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.

When You are Ready I am Here to Hold You

I have been sitting with myself following my last post.

A lot came up for me after sharing my abortion story.

One of the first things that came up for me is the fact that I did not use the word abortion.

My pain related to my abortions is ever present. I love the part of me that experienced this trauma AND my unraveling is a work in progress. What I have learned is that I cannot unravel and come home to my truth without holding myself in love as I do it.There is something I want to unravel once and for all and now that I am loving myself openly, freely, publicly, TRUTHFULLY, I feel BIG enough to step through my fear and start this work.

Two years ago I attended a healing retreat with my soul family. It was powerful.

The healing work I did had to do with words and how they have been used in my life as weapons, as a way to keep me small, as a way to keep me disconnected and standing ever on the outside of love.

I shared specific words with the group that have caused harm, things that have been said to me or messages I have energetically received. There is one word I left out.

It is a word I have tortured myself with for two decades. Anytime I have ever thought I could love my darkness, stand fully in my color, be BIG – this is the word that knocks me back down.

I still was not ready to say this word out loud.

After the exercise I shared with one person, my soul friend who participated in the exercise with me, my truth that I was still holding on to one word that causes deep shame, disconnection, and smallness. She asked what the word was..

Killer.

This word has always been the door slammed in my face.

Me on one side, love and all the goodness of life on the other. There is no AND big enough to create connection. I am here in the dark, a killer, I do not get to experience light, love, sacredness, my true essence, holiness, color.

I want to unravel.

First I need to start with the function of the word, what is it being used for?

To keep me small.
To create and maintain disconnection.
To keep me enveloped in shame, in fear.
To keep me empty.
To keep me separated from love. Love of myself and love of my babies.

None of this is my truth any longer. So it would seem Killer is not doing its job.

I am NOT small. I am NOT disconnected. I am NOT enveloped in shame and fear, and when they come to visit I now welcome them into my lap to be heard and loved. I am NOT empty. And I am absolutely NOT separated from love. I AM love.

So my question is, if all of this is true, why does Killer still hurt?

Is there a place I am not being honest with myself?

Why does the word abortion hurt?

I am missing something, a piece, a part. Something or some part of me is hiding behind a curtain afraid to stand in the light. I am not here to force anyone or anything forward, just to send the message that my lap is open when you are ready to be held.

I want to feel my pain. I want to feel openly, freely, publicly, truthfully. I want to release my fear of my story. I want to be BIG.

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

 

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

 

The Girl Who Waited

Once there was a girl who was biding her time. I’ll wait here until the time is right. The girl believed she controlled the time, never understanding that somethings have no master. Time existed long before this girl and would go on long after, but this girl was young and naive, and some things can only be learned through experience.

So this girl spent her days biding her time. I will be happy once I get this.. I will do this until I can do the thing I really want. I will stay with Mr. No Love until Mr. Love notices me. All the while holding on to the certainty that there was time for all these things and she would have it all in good time.

So the girl waited for the right time. The right time to be happy, the right time to follow her dreams, the right time to know love. She waited and waited, but instead of knowing happiness she knew sorrow and suffering. She watched as her dreams crumbled down around her and love flew further and further out of reach. Still she waited for what else could she do?

The girl felt helpless in this new knowledge that she could not control the time so she stopped trying.

What difference does it make? The girl became certain in a new belief; I will never know true happiness, I will never know true love, dreams serve no purpose in this life.

Then one day after many years of biding her time, and many more of not trying, the girl met a boy. A boy who brought with him his own set of beliefs on happiness and love and dreams. The girl began to see that although she does not control time she is also not helpless. She learned the only way to achieve happiness, and love, and see her dreams come true is to try.

When the girl stopped waiting and began to try, all the things she had ever wanted came back to her; slowly but surely one after another. First came happiness, then love, then every dream she ever dreamed.

From that day forward the girl knew that while not everything can be controlled she was also not a helpless victim of her life and the balance that exists between the place of control and lack of is in fact a very magical place.

Bringing Light to my Dark

There is something I have been carrying in shame for sometime that I need to own and bring into the light in order to move forward writing here and be free.

I mentioned in my post Coming Home that one of the reasons I stepped away from Adding to Nine was because I knew I was ready to be seen and at the same time there was a piece of me still wanting to hide, specifically from the ridicule of someone who I knew followed my blog with malice.

Time to own this story.

Before this blog I was writing in a different space. It was responsible for holding space for my experiences over a 5 year span of time as I returned to  college and obtained my Master’s degree in Social Work. When I started the blog I posted the link on FB (I was still on social media at the time) and to my Pinterest account. I invited my friends and family to follow along while I recorded my experiences. What I did not realize is I was also opening myself up to followers I did not expect, specifically my ex’s girlfriend.

Apparently she snooped my social media, let’s be clear though; I did the exact same thing to her which is how this all got started.

I was on her Pinterest and followed a link that I assumed was to a social work blog (we are both social workers). Well it was, kind of.. It was her personal blog. I did not even realize it at first. I read a post that was pretty general then I read another and got smacked in the face with an enormous wave of shame.

I read about a paragraph in and realized the post was about ME. It was about this run-in that she and I had in a hospital elevator when I was working for the hospital and she was interning there. It was her perception of the interaction and man it did not paint a pretty picture of me. I was mortified. My perception of the encounter was a bit different. I remember thinking, Oh Shit it’s Gena – Be nice! Don’t give her anything to say to him.

Back then I was very concerned with being in control and being “the bigger person”. I remember peppering her with questions and trying to be nice and engaged. Her perception of me apparently was that I was frantic and on the verge of a panic attack. I was very uncomfortable, I do not doubt that both of these things were true.

On top of being pretty embarrassed that she was putting this encounter out there on the internet, she was also pretty unkind. She talked about how some people from my former group of friends (including my ex) labeled me as manipulative and a liar. Oof! One-two punch to the gut.

So.. with this began a 5 year passive-agressive internet relationship between me and my ex’s girlfriend (who during this course of time became his wife) where we communicated with one another through our blogs.

It was awful.

I would post about something and a day later she would post about that same thing but from a contradictory position. I did the same to her.

It reached a fever pitch when she showed up at a charity walk with my ex and their baby that I had said I would be attending because my friend was the speaker at the event.

Needless to say, it got weird.

Here are the reasons it was hard for me to own this story when it was happening:

I felt petty. Like super petty. Middle school girl fueled by drama petty.
A dark shamey piece of me enjoyed the tit-for-tat.
I enjoyed the attention.
I was a total troll.
I was afraid. Lots of reasons why but that is the fundamental truth, I was afraid and acting out from a place of scarcity.

And finally, towards the end, my judgment towards her started to melt away into compassion. More and more I was seeing how we are the same. Then it was no longer fun, then it was just sad.

I couldn’t be that person anymore, I couldn’t play the game. It did not seem like she was going to blink first and back away so I decided I had to do this for both us, cut the energy source once and for all. Soon after I stopped writing here she stopped writing as well.

I come back knowing there is a chance she may still be there in the shadows. What is different now is that I am owning this story.

I was in a weird internet relationship with my ex’s wife where we played a game of judgment and one-upmanship for years.

Gena, if you are reading, I welcome you here. I hope my work brings you closer to your own. I am sorry for the part I played in our weird relationship through our blogs. Thank you for the way you showed up, you brought me work I could not have done otherwise.

brene

18 Months

To move forward I feel that I need to give a quick surface level update.

November 2017 I became pregnant and now we have a 4 month old boy to share our love with.
I stopped working May 2018, started again when baby was 2 months old, and stopped again one month later.

I am now full-time momma to little bubby and that is the plan for the foreseeable future.

My healing/personal growth work last year focused heavily on preparing to step fully into my identity as a mother, further rooting a solid foundation with my husband on how we want to parent, and mindfully prioritizing my own self-care, my connection with my husband, and forming my bond with little bubby.

What I arrived at after a year of focusing on connection with myself, my husband, and my baby is that I am done shrinking, conforming, and playing small in general for the comfort of others. I am ready to own who I am, all parts, because I recognize now is the time for love. We, my husband and I, are the example for our son. The example of love, of acceptance, of courage, of truth, of authenticity, of connection, of play, of all things. He learns it all here first.

If I want my son to know how luminous his light can shine I have to shine my bright for him to see and that means not dimming it for the sake of others. I want to be loved for who I am, not for who I am not. I want my son to see that either way I am okay because I love myself and self-love is always enough. It is the source.

I am releasing my need to belong where I do not belong. I am ready to embrace my story with love rather than hide in fear. I am done playing small.