When Our Ancestors Speak

I’ve had a couple of strange magical moments over the last few years that feel connected. It’s really hard to explain, (because magic defies explanation), but I’m going to attempt it.

The latest one happened today. I’d ordered a pair of earrings made with the traditional gold filigree by artisans in the Philippines. Like most pre-colonial practices, it’s a dying art, and not many people still know how to do it by hand. I was so excited to get my pair, and when I opened the box, they were as gorgeous as I imagined, but… I ran into my old jewelry box, to take out another pair of earrings I’d made for myself 5 years ago (in silver). The styling was nearly identical, even though back then, I had no idea about filigree jewelry at all. I barely knew what traditional Filipino jewelry looked like, and yet… Same. Same.

I think about my other choices, like my preference for hoops over studs, and gold over silver… I see threads connecting where I didn’t before.

Before that, there was the gothic novel. I felt like I was writing that story backwards. Never have I ever rewritten a novel more times. It started out as science fiction, before I swapped it for fantasy, and then straight gothic horror. I just couldn’t find the heart of it, but each draft inched me a little bit closer. And then I realized that the terrors I had written had actually happened, and not just to anyone, but to my great great grandparents. I hadn’t researched any of the Philippine-American war yet there it was on the page. The story finally made sense, it started breathing, had a heartbeat. All the research did was fill in a few details.

Maybe my unconscious picked up on themes in my cultural heritage, which made them comfortable or familiar. Maybe some of our preferences are inherited, just like the way my son moves his feet in circles to fall asleep, the way I did when I was small. Science is already investigating how traumas gets passed down through generations. Maybe people are just predictable.

Perhaps it can all be explained, but it still feels bigger than me. I still believe in magic.

Maybe our ancestors really do speak to us. Maybe we contain the memories of all those that came before us, and they shape who we are (for better or worse). I’m paying attention now. I wonder what they’ll say next?




TW: Body image

These days, I feel soft, like an egg with its shell peeled off.

This post-pregnancy body of mine doesn’t feel familiar. It’s weak, it’s soft, and it doesn’t fit into the pretty clothes in my closet anymore. Change is inevitable, but grappling with the suddenness of blowing up like a waddling balloon, deflating into a different shape, then trying to manage the permanent side effects of pregnancy (nothing to do with weight), is causing a disconnect in my brain.

I love my kids dearly, and I will never regret having them, but I’m having a hard time feeling like myself. When I look in the mirror, I feel like the person looking back is not me.

Logically, I know that my body is still changing. I’ve read somewhere that it takes 2-5 years for the body to fully recover from a single pregnancy, and it takes longer with each subsequent child. I’m feeling that keenly. It’s been a year and a half, and yet, I still feel physically broken. I’ve only just started getting full nights of sleep. My legs wobble if I try to walk up the hill. Things that used to be easy, like lifting a jug of milk, are now difficult.

I felt the same way after my first pregnancy, and I know that time will help, but it’s still daunting to think of the long road ahead.

And then there’s the way babies and children scrape your heart raw. They require so much from you physically and emotionally. Worrying about them sometimes keeps me awake at night, and I have to make an effort to keep myself from spiraling. There isn’t anywhere to hide. I’m not sure I want to? But you can’t just open up your heart and also close it off from the world at will.

I’m redrawing boundaries, and remapping myself every day. Good things are happening behind the scenes, but I’m also terrified and feeling vulnerable about having to expose my heart to the world. Where do I fit in it? How much do I give, without losing myself? How do I engage? Everything is in flux.

But one day I’ll fit myself again… or maybe I’ll just finally grow into who I’m meant to be.