jewel“For gosh sakes, treat them better than they deserve! Who would ever escape misery, otherwise?”

-Hamlet (liberally paraphrased by Elise Stephens)


I have begun the most demanding creative project of my life. Growing a little human being inside of me is a harrowing, mystical, and unparalleled experience.

I am a mother. I will raise another life to the light. I am flat on my back, wondering when my mental powers will resurface. I am a mother.

I open my hands and my schedule, goals, writing, and energy slip through my fingers. This is a survival story from the Creative Republic in a whole new dimension.

My sense of self-worth is under fire.  I look at my achievements: 1. lying on the couch, 2. reading a book for hours, 3. losing control of my body…and I see a wreck in need of so much love and care that it makes me want to lock myself away so that I can’t be more of a burden.

A dear friend comforted me with these words, “Your neediness makes you more lovable.”

I’ve lost the façade of a capable, intelligent, go-getter and exchanged it for a bedraggled woman who’s just trying to get through the day without losing the last meal she ate. I look around, and suddenly, I’m being loved beyond what I feel I’ve earned. My husband, my family, my friends are all amazing.

This is the truth: We have worth whether or not we feel we do. We can hope for comfort even when we feel wretched. We are worthy of love, and our feelings don’t change that.

Can you think of a time when your neediness opened you to love from someone else?


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This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. Beautiful post. And we must also remember: neediness does not mean we’re weak.

    1. Thank you so much. You’re right, neediness doesn’t mean we’re weak, yet that’s exactly what it feels like. And somehow, I think it’s possible to always be strong. (Where in the world did I get that idea???)

  2. Oh Elise, hang in there! You’re so right that this is a mystical, harrowing experience, and that there’s no other event in life that prepares you for it. I loved your line about losing the facade of a capable, intelligent go-getter, but want to assure you that she’s still there. And it wasn’t a facade: you are capable, intelligent, and all that. But you’re growing a human being right now, and you’ll be doing that for the next 30 years or so ;), and what looked like capable will shift and transform and become something terrifyingly, beautifully new.

    I read a funny article recently written by a mom who was saying that she hasn’t lost her personality or brain as the result of motherhood: she’s lost her minutes. When she has 12 spare minutes after caring for her children, (minimal) self-care, and (minimal) career advancement, she doesn’t usually want to read/think about foreign affairs, or the newest Booker winner — she wants to go to sleep! I’d say that the pregnancy analog is when you have any moment at all when you’re not totally nauseated, you’re not much up to decorating your house, polishing off that final draft, or meeting friends for a rousing discussion of world events: you just want to eat something, and maybe take a nap!

    Anyway, I’m thinking of you. Thanks for the blog posts that let us all know how you’re doing.

    1. Kelly, your words pricked my eyes with tears. Thank you, dear friend. It’s hard to trade the reality I knew for one that I really don’t know, but I can hang on and hope that there are joys I’ve never known around the corner, and wisdom I’d never reach without walking through this. Thanks for your thoughts, and for your encouragement. xoxo

  3. Hey! My oldest is 19 in a few days, yet I remember vividly that first pregnancy, and the shattering feeling of being vulnerable, dependent, and yet immeasurably powerful. Nowhere in our lives are we more “broken open” than in motherhood. It is a cliche to say it’s the hardest job you’ll ever have, but it’s just that it pulls you so far, in so many directions. Throw your arms wide: Embrace it! All its fragility and power! Here’s the TED talk I tend to mention about three times a week in casual conversation — so relevant to so many things, and, particularly, to this discussion: http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability.html.

    1. Thank you, Virginia! It’s hard to imagine I’m headed for the hardest thing of my life, yet it’s been called the greatest joy as well. Funny how those things seem to go hand in hand so often! I loved the TED talk. Thank you for sharing it. I want to teach my child his or her (we don’t know gender yet!) worthiness for love, as she talks about. Thank you again!

  4. You can never know what you mean to people. Exisiting, like you baby has begun to do, is always enough.

    1. Thank you, Beth! It’s a challenge to remind myself of this, and yet I have to keep pushing it to sink into my heart. This little creative project in my tummy is my reason for being absent from the writing meetings more than I normally do. I miss you guys!

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