“Do you reach points at which you abandon the writing life in favor of the mothering life, or can they intertwine?”

After each of my children was born, I had less time for writing and possibly less interest. With my first child, I took seriously what more experienced parents were telling me: It goes so quickly. For six months, I indulged in the joy that was my son. Motherhood, of course, changed everything I thought was important about writing and about publishing. On the dark side was the emotional tsunami of what it meant for a child abuse survivor to become a mother. It took a while  to understand that not everyone was falling apart, that I was living with post-partum depression.

I worked some during that stretch of PPD. Not consistently, and not with focus. I barely published. Then I had my daughter. Whatever functionality I maintained during my son’s first years was blown to smithereens in the process of mothering a girl when I had been abused as a girl. I went into a major depressive episode. That the crush of it came in the wake of winning The Richard Hugo House New Works Competition made everything worse. For the first time since calling myself a writer, when I had the most evidence that I was, I no longer felt like one. I don’t remember thinking in terms of abandoning writing, if only because I was unable to think beyond When can I next sleep?

Like addiction, depression is always looking for an opening. You have to manage it so that you don’t have to live in it. I am so greatful that I could recognize that my focus needed to be on healing rather than writing. I trusted that if I kept after recovery, eventually, I would return to myself. And my self writes.


Author: allehall

I am a writer. I write to explore childhood: literary essays and short fiction, journalism, and three haiku. My published work expresses my belief that everything which did or did not happen to me as a child is manifesting in everything that is or is not happening to me today. More importantly, it is also manifesting for my children. I believe funny is the new navel-gazing, and that the best funny keeps a penny's worth of serious in an accessible pocket. Little-known fact: I have a completed novel decorating the inside of a desk drawer. Perhaps it is not funny enough.

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