Tag Archives: reconnecting

What If REcovery Is Not What You Need To Survive? The Role of DIScovery and UNcovering in Trauma and Abuse Healing

 

This re-blogged nugget of wisdom is from the awesome YA author-advocate G. Donald Cribbs. I take no credit for any of the following words or thoughts but do align with many of the thought provoking points he makes.  We have both had the opportunity to join forces with Bobbi L. Parish to be part of her first-ever Trauma Recovery Coaching Certification class. And oh yeah, check out his books and buy a few for someone you love!

 

*****Trigger Warning*****
What if recovery is the wrong word, the wrong approach, the wrong lens to view the treatment and healing process? This question brought me to at least attempt to process this thought all the way through and blog about it so you have the opportunity to join the conversation, which I hope you’ll do in the comment section below. Let’s begin.
First, let’s start with the question, what is recovery anyway?
The definition gives us a few inroads and insights to begin from, but it doesn’t really get at what recovery is, or hopes, or attempts to be for a person in the treatment and healing process. The first definition, “a return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength,” implies that there is a right state of health or wellness, and there is a wrong state. This sounds very much like a victim of abuse must choose whether they are on one side or the other. Thus, a person who is in “recovery,” carries with himself or herself a stigma that they are not well, and further, that they are in fact in a wrong state of wellness. Victim blaming, anyone? Ouch. That one stings a bit.
The second definition, “the action or process of regaining possession or control of something stolen or lost,” suggests that a trauma that has occurred has somehow robbed the victim of his or her innocence, and he or she should strive to “get back,” what is rightfully his or hers to own. The heart or intent of this sentiment is at first a nice thought: surely, every child has a right to retain his or her innocence, right?
We have a right to be a child when we are children, and not be thrust into the very adult world of child sexual abuse, where our childhoods are essentially robbed from us, right? Every survivor of child sexual abuse knows this just isn’t true. We know what that horror feels like every day that follows from the moment our sexual abuse first began. But the truth is: the world isn’t a safe place where children retain their right to be innocent and free from the weight of being thrust forward into adulthood. We don’t all chase butterflies, or toss copious amounts of glitter on things, or frolic with unicorns. So the idea of regaining something I never had seems ludicrous to me. I never had that fantasy or fairytale childhood. It didn’t exist for me. Instead, I found myself forced to make the very adult choice to take the bullet and comply with my abuser’s sexual demands in order to spare my siblings from this horror, not realizing the world isn’t fair, and my abuser had no intention of holding up his end of the bargain. I cannot regain what I never had. Sure, I was robbed. So for me, that happened when I was only four years old. As I approach my own treatment and healing from child sexual abuse, I am no longer certain recovery is the right approach. Another way to state this is recovery may not be the right word.

So where does that leave us? It’s such a common feeling for a survivor to not fit in with “normal” people. We are outsiders. We don’t belong. We are the quintessential square peg trying to fit into a round hole. We just don’t. Fit, that is.

For a survivor of child sexual abuse, recovery just isn’t a good fit. For us, we need something that meets our unique healing and treatment needs. This led me to the following thought:

What if REcovery was more like DIScovery and UNcovering our TRUE SELVES?

Give that a minute to soak in. Feeling okay? Are you ready to move forward? It might take a few moments for you to fully absorb what I’m saying here. Let me try another way: I’m going to break each of these down a bit further to help clarify:

REcovery is supposed to equal getting back what was taken from you. This seems legitimate as long as you had something prior to your abuse that was taken, apart from your right to live an abuse-free life, that you can “RE,” or RE-COVER, or get back.

 
What if you could, instead, DIScover, or not focus on getting something that was lost or stolen back in the first place? What if, instead, you could choose to do what YOU want to do with the cover. For me, “cover” represents the aspect of abuse that is hidden or covered up.
 
When you work to regain yourself, you pull the covers off, and reveal the secret. This step can be very triggering, and should not be attempted without the help and support necessary to fully go through this process. If you are considering this step, don’t do it alone. Make sure you are ready, and you have professional support with a licensed professional, preferably one who is trauma-informed, and can attend to your unique therapeutic needs.
 
Before I can get to the final step in the “cover” process, I need to veer off from the main topic for a bit. You see, our abuser took all his or her responsibility for the abuse they inflicted on us, and placed the blame entirely on our shoulders. We tried to resist this, but over time, they wore us down. Eventually, we succumbed to their repeated statements (gas lighting) and treatment. They told us we were nothing, we were worthless, it was our fault. Then, they treated us as if we were nothing, as if we were worthless, and as if it was actually our fault.
 
To truly understand the process that took me from REcovery to DIScovery to UNcovering the TRUE SELF, check out “The Lying Triad and it’s Dark Guard,” by Bobbi L. Parish, MA on YouTube:

 

This brings me to the UNcover part: that the true task is to 1: Uncover the secret of the abuse, rip the cover off of the secret, and expose it for what it is. By taking the lie off of ourselves, we reveal what has been hidden all along: the lie our abuser gave to us, (that you are broken, deserving of your abuse, and essentially the Lying Triad and the Dark Guard Bobbi was talking about,) in order to avoid facing any consequences for abusing us, is finally given back to our abuser, and our TRUE SELF is seen for the first time. 2: The second task is to seek to fully know and embrace the TRUE SELF and allow the TRUE SELF to regain his or her power back.
 
If we as survivors are ever to regain anything, it is the truth of our TRUE SELVES. And this very important part of our healing journey can only be achieved if we move from REcovery to DIScovery and eventually arrive at UNcovering what has been hidden by our abuse: our TRUE SELVES.
 
If you’ve read this entire blog post, from the bottom of my heart to the tips of my toes and the top of my head, I thank you. I appreciate you hearing me out. You may not agree with anything I’ve said here. You might agree with some parts of it, or all of it. I invite you to join the conversation. Sound off in the comments below and let me know what this brought up for you, how you connect or disconnect from this concept about the recovery process. Healing from trauma and abuse have unique aspects that are not the same as other treatment and healing processes.
 
It is my hope that this can be the beginning of a conversation about those needs for true recovery and healing to happen in the survivor community. If you have an idea for a blog post in response to this one, I hope you’ll post a link in the comments below and I look forward to reading your reactions, comments, and posts.
 
I will close with a checklist for recovery, “Guiding Principles of Recovery”:
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Pioneers of Change

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These are not my beautiful words but those of Sophie Bashford; intuitive, spiritual writer and blogger.  

You may find her at her website, Facebook and Twitter

 

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Pioneers of Change

Carving out new ways of being, of living, of loving, of creating, of working – this is what pioneers do.

Pioneers of change are rare because at some point, they always have to stop caring about what others think of them. They have to risk possible disapproval from others, because a part of creating freedom is being free to follow your own inner guidance, regardless of what it brings up for other people.

As you bring in new consciousness, you reach down deep – deeper than you ever believed was possible – and haul out the ancient treasure, the old wisdom, the cosmic truths, the wild and untamed instinct. This may sound easy, but many who have eschewed the familiar, domesticated, soul-restrained, heart-numbed paths will tell you that it is not.

It takes enormous, usually daily or even hourly, courage to stand apart from the herd and assert the newness, the shining fresh-air, the less-understood rhythms of Life and Universe.

Make no mistake, every single pioneer that you look up to, have learned from, take spiritual succour from, recognise as having blazed a trail for you to follow: every single person who changes vibration and consciousness has had to endure sometimes agonising inner and outer transformations and dark nights of the soul.

They wouldn’t be able to hold the energy they do if this was not the case.

If you wish to rise up and grow into your Soul’s Light, realise your spiritual destiny and make a difference here, you must know that the darker times are vital in order to build your sacred muscles.

When you look back on all your times of loneliness and alienation, confusion, insecurity, lostness, and intense fear at bringing the spiritual light of you out to be seen, and used as the Universe desires – you will come to see that this is the process of a pioneer.

When you are waking up to the truth of your destiny, you have to be plunged into the sacred fires of purification and oceanic depths of the Unknown. Many, many people will not understand why you are changing so much, why you are choosing this path, why you are speaking out, and why you have to stand alone in many ways in order to purify yourself from the mass conditioned mind.

True pioneers have to make hard choices about their lives.

No-one else can do it for them.

If this is you, then you have what it takes. You were designed for it. Not everyone will like, or approve of it. In many ways, that is a sign that you are doing it perfectly.

No-one who ever created the New, did so without determination, perseverance, patience, and extreme – though perhaps hidden – levels of courage.

They were all scared. They just carried on and did it in spite of the fear.

They didn’t wait for another day.

They did something that their Souls craved and yearned for – even if it terrified them, especially if it did – they did it today.

And thus they were lifted, deeply supported and touched the hearts and souls of the world.

 

 


So many people are shut up tight inside themselves like boxes…

11887952_903704989704717_2834501532796981346_nSo many people are shut up tight inside themselves like boxes, yet they would open up, unfolding quite wonderfully, if only you’d be interested in them.
– Sylvia Plath (1932 -1963)
Author & Poet

In times of my own personal and deep introspection, I don’t have words to spare.  They are used for me.  I will use a friend’s words to speak for me today~Thank you and may peace be with you~Little L

Todays inspiration comes from Karen Burch who publishes WayPoints as a means of personal empowerment and personal growth.  She describes a WayPoint as “a point used for navigation, marking a significant point on a journey”.  Please visit her page and credit her for the words below.

 

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Some people are introverted or shy or socially uncomfortable. Not everyone is a social butterfly and is bubbly and outgoing. Some people are simply reserved, and some are suspicious or distrustful of people in general because they’ve been hurt by people, perhaps repeatedly and seriously.

Maybe they’ve been hurt by strangers, which is terrible when people have been hurt by someone they didn’t even know they should distrust. Or perhaps they’ve been hurt by someone they did know and that they knew well. That’s terrible, too, to be hurt by someone they did trust, someone they had every reason to trust. It’s difficult to feel comfortable in the world when you feel like you shouldn’t trust strangers AND people you know well. Who then CAN you trust? Who DO you trust then when no one seems safe to trust? For some, the answer becomes “no one.”

Yesterday, I saw a quote that was meant to be funny: “I used to be a people person…but people ruined that for me.” Yes, that’s funny, but for many it’s very sad but true. It’s very sad when people lose their ability to be open and friendly because others betrayed them and mistreated them. What happens then? Well, people can shut down and “close the emotional door” to others in order to protect themselves from disapproval or rejection, hurt or harm. For them it may not be unfriendliness, coldness or disinterest in people; it may feel like a matter of their survival, emotionally, psychologically or physically.

Some people are never able or willing to open their emotional door again. And we can hardly blame them for that, can we? But some will keep that door open just a crack, believing still that not everyone is to be distrusted, that not everyone will hurt them. They hope that some good, kind person will care enough and be interested enough to peek through that crack and show themselves to be someone worthy of opening up to.

If you’re the person on either side of that door, I applaud you, because you’re a brave person. It takes courage and optimism to open that door once you’ve shut it for very good reason. It takes compassion and kindness to encourage that person to open that door once they’ve shut it. It takes a lot of patience and faith to be the person on either side of the door, but your rewards can be so worth your efforts to open up or to help someone open up. -Karen Burch

Thanks very much for reading and following WayPoints by Karen Burch. If you can relate to this WayPoint in some way, please let me know. I enjoy reading the thoughts you share in your comments, and another reader may be encouraged or inspired positively by them. ~KB


Dark Souls Are Not to Fear, But to Love

Darkness

 

These words are not mine but instead, those of a courageous and insightful fellow warrior.  I’m fortunate to find these souls who in the absence of my words coming together to provide hope and compassion, they take over and provide us with comfort.  Please visit the link below to see the full article and more of Matthew’s beautiful writing.

In fact, do better.  Follow his blog and mine.  Spread the word as kindly as you can about the specific limitations and ultra-sensitive delights of a sexual abuse survivor.  We are worth it.  In this age where we strive to embrace the issues of racism, bigotry, violence, LGBT, transgender, bullying, etc., let’s begin by getting to know one another, the history we’ve experienced and the path on which we forge forward.  I’m ready, are you?

 

Dark Souls Are Not to Fear, But to Love

From Matthew Eaton: Writer, Child Sexual Abuse Survivor, Blogger

 

Do you languish in the darkness, or do you thrive in it?

This question lingers in my mind as I recall a conversation in my idle time.

“You know, the stuff you post is dark – really dark – but you’re always coming in here all cheery and happy.”

I discussed some people’s need to make me be something I am not. Instead, I learned a little more about myself.

I didn’t think anything about this statement at the time, but as I worried over it like a priceless possession, I wondered if it was possible the world was wrong and I, indeed, was correct in my darkness.

I live in the darkness, laughing at my disaster.

Dark souls are not to fear, but to love

What brought this post around was recalling a devotional my mother and I read when I was young. We were still members of the Foursquare church in Scotts Valley, and we weren’t the best of advocates to the holy life. No deep bible studies, no real praying or bonding with other believers, but we did invest in small devotionals that were to be ready daily. We read them in the morning.

They were filled with allegories and mental iconography galore.

So what made this particular devotional stand out? It contained the scientific knowledge (and commentary) on plant growth and the toxicity of continual exposure to light.

Since the beginning of my time as a God-ite, I questioned being in the light all the time. The thirst my other god-ites at the time held was rather interesting and confounding. They would shun people going through darkness, in fear the darkness would get into them like some sort of transmuted disease.

Nevertheless, here we were, reading a god-ite sponsored piece regarding the value of light and dark cycles with plants.

This is paraphrasing the work itself: “Too much time in darkness, and the plant withers. It is unable to reach any potential. Too much time in the light, however, is dangerous as well. At first, the plant thrives, but eventually it also withers and dies, burned beyond the point of recovery.”

Full article here

 

 

 


Still-face paradigm

Henry Avignon image

Image by Henry Avignon-Used with permission

 

The subject of this post is one brought to my attention by my therapist Cathy.  We often work on issues related to connection or lack thereof. We’ve been discussing my deep seated longing for connection, the elusive feeling of absolute safety knowing that I above all, feel merged with myself, with my tribe, with the divine, with my soul.  

She tells me of Dr. Edward Tronick‘s work and gently describes to me how children of mothers who are absent, abusive, drug-addicted, depressed or afflicted with other mental illnesses, show marked negative coping, often developing long term affective disorders.  I’m taken back.  Partly because I’m touched deeply by how she validates my pain and partly because her validation makes this real, an issue that will have to be explored and conquered.  

What this means to children of trauma and sexual abuse, among many other situations, is that we have extreme difficulty with trust.  Because most probably, we haven’t had a consistent, cognitive connection with an available mother, caregiver, or parent and haven’t developed the attunement necessary to function well.  We don’t know who to trust, who is safe, what situations to avoid.  It delays, distorts, prohibits and skews our innate knowing.  

What are the implications and negative effects to a child with an absent, depressed or vacant mother?  What are the long term effects of a child’s cognitive development when subjected to a distressingly unavailable mother?

In 1975, Dr. Edward Tronick, Ph.D. at the Child Development Unit at Harvard University presented the still-face paradigm addressing exactly this issue.  It continues to be one of the most replicated findings in developmental psychology referencing affective disorders on infants and child development.  Dr. Tronick documents an infant who experiences his non-responsive expressionless mother after three short minutes of “interaction” View video here.  

The child...“rapidly sobers and grows wary. He makes repeated attempts to get the interaction into its usual reciprocal pattern. When these attempts fail, the infant withdraws [and] orients his face and body away from his mother with a withdrawn, hopeless facial expression.”

This video is disturbing for me to watch.  Because I get it.  Because I’m ultra sensitive and I want to shake that mother and tell her to respond to her child even though it’s a research experiment.  Because I know what that baby feels like, as a young child, as a young woman, as a full grown mid-fifties adult.  It haunts a survivor to witness an empty person, giving us no social cues to process and understand, reminding us of our initial failed connections to our own mother or caregiver.  It fills us with anxiety as we try to connect, doing all sorts of things as the child in the video did.  We smile, cajole, reach out.  When unreciprocated, we recoil, withdraw, feel rejection, depression, shame. 

I serendipitously stumbled upon an artist who creates from one of the deepest places I’ve witnessed.  We’ve not met but have exchanged a few conversations.  I don’t know Henry’s background or childhood. But Henry knows something. He understands some place within that I’ve lived.  I don’t know how but he does.  This painting represents to me, the small child, fraught with fear, frozen in emotion, empty of connection.  It provides me with a place to be, a moment where the child can release, to be seen just as she is.  I can’t entirely change my neurological programming but I can choose to honor her in the place she was given to exist.

Here are the links to his work.  I bow in respect.

Henry Avignon Art

Margot Muto Contemporary Art

 


an unexpected moment of peace…..

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Photo credit: An’ Marie at callmeanmarie.com

Peace and joy are elusive to survivors.

We have to learn and re-learn these types of experiences, cultivating the beautiful aspects of life as if we were students in school grasping a new skill.  I’ve usually been able to be kind of a joy parasite (not to be confused with a joy sucker) who gravitates toward frollicking animals, playful children or any group or individual who is just laughing unabashedly.  I watched and learned what this beautiful emotion was and then set out to mimic it.  These situations always felt right and kind to my heart although in direct conflict with my upbringing.  Kindness and love weren’t taught or shown but pathology and self destruction was handed out freely and often.

Survivors as a general rule haven’t learned how to play well or experience peace.  If we did learn to play, what we were probably experiencing was destruction in action disguised as play;  i.e. out of control drinking/drug/food/anger (fill in your favorite addiction or crazy shit here), driving recklessly, giving ourselves hearts and bodies to men that were undeserving of that sacred gift.  So many behaviors were masked as “a good time” that it took decades for me to truly figure it out.

During my high school years, I usually found myself gravitating toward healthier families.  I certainly can’t take credit for this action for it wasn’t conscious.  But I’ve come to believe that living things; plants, animals, people will gravitate toward health and love and I base that belief on some serious reflection upon my past behaviors.  I wanted a better life and in many ways, set out to get one even as a child.

One family I attached to had two parents, 6 children who were blissfully crowded into a tiny house with a tiny kitchen.  Many families grew up in this fashion in my day, no one owned a McMansion or rarely had a bedroom to themselves.  It was customary to share a room and even a bed with a sibling.  And this was the way it was at C. J.’s  house.  She, myself and several other friends grew up in that tiny house; from junior high girls, into high school girls, to brides, then mothers and now grandmothers.  We’ve buried parents, sent sons to war, survived cheating husbands and celebrated our re-marriages. We’ve lost touch and reconnected many times, rarely without missing a beat.  They are my ya-ya’s, my sisters.

I had the good fortune to spend a weekend with C.J.  It’s always an easy kind of experience to spend time with friend from long ago, who knows your stories and your quirks.  We’ve transcended needing to explain things as we just know each other that well.

It was the usual agenda; yard sales, thrift stores, food, playing with the dogs and cats, naps, late night talks with the girls.  Yeah, girls….56 year old girls. All the good things in life.  My last afternoon was marked by C. J. hosting a dinner (and she’s a fabulous cook by the way) for me before I left for home. Her modest farm home was full just as her childhood home was and served as a playground to many activities that day. After an afternoon of swimming with the grandkids, I plopped myself (temporarily of course) on the living room couch where I soon found myself snuggled in and stretched out.

I can’t exactly describe what happened but whatever “it” was, I’ve managed to hold onto “it” for weeks, even sharing the feeling with other friends. Sitting on the over stuffed couch, I found myself sinking in deeply, letting my tension float away and began to absorb the energy of this household. The sheer comfort of the environment gave way to me lying down putting a throw pillow over my face.  I became so relaxed and peaceful that I couldn’t resist  the temptation to surrender.  During the most blissful two hour nap I’ve had in a long time,  I floated in and out of the commotion of the grandkids playing and eventually crying, the miffed off weiner dog’s continuous bark to get back into the house, doors slamming, the phone ringing, the parental and grand-parental units shushing the kids to be quiet as to not wake me and the most delicious smells of garlic and anchovy coming from the kitchen.  It was a sensory delight.  And it was heaven.

The more that the everyday, normal family life noise increased the more peaceful I became.  A thought came to me as I grinned under my throw pillow; this must be what its like to be a part of a family.  It was okay for me to relax, to feel peace, that loved ones surrounded me, even cooked food to nourish me after my nap.  I recalled a long forgotten dream as a child to belong to a nice family.  And that simple gesture on C. J. ‘s part became a truly, magical afternoon for me.

I left for home that evening, after my nap and dinner, accompanied by my yard sale treasures and fresh tomatoes from their garden.  My most treasured gift was the lightness and peace that I felt.

During the 2 hour drive home, I think my heart actually smiled.

An Marie 1ecc9394106646b69ed2a35e726cecc5

Photo credit: An’ Marie

To view other works by this artist, visit www.callmeanmarie.com


the puddle of self love…

magicThere are so many wonderful concepts in Terri St. Cloud’s recent blog post, “real feel“.  I would strongly encourage you to take the time to visit her site, Bone Sigh Arts, and read the post on her reflections on self love.  Near the end of the blog post is one of my favorite parts where she says she wants to swim in the sea of love, but then realizes that she may in fact be more in the pond of love.  Ha, I loved that!

Its so easy to be vulnerable and open after reading Terri’s writing and art.  She’s a master at self reflection and being vulnerable.  Seriously, Brene Brown should be studying her!

Figuring that I have to start somewhere in the monumental task of unlearning unloving behaviors and learning to practice self love, I find myself more in the puddle of self love.  Not swimming in the sea of love, or being in Terri’s pond of love but a big puddle of love. Its an okay place to be and I’m happy here.  I’m splashing around, discovering what works and what doesn’t, clearing out the muck to see the treasures hidden deep in my puddle.

Following Terri’s lead of vulnerability and self disclosure, I will admit that I don’t take as good of care of myself as I could and certainly not as well as I care for my daughter, husband, pets, garden, friends, community, job etc.  And the answer to the why don’t I take better care of myself question is that I haven’t fully learned how to yet.

There is great comfort in seeing that I’ve taught my daughter how to love and accept herself.  I’ve been a consistent reminder to her (actually she sometimes compares me to an annoying gnat buzzing around) that she is a beautiful creature with extraordinary and unique gifts.  I see how she cares for herself and I feel great pride in that. But still it gets me wondering why I don’t practice it more with myself.

Actually, over the last 5-10 years but self care has increased exponentially. And like Terri, I’ve had so many, many moments where I didn’t know who I was, what kind of life I wanted, what sorts of books I enjoyed reading.  For myself, it comes from not only, lack of a role model but actual negative reinforcement to the concept of caring for one’s self.  Coming from a family that was bred on stoicism and weaned on martyrdom, I was taught and shown that life was a chore and one didn’t complain about it.  It was nose to the grindstone, don’t look up until you’re done, giving yourself a break was a sign of weakness kind of attitude.  Any peeks to the inside of ourselves could reveal our true selves which in my family, was the sworn enemy.  There was no telling where that kind of selfishness might lead you.

Geesh, so here I am.  Solo from my family, learning to splash in my puddle with my friends and acquaintances who believe in vulnerability, authenticity and the power of whole hearted love.  I like it here even though it still feels foreign.  Making major life changes do feel foreign for a while, until you reach a crossing over point where you look back and can’t believe that you ever lived as you did.  As I’m playing in my puddle, learning how I might swim in the pond of self love, I watch and model others who are practicing the same thing.  Some are in front of me, while some are behind me.  We are all learning at our own rates, blossoming in our own time.

I continue to thank everyone I’ve met along the journey who has challenged my old patterns of thinking and inspired me to adopt a more loving approach to myself.  I’m an eager student willing to learn.  I send gratitude to the universe for placing the perfect people and events in front of me.

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So the woman who has danced out of control….

So the woman who has danced out of control, who has lost her footing and lost her feet...has a special and valuable wisdom

 

Thank you Jackie Robinson for coming to the rescue today.  This is the beauty of connection at its best.  One of us puts wise words out in the world, another friend finds them and passes them on.  And so it goes.

As I combed through my inbox, I found this jewel just waiting for me to find at the perfect moment.  From Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Women Who Run with the Wolves

‘So the woman who has danced out of control, who has lost her footing and lost her feet and understands that bereft state at the end of the fairy tale, has a special and valuable wisdom.’

Wow.

I would consider it an honor and privilege to rise to this occasion that Dr. Estes illustrates.  It would be a personal challenge to take those life challenges where I’ve lost my footing and turn it into my own fairy tale. First, I have to fully grasp and accept the feelings that arise from losing one’s footing.  Each time I do, I believe it to be the last and final time that I’m faced with such challenge that completely knocks me off my feet.  Yet again and again, I’m plunged into that dark place where I must face once again the end of the fairy tale.  But now, I’m starting to understand that there is more than bleak, painful acceptance.  I can use the opportunity of the darkness to rest, spin a beautiful, silky cocoon around myself and re-invent myself, my soul and the fairy tale.

This really got me thinking hard again.  There is much dancing to be done.  Dancing with wild abandon.  Dancing out of control.

I would encourage you to visit Jackie’s site, A Heart’s Whisper and especially Sacred Circle Retreats.  These women, among others, in person and online have kept me afloat during those “bereft” times.

They dance with me out of control.

 


mommy heart

Handed to me fresh and gooey, she stole my heart instantly.

I wasn’t prepared for the impact of pure love when I looked at those eyes, wide open and brown as dark chocolate.  I couldn’t take my eyes off of her, she was so perfect, so beautiful that I almost felt frightened as she stared directly through my soul.  She never cried, she just watched, taking it all in like the old soul that she was.  In fact, we all remarked that we didn’t  know what her cry sounded like until days later.  Since I had traded the option of pain relief and hospital birth for the autonomy and gentleness of a home birth, I never had to deal with someone whisking her from me until I was good and ready to put her down, which didn’t happen for days.  Our first year is hazy as we slept, nursed endlessly and stayed swaddled to each other to soothe her colic and to ease my anxiety that I must be doing something wrong.

The beautiful child eventually found her footing and released my breast at the exact perfect time for her.  I never pushed her away. Never.  My body and soul was there for her as long as she needed me.  It couldn’t have been any other way.  It was absolutely futile to resist my role as her mother, it called to me so strongly like a destiny that I had been waiting for my entire life.  And I know now, that up until that point, I had never experienced a love like that.  Blinding, pure, knock me off my feet love for this little 6-pound being.  Everything that I had felt for my parents, friends and other loved ones didn’t hold a candle to this.  For the first time, I felt the enormous power of my emotions seize my being.  I knew that I could have lifted a car from this child or flat out murdered anyone who attempted to harm her without a blink of the eye.  I felt that certainty and a distinction that I not experienced prior.

If it was even possible, our life together just got sweeter and sweeter.   We walked and sang and looked at stars.  We caught lightening bugs and set them free in our bedroom at night.  We played late into the summer nights and then went for ice cream. Sleepily, she would crawl onto my lap, wrapping around me murmuring “I love you mommy heart”, her pet name for me when she was especially full of love.

Over the years, I stayed close as she watched other children for endless hours before venturing toward them.  She was reserved and shy.  It was to be respected and always on her time frame. Always.

She became a little girl, then a young woman.  The eye rolling started and the physical touch disappeared.  It hurt.  But it was necessary.  It had to be done. One couldn’t love this intensely and wholly without having the separation be of epic proportion.  So she did what she needed to do at exactly the time that she needed.  She hugged her friends, then her boyfriends.  It was reserved for them now and I made do.

Leaving for college was a snap for her.  Her independent wings had sprouted so long ago that she simply just took off.  Her rock solid foundation of love made it easy for her to leap.  It was never about me, she did exactly what she needed to do at that moment.  She needed to fly.  And I needed to cheer her on.

We approached the deadline of her moving cross country with mixed emotions. She would be leaving her midwestern roots and heading toward the ocean and a new life.  Mostly we occupied ourselves by planning and making lists of necessary items to purchase or pack.  I kept it light and wouldn’t under any circumstances let her see my sadness, only the excitement.  I knew firsthand what a burden it could be to watch a parent crumble as a child left home.  My mother waved bravely as I pulled out of the driveway headed for Texas, post college and headstrong.  It was my mistake to look back.  She sank to her knees sobbing with her head in her hands.  I’ve carried that forever.

My daughter and I were both methodically and consciously trying to let go of each other, coping as best we could,  trying on for size the separation that was inevitable.  We had bonded so completely that it would be difficult to pull this off but we still needed to try.  Maybe that’s why she chose to go so far away.  Maybe she needed the distance to see where she started and I left off.  It made sense.  It was always about her time frame.  She always got to choose what worked best for her.

A few days before she left, I awoke to her sleeping in my bed beside me.  My husband had already left for work and I mistakenly thought the dog had taken his place, but it was her.  A full grown woman replaced the tiny 6 pound miracle that graced my life a mere 25 years before.  We snuggled but not too close, mostly letting the dog absorb our affection, tempering the emotion.  I knew she needed some mother comfort and so did she.  But we didn’t speak of it.  We didn’t have to.

The Saturday morning she left was crisp and clear, a day before her 25th birthday.  The morning air brought that snapshot frozen in time flooding back.  It was the same weather the day of her birth.  It felt  cyclical and right.  We busied ourselves with packing her car then fussed some more and kissed all the dogs and took photos and put off the moment when we had to say goodbye. It was finally upon us.

I wasn’t prepared for the intensity of her hug.  She’d spent over a decade avoiding touching or sometimes barely acknowledging me and the sheer impact of her propelling sobbing body at mine literally knocked me off balance.  My baby.  She’s back.  Pressed up against my heart… how good it felt to hold her again.  I immediately felt guilty for loving the embrace at the expense of her unleashed emotion.

I reassured her that her home was there always, waiting if she needed it.  I held her until she pulled away then came back for one more embrace.  I inhaled her sweet essence and let her cry.  Then I let her pull away from me.  It was always about her. She let go when she was ready and I made do.


i hurt for the women…

Try as I may to steer away from politics, it reached up and grabbed me by the throat this weekend.

It isn’t the political arena itself that disturbs me.  That can be a fabulous forum for learning about others, working for change, finding common ground and truly being a crusader to help those who can’t speak for themselves among many other purposes.  Politics enlighten us to others’ opinions and passions and when used for a higher good can be a liberating venture.

But when the media and political arenas are methodically and maliciously used to hurt, to inflict purposeful pain, to divide people from their place of connectedness with their fellow person/themselves/God, to destroy and mock for the sole purpose of making money or some vile sort of entertainment, that’s where I hop off the bus. 

This weekend I’ve chosen many courses of action related to the “war on women”.

It has been particularly challenging for me not to lose myself when this type of negativity presents itself.  Friday night was spent in a long distance phone conversation while my friend sobbed.  She, like myself and many others, felt that heaviness of pain thrust upon us by a man who succumbs regularly to the urge and addiction to hurt.  I watched another women attempt to be heard while comments and name calling  were flying around on Facebook and while I don’t know for sure, I think she was trying to alleviate her confusion in the spirit of communion. And I’ve raged in my own way.  Mostly I’ve reached out virtually to women I know in an attempt to “hold hands” with them as we sort through this together.  It is a time when I need my tribe the most; to help me find the beauty and purpose that grounds me.

I do hurt for the women; their families, their partners and children.  Wider than that, I hurt for their communities as the ripple of negativity plunges us under.  We hear the word “slut” and it becomes more than just a bit on TV, it becomes personal.  I think I actually felt a universal “wince” as those brutal words were played and replayed.

But true to the survivors that we are, we bob back to the surface, gasping for air, begin to clear our heads and process what has just happened.

And today, we are back.  Still holding hands with each other for support, we slowly start moving again.  We go to our gardens and look for the first sign of growth; some are reading to their children, others are silently praying for a more loving world while others are shouting it out.  Our bodies go back to our jobs but our hearts still hear the faint reverberations of hate.

We sit and hold this pain until its evident that it has passed through us instead of sticking in our hearts.  We again accept the challenge of how to love back in spite of the hurt.


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