Intentional Disconnection

The concept of intentional disconnection emerged for me within the last week as I have been marveling at all the ways in which little bubby is becoming BIG.

It seems like sleep training was a turning point.

It is like he woke up one morning after putting himself to sleep the night before, and he decided, Okay I am big now, time to start acting like it.

So much happened in one week! He started sitting in the baby swing at the park more confidently and interacting with the children next to him as he swings, he started sitting in the cart at the grocery store, his personality has majorly bloomed – he is much more vocal and expressive, but the biggest news is that little bubby took his first steps (assisted of course).

I did not expect him to be taking steps for a few months yet, he has shown zero interest. I guess he just decided he was ready.

All of this growth he experienced in a short period of time made me reevaluate my attitude towards sleep training once again. Clearly little bubby was ready for some intentional disconnection from mommy and daddy.

I am also realizing there is more disconnection coming our way. He just weened from being breastfed so that is one area, we are also getting ready to upgrade his stroller to a forward facing stroller so he will no longer be looking at us on walks. Not to mention now that he is showing us that he is ready to get moving it is only a short matter of time before he will be independently mobile and relying on us less and less to get around.

I am glad that I have been present and connected to the experience of mothering because it does go quickly, like people say, and you don’t get any of it back. Once little bubby experiences a shift he cannot go back to the smaller version of himself, and I would not want him to. AND there are parts of me that mourn the loss of the smaller version of him because I have loved him at every stage and each stage has been special in its own unique way. That is for me to sit with though and that is where the intentional disconnection comes in.

I recognize that little bubby is experiencing so much growth in such a short amount of time and it is my job to make sure I am making room for him to be big, not doing things to keep him small. When he shows me he is ready to walk, then he is ready to walk whether I am ready for it or not. When he shows me that he is getting to big for the stroller, it is time for the big boy stroller even if I will miss looking at him during our walks.

Our connection is there AND he has to be able to connect with things outside of mommy as well, like himself, and nature, and other children, and food etc.. So I am making room for all of it and being intentional when the next aspect of disconnection from me in order to connect to other things happens.

We are figuring this out as we go. It is funny, connection is one of our family values, I never thought that we would be making room for intentional disconnection as a way to experience connection as a family. Little bubby is teaching us a lot.

Everyday I am grateful in new ways for this little soul. I am grateful he chose us. I am grateful we called him in to be with us and help our love grow.

I am amazed sometimes by the things I never knew I never knew. I am grateful to be learning. He is a wonderful teacher.

nana wisdom

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Teaching and Learning

Over the weekend we worked with little bubby on sleep training. It was hard for all of us, AND we did it. I am the proud momma of a champion sleeper now. It took two days and lots of resolve on my part along with emotional support from my husband but we successfully made it through to the other side.

A lot came up for me as we worked with little bubby on the skill of being able to put himself to sleep.

  1. I felt major disconnection from little bubby. This was a major change for us. Prior to sleep training he would spend half his naps on me in the chair and half in his crib, he co-slept with me in the morning for about an hour, and he was still breastfeeding overnight even though the pediatrician said that was absolutely unnecessary. To go from that much physical contact to much less during naps/at bedtime and none overnight was hard.
  2. I felt major disconnection from myself. Our pediatrician was pretty direct with us about now being the time for little bubby to master this skill and that it should be accomplished using the Ferber method. I was crushed when I heard the word Ferber. I have been saying since before we got pregnant that I was strongly against the Ferber method. I discussed my concerns with the doctor and we had a very frank discussion that included a bit of a debate about development and emotional/psychological well-being. By the end of the conversation I felt better about giving Ferber a shot. It was hard though and I was holding onto so much doubt and feelings of failure as a mother as little bubby tried to figure things out.
  3. It is not my job to save little bubby from everything. This was a hard pill to swallow because there are absolutely parts of me that want to save him from negative experiences. That is not my job though. My job is to love him and provide him a sense of security/connection as well as a safe environment so he can learn and grow. I realized how triggered I was by his crying, the little parts of me who were never saved my trauma wanted me to rescue him from this experience. I had to keep telling myself, He is safe, he is loved, we have a secure connection – it is okay to give him room to learn and grow, even if it is hard. I had to be very mindful not to project my own emotional state triggered by old wounds onto the situation. That would not be fair to him and it would not be healthy for either of us.
  4. Little bubby is not small. When given a little space to learn and grow, that is what he did. After two days he was putting himself to sleep without crying in the evening. He now sleeps 10 hours uninterrupted and wakes up with big smiles for momma and daddy.
  5. Connection was happening all along. By stepping back a little bit to give little bubby room to learn and grow we also gave him the opportunity to start building up his inside connection – connection to self. Autonomy is one of our family values and I did not understand at first that this is his first chance to experience that. This experience gave him the chance to self-soothe as well as do something for himself that momma and daddy used to do for him (put him to sleep).

I realize now that if I saved him from every negative experience what I would really be doing is sending him the message over and over that I do not believe he is big enough to handle whatever it is. Of course I keep all of this in the context of his age and level of development; I am not going to expect my baby bird to fly before he knows how to use his wings. I feel like over the weekend though little bubby learned that he is not small and he can do hard things. And while he may not be ready to lift up off our branch quite yet, he now knows that he has wings. Going forward it is our job to continue to provide him with safe experiences that allow him to use those wings over and over until he is ready to take that first big leap. When he is ready it will not matter if he flies or falls because he will know some very important truths;

He is loved. He has a place of connected security in daddy and I that he can land on. He is big. He can do hard things, including getting up after a fall and trying again until he learns how to fly.

In the midst of disconnection I find a deeper sense of connection with myself, little bubby, and the values we hold close as a family.

I am grateful for this difficult experience.

I am grateful that there was no saving going on during the experience and that little bubby and I were both allowed to figure it out.

I am grateful for love and connection and this life we are creating together.

I am grateful for my sacred truths;

We are not small. We can do hard things.

I am not small. I can do hard things.

gratitud

 

You Could Lose Yourself

These words came back to me after my recent drowning dream.

My mother said these words to me about being a mother before I ever became pregnant.

My mother never went to college. She was a straight A student, great at math, intelligent; she did not go because she did not see a point. At least that is what I intuit from her story. She talks about how for the longest time she was not able to dream of a future, for her it was just black – nothing there. I understood her meaning. I used to have this problem as well.

My mother says had she gone she thinks she would have been an architect. I can see this alternate reality where my mother had followed this dream. She has a gift for drawing floor plans, she created the floor plan for the house she and my father live in as well as the floor plan for my Aunt and Uncle’s home.

I wonder how different my life would have been if I had not only seen my mother wings but actually seen her use them.

My mother plays small.

She struggles with scarcity, she is driven by fear. I do not think she ever healed from her own childhood trauma and as a result she is playing out her hurt over and over and over on herself and those she claims to love.

I think that is how pain works. It is a spiral, the more we try to run from it, the more it comes circling back around presenting a new opportunity to be felt/experienced. The thing is, I think when we stop running and agree to feel it, that is when we are finally free from the cycle.

My mother told me you can lose yourself in motherhood. Lose your sense of self, your identity. I believe that is her truth, I see how that is true for her. My mother does not understand autonomy, separation of self in relationships. So yea, I am sure she does feel lost. I believe the reason she struggles with separating herself from the people she is in relationships with is because her mother physically abandoned her without warning. As a result I believe my mother experiences even the slightest separation as abandonment.

Her children growing into adults and becoming independent felt like abandonment to her so she did what she could to infantilize us so we stayed dependent.

My father and I have next to no relationship outside of my mother because to her that feels like exclusion and to her exclusion feels like abandonment.

When my son was born I said something about soaking up the moments with him because I know he will grow up and be big and life will take him exciting distant places. My mother’s response was that we would have to find a way to keep him here.

No. 

I will not limit the people I love. I will never ask anyone I love to play small. Our love will be secure enough that physical distance will not minimize it.

I will show my son my wings, I will not only teach him to fly – I will actively encourage it!

With each passing day my path forward is becoming clearer. With each passing day the road I leave behind me seems easier to walk away from.

My mother lost herself in mothering, and for me it feels the opposite – this is the place where I am finding myself.

Hand at my Heart

I had no title for this post and as I sat here grounding, being with my body, allowing the words to come forth – I noticed my hand at my heart. This post is about my ability to hold myself and be with my body and here I am doing just that.

So with my hand at my heart I start this story.

This story does not start here, it starts over 35 years ago inside the ocean that is my mother. Her ocean is in one way my source, while I know my soul has existed much longer and many times over, my body grew in her depths. My mother has always felt like turbulent water; water can be the giver of life – it can also pull you under so deep you feel you will never see the light again.

This is where my body work truly begins, at the source.

Today I focus on my relationship with my body presently. She and I have come a long way, our connection is ever growing, AND our disconnection was so all consuming that the journey of coming home to myself is a daily conscious practice.

I mark the time by my wedding day.

I took the first step towards coming home a few weeks after by cutting off all my hair. A few years later I stopped wearing make up. I realized I needed to peel back the things I was hiding behind in order to truly see myself; no more hair dye, no more blanket of hair to distract from the rest of me, no more mask in the form of mascara and blush. No more.

After YEARS of not recognizing myself in the mirror, there I was staring back at myself, naked faced and absolutely magnificent.

The next step was a rescue mission, the first of many. I had to go back and rescue the girl who believed at 10 years old that her body was wrong and dirty because of the hair that naturally grew on it.

I stopped shaving my legs. This rescue mission, this unlearning, it took time – years to be precise. At first I did exactly what I did the summer of my tenth year when the boys at school started ridiculing girls for the hair on our legs – I wore pants everyday. My ten year old self still felt shame for my body’s natural state. This went on for a year.

I wore whatever I pleased at home where it was safe and when I would leave the house I wore pants or long dresses/skirts to hide my shame. Healing takes time and you cannot force it or it is not actually healing, it is just a new wound.

A year and a half later I was pregnant and uncomfortable and my body begged me to be free of the extra layers – I am hot please do not cover me up! 

Finally I relented. I will not hide any longer for fear of judgment, I will not shrink. I energetically picked up that 10 year old girl and my body and said – Enough! This lie has controlled us long enough, no more. We are enough as we are and there was NEVER a moment when this was not true.

During my work with the hair on my legs I also decided it was time to reclaim my truth about all of the hair on my body. I stopped shaving – period. I wanted to be the tall grass on the plains, I wanted to be branches of the Old Nana Oak Tree, I wanted to be the flowers – allowed to grow freely, in my true form, as I am made, and find my truth about beauty there.

I never feared rejection from my husband because I am not playing by society’s rules for beauty, he has never policed my body. With that said, it took sometime to feel not only comfortable but sexy in my new hairy state.

It has been two years. I no longer think about the hair on my legs when I get dressed in the morning. I no longer live in fear of who will see my wrongness and dirtiness. I feel both comfortable and sexy when I share myself with my husband. I have learned that as  my connection with myself/my body grows deeper, I am able to experience deeper connection with those whom I love as well. I love what I see when apply lotion to my naked self after the shower now- this is who I am. I know that woman. I no longer feel confused and lost when I look in the mirror.

Body work is a big piece of my over all healing work this year. I think I had to rebuild my connection through self-acceptance before I could take this next step. My body is now ready to tell me her story of pain. I had to have love and connection in order to be able to finally hold the pain and perform my ultimate rescue mission – this is where I stop fearing my truth and own it. It is the only way to save myself. It is the only way to be free.

Smaller versions of myself have spent much time and energy running from this work, but I am not small and I can do hard things.

body work

 

I Will Never Cut Another Dress

That’s a good look.

I lifted my head and peered out at my husband from behind the scarf that was covering the majority of my face.

Oh yeah, think I should leave it like this?

Oh definitely.

We both laughed as I continued to tie my head scarf and put my glasses back on.

My husband and I have a rule in our relationship: no body policing.

That means I am allowed to be in my body however feels comfortable without worry of non-acceptance and so is he. This is one area in our relationship where acceptance is not conditional.

So I can shave or not, wear make up or not, do my hair or put on a hat or scarf, dress however I feel etc etc.
He can shave or not, get a haircut or not, dress however he feels etc etc.

This is an important rule to each of us in our relationship because we have both been in relationships where we did not feel this freedom and we agreed that not having this freedom makes for an unhealthy relationship. We have to belong to ourselves first and one of that fastest ways to autonomy is through feeling full ownership of one’s body.

That is not to say that we never say anything about one another’s body/appearance. When my husband’s finger nails start to get long he sometimes scratches me on accident, I let him know so either:

A. He can choose to trim his nails OR
B. He is more mindful when embracing me.

Me saying something about his finger nails does not mean he has to cut them, he can make that choice, I am allowed to set a boundary stating: Hey that hurts please be careful how you touch me when your nails are that length.

This morning as I got ready and was thinking about this aspect of our relationship and silently counting my gratitude for it I thought of the times in my life when I did not feel in control of my body/appearance and acceptance was conditional on meeting the expectations of someone else.

As children we experience this all the time. For me it was my mother doing my hair the way she wanted it done while I cried under her comb that was piercing my scalp.

I started shaving my legs in 5th grade because two of the boys in class made fun of the hair on my legs. I had never given it any thought until suddenly I was made to feel ashamed for something my body does naturally.

As a teen it was all about trying to fit in order to stay invisible and survive. My face was marked with noticeable scarring after my car accident freshman year so I was already getting some harsh unwanted attention, I did my best not to stick out by way of appearance.

And in my twenties when my identity was usually wrapped up in whoever I was dating I followed their lead. My boyfriend said he likes brunettes better than blondes so for the first time in my life I dyed my hair and played the role of brunette for a few years.

There is one instance that always come to mind first when I think of why this (whole body ownership/autonomy) is so important to me: my ex and the dress.

I have a few great loves when it comes to dresses over the years. In high school I had this denim jumper dress that I loved so much I have it saved in a box to hopefully give to my one day daughter. In my twenties it was the Joni Mitchell dress, so named by my then boyfriend. Now it is my long blue wrap dress.

These dresses were my go-to dresses during these periods of my life because they all possessed the same magic: no matter how I was feeling before putting the dress on, the second I was wearing it I felt beautiful and grounded and myself.

I remember when I bought the Joni Mitchell dress, I got home and put it on to go out with my boyfriend that night. I felt invincible, like the most luminous, stunning version of myself. I got to his house, walked in surrounded by the energetic light I was feeling, and was immediately verbally shit on.

What are you wearing? You look ridiculous. You look like a hippy. You look like Joni Mitchell (which was totally meant as a dig – but she is fucking fabulous so jokes on him)Did you bring a change of clothes? I hate that dress. Never wear that around me again.

Honestly I loved it so much that as hurt as I was in that moment I still felt beautiful. And this was during a very insecure time in my existence, so for me to be able to rebound so easily from this verbal attack when my feelings about myself were completely wrapped up in how others feel about me.. that just further speaks to the power of this dress.

I was faced with a dilemma though. My boyfriend hates the dress and never wants to be seen with me wearing it again and I love the dress and never want to take it off. I was desperate to find a way to make this work. I was desperate. Those three words pretty much sum me up back then.

Acting on this feeling of desperation I did something that I immediately regretted, I cut the dress. The dress was long, white, and flowy with explosions of color splashed all over. It looked like art on a blank canvas. When I cut it all the magic was gone. I was Delilah cutting Samson’s hair. It was awful.

My boyfriend loved it. He thought I looked amazing. I suddenly realized just how much that does not matter. I did not like it and every time I saw myself in it all I could think was how I ruined this amazing piece of art. I think what I was truly feeling but was not ready to see was how I had once again abandoned myself. No amount of outside love and validation will fill the void created when we abandon ourselves.

I kept the dress for a very short period after the alteration before gifting it to a friend with the condition that I never have to see her wear it, ironically enough. I did not want the reminder.

Clearly that relationship did not pan out and I had time to myself before meeting my husband. That time was spent getting to know who I am outside of other people, that time is when I took myself back to my foundation and started rebuilding. My husband has only ever known me as a builder, as a woman under construction, as a being of growth and transformation.

Certain boundaries were set very early on in our relationship to ensure we would always belong to ourselves first:

No body policing.
Our books will have their own bookshelves.
Time apart is every bit as important as time together.

More boundaries were added as the years went on and adjustments are made as needed. One of the underlying messages in our relationship being: freedom to be exactly who we are and that be enough. And with that freedom I hold this truth sacred: Never in my life will I cut another dress.

joni mitchell dress

 

Exploited

Today was a day let me tell you! Not only did I have this self-care experience that ended up being the antithesis of self-care, my husband and I had one of our relationship check-in conversations and in doing so we identified a shadow that we are each showing up in, in our relationship; exploitation. I was not in the mood to get to know a new shadow today. This was not the day for this. I was so emotionally spent from my earlier experience I just wanted to spend the rest of the night writing, and meditating, and maybe even painting as a way for me to process and release the energy from earlier. I still plan to do all of those things, and I am even as we speak, however now I am working through the emotions from early and the emotions surfacing that are attached to this new shadow.

When a new shadow presents itself it arrives with lots of emotional luggage. The first suitcase to unpack is always shame. I have to sit in my shame with the ways in which I show up in my life and exploit others, specifically and especially those whom I love most.

This shadow surfaced in a conversation my husband and I were having in order to clear the air after an exchange last night resulted in hurt feelings.

We were honest, took turns being heard and empathizing, and then talked about what boundaries needed to exist going forward to avoid further incident. Rather than instate new boundaries it was more an issue of being mindful of boundaries that already existed and respecting ourselves and each other with concern to those boundaries.

What we both realized as we closed up the conversation is that we both show up in our relationship and use/take advantage of one another in the relationship. We were both clear that this exploitation that takes place is done with nonmalicious intent, it is happening none the less though and it was time to shine some light on this shadow.

For both of us exploitation shows up in places where we don’t feel like doing something so we use the other person to get that need met. It is attached to the shadow of avoidance for both of us.

Our work here as it pertains to our relationship is for both of us to speak up when we feel the other person operating from this shadow. Personally my work is to invite these two shadow pieces home, avoidance and exploitation, and get to know them better. My work with my shadows is always to seek to understand their motivations from a place of objective nonjudgement, and then working on building a relationship with them ultimately shining the light of self-love upon them.

It all sounds pretty and whimsical, it feels more like trying to hug an unwilling porcupine in the dark.

This is where I am tonight though. Trying to separate myself from my experience early so I can where I exist in this place of disconnection I encountered AND welcoming in my shadows of exploitation and avoidance.

One

one

Two has always been my favorite number. As far back as I can remember I have been drawn to the number two.

I like that it is an even number, that is important because I have very strong feelings about odd numbers especially 7s and 9s ironically enough given the name of this blog which comes from a saying I made up and commonly use and the fact that my birthday is in fact the 9th day in December. I cannot explain it, I have always liked even number and felt the extreme opposite about odds.

I like the way it looks: 2. Its rounded top and slanted body that connects to its very solid, grounded base. I like what it represents, one with just one more. Not too many, not too few, just two. It is the perfect number.

Truth is as much as I admire two and romanticize the idea of it I have never felt like a two, just a one. Even when I am part of a pair, like with a friend out to dinner, reservation for two please. I am not this two: 2. I am this two: II. My one: I, plus one more: I. This two: 2 is different. The one and the one have come together to make a new number: 1+1=2. See? No, that is not me. I have never felt like 2, just II at best.

The funny thing is I see no reason it should be that way. I grew up part of something, I had a family, a community, a friend group. Still I always felt like this: IIII, instead of this: 4.

One is not so bad, and neither is II or III or IIII. Sure it is no 2 or 4, but at least I know where I am. Right there, that one, that is me.