You Are Ready

Two weeks ago my mother and I did something I never thought possible in our relationship, we practiced truth speaking.

It was HARD.

AND —

It was SO good.

 

I called her a few days after soul camp to wish her a belated happy Mother’s Day and check in. Early on in the conversation she cautiously asked if I had done the work I needed to do around my relationship with my brother in order to be able to step back into the relationship.

I told her I had done work around the relationship, Yes, AND I was not ready to return to the relationship. I asked her if she wanted to discuss where I was at with it and Why, she did.

I told the truth.

He abused me growing up. It was not “siblings fighting” it was abuse. Shattered bedroom door, holes in the wall, bruises on my body, strangulation until I passed out –  I was terrified and it was abuse.

I was holding up a mirror she had been avoiding for a very long time. She had failed as a mother and my truths were the proof.

The truth speaking continued like this – me making room for her to be an imperfect mother, me letting her know I can love her and I will not reject her in this, AND truth speaking about my place of injury in these failures. I understand now it was never her failures that hurt, it was her rejection of me when she failed. By not owning her imperfections as a mother she was rejecting me every time she got it wrong. She was rejecting me because she could not hold the truth, that she was not the perfect mother. She rejected me because I was a reminder that she was not a perfect mother.

I told the truth that I am AS IMPORTANT as my brother, I am MORE IMPORTANT than my relationship with my brother, and I am MORE IMPORTANT than our family being whole. I AM IMPORTANT.

I told the truth that I will no longer carry my brother. I will no longer hold anything that is not mine to hold. I will not hold her pain over her failures, I will not hold my brother’s pain, I will not hold the pain of my family. I will ONLY HOLD MYSELF.

I told the truth that my brother is still spiraling, it just manifesting in different ways. He is still that 13 year old boy in his trauma. He has not showed up to hold his pain, rescue the parts of himself he has abandoned, and he is not loving himself well, if at all.

I told the truth that these truths about my brother make him feel unsafe to me and I will not expose any part of myself or my family to this.

I spoke my truth that I love my brother and I miss him, but not more than myself. I come first.

My mother asked questions and spoke truths as well and held her pain. It was hard and it was good.

For the first time in the history of our relationship I felt seen and heard in my pain and truths. The rug was lifted and we survived.

It was hard and it was good.

When I recounted this experience with my therapist she said one of the best things she has ever said to me; You are ready to have a girl. 

I knew exactly what she meant.

I am in my power. I have done the work. I am saved and I am the one that did the rescuing. We are past the trauma because I am the mother of this vessel and the parts therein, I am safety. Because I now hold myself and my truths sacred and in deep deep love I am able to show others how this is done, including a daughter if one chooses me.

I came home and told my husband what my therapist said and his reaction filled me with so much joy.

I did it. I am on the other side!

There will always be work to do, the tree is never done growing until it dies, but I am done going back. Now it is time for me to find my way forward.

I know I still have some work to do related to my past but it is different now. It is from a place of power and love, not victim mentality and fear. Once these last few parts are scooped into my lap I will be unstoppable. This is what it looks like when a powerful woman rises.

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Showing Up Together

I have talked before about the ways in which my husband and I show up in and for our relationship. These are the things we do to energetically tend to weeds so the flowers of our relationship can continue to bloom and growth in a healthy way. We have relationship check-ins which is a large block of time is set aside with no predetermined topic so we can discuss the health of out relationship and areas where we have room for growth. We also have the beloved conversation cup which is a place holder for conversations that need to be circled back to when space and time can be made to fully honor them.

All of this is important and valuable, AND it does not prevent impromptu relationship work from popping up on a random Wednesday night.

Case in point; last Wednesday night I asked my husband if he would be okay with moving the bookshelf from the guestroom to the sunroom the following evening after little bubby goes to bed. Friday night is art night for me and my art supplies were currently splayed across my art table, this mess was not going to be conducive to creativity. I knew if he moved the shelf Thursday evening that would give me Friday during the day while bubby naps to getting everything organized and then I would be all set to paint and create Friday night.

He was ALL IN. Love that man. The issue arose after the Yes. There was an old coffee table in the sunroom that we agreed to get rid of when we moved the bookshelf into the room, its time had come. Trash pick up for large items is not until Monday, and with the upcoming Monday being a recognized holiday we were pretty sure they would not be coming for the table. So the question was, where to store the coffee table until it could be disposed of? It took us a few minutes to find common ground and by the time we did my husband was OVER the whole conversation which he made clear when he threw a Whatever at me.

We do not talk to each other this way. It might seem like a small thing but it is a weed in our garden. In that moment my husband was not speaking his truth; I am tired, I feel myself becoming frustrated, I am ready to be done with this conversation for right now, and I want some space.

Had he spoken his truth I would have been very clear on how he is feeling and what his needs are and I could act accordingly. Me acting accordingly would look like this; letting him know I hear him, that we can figure out the rest of the details another time, and letting him know what I would be doing so he could be somewhere else doing something else.

Later when the dust had settled we would have done a little repair work if needed and give hugs, as is our way after a hard conversation.

We got there, all of these things happened in the end, not before taking an sizable detour into shame town USA together though.

It started with me truth speaking and setting a boundary; I am not comfortable with the way that conversation ended, I am open to hearing your truth about what is going on for you right now but please do not speak to me that way in the future.

My husband practiced truth speaking AND went into his male shame place of I-have-to-fix-and-be-the-hero. I lovingly called him on it and made it clear that is not my stuff, it is his, and I am not willing to hold it for him.

This led him to bring up times when I was playing out this shame with him by having this unfair and unrealistic expectations of him which then made me feel invisible. Is he not seeing my growth? Is he not seeing how far I/we have come? Does he honestly think we are still back there? 

We were both starting to spiral.

I found myself standing across from him with my arms crossed starting to fume when I did this really amazing thing that so many of us forget we can do, I paused.

I pressed pause on the whole situation. I may have even said PAUSE out loud, I don’t remember.

I sat down. I closed my eyes. I took a few deep breaths and checked in with all parts of me that were showing up in this moment ready for a fight, and then collected them all in my lap and said, Okay children watch this magic I am about to do.

I opened my eyes and said to my husband, Let’s talk about the lies we are telling ourselves right now.

We took turns.

Me: I am telling myself that you do not see me and my growth.
Bubby: I am telling myself that you want me to make you feel better.
Me: I am telling myself that I am the only one carrying this relationship and that you don’t care.
Bubby: I am telling myself that you want me to be perfect and handle everything and that I am not allowed to feel the way I feel.

Then we checked in with each other on each lie;

Is this true?
No.

Is this true?
No.

Is this true?
No.

Is this true?
No.

The answer was always No.

We stepped out of the spiral together.

We practiced truth speaking and agreed there were a few things for the conversation cup that we would need to come back to and do some repair around.

Then we practiced gratitude.

We took turns.

I am grateful for the way you are showing up as my partner and not making me handle everything alone.

I am grateful for the safety and space you have created so I am able to do my soul work and become my biggest self.

I am grateful for the work you are doing with your family around boundaries and truth speaking, I know it is hard.

I am grateful for the way you show up in your feminine energy with me and little bubby. I am grateful you are the example of what “being a man” is for him.

Then we let the dust settle, we spent quiet time alone together in the same room, and at bed time we snuggled before falling asleep.

 

Our plan that night was to fold laundry and watch TV, that plan went out the window. We recognize that we cannot plan for everything, some storms seemingly form out of thin air. We are ready for every storm that comes our way though, we meet them head on with confidence that what we have built can weather it. This is our truth because we have been intentional in the way we built this relationship together; we have a solid foundation, and strong walls, and no rock will ever break our glass. We take measures everyday to insure the safety of what we are creating and we show up together ready when the winds start to turn.

I am grateful for this man, and this relationship, and this life.

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Making Space and Counting Gratitude

We are in the process of doing a deep cleanse of our home; we have been going through rooms one by one and taking inventory of our “stuff”, anything that no longer holds meaning, or a purpose, or serves us in some way is being released to make room for what comes next – whatever that might be.

We are also creating a home that works for us as we currently are. That means having a dedicated play area for little bubby that is separate from where he sleeps, a guestroom that has room to store baby things for possible next baby, a living area for adults (namely my husband and I) that is clear of baby things, and a dedicated art space for momma and family to create in.

We are getting there.

Tonight my husband is re-purposing a bookshelf from the guestroom as a toy and art supply storage shelf in the sunroom turned playroom and art studio. I am looking forward to setting up this room officially and finding a spot for everything.

While I create art throughout the week as I have snatches of time – during little bubby nap time, in the evening before bed, on the weekends when my husband is spending daddy time with little bubby – Friday night is my dedicated time for art each week. My husband plays table tennis every Friday night once little bubby is in bed and I have the house to myself for 3 or 4 hours to set myself free quietly creating.

I look forward to Friday night each week. I love that my husband and I both have something outside of each other, outside of parenthood and the responsibilities of life, that belong just to ourselves.

I am sitting in a lot of gratitude this morning. Gratitude for the ways in which little bubby’s arrival into our life and our home has created such intention in the way my husband and I are living as well as how we are choosing to show up in the world. His birth put so much into perspective for us. I am grateful for my husband who is always ALL IN with me. I may lead the charge but he is always ALL IN and we have experienced so much amazing growth together as a result. I am most grateful for this life I get to call my very own. I cherish it and all the love it holds. It is a good life, so so good.

 

All of Me is Here

This morning I am sitting in a quiet home relishing the morning sun shining through windows of the sun room. This is a pre-little bubby feeling. It is a reminder that I am still me and all of me is here, no parts of me have been excluded from my new life since his birth.

I received another reminder of this yesterday.

My husband and I went out for date night, our fifth since little bubby’s birth 9 months ago. We went downtown to two bars we would occasionally patron before little bubby was born. Even with all of the changes and growth we have experienced separately and as a couple since little bubby’s arrival this still felt fun, and comfortable, and familiar. I still feel connected to my partner and best friend, I still look forward to and enjoy dating my husband, we still enjoy deep conversations and walking hand in hand in a crowd.

The second bar we visited has been relatively unchanged since I first began going there 15 years ago. Same decor, same crowd (a bit older maybe), same 80’s music, same energy of acceptance and freedom.

I like this bar because they play my favorite 80’s music and has been a constant downtown when everything else is ever changing. We like this bar because the people who go there give themselves permission to be seen, to be vulnerable, to be real.

We were talking about that last part while we watched people swaying on the dance floor to Tears for Fears. There is something happening at this bar that is not happening at any other bar downtown, not at this level at least, it is the feeling of freedom that comes from giving yourself permission to just be.

We were both sitting in our gratitude that there are places in our community where this kind of safety exists, we were grateful to be witness to it, to be part of it.

I am a mother now, I stopped drinking 3 years ago, I am more grounded than the girl who played downtown over a decade ago AND I all of me is here and part of this life I actively creating with this man I love.

I felt the parts of me who love to dance, the parts that like to be silly, that parts that want to get into mischief, the parts that want to be seen. All of me is here, what has changed is the time and my relationship with these parts. How I care for myself, how I honor my needs and wants, the way I connect within and without.

Last night was fun, this morning is peaceful. Nothing and everything has changed and all of me is here to be part of this. This is a good life, more than I even knew to dream for, and I am grateful.

Permission GRANTED

Soul Camp has traditions associated with it that I really enjoy and look forward to. One tradition takes place the first night before circle opens; this tradition is permission slips.

We take time as a group to reflect individually on the permission slips we are writing ourselves while at camp. Mine this time were;

Permission to be Mom – which meant stepping out of group everyday to call home and be part of bedtime routine with little bubby regardless of what was happening in group.

Permission to accept help when it feels safe now – This was me giving myself permission to Yes when I mean it instead of always leading with a No when help is offered because I am used to being an island.

Permission to change my mind – This permission slip is self-explanatory.

I did well with the permissions I gave myself, and I am excited to share that I brought the energy of permission home with me.

 

Three or Four years ago when I was still in college, I was driving home from school and I was stopped at a red light. I looked out the window and on the ground near my car was a potato. Yep, a big old spud was just sitting there in the middle of traffic.

I was really bothered by this.

He felt abandoned to me. I did not like the idea that this little guy worked as hard as he did to grow into the potato that he is, spending the first half of his life in the agony of growth underground alone, just to end up rotting in the middle of the road under the hot summer sun. This felt very wrong.

I debated for multiple minutes about quickly parking the car, getting out, grabbing him, and bringing him home to die in the backyard around all the vegetation on our property. I debated so long that the light turned green and my opportunity passed. I drove on feeling like I abandoned a piece of myself on the side of the road as well. The piece of me that wants to champion the underdog and fight for the vulnerable. I felt as if I was turning away from the pain of another living thing and that felt as wrong as the potato being there to begin with.

I did not pick up the potato that day because I would have made a scene. Everyone around me in traffic would have seen me park, get out, and rescue that potato. I was not ready to be SEEN on that level so I ignored the piece of me that was crying out to help this abandoned potato. It didn’t feel good.

Fast forward to present day Jillian, fresh off a Soul Camp experience, I once again found myself face to face with an abandoned vegetable.

Little bubby and I ran an errand yesterday and when I parked in the back corner of the parking lot I immediately spotted a sad little zucchini baking in the afternoon sun. She was all alone in the middle of the parking lot. We were not even at a grocery store, I have no clue how this poor thing ended up here, just like I could not figure out before how a potato becomes stranded at a busy intersection.

I walked passed her as little bubby and I headed to the store, then again when our errand was complete and we returned to the car. I settled little bubby back into the car and then got into the driver’s seat. There I sat for multiple minutes staring at the zucchini in front of me.

This isn’t right. I cannot leave her. She did not spend her whole life growing in some garden somewhere to one day become parking lot trash. 

Next to me a man was sitting in his car on his phone.

If I get out and rescue this vegetable that guy is going to see me and think I am nuts!

SO WHAT?

Am I going to let the judgments of others stop me from being exactly who I am?

Nope.

Then and there I wrote myself a few very important permission slips that I will now and going forward keep close to my heart:

I give myself permission to become a collector of weird looks from strangers.
I give myself permission to listen to my heart.
I give myself permission to allow my actions to reflect her voice only.
I give myself permission to live a life other’s do not understand.

With that I got out of the car, grabbed the zucchini and brought her home with us.

Once we were home little bubby went down for nap and Lu and I took the zucchini to the backyard where I said a few kind words before inviting her to join the other vegetable scraps and parts in our compost pile. Now she will go back to the earth and help create new life in my one day garden.

I will live a life I am proud to call my very own, created with this heart and these two hands and led from a place of love and connection.

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ALL IN

On the other side of Soul Camp I am noticing some differences. The first major difference; no emotional hang over. This has NEVER happened before.

I normally feel emotionally jet lagged for about a week after a Soul Camp experience because I am doing work at Soul Camp that I am not actively practicing outside of the retreat in my real life. The act of allowing myself to be seen and vulnerable/real on that level always took a lot out of me. This time was different. I left feeling myself, and truthfully a bit energized. A weight had been lifted and that weight did not bring with it any form of hang over, just relief.

It took me no time to understand why this time was different; because I am different. I am truth speaking outside of Soul Camp, I am holding myself sacred in BIG ways outside of Soul Camp, I am not playing small and allowing myself to be seen outside of Soul Camp. I am no longer energetically asking Soul Camp to hold anything that I am not already actively holding on some level.

Another difference is intention.

My husband and I have been practicing intentional living in some form or another for years, this truth was certainly amplified when little bubby was born.

This Soul Camp I went in with very clear intentions and I followed through. I was committed to the work, no matter how hard, and I was committed to making every moment count because I understood what I was setting down at home in order to hold this experience. I was not going to dishonor this commitment I made to myself and my family.

I am excited as hell for what comes next. The shift is happening and I am ALL IN.

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Kisses Can Hurt

The story will be told in parts because that is all I have had for so many years, parts, not the whole. I am working my way back towards the whole, I am working my way back to being whole.

I don’t know how or when I arrived at my high school boyfriend’s home. I do remember laying on my back across the width of his bed staring at the ceiling, disconnecting, as tears rolled down my cheeks. The light was out, it was night, his room was dark, everything was dark and stayed that way for a long time.

He cried when I told him. I don’t know what I told him. I don’t think I had told my mother yet so the decision about the abortion was not yet made. I could have the timeline wrong. I just don’t know.

I do know that he did something that broke of a piece of my heart.. He brought his crying face down onto my belly and kissed it.

……I need to pause…..

 

 

 

 

He fucking killed me when he did that.

Up to that point I was actively disconnecting from my body and this reality AT ALL TIMES. There was no denying this truth when he did that.

For one excruciating moment this was true, and we were an accidental family, and I was a mother, and he was a father, and this was our baby.

I remember nothing after that. Nothing.

The curtain came down hard and all I had was the safety of my ability to completely disconnect from this.

I see now how I dishonored this life. He existed. I do not get to deny him that. My boyfriend acknowledged him immediately. That was the first time I did and it was only because my boyfriend’s action made it impossible for me not to. I could not handle it the truth though and I immediately turned everything off.

The only other time I acknowledged this life was the day of my abortion. I do not remember waking up, I do not remember getting dressed, I know my mother dressed me because I do remember what I wore. I do not remember seeing my brother, what lie had they tole him about this day? I do not remember seeing my parents at all until my mother is ushering me into the building passed the protesters.

That morning I am sitting in living room in the dark, it must have been early. I am alone on the couch and I am nauseous. This is my acknowledgment that life exists here. I am eating a saltine and I am with my baby, aware he is with me too. I can only be with him in that dark. This has always been true – until now.

I am getting closer now, closer to love and connection in this place of darkness and pain. I will find myself, and my babies, and hold it all in love. I know I am getting close because it hurts so bad, which means I am finally feeling it. I have to feel all of it to feel the love. I am getting close.

I buried the piece of my heart that broke off when he kissed my belly and forced me to acknowledge my baby and this connection. I am ready to bring that piece home. I want that connection back.

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