When I was in graduate school, I took a class on Educational Psychology. We focused a lot on developmental theories and how our brains work and what makes kids react the way they do and why sometimes, it seems we're shorted out a bit in reactions.
One of the things that interested me more than anything was that our brains can be emotionally hijacked - especially if we're processing traumatic experiences. When this happens, it's literally impossible for us to compute anything beyond basic functions. Sleeping. Eating. Walking.
Creativity is forgotten. Intelligence is hidden.
For however long our bodies need, we go into this stasis where the only thing we're worried about is survival.
One summer I took a course called the New Jersey Writing Project (it's called Abydos Learning now). For three weeks, I studied the brain and writing and how words can heal so much more than our bruised egos - it can open portals into other worlds for our kids.
While taking the course, we were to read a book (because reading+writing are explicitly linked). One of the books,The Female Brain, tackled the way we approach life as women. I wasn't nearly as obsessive about brain-based researched then as I am now, but some of her research enthralled me, specifically - when women have children, their brain can be completely re-written.
So whereas before they may have been completely career or love centered, now, all they can process is baby.
Now, I don't know if I completely believe Brizendine's study because I'd like to believe women can be more than singular-minded regardless of their stage of life.
But I do know this week has been excruciating at best when it comes to focus. Every day has brought pacing, back-spacing and an attempt to not pull out my hair. I sit down to write, only to be lost to some type of anxiety attack, and every time my phone buzzes my heart jolts awake only to be severely disappointed when it's a friend texting. I mean, I love my friends. But they aren't who I want to here from right now. And, the chances of me being able to hold an actual conversation right now is slim. My mind keeps wandering. My thumb keeps hitting the home button. My heart keeps wondering.
And all week long, as we wait for Little Lion Man to arrive, I keep thinking of these two moments in my past where I learned a little more of what our brains can take.
So, you know...being overwhelmed is a thing.
But creativity still moves me. This week, out of a certain desperation for distraction, my husband and I finally went to go see Gatsby. And as I sat there in the theatre watching Fitzgerald's tale of a lost generation I breathed in the inspiration. I remembered that before I am a writer, before I am a woman, before I am a mother I am a human and art speaks so much into humanity and where we hope to be in the future.
This week was hard. Words didn't come easily. Art journaling was brushed aside. But I have hope for next week.
I also know this - even if this next week is hard, even if these next few months are hard, this dream still echoes deep inside my chest. It's not going anywhere. And more than the hard days and the easy days and the ones where I remember to keep my chin up because it's just another notch in my belt of experience, I want our son to see us pushing and believing and not giving up - especially when it seems all hope is lost. I'll look back on my writing and these dreams and remember they serve as guideposts for a reason.
As Fitzgerald said, we'll beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.