We Don’t Have to Rush

This post is inspired by a memory that surfaced from elementary school;

Sometime during 4th grade, after the death of my Nana, Mom and I had a hard morning.

We were running late getting me to school. I do not know if my Mom was working at the time, so I am unsure if this feeling of rush and force was bigger than just me not getting to school on time, maybe there was more at stake than I knew.

Let me set the scene for you;

None of the clothes I want to wear are clean so Mom has forced me into a pair of jean shorts I am mortified to be seen in and some dumb shirt I do not like.

Here is the thing about these shorts;  first you should know when I was kid money was tight so Mom got resourceful at times. She had a talent for sewing, she made both mine and my cousin’s first communion dresses and you would never have known they were not some expensive store bought dresses like the other girls. What my Mom created for me did not always line up with what 9-year-old fashion was at the time.

These shorts had been jeans that I ripped the knees out of while playing outside the prior summer. We could not afford to throw away clothes that still fit so Mom attempted to transform them into shorts and the end product fell short. I gave it little thought because I had another pair of jeans and a pair of shorts I could wear and re-wear so no one at school ever had to see my Mom’s creation anyway.

This particular morning my Mom had decided I would not re-wear my jeans for what was probably the 11th time in a row, with no other clean bottoms to wear she told me to put on the hacked up shorts.

So I was already sitting in dread of what the day would hold for me, I would surely be a target in these awful shorts, while I frantically tore up my closet floor looking for my sneakers as my Mom yelled we have to leave now!

My sneakers were no where to be found! How was I going to go to school shoe-less? Guess I would just have to stay home.

My Mom was having none of it. She shoved my fancy white church shoes (which were covered in scuff marks from climbing on everything in sight) over my colorful tube socks and told me to head for the car.

I was stupefied. What was she doing?! My protests were fierce and immediate; Mom I can’t wear my church shoes, I have to wear sneakers for PE or they won’t let me participate and I will get in trouble!

She did not budge and with that I was off to school in my rag tag jean shorts, dumb shirt, colorful tube socks and fancy white scuffed up church shoes.

My Mom dropped me off and left. I was so ashamed my eyes were burning before I got out of the car. I did not know how I was going to face the fourth grade, I did not know how I was going to survive the day.

This was my first walk of shame. I was late, the car ramp was empty. Alone I walked through the vacant halls, the little heels on my fancy white scuffed up shoes clacking an echo all the way to the brown metal door of my classroom. I peeked in the slatted window on the door, everyone was in their seats, class had started. I knew the moment I opened that door all eyes would be on me.

It must have been bad because I lose my memory here.

I pick back up maybe 30 minutes later; I am at my teacher’s desk, I am crying, I am asking to go see the guidance counselor. I have become close with our guidance counselor this year, I have spent some time talking with her between Nana dying and my cousin and first best friend being removed from the family and living in a group home.

In the counselor’s office she listens as I cry. She knows my Mother and thinks fondly of her, she tries to balance my feelings for me. There is no balance to be struck, I am wounded and I have no room for whatever my Mother’s truth might be. In my mind she made me prey and then abandoned me  in the lion’s den that was the 4th grade.

The counselor has a pair of sneakers from the lost and found she offers me so I can participate in PE. They are only a small step up from my fancy white scuffed up church shoes. I see another pair, some black Keds with cool mesh sides, I ask for those ones instead – Maybe I can survive the day in those, maybe the kids won’t notice my Mom-sewn-shorts and instead they will just see my cool sneakers. The guidance counselor explains that those shoes are too small for me. I know she is right but I am desperate, I plead and she concedes. I wedge my tube socked foot into the too small shoe and blissfully ignore my cramped toes as I walk back to class.

I know that I do not know this story in full. I know what my scraps of memory tell me, I know what my feelings tell me, but I do not know what I am missing due to dissociation and I do not know what my Mother’s truth is. I can make conjectures and try to fill in blanks based on what I knew of my life at that time but to what end?

This was not one of my big traumas in childhood, it was a hard day. I think the reason this memory has stayed with me is to serve as a reminder now.

I am the adult, he is the child. What will moments like these look like for us?

There are so many times when I have a plan in my head for how the day will go, every minute for the next three hours planned out, then he wakes up from nap and takes an extra long time eating his yogurt because he really wants to work on holding the spoon today. Or we are going to the playground but a few feet outside the door he decides he would rather sit in the driveway and play with sticks.

Here are some things I know;

The first is that I have something now that my Mother did not have when I was 9, security.

Financial security that allows me to be home right now and not working on someone else’s schedule where our mornings would be rushed and potentially stressful.

Security in who I am as a Mother. I am so connected to my truth of infinite enoughness, his and my own, that no part of me can be shaken into believing we are less. Even when I get it wrong I know I am enough. When it is  hard, we are enough, this is enough, all of it is enough. This truth goes beyond my role as Mother, it is woven into every part of my being. This level of security within myself keeps me from falling into places of scarcity where I would value being on time over him or our connection in a moment. It keeps me from valuing “doing” over “being”. It keeps me right here where I am meant to be, in the moment with him.

Of course there are times where we make plans and try to keep a schedule and of course I balance what is going on with him with that schedule. I would not dishonor someone else’s time because he wants to continue playing blocks. What I am very clear on is this; if one day my nine year old child is having a hard morning because we are running late and the clothes he wants to wear are not clean, and he cannot find his sneakers, and maybe I am even running late for work or another important adult commitment… I will pause.

I will be with him, as long as it takes for us to find our way through and out the other side. We will take the time to find the shoes and we will talk about his feelings of anxiety or disappointment, if any, around not being able to wear what he wanted to wear to school. I will put everything else down if that is what it takes to hold space for him.

The way I, together with my husband, love him is the way he will learn to love himself. And if I am willing to do this for him, I have to be willing to do it for me too. That is the other thing I know, my Mother has never fully known how to hold space for me because she does not hold herself sacred.

We, all of us, you, me, our babies, our parents – we are ALL worthy of time. The world will continue to tick away while we exist inside of our pause taking care of ourselves and each other.

I am grateful that my inner nine-year-old has been sitting here next to me riding shot gun and guiding my heart as I parent this sweet soul who chose me.

I am grateful for all the ways my Mother failed me, therein giving me so much opportunity to build the resilience needed to become the human I am meant to be.

I am grateful for my ability to hold space for myself, it creates capacity for me to hold sacred space for those I love most, which is sometimes the stranger walking next to me and sometimes my sweet little boy.

Holding space for myself tonight meant writing this story down because this is the moment it was ready to be shared. Holding space for myself tonight meant asking my husband if he would be willing to hold a little space for me tomorrow by getting up with little bubby so I could catch up on the sleep I will miss to be here with myself and share this story.

As I close I am holding the energy of deep gratitude is for my husband, who holds space for me with so much love, and for every other person in my life who holds space for me and allows me to feel what it is like to be held sacred.

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The Last Touch

Following my throat’s collision with little bubby’s foot, my therapist helped me see that while I have done some work around the emotional wounds caused by my brother’s abuse, it is time now to focus on healing my body.

We start with ground zero, my throat.

I understand now that if I walk around for the rest of my life saying to myself, my throat is off limits, then it will be as if his hands are around my throat forever – it will be the last experience my throat ever has.

OR

I can lean into the truth of this pain, as I have started to do, heal my hurts, and allow LOVE in.

Here is what I am clear about;

  1. I have spent enough of my life running from Love, now I only want to run towards it.
  2. No part of my body is off limits to me.

 

A few weeks after my PTSD episode I was laying in bed with my husband at bedtime. I talked to him about the need to allow myself to be Loved in this place of hurt and we discussed what that might look like. Then I asked him if I could practice this Love with him.

First we set boundaries. Safe Love for me always has boundaries.

  1. This is serious, no sillies. Our inner children are best friends, I did not want his inner child popping up and getting goofy while we practice something sacred.
  2. We discuss how you will touch me and that is the only touch that will take place.

 

I asked him what him Loving my throat would look like; he said, a kiss.

He asked me to lay on my back and then he leaned over me and gently kissed the middle of my throat.

Even a light embrace such as this felt like consider pressure to this part of my body, AND, it was beautiful.

He rolled over to his side of the bed and laid on his back, I rolled into him and buried myself in his neck.

From my hiding place in his neck I felt safe, enveloped, no light peeking in.

I thought – here I am again, crying in the dark.

This time was different though, this time I was not alone.

A Kick to the Throat and an Onslaught of Memories

A few weeks ago little bubby and I were tumbling around together tickling and giggling and having the best time. While playing, he zigged when I zagged and he accidentally kicked me in the throat. My PTSD reaction was immediate. My eyes welled with tears as pain across my entire body came crashing over me like a wave.

My throat is my number trigger one area in terms of the physical trauma I have experienced. I have others as well but my throat is absolutely my place of vulnerability above all else. I paused and tried desperately to stay inside myself and the moment long enough to allow my husband, who was standing near us, to take over while I cared for and comforted myself.

Once little bubby was with daddy I scooped up all the parts of myself that had risen up with stories to tell and I listened. I listened to each part as they shared their truth with me, and with each truth shared I repeated to myself over and over – I believe you.

These three words have been so powerful when it comes to my healing. They have been an emotional salve, mending all my wounds. They are exactly what I needed to hear in the moments when my wounds were created, I say them now each time I am repairing a hurt with myself.

My body tells me – this happened, and I say – I believe you.
My inner 5 year old tells me – this happened, and I say – I believe you.
My inner mother tells me – this happened, and I say – I believe you.

The healing starts here.

After I listened and validated all parts of myself in these resurrected stories of hurt, I took a shower. It was time to care for myself and honor my body for what she has been holding for me. It was also time for release, which I did in the form of a heavy cry under the warm water. I allowed the water to hold me while I held all the pain of my truths.

I was strangled, his hands on my throat, until I blacked out.
I woke up to see him walking away from me, leaving me alone, still choking, on the floor.
My father found me.
I was not comforted.
I was alone.

After my shower and my cry I found little bubby and my husband in the kitchen having dinner. I kissed little bubby on the head and checked in with him. I told him I was sorry that our playing ended the way it did and that I bet that was confusing for him and maybe even made him feel sad. I told him I loved him and he did nothing wrong. I told him mommy accidentally got hurt and had to take care of herself. I told him accidents happen and mommy is okay now and is ready to play when he finishes dinner. I thanked him for the way he shows up as a teacher in my life.

After little bubby went to bed I made myself some lavender chamomile tea and painted to finish releasing anything related to this incident as well as the original trauma, my body re-experienced what it was like to suffer a throat injury and it brought up a lot of other physical pain from the original trauma – my back hurt, my shoulders, my pelvis.. My body was telling me that when this happened it was not just my throat that experienced it – I was held down, there was intense pressure on all these areas. Now that all of this had risen back up to the surface, I wanted to make sure to acknowledge it all and release it from my body. I do not want this pain trapped in my body any longer.

At bedtime I processed with my husband. While it was a difficult night, I was immensely grateful for the clarity and information I gained from the experience. When this trauma originally took place I dissociated to survive, I not only literally blacked out from lack of oxygen, I blacked out many of the memories as well. This is how I have survived all of my traumas, through disconnection. Reconnecting my dots as I heal has been challenging; the more Love and acceptance I show myself the more I get back, I don’t know if I will ever know my full story though.

What I am the most proud of is how I mothered myself through this PTSD episode. I did not disconnect, I did not shutdown, I did not numb. My pain came on swift and fierce and I held all of it. I held all of myself and loved myself and I stayed present with everything that was happening inside, even when the truth was awful. I did not abandon any part of myself.

I am also proud of how I handled my repair with little bubby. My commitment to owning my imperfections and staying in my connection with myself while in my relationships with those I love makes me a better everything – a better partner, a better mother, a better friend..

In moments like these I know this truth for certain – this little soul and I, we chose each other. I am so grateful for that. So so grateful.

 

We All Go Together

Little bubby woke up crying before midnight. This is unusual for him. I went in, changed his diaper by the glow of the salt lamp in his room, and cuddled with him and his velvety bunny in his chair before putting him back to bed asleep.

I don’t think I will ever get tired of sleepy cuddles, even when I am sleepy too.

More than two hours later I am still awake. This is unusual for me. Sleep is valuable in our home, we savor it.

I had a breakthrough in my work today and I am unraveling from untruths. This is what keeps me up tonight.

What I realized today is that

  1. There are still ways in which I am playing small.
  2. There is at least one small part of me that needs to be welcomed home for the first statement to no longer be true.

The part(s) of me that play small does not magically disappear when I get to the point where I am fully connected to myself and am in my BIG place. In order to be fully connected to myself this part(s) of me has to be there, without her I am missing a piece of myself and remain in disconnection.

This is tricky.

This part(s) is small. She does not understand what being BIG is. Moreover, because she is small and being small is her whole job, being BIG feels scary.

Being BIG, truth speaking, loving myself without shame, holding myself sacred and worthy, allowing everyone else to hold themselves.. That was not allowed in the place she came from. Doing these things meant intense rejection, it meant not belonging, it was wrong and bad and forbidden.

BIG feels scary.

She is the part that shows up and whispers warnings in my ear about the danger of my mission to be BIG.

Pssstt.. Be careful.. You will only get hurt.

I hear you little one. I see you. I know you are scared.

Please know that my lap is open to you when you are ready to be held.

Until then please hear me, we are going to be okay. I love you. I am your belonging. I will not abandon you. You will always belong here.

You will always belong here.

I am home. I am safety. I am belonging. I am love. We no longer have to look outside for these things – they are here.

Please know that the door is open, my lap is open, I welcome you home when you are ready to be held in love.

Losing You Was My Becoming

Last night I struggled.

I was triggered during the day by something my mother said in passing and by bedtime I was unwound. I was face down in my husband’s lap balling. It did not stop there. I cried when we went to bed. I woke up an hour after going to bed and cried some more. My husband held me and talked me through it as best he could.

This morning he let me sleep. He got up with little bubby and handled the morning routine. Two hours later I came out to a quiet house. Little bubby was taking his first nap, my husband was sitting on the couch watching the news on low volume. I was greeted by his smile and by the wagging tail of my excited Lucy.

I pat Lucy’s head and crawled into my husband’s lap.

I have been holding in all the pain and grief. I have been trying so hard to remain functional. The lid is off.

I asked to feel my pain and The Universe obliged. I am in pain.

I have decided to attempt to talk honestly with my parents one last time about our dysfunction and working towards healing as a family. If this message falls on deaf ears, as my previous attempts have, that is it for me. I will not subject any of my babies (internal or little bubby) to this swamp.

I am raw and reeling and trying desperately to keep my head above water. AND there is a deep sense of peace rising from my power center because this is the decision that has been waiting to be made and finally I am here.

I never wanted to be here AND somehow I have known I was coming.

Right now I do not feel big. I do not feel much like a hero. I am though and even if I don’t feel it, I know it is true.

Because here I am, going through it, not running. I am doing hard things. It is so hard.

I am scooping everyone into my lap and I am walking out of this place we do not belong…

And I am not afraid.

losing you was my becoming

A Part

Alone at night, my husband out with a friend visiting from out of town. Alone, little bubby sleeping soundly.

A Lone.

Tired. Have been all day. Soul weary tired. empty. Without.

I will watch a movie, no energy for art or writing. Lay quietly.

Then it happens.

Hi. You’ve come a long way haven’t you little one? It hasn’t been easy has it? One day you’ll tell me all about it. You’ll tell me everything. I’ll always listen. Always.

I pause. I rewind. I listen again. I pause. Someone in me starts to shake. I feel a vibration strengthening.

I open my lap, call her in and say the words out loud.

Hi. You’ve come a long way haven’t you little one? It hasn’t been easy has it? One day you’ll tell me all about it. You’ll tell me everything. I’ll always listen. Always.

I erupt. From nowhere and everywhere my screaming pieces rise out of me and fly. Breathless sobbing. Everything I have been holding in, pushing down. Grief, pain, loss, separation, fear, anguish- flows out of me, a faucet that cannot be shut off.

I think my lap cannot be big enough. I am not enough to hold all of this.

Lies.

This is my crying baby. She is mine. I will hold her and love her. All I have is enough.

I am enough.

I cannot do it anymore. I cannot be apart from myself.

These stories are hard. It has not been easy. I will listen. I will always listen.

I finally found my baby. I will never set her down again.

owee

 

 

I am a Leader

Here are a few words that have been used to describe me as a child; willful, tenacious, ring-leader, bossy, strong willed, stubborn.

Not all of these words have a natural negative connotation so let me be clear; they were absolutely meant as criticism.

Any attempts to get me to conform were met with fierce opposition.

I bucked every Sunday at being forced to attend church. I refused to get out of bed, I hid from my  mother who chased me with a hair brush, I squirmed and screamed as I was forcibly stuffed into tights and a lacy dress. If my parents were lucky I slept through mass; otherwise I spent my time sitting on the floor between pews poking the feet of the parishioners in front of us, or banging the song book against the wood of the pew.

My parents were relentless week after week, as was I. This was an ongoing battle throughout my entire childhood.

My willfulness did not apply exclusively to my resistance to religion. This energy carried over in other areas garnering me further unwanted attention.

The boys of my youth did not like my loud, decisive way of being. The specific group of boys I am referring to were raised strictly along the gender lines of boys will boys and girls will be ladies.

Well no one has EVER accused me of being a lady.

So once again someone who insisted I be something other than what I am attempted to (literally) beat me into submission. Submit I did not, taking the beating I did.

I come back to reflect on all of this now because motherhood is teaching me many things about myself and one of the things I recently discovered is that I am a leader.

While on so many levels I have always known this, it is also a truth I have run from.

Being a leader is something for BIG people and when I was playing small this label terrified me. As a child I was a leader, I refused to follow, refused to give in, refused to be shoved into a box of someone else’s making. I refused until the pressure became too much. My inside resolve temporarily crushed by the outside force.

Now, coming home to myself and rescuing that bad-ass little girl, I call her Scout, I am able to speak my truth: I am a leader.

I know this is true because;

I bristle at the idea of self-help books, I will not be saved by someone else’s truth. Even if my truth ends up mirroring the truth of others, and I know it will because I am not the only person experiencing my awakening, I still have to come to it on my own.

I do not belong in religion. Religion to me = Rules. My relationship with my creator has no rules. Love and connection are the language of the Universe, as long as I stay in tune with that Sacred Truth I experience spiritual alignment.

I do not belong under my mother’s control. Or anyone’s for that matter. I will not play small to fit in to boxes that would serve to suffocate. I will not willingly put on shackles and restraints to comply with familial expectations/social norms.

I do not belong in a box of anyone’s creation, I do not belong in restraints.

I release all the lies that I believed about myself.

I reclaim my truth: I AM strong-willed. I AM tenacious. I AM a leader. I AM strong willed. I AM stubborn when it counts. I AM the BOSS of me. I AM my own.

These are my truths now and I embrace them in love, not shame.

I am not small.

I am BIG. I am POWERFUL. I am a LEADER.

I am the hero of this story.

I am a leader