Sisterhood, the food of my soul

 

Have you ever looked in the mirror and saw the face of a stranger reflected back at you? (No, I’m not talking about if some creep has followed you into the women’s room and is looming behind you, ready to pounce! Get your mind out of the suspense gutter!) 🙂

I’m talking about looking at yourself as if you don’t know that person. The Jan. 5 “Simple Abundance” reading is about that–how it’s normal, how many women feel that, along with a pervasive sadness. The author says it’s because we (those who suffer from this affliction) don’t know our true, authentic selves.

This happens from stress, she says, and from ignoring what our true selves need.

Of course I immediately think of motherhood. From the first stirrings of life inside a mother’s body (or life brought to her care), nature calls on her to protect, to sacrifice for that life. I mean, I gave up caffeinated tea during both my pregnancies! Talk about sacrifice! (smile)

Even women who aren’t mothers often end up caring for others–whether it’s a spouse/lover, parent or friend, or coworkers at a job.

So I guess it makes sense that we (women who spend copious amounts of time caring for others) do tend to feel a melancholy, or to look at ourselves as if strangers from time to time. I think it happens in those few, fleeting moments when we do think about our needs and our wants.

That’s why we see so many women, like myself, turn to more self-serving pursuits once our caregiving periods have passed. We start writing or painting or indulging in other creative activities. We travel back roads and stop along roadside antique shops. We try new recipes.

Still there’s a valuable message in here. It’s important for the caregiver to recognize that she does have wants, and that it’s okay. The caregiver should understand to care for her physical needs too, because “if Mom is sick, everyone’s in bad shape.”

It’s important for the caregiver to feed her soul as well.

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I’m on the left, my “big” sister (who is now 6 inches shorter than I am) on the right.

From my earliest memories, I have found that with my older sister. She has been my touchstone when I’ve needed a break, when I’ve needed an honest opinion, when I’ve needed comfort. Same with my oldest friend, truly a sister of my heart.

When I was a young mother, I found that in a growing relationship with God, but also in the care in the company of other young mothers, at church and in the school yard.

Over the years I’ve shared so many joys and heartaches with these women. With them, I can look in the mirror and recognize the image staring back at me. With them,  I feel true. I feel me. Thank God for sisters and sister-friends.

In late 2015 I started reading “Simple Abundance” a daily devotional by Sarah Ban Breathnach. It’s more than a devotional; it’s a guide to recognizing the joy in each moment. I haven’t quite reached that state, but I’m hopeful. I’ve decided to share my daily thoughts on this blog. I love to hear yours as well.

2 Responses

  1. Amy Schissler

    How true how true!!

    • Leah St. James

      I’m so blessed to have my sisters in my life–whether through blood or experience. 🙂

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