. In two weeks I would return to this community of mommys. A groupie of our shared mother existence. A groupie of this community of warriors. A member of the group, once and for all.

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