No Wrong Way

I have a confession.

Sometimes I have a little trouble giving myself room to be in my truth of struggle when it comes to mothering. The parts of me that experience privilege, and feel deeply connected to my son, and Love my life, and see all the good – those parts have no room for my truth of struggle.

A few weekends ago we spent sometime with a family we are friends with. They have a little boy too, he is one year older than little bubby. While the Daddies were playing outside with the boys me and the other momma sat at the kitchen table and exchanged truths.

Her truth of struggle looks different than mine. She works full-time and does not want to, she wants to be home raising her baby. She said she has “attachment issues” with her son because it too them two years to conceive and now all she wants to do is be with him. She shared with me the pain she experiences when she drops him off at daycare in the morning and how since becoming a mother she feels “off her game” at work, like her mind is fuzzier than it used to be.

I held space for her truth and felt the ache of her momma heart breaking. When it was my turn to share I felt the space being held for truth shrink. It felt as if there was not room for my truth of struggle. She reminded of my good fortune – I became pregnant our first try, I get to stay home and be with my son. This is all true of course AND I have many truths of struggle.

I could tell this momma, inside of her own truth of struggle, could not hold space for me and mine. I felt her self-judgment, her not-good-enoughs were littered around us like emotional landmines. Better to hold my truths sacred rather than set off bombs.

I was grateful this momma showed up the way she did with me that day. It was a much needed reminder that while support is essential, at the end of the day I am the one that has to be able to hold my truth of struggle. I am the one who has allow space for it. All the blessings of my life can be true AND I am allowed to have truth of struggle.

Here is the other reminder she reflected to me; there is no wrong way to mother. All of us are enough AND we all have truth around struggle. In the space of motherhood there is enough room for all of to be here, there is belonging for all.

She is no less a mother because she works, just as I am no more  a mother because I am home with little bubby. Her struggle is no more or less than my own, it just is. It is struggle, whatever our truth might look like, we are allowed space to be in it.

So I close this by saying I see you Momma, whoever you are, out there being enough AND being in your struggle. Thank you for seeing me in mine.

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Seasons Always Change

Oh friends, I am in my struggle.

Little bubby and I are in a difficult season and some moments I feel like I am barely keeping my head above water.

He is betting busier and wanting to explore more, which is really exciting and fun for both of us, AND it is also leading to multiple meltdowns a day when I try to create safety for him in the process.

He is starting to experience some of his big emotions, like frustration, and due to the communication barrier I feel the best I can do to help him navigate these experiences is to nurture and support him in the moment and redirect when necessary.

I feel good about the way I am showing up with him AND my nervous system is feeling the impact of spending 12+ hours a day with a someone who does not yet know how to self-regulate.

I hit a wall on last Monday. Long story short; my day started before 5am and ended after 10pm, and the in-between was trying to put it mildly.

Since then I have been giving a lot of thought to what needs to happen inside of my self-care to better equip me for these kind of difficult days. My husband and I have been talks about how we can both be making space for our own and each other’s self-care. This has been a priority for both of us, even before little bubby was born, but of course we are not perfect and sometimes we spread too thin.

My self-care has always existed inside gentle moments; sitting under the oak tree at the park near our home and being part of hum of life, creating through art and writing, reading, making space in my life to put myself in the way of beauty, and of course my daily practice of gratitude.

The gratitude practice is key and we feel it when we allow it to fall by the wayside, as it has over the last few weeks.

So for now we are recommitted to practicing mindfulness and gratitude as a family, AND while I figure out all the ways I want to step up my self-care game, I have decided to pack up my yarn and take my crochet project on the road! There is a group that meets up once a week to knit and crochet together at our library downtown so I have decided to join them this week to see what I think.

Truthfully I usually enjoy being enveloped in silent solitude when I am creating but I am clear that I need to have time away from the house and this feels like something I could slide into with ease.

I am feeling called to close with a little gratitude;

I am grateful for our home. I love where we live, I love all the life I get to share this home with – baby and husband and cardinal alike.

I am grateful for my healing, my awareness of my wounds and my commitment to loving myself wholly makes me the everything that I am.

I am grateful for each sweet silent moment of solitude I get to exist in.

I am grateful for the change of season and the temperate with that will accompany it.

I am grateful to be here, in this. Struggle or not, this is mine and I love it.

A Distant Echo

In the early months of little bubby’s life I was feeling deep longing for connection with other mother’s. I was in a new relationship not only with him but with myself in the role of mother. The whole experience had upended my life in many ways and I was feeling very alone.

I did not find the friend I was looking for. I know now there are reasons for that.

  1. I was not really wanting a friend, I was wanting to be saved. Only I can do that.
  2. I wanted to experience belonging. That is always an inside job first.

Support is welcome and necessary in a big life transition like this but I was not seeking support.

I was scared and I wanted someone to hold me and rescue me from it. I was playing small because I was not willing to look in the mirror and claim the power of my truth – I am the belonging I am seeking, I am the HERo of this story.

Don’t worry friends, I got there. I figured this things out and picked myself up in a BIG way.

Now I marvel at the growth not only I have experienced, but my whole family. We are in a season of growth over here and I am living for it!

Once I stopped playing small, the companionship came. I have three mommy friends who I feel deep connection with, the kind of connection that can only come through feeling truly seen.

The acceptance goes beyond knowing I am enough in these relationships, it is knowing that three is enough. I do not have to have a large social circle, I do not need to have a play date scheduled for every day of the week. My needs are met through having three women, who I can show up with and who will show up with me in return.

 

I was with one of my friends this week and she reflected something to me that has been echoing around inside of me all week. She is a social worker as well and she asked me, what will returning to work look like for you?

We discussed this for a while, my truth is; I do not know yet AND I do know I will be playing by my own rules.

What she reflected to me in the course of the conversation is an idea of my work taking place somewhere in spirituality.

I feel like when the words fell from her mouth a gong was struck inside of me and I have been feeling the vibrations ever since.

Of course I have no idea what spiritual work would look like, just like I have no idea where my writing or art will take me. All I know is that this is who I am, this is the Light I bring, and as Glennon Doyle says, I will just do the next right thing until I get where ever it is I am going.

 

Yoda was Right (of course she was)

My therapist and I have been using Star Wars metaphors for my inner healing and awakening throughout our relationship. She being a child of the 70’s, me being a child of the 80’s, and this being THE movie series of our childhood, it works.

In these metaphors she is always my Yoda and I am always trying to find my fucking way out of the swamp towards my place of truth and purpose.

Something Yoda told me early on is that growth is comes with loss, it is always accompanied by loss. Because growth is change and to change means on some level things will be different, there is loss in that.

Part of the loss for me, and for many people experiencing their awakening, is in relationships. There are some people who will not show up in this with us. Sometimes it was relationships stepping away from me, sometimes it was me stepping away from relationships. What I can tell you is that the loss makes space for the gain, I have experienced major gains as a result of doing my soul work.

Something else Yoda told me about how me growing will impact my relationships is, while yes, some people will step away because they are not ready or willing to look in the mirror and my truths will be painful for them, others will rise with me. Me giving myself permission to rise will have a ripple effect and those who want to rise will accept my invitation, they will give themselves permission too.

My husband is an example of this truth, we are rising together. One of my best friends I feel is another example, that girl is rising and coming home to herself in the biggest ways right now.

I am having trouble finding my words to share this next part because my truth is, I never thought I would be speaking them..

I think my mother is rising. 

It has been gradual, so much so that I was not fully aware of the minuscule shifts happening, now looking back I can see it all more clearly.

Now as I am standing in my truths every day and giving myself all the permission needed to be BIG, to take up space, to be SEEN and HEARD and hold all of me sacred — She is seeing and hearing me. She is bearing witness to what permission to live a BIG life looks like and it feels like she wants in.

The BIG shift for us was deep truth speaking post Soul Camp that led to deeper, truer connection, the likes of which I have NEVER experienced with her.

Today we did it again. That first day was not a fluke. We can do this.

We can be heard and seen and speak truth with each other. We can rise separately, side by side.

My mother and I shared our truths about some of our parts that are hard to love. We shared our truths about our darkness. She told the truth about how she pushes this part of herself away, the way she disconnects from herself and self-sacrifices in order to be in her relationships. I told the truth that her truth made me sad and that I believe her darkness is lovable because I love my darkness, and it looks and sounds like hers. I told her my truth about darkness, it does not make us unlovable, it does not make you unlovable Mom.

We are dealing with generational trauma in my family and for the first time I feel like I can say – We are dealing with it.

There was no broom, no rug being lifted. There were two women, connected by DNA and love telling the truth. The dark, painful, sacred truth.

We can do this. My mom and I, and you – you can do this. I cannot promise you that your mom or your spouse or your child or your boss or your best friend or your partner will show up in it with you; that person may not accept the invitation to rise. That will hurt. It may even rip you open. YOU CAN STILL DO THIS. You are all the mother, spouse, child, boss, best friend, partner you need. You are the connection and belonging you are searching for in those relationships. It has always been you.

In my writing I rarely shift the focus from me to you, this is about my soul’s journey home, AND it’s not. It has never just been about me. If you are reading this you must know, it has always been about you too.

Take the invitation. You are here, you are reading this, you are in relationship with me by bearing witness.

Rise. It might just surprise you who will accept your invitation to rise right along side you.

You Are Ready

Two weeks ago my mother and I did something I never thought possible in our relationship, we practiced truth speaking.

It was HARD.

AND —

It was SO good.

 

I called her a few days after soul camp to wish her a belated happy Mother’s Day and check in. Early on in the conversation she cautiously asked if I had done the work I needed to do around my relationship with my brother in order to be able to step back into the relationship.

I told her I had done work around the relationship, Yes, AND I was not ready to return to the relationship. I asked her if she wanted to discuss where I was at with it and Why, she did.

I told the truth.

He abused me growing up. It was not “siblings fighting” it was abuse. Shattered bedroom door, holes in the wall, bruises on my body, strangulation until I passed out –  I was terrified and it was abuse.

I was holding up a mirror she had been avoiding for a very long time. She had failed as a mother and my truths were the proof.

The truth speaking continued like this – me making room for her to be an imperfect mother, me letting her know I can love her and I will not reject her in this, AND truth speaking about my place of injury in these failures. I understand now it was never her failures that hurt, it was her rejection of me when she failed. By not owning her imperfections as a mother she was rejecting me every time she got it wrong. She was rejecting me because she could not hold the truth, that she was not the perfect mother. She rejected me because I was a reminder that she was not a perfect mother.

I told the truth that I am AS IMPORTANT as my brother, I am MORE IMPORTANT than my relationship with my brother, and I am MORE IMPORTANT than our family being whole. I AM IMPORTANT.

I told the truth that I will no longer carry my brother. I will no longer hold anything that is not mine to hold. I will not hold her pain over her failures, I will not hold my brother’s pain, I will not hold the pain of my family. I will ONLY HOLD MYSELF.

I told the truth that my brother is still spiraling, it just manifesting in different ways. He is still that 13 year old boy in his trauma. He has not showed up to hold his pain, rescue the parts of himself he has abandoned, and he is not loving himself well, if at all.

I told the truth that these truths about my brother make him feel unsafe to me and I will not expose any part of myself or my family to this.

I spoke my truth that I love my brother and I miss him, but not more than myself. I come first.

My mother asked questions and spoke truths as well and held her pain. It was hard and it was good.

For the first time in the history of our relationship I felt seen and heard in my pain and truths. The rug was lifted and we survived.

It was hard and it was good.

When I recounted this experience with my therapist she said one of the best things she has ever said to me; You are ready to have a girl. 

I knew exactly what she meant.

I am in my power. I have done the work. I am saved and I am the one that did the rescuing. We are past the trauma because I am the mother of this vessel and the parts therein, I am safety. Because I now hold myself and my truths sacred and in deep deep love I am able to show others how this is done, including a daughter if one chooses me.

I came home and told my husband what my therapist said and his reaction filled me with so much joy.

I did it. I am on the other side!

There will always be work to do, the tree is never done growing until it dies, but I am done going back. Now it is time for me to find my way forward.

I know I still have some work to do related to my past but it is different now. It is from a place of power and love, not victim mentality and fear. Once these last few parts are scooped into my lap I will be unstoppable. This is what it looks like when a powerful woman rises.

hard and good.jpg

ALL IN

On the other side of Soul Camp I am noticing some differences. The first major difference; no emotional hang over. This has NEVER happened before.

I normally feel emotionally jet lagged for about a week after a Soul Camp experience because I am doing work at Soul Camp that I am not actively practicing outside of the retreat in my real life. The act of allowing myself to be seen and vulnerable/real on that level always took a lot out of me. This time was different. I left feeling myself, and truthfully a bit energized. A weight had been lifted and that weight did not bring with it any form of hang over, just relief.

It took me no time to understand why this time was different; because I am different. I am truth speaking outside of Soul Camp, I am holding myself sacred in BIG ways outside of Soul Camp, I am not playing small and allowing myself to be seen outside of Soul Camp. I am no longer energetically asking Soul Camp to hold anything that I am not already actively holding on some level.

Another difference is intention.

My husband and I have been practicing intentional living in some form or another for years, this truth was certainly amplified when little bubby was born.

This Soul Camp I went in with very clear intentions and I followed through. I was committed to the work, no matter how hard, and I was committed to making every moment count because I understood what I was setting down at home in order to hold this experience. I was not going to dishonor this commitment I made to myself and my family.

I am excited as hell for what comes next. The shift is happening and I am ALL IN.

soul camp 2019

 

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.