When Liadan Hynes' marriage fell apart she had to work on adjusting to the new reality. In her weekly column, Things Fall Apart she explores the myriad ways a person can find their way back to themselves...
“You’ve obviously become a fully signed up member of the woo-woo club,” my friend says.
We’re texting, a WhatsApp conversation about anxiety; hers – an almost life-long burden she has shouldered; mine, more of a due-to-current-circumstances occasional visitor.
The woo-woo club
It is the third time that week that a friend has mentioned the phrase to me. The universe is clearly giving me a sign, which is exactly the kind of statement I would have snorted in derision at pre-woo-woo club membership.
“I’m definitely coming around to the value of a bit of woo-woo for the soul as life goes on,” she, also a person who would previously have laughed up her sleeve at such things, continues.
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doesn't mean I'm alone
The woo-woo club isn’t actually as for-the-birds as that title might imply. It isn’t for the birds at all, in fact. It is the yoga, and the Reiki, the crystals and the chanting, the choir groups, retreats, knitting clubs and crafts groups that are building up around us. Clusters of women, getting together to do some sort of activity whose main purpose is to allow one to take a step back from life, create a moment out, and to bring the stress levels down.
That is its main purpose. There’s also the lovely side effect of tapping into a network of women. New friends, from the book clubs, the music groups, the live podcast recording, talks, mum’s gatherings. Who wants to meet in a pub these days? None of my friends anyhow. This is how we socialise.
Finding support in new places
Before I separated from my ex-husband, I don’t think I would have had much time for the healing powers of the woo-woo club. Probably would have felt I had no need for it.
There’s an interview with Ruth Fitzmaurice by Roisin Ingle in which Ruth describes how people comment on how many friends she has. People always in and out of the house. If her husband hadn’t become unwell, and ultimately passed away, she tells Roisin, she would most likely have been far more inward looking. Focused on the family unit. As it was, she needed the support of others, and so she looked outwards. Her woo-woo club was her group of sea swimmers, for one.
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When your life cracks open, you look for support in new places. Also, you tend to experience elevated stress levels for some time. “You’re so stressed,” my mother would say, and I would deny it, but (of course) she was right. So I learnt to put in place a plan, of big, and small stress relievers. Pressure valves of sorts.
Good for all women
And I don’t think it takes something as dramatic as a marriage falling apart to have stress levels that need taking down a few notches. Most of my friends are stressed in some aspect. In the trenches with small kids and full-on jobs. Wondering if they will ever get a mortgage. Parents unwell. Gruelling workload. The thirties and forties are the time for that.
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The Work Wife and I, another former scoffer, are now on a joint journey to wellness. In our almost daily morning post-school-run phone call over brekkie (every freelancer needs a fellow freelancer for virtual office chat) we offer up our latest find; a new class, book, podcast to each other. A two-woman woo-woo club, that then spins out into countless others.
Every woman needs a woo-woo club. A further branch of your tribe. A group of women who will tell you its okay, they felt like that too, it’s not just you. A subtle mesh that weaves around the fabric of your life, sustaining and supporting you. That creates a life pause, in which to take down the stress levels.
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