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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The summer of my 16th year was a blackout that only in recent years has begun to resurface for me.

Three things happened that summer:

I lost my virginity and became pregnant
I was confirmed into the Catholic Church
I had my first abortion

In that order.

These things did not belong together. I cannot be Catholic AND be a teen mom. I cannot be Catholic AND be a girl who had an abortion.

I do not get to be both, and I HAD to be Catholic to belong to my family, and I HAD to belong to my family.

There was no other way, so half of me was left behind. 16 and pregnant. 16 and a childless mother.

I disconnected from myself so hard that I lost my memories. This is a skill I learned in childhood. I have talked before about our magnificent minds and the lengths they will go to in order to protect us from painful, frightening, devastating realities.

I told myself; This is not part of my story. This never happened. The level of disconnection I experienced was severe, complete-loss-of-self severe. I was lost for a long time, and I only became more lost in my twenties.

I remember sitting in the gymnasium of my church the summer of my 16th year, unaware of the change likely already taking place in my body. I was sitting on a metal folding chair between two girlfriends from my CCD class, we were listening to a guest speaker. This speaker was warning us of the danger of premarital sex. This speaker was impressing upon us the importance of abstinence.

This speaker was not telling us about consent, or affirming our rights to our bodies, or empowering us to make choices with our bodies from a place of being informed and connected. Our bodies did not belong to us, they belonged to God or the Church or our parents or our future husband’s or something?

It was clear that sex was dangerous. I remember the speaker recited a statistic meant to scare us, something about 1 in 3 of you girls will end up pregnant out of wedlock or something. The statistic is not what stands out, what I really remember was looking to my right at my friend Megan, then to my left at my friend LeeAnn, and thinking Well I know it won’t be me.

It already was.

My patron saint was Mary Magdalene. It was my way of thumbing my nose at the church. I had always felt other-than, their rules had always chafed me, felt like nonsense. I had questions that could not be answered. I had questions no one appreciated me asking. I always felt wrong.

I chose Mary Magdalene because my Catholic brain saw her as the persecuted whore, I felt sisterhood with her. I was struggling with the fact that only weeks before I had lost my virginity, I needed someone in my corner and she seemed like a good someone to me. I liked that no matter what society said about Mary Magdalene, she and Jesus knew she was inherently worthy; that she was part of the divine, that we all are. On some level, even in my darkest corners, I have always known too.

This truth is why I did not stay lost. In my Found place I know I am worthy, I am whole, I am enough. I know this because of my connection to the divine.

This part of my long walk home is not just about picking up that mother and her babies and welcoming them all back in love; it is about the repair of my connection with my own sacred holiness.

I have to unravel from the untruths I learned about belonging and worthiness. The Church does not get to define these things for me just as they do not get to withhold them.

 

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

I AM an Artist

Another way I am stepping into my truth and allowing myself to be seen as an artist is by gifting my art to those I love.

I decided that is how I am celebrating love this year, with my art. My art is sacred to me, how better to celebrate my love of others than with something I hold personally sacred?

With that said, this is extra scary. I felt big by putting a permanent hole in a wall at home and hanging my art for anyone who enters my home to see.. Here is the thing about that though, my husband and I are major introverts, we don’t have many people enter our home. Our home is our haven, we rarely have guests; so the truth is even while practicing being big, it was still a rather small step because I knew no one would be seeing it. I won’t diminish this growth though, it was an important small step because it took my art out of the closet to be displayed proudly in the open, in the light.

Gifting my art feels excruciating vulnerable. The not-good-enoughs want to fly up inside me and scream at me for being so bold to think my art is good enough to give away. They want to tell me I am acting like a five year old trying to wrap up my scribble scrabble drawing like a Christmas present when the truth is no one wants that gift.

That is not my truth. I love my art. No one else has to. They can keep it or not, display it or not. While I make each piece with intention and love for the person receiving it, it is still their gift to do with what they want. I love the art I am creating though and that not only counts for something, it counts for everything.

In the near future I have two opportunities to celebrate people I love and I have already created art for both of these people. I thought this would be harder but the truth is, it came so easy. Both pieces flowed out of me and are absolutely magnificent.

I am not ashamed to share this piece of myself. I am not afraid to be seen. I am not small.

I AM an Artist.

i am an artist

Spiritual Undercurrent

I am writing from my husband’s old laptop that for quite sometime acted as my primary writing device. That is, until that sweet man bought me my very first, very own laptop at graduation because he knows how much I love/need to write. He was thoughtful in his choice and picked me a device that is matched to my needs. Now being back on this dinosaur I am really feeling the difference. Still, there is a familiar comfort to this old keyboard and right now I am so happy to be writing I would take a stick to cave wall if that was my only option.

I am exhausted. I am exhausted on almost all levels. It has been a week, not a bad one mind you, exhausting though. Spiritually I have been sitting with some big stuff and processing, then on a more human level it has just been – well exhausting.

In terms of my practice I had moments this week of real connection, mainly with my clients and a former colleague turned friend that I met for lunch. I also experienced a bit of disconnection that I handled better than previous versions of myself would have, yet was still unpleasant.

To elaborate briefly; I find that for individuals who are quite traditional and conservative my approach to practice along with my general way of being, is maybe (I am not quite sure what word to put here..) – confusing- too much- unnerving.. Nothing feels quite right. What I sense is that they do not know what to do with me. This does not always feel negative necessarily, it is just an energy shift I notice. One minute I have them and the next I don’t.

I felt this shift twice this week for sure and while I would prefer to be understood both times it gave me the opportunity to practice what my therapist and I discussed earlier in the week: allowing myself to be seen as I am and not retreating when others do not understand it.

It is not a matter of misunderstanding or miscommunication. That is not what I am talking about when I say I feel misunderstood. It is more a feeling of them seeing me and not valuing my way or my words or who I am authentically. This is where I am practicing being seen without expectations from those around me. This is who I am and who I am belongs to me and I value my ways and my truth, I do not need to be understood to feel worthy and valued.

Them not understanding me is for them to sit with and figure out, that is not my work. My work is holding myself worthy to be seen and know my value inherently exists.

 

 

I Show Myself Love When

I went on a really terrible walk today. It is the second time in a week where an attempt at self-care has gone wrong.

This morning when I was getting ready for a client appointment I put on the pants I had picked out only to discover they would not close, at all. These pants that fit with a little extra room two months ago are now so tight I was no where near buttoning them, it was a total lost cause. I almost cried. I tried to make myself feel better, It is okay that you have gained a little weight, what matters is how you feel, not the number.. You washed these pants recently, maybe they shrunk.

I got myself through that moment and moved on with my day.

By this evening I still felt the cloud of self-loathing hanging over my head. I did not want to turn to food to fill this feeling of emptiness so I went for a walk with Lu. I always feel better when I meditate at the park, out in nature I would find my connection and come home feeling more balanced and grounded.

When we left the house I heard my neighbor across the street scream-talking to another neighbor. Oh God, No… I am not a big fan of the scream-talking neighbor. She seems to have trouble with appropriateness and has done things in the past that have made me uncomfortable. Luckily she was very engaged with the neighbor she was talking to so I just waved and walked on.

When I got to the park Lu pooped. Good girl honey. I took the poop bag from her leash and bent over to clean it up; while I am doing this I have both my cell phone and her leash in my other hand (I was wearing a dress and had no pockets for my phone). Right as I am bent over her poop Lucy pulls on the leash which results in me losing my grip on my cell phone, with that my cell plopped into Lu’s poop pile. This is my life folks, I could not make this shit up if I tried.

On a normal day when I am not under an emotional cloud and feeling more myself, I would laugh at this. The phone can be cleaned off, it is not the end of the world, it will make a good story. Not today. Today I wanted to cry. That was not very nice Lucy.

I picked up my phone, wiped it off on the bag, and proceeded to dispose of Lucy’s poop.

After the poop debacle we went over to our bench. It was sunset, the ducks were swimming in the pond, I could already begin to feel myself relax. I started my breathing to help clear my mind and sink into my meditation. Just as I am starting to drift away into nature I feel Lucy go rigid on the leash, a dog was coming towards us with its owner. I asked Lu to sit, which she did, and thought nothing more of it, Lucy is dog friendly and usually has good manners. Not this time. I have NO IDEA what got into her but she lunged and barked and acted like a lunatic. WTF Lu, seriously?

That was it. Clearly meditation at the park was not meant to happen. Lu and I walked home and when we came back by my scream-talking neighbor’s house she came outside. I do not want to rehash the entire situation because it was exhausting enough the first time but the long-story-short is: She asked me if I was pregnant, I said No.  Then she told me that I haven’t looked happy lately and that she can tell I have gained weight.

This woman does not know me. I was literally sitting there analyzing my recent behavior as I have been getting into and out of my car in the drive way because that is the only time she sees me. Have I looked any less happy as I get into the car? It is not like I was ever skipping and singing to begin with. Not to mention the comments about my body. WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?!

I was so hurt, her timing could not have been worse. Really.

And as awful as all of this was, the worst part, the part that really broke my heart the most is that I did not show up for myself. She injured me so deeply, she said very personal things without right to do so – to be clear, NO ONE has a right to speak to me that way- and I not only took it, I agreed with her. I AGREED WITH HER. Yeah well I have gained a little weight and I did just start a new job, maybe I am a little stressed, maybe that is what you picking up on. THAT IS NOT MY TRUTH.

I have gained weight AND my body is no one’s business. I have been stressed AND it has had nothing to do with my new job. I have gained weight AND I have been stressed AND I am happy AND none of it is anyone else’s business.

I wish I could go back and say exactly what I needed to say to protect the part of me that she was hurting: That is a really personal question I am not comfortable answering.

I came home, let Lu off her leash and went into my closet and cried. I don’t feel like I loved myself well today and I am having a lot of judgements.

It is not too late for me to love myself. Last year I wrote one of my favorite pieces of writing I have ever done: I Love Myself Most When. It is all about celebrating the parts of myself that I love deeply and feel connected to AND it is a reminder to show love to the parts of myself I have a complicated relationship with and feel disconnected from. So now I would like to sit in that energy and love myself well.

I will show myself love when I feel out of control in my relationship with food.
I will show myself love when my clothes do not fit me the way I think they should.
I will show myself love when I am putting the feelings of others before my own.
I will show myself love when I feel abandoned.
I will show myself love when my attempts to show myself love do not go as planned.
I will show myself love when I want to give up.
I will show myself love when I feel empty.
I will show myself love when I am afraid to speak my truth.
I will show myself love when I back slide and lose conviction.
I will show myself love. I will show myself love. I love you.

Already I feel so much better. My well being does not depend on the weight I lose and gain, it does not depend on the messages I receive from the outside world, it does not depend on whether the ways in which I attempt to perform self-care are successful or not. My well being depends solely, exclusively, 100% on me. How I feel about me. When I am not loving myself well every part of me feels that. When I am loving myself well every part of me feels that.

Tonight I am grateful.

i will love myself

Odd Woman Out

I attended another women’s circle today, it was my first time with this group, and it was not the experience I hoped for. So far I have had good experiences with the different circles I have been part of, even when feeling triggered or sitting in one of my shadows they have all been good experiences because of the work they have brought me to focus on. This one brought me work as well so I am grateful for that AND I know I will not be returning to this particular group.

There were a few things that did not fit for me and by the end I was feeling disconnected from the group and myself.

One area where I am uncomfortable is the structure of the group. For me to feel safe to do this kind of work with others I need someone (like a trained professional) whose sole function is to hold the space and facilitate. The group is tackling a very big, emotionally charged topic, which invites the members to go deep, without a set facilitator. I think it is great this group exists, it is important work and the fact that there is a group in the community that holds space for this work is beautiful AND I know this set up will not work for me.

The woman who started the group and held the first meet up today made it clear that she wants us all to be equal members with no formal leader. I love that idea for some work but for me this work is too deep, I need that anchor that exists when one member is only there to hold space for the work and not actually do the work.

One reason for that is projection, which  I saw happening a bit today. I think for the group to truly be healing you need a way to hold space for things like projection, which did not happen.

Another piece that did not speak to me at all was following a book. There was a lot of talk about books in this group. I am a reader, that is a big part of who I am and how I take care of myself AND I am not willing to read something out of some false sense of obligation (this did not include my text reading in college, I absolutely did obligatory reading in college).

My truth is I read what I feel called to. My therapist gently suggests books all the time because she knows I am a reader and there are some I do end up reading but not because I felt like I had to because she brought it up, because I knew it was time.

With this group because there is no formal leader they are following this book that deals with the topic the group was formed around. I think it is great to reference a book that is relevant but in order to be part of the group they are making it feel like you have to read this book.

I call bullshit on that.

Between the feeling of pressure to buy/read  this book in order to belong and how they plan to structure the group around the book it started to take me to places in my life where I have been injured by religion.

By the end of group so many names and titles had been tossed around that my head was swimming. It was exciting to be in a room filled with women who read AND it was too much. Everyone had a book that the rest of needed to read to heal this emotional wound or that one. There were a few women who were furiously writing all the titles down the entire time and I was just not into any of it.

I will not follow someone else’s word. That is not how I will find my truth. My truth is an inner knowing and it is sprinkled in world all around me; as much as I love to read no book is going to heal me, unless it is my own story written by my own hand.

I know I am sitting in some judgement right now. I am definitely experiencing my own self-righteousness about the group thinking this is wrong and my ideas about how to do it are right.

This group did not speak to me AND there were moments of true connection AND there were moments of discomfort and disconnection AND I have a lot of judgement about my experiences AND it is so important that this groups exists for those who do feel called to do this work this way.

The last thing I will say is that this group taught me the importance of diversity in groups. Every other women’s circle I have been part of up to this point has been made up of women from different cultures, women all across the age spectrum, women who have varying identities, from different socio-economic backgrounds, who have different belief systems..

Sitting in a room of women who all felt overly similar, and where I did not feel I fit in, intensified this feeling of otherness for me. I felt like the nobody in high school sitting at the lunch table with all the cheerleaders.

When I got home I texted my Soul Camp sisters and shared with them this minor epiphany I had around my gratitude for the diversity in our group.

When you are in a group of people you tend to look for someone like yourself. This makes you feel safe, and comfortable, and understood. I did this when I started with my Soul Camp women and this woman I found is my roommate every time we go to Soul Camp because we help anchor each other after group. I am so grateful for the diversity amongst the other women in my group though because if every women there was my age, with my story, and my background, how much work could I realistically get done? You need people who are similar so you can experience yourself from the outside but you need people who don’t necessarily reflect you back images of yourself as well. That is where the balance and perspective and true healing and growing happens.

So yeah, I was disappointed that this group was not for me. The topic is important and it is absolutely part of the work I have been doing for years, this is just not the space to hold that work for me though. That is okay. I had a lot of important take aways none the less. Sometimes you have to experience things you don’t want to know what things you do want.

clique