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.

 

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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1 in 3

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