published in Life Balance by Maryanne | July 13, 2011
Are you a Leaky Lena?
Is this then what happens to woman? She wants to perpetually spill herself away. All her instinct as a woman – the eternal nourisher of children, of men, of society – demands that she give. Her time, her energy, her creativeness drain out into these channels if there is any chance, any leak.
— Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea
Here are six signs you may be a bit of a Leaky Lena:
1. You cringe when the phone rings, dreading the next demand on your time.
2. You are unable to find a single hour in your week to spend doing something just for you.
3. When someone asks you to do something you don’t want to do, the little voice in your head screams “NO!” and yet you still hear yourself say, out loud, “Yes.”
4. You are exhausted, cranky, resentful and not much fun to be around . . . and yet you just keep on smiling because it is your lot in life to be all things to all people.
5. You have a sneaking suspicion that although you are oh-so-busy doing all the things you “need” to get done in a day, none of these activities are actually moving you any closer to what you HAVE to do before you die.
6. Solitude means being left alone while going to the bathroom (on a good day).
If you found yourself relating to some or all of the above, then you might be in need of repair…because we all know what eventually happens to leaking boats. However, as a former busy-aholic myself and thus still vulnerable to the next shiny distraction that comes along, I know I’m not the best person to be shelling out advice on the matter.
I shall refer instead to the wisdom of another writer, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, who literally wrote the book on why and how women give relentlessly of themselves — and how to begin to plug those leaks. The book, written in 1955, is called Gift from the Sea. I won’t tell you how many times I’ve read it but I suspect it’s about as many times as an alcoholic has to read the Twelve Step Program before the messages start to…sink in.
Here are a few sample treasures washed ashore in Gift from the Sea:
Eternally, woman spills herself away in driblets to the thirsty, seldom being allowed the time, the quiet, the peace, to let the pitcher fill up to the brim.
I believe that what woman resents is not so much giving herself in pieces as giving herself purposelessly. What we fear is not so much that our energy may be leaking away through small droplets as that it may be going ‘down the drain.’
We are hungry and not knowing what we are hungry for, we fill up the void with endless distractions, always at hand – unnecessary errands, compulsive duties, social niceties. And for the most part, to little purpose. Suddenly the spring is dry; the well is empty.
Purposeful giving is not as apt to deplete one’s resources; it belongs to that natural order of giving that seems to renew itself even in the act of depletion. The more one gives, the more one has to give.
Women need solitude in order to find again the true essence of themselves.
I find there is a quality to being alone that is incredibly precious. Life rushes back into the void, richer, more vivid, fuller than before. It is as if one did actually lose an arm. And then, like the star-fish, one grows it anew; one is whole again, complete and round – more whole, even, than before, when the other people had pieces of one.
Only when one is connected to one’s own core is one connected to others, I am beginning to discover. And, for me, the core, the inner spring, can best be refound through solitude.
And with solitude often comes slowing down - even if it’s just long enough to take a few deep breaths and perhaps catch a glimpse of thy serene soul.
If you are able to make some time this coming summer to reconnect with yourself, I highly recommend reading Gift from the Sea. If you can manage to haul your leaky hull to a beach to do so, even better! You can bet your bottom sand-dollar that’s where I’ll be.
Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening and the Founder and CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions Inc. Maryanne also writes short stories, articles, screenplays and play scripts. Please visit www.pinkgazelle.com for details or to sign up for her e-zine.