At the time, I was six months postpartum after the birth of my first child–an experience that walloped me in ways I could not have predicted. Breastfeeding, sleep deprivation, the grief of losing my old life, feeling isolated during the pandemic, and a massive shift to my identity put me in a place of needing to go inward to process and heal. I had so little energy to give and was veering toward postpartum depression.
I tried to force “spring” in my body and life because I felt like I “should be back to normal by now.” I tried. I really did. But it was simply true that I wasn’t ready to emerge from my cocoon. In fact, I had to turn around and crawl back inside.
So I consciously chose to let myself be immersed in my internal winter. I released myself from any responsibilities that weren’t absolutely vital. This meant dropping any appointments, phone calls, meetings, or obligations that weren’t absolutely imperative. It meant disappointing people and potentially looking flaky, but it freed up a lot of space in my calendar and in my brain.
I made it known publicly (through a vacation responder on my email and with posts on my social media) that I was going back into my cocoon and needed to step away from all unnecessary spaces for a while. I established very strong energetic boundaries around my little winter cocoon. This meant I was very clear with how I spoke to myself and others about my needs during this time. I had to fully commit to this being the best thing for me and my family. Once that was clear, everyone around me could feel it, too.
I reached out to beloved friends, letting them know what was happening for me. I told them I’d likely be less available but still very much wanted to be connected and supported if they had space for that. I created space in my days for whatever was needed for me to care for myself. This still included doing dishes, feeding and diapering my child, and taking care of the important particulars of life. But it left space for a nap or a shower or staring at the wall while drinking a glass of water.
I cried a lot. When you make the space you so desperately need but haven’t been giving yourself, the feelings come. I talked to my therapist. I asked my husband to hug me. I spoke to my friends over long rambly text messages. I let myself be held in deep and important ways.