A Deeper Call to Being Child-Free

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Artist: Katie m. Berggren

I knew from the age of 4 that I did not want to have children. “I’m going to have puppies!” was my declaration when someone imposed their kid-wanting assumptions on me, when I was just a kid myself (why do people do that?). Throughout my childhood, I didn’t like dolls and preferred stuffed animals. It is believed that children hold the most genuine of truths, so I am happy to say that 40 years later, I have no regrets about being  child-free.

Throughout my teen and early adult years, the desire to have children did not present itself. “But what if you regret not having kids?” was the common response I received from others. As I grew older, I kept my mind open to the idea that I might meet the right person who would pull this maternal desire out of me. But that never happened. Except for two situations that lasted about a week, I never came up against a desire to have kids.

One of the situations where I did, was after a painful and disappointing relationship ended. I was in my late 20’s and believed that I had so much love to give, and needed to give it to someone who needed it. As I said before this lasted for about a week. I realized that, for me, this wasn’t a good enough reason to have kids. This belief was simply another co-dependent belief akin to my preexisting beliefs of: “if I only had the right relationship (job, home, lifestyle, etc.) then I will be whole and happy.” I think I knew then that replacing a baby for a relationship just wasn’t the answer.

As I look back, I am so glad I never became a mother. I know myself too well. I love my freedom and free-time. I cringe when it comes to unsolicited obligation and hate stopping what I’ve started. I know most people do, but when I have to sacrifice these things, I become depressingly miserable.

More importantly, I believe my life’s journey has been about growing and healing myself to the point that I truly needed to know how to mother myself. A few years ago, when I mentioned my decision to be child-free to a woman (that I have a lot of respect for), she replied with “You were too hurt”. I was immediately angry inside as my brain scrambled as if I had been clocked in the head. I didn’t know how to respond, and I didn’t want to ask for clarification. Now I know what she meant. This part of me that was hurt has always been here and wasn’t going to make room for anyone else, and I respect that. This hurt part in me needed me to be its mother, and being a mother to anyone else was not going to work.

I am grateful for my 20-something self that knew I couldn’t solve my heartbreak with a baby. There was a wisdom there that would reveal more of itself later. Yes, I do have so much love to give, and yes, there is someone who needs it. That person in need is myself, and I have more than enough on my plate when I take on that task.

Am I saying that you can’t mother yourself if you have kids? Absolutely not. I know many women who do a lot of inner-healing while raising children. Am I saying that every child-free person has a deep pain that needs healing? Definitely not. The decision to be child-free is an individual one, and I can only speak for myself. I have no desire to have children and  I truly believe that my decision to be child-free was born from a deep need for something else. There was a core place in me that was screaming for care, and needed all of me to attend to that care. Truth be told, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Re-Adjusting: Resurrection and Transformation

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Source: pexels.com

If you have ever experienced the death (or loss) of a loved one, you know that your life becomes a series of firsts. First birthday without them, first holiday, first year, and so on. So here I am in my first month without him.

These last 30-days have been a slow drip through the surreal. My emotions have ranged from acceptance to anger, but mostly I just want to be in silence. My hospice grief counselor says I am right on schedule for feeling all the feels. She mentions that after 2-3 weeks the shock usually wears off and the emotions begin to rise. This feels about right, because it has only been recently that I have felt more anger and irritability mixed in with the pre-existing sadness.

I wish I could go on retreat, somewhere in the hills or forest, and just be in silence with every emotion that arises. This feels like the ideal thing to do, but instead I go to work, and mostly it has been okay. After a full day I am exhausted and do nothing (and I am grateful for the ability to do nothing). Sometimes I get a burst of energy, but as quickly as it comes, it slips away (I guess that’s why it’s a burst).

Being in my grieving life, and “old life” has had it’s consequences. One day, I came home form work to suddenly feel a horribly paralyzing anxiety that left me feeling physically, emotionally, and mentally agitated for hours. I realized that being in both my grieving life and my “old routine” life felt like a schism, and that living in both worlds was/is probably too opposing for my psyche.

The flashbacks have been the hardest. At times I can’t stop thinking about my father’s last days. I remember the lightness of his thin body, his agitated body movements, the pained expressions on his face, and the sadness in his eyes. The inability for us to verbally communicate haunts me as I wonder if he was in more pain that we knew. I wonder if he was scared. I wonder if dying was scary for him.

Then there’s the wondering. Wondering if he really had dementia. Wondering if there was something else going on and that we could have helped him more. Everything happened so fast that we didn’t get a chance for a decent second option or tests. This helpless experience has made it easy to feel guilty for not doing more, especially before he became symptomatic.

On most days, it’s the experience of a routine that no longer is. I never realized how much my dad was on my mind. Like an idling car, he must have been a constant hum in my subconscious. I still wake with the thought of calling my dad to see how he is doing, or spontaneously have the desire to tell him what I saw that day. If I have a really good cup of coffee, I think of him and sending some to him. One afternoon I sat in a medical lab waiting for a blood draw. I imagined the many times he did the same. Even though he was relatively healthy, he had routine blood draws and doctor visits to monitor his health. I imagined how this must have been so tiresome for him.

Despite all this, I trust that both he and I are well. I trust that I will land in my new normal. I trust that dreams of him are our way of staying connected and I trust he is with me in my waking life.

With today being Easter, I find myself more aware of resurrection. It’s everywhere all the time! A resurrection is an awakening, and re-birthing, a renewal, and a transformation. On my dad’s final days, I was well aware that he was in his own transformational journey. It was intense to feel our lives changing and falling into deep stillness. At that time I wondered what both our resurrections would look like.

Today I still wonder, and yet know, that resurrection and transformation is happening in it’s own slow and gentle way everyday. Anxiety attacks and all.

Shame Relapse

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It’s safe to say that most of my life has been lived from a pessimistic viewpoint.  Glass half-full was my default and Murphy’s Law governed my outlook. I strongly believed that optimistic people were living in a fantasy world and sorely needing a swift kick in the ass from reality. My ever increasing depression and anxiety further supported these ways of thinking. After going through a significant amount of emotional healing, I found myself slowly growing out of my pessimism. My growing belief in possibility and increased sense of trust are traits I could never have imaged having. From time to time I am surprised at how optimism has grown on me, or, how I have grown into it.

Then came last weekend.

I received a huge reminder that emotional healing and being optimistic does not mean that life suddenly ceases to have it’s pains and discomforts. Nor does it mean that depression and anxiety never come ‘round for a visit. Although I have experienced this at relatively mild and manageable levels, last weekend truly threw me into a pit I haven’t sat in for quite some time.

I was over-my-head deep in what Brené Brown calls a shame (shit) storm. Early Sunday morning, someone offered to fix a dent in my car. It was very unexpected and I suddenly found myself paralyzed with uncertainly and the inability to say “no”. I didn’t feel a big bad “NO!” but I felt icky in my stomach. There were three men, and the main guy talked fast and didn’t fully hear what I was saying. I was worried about being mean to these strange men who were offering to do something “nice”. I was simultaneously scared of how they would react if I said “no”. When all was said and done, the “work” they did resulted in my car being worse off than when they touched it. I was mortified.

For the rest of the day I oscillated between absolute shame and self-punishment, to acceptance and letting go. In my deepest shame I berated myself for being a stupid idiot who deserved what happened and can’t be trusted with her own life. I was dumb, a sucker, a jackass, and much much worse. These thoughts seeped into other parts of my life where I doubted my ability to do my job and feared I had lost everything I worked so hard for. I was certain I fucked up my whole life – again!

Then a slight wave of my optimism would glide through. Like a wisp of smoke I could hear and feel “You’re okay now, this will pass”. Then I’d plunge into complete self-hate again.

I reached out to a safe friend, and as we talked I wept like I haven’t wept in a few years. It was scary to cry at this depth. I feared for my life, and my emotional health.  I thought this was the beginning of the end, and here is where my emotional and physical life would unravel.

After processing it with my friend that day, and further processing this with my therapist today, I came to find enough ground to feel like myself again. My therapist gave me a reality check that con artists are good at what they do and that many intelligent people get scammed. Although I hate having been scammed, the reality is, what she said is true. Their use of fast talk and positive demeanor are weapons they are skilled at using to manipulate others.

I also learned that my childhood experiences of being silenced when scared and uncertain were repeated that Sunday morning. My mother often reacted to my fears and uncertainty as: inconvenient, embarrassing, a sign of weakness, a sign of stupidity, and intolerable. When scared or uncertain, she would abandon me emotionally by either ignoring me, yelling at me, or hitting me. I understand now that she was too emotionally fragile herself to handle my emotional needs. But as a kid, I learned to believe that being scared and uncertain was a personal flaw that yielded punishment.

Last Sunday my inner kid was uncertain, and wanted more time to think about the situation. Instead of stepping up like an adult to handle the situation, I did to myself what my mother often did to me when I was scared and/or uncertain. I abandoned her and left her there to deal with grown up stuff. How could she possibly be skilled enough to deal with three grown con-men?

In my counseling session, I made amends to my little girl and acknowledged her wisdom in needing things slowed down when I’m uncertain about making decisions. I told her that I can listen to her needs, because she knows my needs best.

I also came to realize that I really need my inner bitch in my life more. In an earlier post I wrote about understanding how she helps me make time for myself. My bitch is my protector who is loving, strong, and bold.She is the mother bear I never had and the mother bear to my little girl.  In making an agreement between my little girl, protector (bitch), and myself, to show up, listen, and take action, I am re-parenting myself and continuing to heal old dysfunctional family patterns.

Does this mean I will never be scammed again, or be taken advantage of? Probably not. Con artists are good at what they do, and continue to become more sophisticated in their skills. What will be different is I will be more integrated, more attuned to myself, and more loving and forgiving of myself. I will also continue to reach out to safe people because i can;t do this alone.

Although I would not want to repeat the depths of the darkness I was in this weekend, I realize that my friend was right about this unfortunate event being an opportunity to heal a deep core belief that no longer serves me. I have certainly paid more for “transformational workshops” that yielded less results, so I suppose it all works out.

After some more ground settled under me today, I posted this on my Facebook page as a reminder of the importance of listening to that little girl who knows so much more than I gave her credit for.

I cannot say it enough. How you treat kids is how they will treat themselves in adulthood. Not just the nice parts, but the not very nice parts too. ALL OF IT!!!

In our childhood, we hold the clearest awareness of our needs. Because we ARE children, we don’t have the adult capacity to communicate these needs in a way adults always understand. All too often, adults criticize and/or shut down kids when they are trying (in their kid ways) to communicate their needs. Kids often hear: “You’re crazy!”, “What’s wrong with you?!?”, “What do you want?!”, “Stop bothering me!”, “That’s dumb/stupid!”, “You’re not scared/angry/sad/etc.!”. Get the picture?

Over time, with these words hurled at us along the way, we learn to doubt our needs, and our intuition becomes muffled. As adults, we try to do what’s “right” instead of what we need. We criticize ourselves for even having needs! We may even judge others for having needs. To twist it even further, we judge ourselves harshly when we fuck up, because we didn’t listen to our intuition or attend to what we needed. How could we when the adults who raised us taught us that our intuition was: crazy, wrong, inconvenient, a problem, embarrassing, etc.

I know I’m not just talking about myself here. Right?

Yeah, so, listen to that kid inside you. They have wisdom you have long forgotten. Stop trying to be so grown up, and let’s grow in. Grow into ourselves, and into our lives.

Growing Edges and Traps

Image Source: http://goo.gl/ZAX1Yi

Image Source: http://goo.gl/ZAX1Yi

Over the last few weeks, I have been sitting with and working through a growing edge about my subconscious set-up where, no mater what I do, I always end up wrong. At first, I knew it’s was a growing edge because I didn’t have the words to describe what I was facing. I get fleeting clarity, but as quick as it arrives, it dissipates. In short, I get confused about what I’m trying to process.

Having gone through this before, I know enough to just be aware of it, be with it, and let it unfold in it’s own time. I also know that it is a rooted and core issue, so I have some ego resistance to seeing it. My ego survival depends on the construct I am trying to work with, so I have a very subconscious resistance that blows confusion into my brain when I try to look at it.

As the days passed, I sat with the slight understanding of my confusion. I kept my feelers out for experiences that might make things clearer. Last week, I was at work and sat on the arm of the couch looking at my books on the shelf. My eyes set on the book “There Is Nothing Wrong with You: Going Beyond Self-Hate“, by Cheri Huber. Now, I bought this book in 2010 but never read it. For whatever reason, on this day in 2015, it just felt right to thumb through it. As I did, I stumbled on something that shook me and brought more clarity to this growing edge I’m on.

“We learned behaviors when we were very young in order to survive. We were taught to hate those behaviors and to see them as signs of our badness. Yet we must keep doing them because they still mean survival to us. And we hate ourselves for doing them.”
The Trap:
I believe I must be this way to survive.
I hate myself for being this way.
Result:
self hate = survival
survival = self-hate

I brought this reading to my counseling session today, and found myself in tears as I read it out loud. I began to feel more clarity in just how scared I was to step into this new awareness. The awareness that, when I want something more, something that matches my deepest needs, I feel like an ungrateful spoiled brat.

As a kid, all my material needs were met, but I recall having  a deep longing for emotional connection, being seen, accepted, and understood. I learned that what I wanted was too much, and I was ungrateful for all the things my parents worked and sacrificed for. Of course, as a child I did not have the words for this, so I learned to stuff these needs and feel bad that I even wanted them.

Now, as a grown woman, when I experience this need for emotional connection, being seen, accepted, and/or understood, I immediately make myself wrong, even though a part of me knows I deserve what I want. This fires up especially bright when what I have is good on the surface, but lacks a deeper need. Then I make myself wrong for not wanting to settle for the good that I do have.

This is my growing edge, and it feels like all the healing that has come before this has been leading me to this moment. At this moment, I want and need more, specifically emotional connection, emotional safety, and being understood. I also feel like a ungrateful spoiled brat for wanting this.

As I left my counseling session, feeling lighter having unpacked some deep family shit, I was reminded that I need not do anything right now. I simply need to be present with this duality of wanting more, then feeling like shit because i want more, and look it in the face. At least now, I can see it more clearly.

Day 3: Bitch Explored

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During Day 3 of the “Rise Up Break Through – Blast Off 2015” workshop, we practiced Circling, “an organic, in-the-moment interpersonal process“. During one of our Circling exercises, a few people reflected to me that I have a very grounding presence. I found this curious as, during the weeks leading up to the event, a few people also mentioned this about me as well. Although I very consciously ground myself when I am in groups so that I can offer this to others when they are deep in emotion, a different part of me always feels a bit surprised that it is felt by others. For the most part I am surprised as I feel like a bitch on most days.

Bleeaachhh! I hate that word, but in being honest, I must say that I usually feel like a bitch because I like to spend time alone, can be very impatient, and can be very judgmental or critical when stressed. When I mentioned this during the Circling exercise, the people in our circle were really surprised. Their impression of me was “grounded”, my impression of me was “bitch”, even though my grounding was intentional. Something about being quiet and not extroverted feels stand-off-ish, and triggers my sense of feeling like a bitch.

Initially it felt strange to be so honest. Is this really what I am choosing strangers to know about me? That I am secretly a bitch? However, I was a bit surprised that most of me felt relieved to say it out loud. Maybe it was a relief to bring it out into the light instead of hiding it out of fear that others may discover that part the hard way.

Afterwards, I was reflecting on how the bitch shows up in my life. I have kept her in the shadows for so long, that letting her be known put me in a place to wonder what her role is in my life. In questioning this I realized that, on the downside, I can use presence, grounding, and  holding space, to mask my bitch. On the positive end, the bitch helps me hold space for myself, in the same way that I hold space for others. She protects what I need and makes sure I practice self-care.

Although she can be impatient and judging, I appreciate her strength and ability to help me stand up for myself, and give myself what I need. In accepting this part of myself, I now realize that I truly want the bitch to be redefined and renamed. Sure I could keep the word bitch and redefine it. However, I want her to be truly integrated and transformed. I think she deserves it.

Day 2: Integrating the Outsider

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The Enneagram is a symbol which describes nine personality types and the interrelationships between them. Although we have aspects of all nine types, there is typically one type which primarily drives us. After doing some research a few years ago, I found out I was a four on the Enneagram.

At first, I was disappointed to learn I was a four. The doom and gloom mentality felt so boring compared to the charismatic seven, or tough eight. However, the more I read about fours, the more seen, validated, and (gasp) “normal” I felt.

Like all the types, fours have many high and low aspects to them. Overall, having the awareness of this has helped me understand where I keep getting “stuck”, and how to utilize my strengths to get out of certain ruts. Recently I explored the fours tendency to feel like an outsider. Oh my, but not just any outsider, that would be boring. Fours tend to feel like a deeply flawed and inherently broken outsider, forever on the outside looking in.

According to The Enneagram Institute, “They feel like outsiders, somehow flawed and different from others, unable to break through the barrier of self-consciousness that separates them from easy commerce with the world.” In my own life, I was familiar with the experience of never fitting in completely.

The “Rise Up Break Through – Blast Off 2015” workshop, developed and facilitated by Ben Saltzman, addressed the Enneagram types in depth. Listening to other people’s experiences (especially other fours), was so healing. I listened to others describing the challenges and benefits of their type. As I heard them, I began to make connections between the collective experience of “that which we do not allow”. That which we do not allow in ourselves and that we do not allow others to see in us.

I began to understanding that, at many points in our lives, we feel like we don’t belong in one way or another. Some of us bend to blend in. Some of us completely disconnect from our authenticity in order to belong. At times I do both or stand in myself and feel separation and disconnection from others. When I do this I end up believing I am unique in not fitting in and miss the truth that we all have this experience of not fitting in (we just experience it differently) .

For example: For years I struggled with feeling like I didn’t belong anywhere. When I would connect with communities there was always some part of me that just didn’t seem to feel welcome. Even though I enjoyed the community (let’s say, an activist group), I would leave feeling like some parts of me couldn’t show up (for example, my spiritual self). The result was never fully feeling like I had authentic connections, and feeling lonely despite spending time with others. I felt and believed that, because I had this experience and felt this way, there was something wrong with me.

Truth is, those parts that don’t fit in can add to the community, and shine a light on things that may not be in integrity. If the community won’t allow these seemingly “ill-fitting” parts of me, then it is probably not the right community for me.

Hearing other’s experiences of how they feel they don’t “fit in”, helped me to understand that most people have some parts that they don’t show in certain communities. I also understand that some people do bring those mis-matched parts, and it often adds a depth to the group, points out an unhealthy pattern, or an area that needs attention.

I now also understood that my self-worth is not determined by other’s ability to accept all parts of me. That’s a tall order! Who can possibly do that all the time? The only person that can do that is myself. Now, when I go into my communities and groups, I know that my outcast gets to chose if and how they want to show up.

If you would like to know about upcoming transformational opportunities, check out Ben Saltzman‘s  website for information about his trainings and seminars.

Day 1: “Broken and Inadequate” Explored

Broken meme

There are parts of us that we have disowned and rejected. Greedy, selfish, wealthy, poor, beautiful. The list goes on and on of shadow parts that we do not want to associate with, and absolutely do not want others to see in us. When we reject these shadow parts of ourselves, what ever they may be, they hold us back, and commonly sabotage us.

There are also the parts of ourselves that are rejected that, at first glance, we may not identify as “rejected”, yet they hold us back all the same. When our “Rise Up Break Through – Blast Off 2015” facilitator Ben Saltzman asked us to identify a part of us that is rejected and holds the self back, I had a hard time finding it. I asked myself, “what belief about myself holds me back?” The answer came quickly: “The belief that I am broken and inadequate.

Even though the answer came quickly, I was still confused. How can “broken and inadequate” be rejected if I knowingly stand in that belief when I begin new endeavors? If I am planning a project, I am immediately flooded with thoughts of “You’re not good enough”, “Who do you think you are?” and “You have no idea what you are doing”. This belief sounds pretty owned to me.

As we went through the Shadow/Light Integration process, my brain kept twisting and turning, trying to get how “broken and inadequate” was rejected. After a few prompts, it hit me. The fact that I hate this part of me, makes it a rejected part of me.

Once that connection was made I could follow into the exploration and integration process of “broken and inadequate”.

What I found out was that “broken and inadequate” is a very young part (as many parts are). My process was quite complex, so to keep it simple, I’ll sum up a portion of it in a Q & A format.

Q: What was the original intent of “broken and inadequate”?

A; “Broken and inadequate’s” purpose and original intent was to care for me. Keep me safe by not letting me get in over my head. It told me to get ready, get prepared and collect more information before taking action, It helped keep the process slow, steady, and digestible.

Q: How did “broken and inadequate”get disowned (how was it “born”)?

A: When I showed up as confident I was yelled at and told I was selfish, taking up too much space, and drawing too much attention to myself. I was was being selfish and conceited. Then when I showed up “broken and inadequate” I was criticized for not being confident.

Q: How does “broken and inadequate” show up when it is disowned/rejected?

A: It collects information. Can get obsessed about collecting information in order to feel “enough”. Collects knowledge and creates a hindrance by learning a lot but not acting on the knowledge. I play small and don’t get to share what I have to offer to others. I settle.

Q: How will “broken and inadequate” show up once it is accepted and owned?

A: “Broken and Inadequate” creates safe spaces by connecting to other’s vulnerability. It can also  give big “action” jobs to the part that is “whole and competent”. I can access “Broken and inadequate” to connect with people’s inadequate parts and help them be seen and heal. “Broken and inadequate.” gets to declare possibility, creativity, and love in order to create healing spaces. It can begin began and follow through with projects that create healing spaces with the hep of “whole and competent”. Obstacles become opportunities. When “broken and inadequate” is integrated it can be bold, and big, and create, and tap into love and compassion when needed.

“Broken and Inadequate” says:

I get to hold that space for them.

I get to hold that space they don’t get in the “real” world.

I get to tell and show the self where healing is needed.

I get to show her what needs attention.

Like the wound that is red and sore, I show where the healing is needed and where healing is taking place.

This is only a small part of the Shadow/Light Integration process. It’s an experience one must go through to get the transformation of a disowned part to an integrated part. I share this experience as a glimpse of my own healing and growth process. Check out Ben Saltzman‘s  website for opportunities on this and other types of transformational experiences.

Journey Into Body Love

Every few years I grown into a new awareness, and as a result, a new self. Reconnecting with my Mexican and Indigenous heritage in my early 20’s, becoming vegan in my early 30’s, and growing into my spiritual and mental health in my late 30’s are all major turning points of growth and reconnection that have helped me to become more whole. Now, there is another layer that I am growing into. Specifically the ability to truly love my body.

In 2013 I became familiar with Jes Baker’s blog and I immediately knew it was the beginning of a much needed layer of healing for me. I knew that fat advocacy had been around for a long time, however, I was so deep in my shame about my own body that I saw subscribing to fat advocacy as giving up.

I was a chubby baby who grew into a fat kid, and eventually became a chunky teenager. I didn’t eat abnormally large amount of food, and I was as active as any kid around me. Foods like chips, soda, candy bars, and fast food were not a part of my daily or regular life as a kid. My food and lifestyle was healthy, yet I carried extra weight easily.

Growing up I was constantly teased about my body. This teasing came from family, friends, classmates, people in my neighborhood, and strangers. It was a daily nightmare that had me hating walking into a room at an early age. I learned early on that my body fat and my mere existence was ugly, unacceptable, and a target for jokes.

In my early adulthood my self-esteem was wrapped in my body image, and both were pretty low and unhealthy. I lost and gained several pounds and at one point I maintained a substantial weight-loss for 5 years. I thought I had my fat body beat. I was the Scarlett O’Hara of weight loss exclaiming, “As God as my witness, I will never be fat again!”

Then the weight crept back. Now, I didn’t get lazy about my “health routine” and begin to gain weight. No, I was working hard at the gym 5 days week for 1.5 hours a day, hiking and running 2 days a week, and counting every calorie, fat, sugar, and carb gram. So when the weight crept up, I freaked out. The harder I fought back with increased exercise and stricter eating habits, the more my fat fought to claim it’s place all over my body. I followed the regimens of fitness trainers, nutritionist, and lifestyle coaches yet the weight on the scale, and my jean sizes crept up. I couldn’t exercise any more or eat any less. I was exhausted and decided to stop fighting. I felt like a failure. No. I believed I was a failure, and I have been dragging that burden around ever since.

It was only after my emotional and spiritual healing journey had begun that I was able to open up to the concept of body love.

Becoming familiar with Jes Baker opened up a whole world to me that I was finally ready to accept. I learned about other amazing women who have been paving the way for body love. Slowly but surely I have been learning what it means to love my body and focus on my health instead of my weight.

I have recently finished reading the book “Health at Every Size” by Linda Bacon, PhD. I know I am quite late to the party, and there are people who have their criticisms of the book and HAES philosophy. However I have gained so much from reading this book I can’t help but acknowledge how it has benefitted me.

Having a background in mindfulness, I absorbed the information of being present with my body, listening to it, and tuning into it’s response to hunger, stress, emotional and physical needs, and food. I was surprised to notice how I truly didn’t feel how full I was until an hour after I ate. I also learned that only a few bites of something sweet was usually enough to satisfy a craving.

It has been an interesting few months, as I have been steering this brain around to understand that my weight is not the focus, but rather, my health. It’s also been hard to be patient, be kind, and be forgiving. Yes, there are many days where I go unconscious and eat more that I need to, and yet there are more days than in the past were I lose a craving after I check-in with my body.

Being patient with body changes is hard for me, since I am use to doing extreme measures to achieve fast weight-loss. Luckily, as the weeks go by I notice a new healthy habit which strengthens my faith in being patient. Recently I noticed that my critical voice isn’t as intense as it use to be. A kinder, more patient and observing voice in present now. This helps me to see my life experiences from an observers perspective. Instead of “See?!? You screwed up again!”, I hear “Well, isn’t that interesting? What am I learning about that?” Every choice I make is no longer a definition of my worth, it is data. Information that can help me understand me and my body better.

Change and Loss

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The lesson in this inspirational meme is one that I have been repeatedly coming up against this year. In years prior I was unconscious to this lesson, but I knew its fear. The fear specifically being that I will lose people as a result of change. As I grew older, and accumulated life experiences, this fear held me back when I had to make big changes externally. More recently, the changes I experience are internal, and the fear is still present. The fear of losing people to either type of change is scary, however, the fear of losing people as I go through internal changes has been paralyzing.

Before I continue, let’s be clear that when I am talking about losing people, I mean those close to me whom I love. I am not close to many people, so losing one or two significantly impacts my life.

As I mentioned in previous post, I have been working with the fear of losing people as I reclaim my voice and step into my power.My fear of losing people when I change resurrects an old voice that says, “See what you did? Why did you do that? If you just kept your mouth shut. Who do you think you are anyway? It’s all your fault”. These words keep me from stepping into the trust of losing people whose time with me is over, and connecting with people who are more in alignment with who I am now. Instead, all I feel is fear, guilt, and shame.

On a slight flip-side, while I have been fighting this fear or losing people, I have also been simultaneously growing the acceptance of the fact that as I change, I will lose some people in my life. What I notice is that accepting this doesn’t eliminate the pain and fear. However, it does increase my trust. Trust that I will be okay. Trust that I will connect with others on the same path. Trust that, even in my pain I will find comfort. Trust that I am not alone. Trust that I am held and supported. Trust that I am on the right path.

Subtle Abrupt Shifting

In late July I participated in a weekend-long training to help clients integrate shadow aspects of themselves (see this page for an explanation of the shadow). In integrating (accepting and owning) our shadow aspects we are able to live from a place of wholeness and deeper connection with others and ourselves. We also unlearn old lessons that previously held us back, and therefore, can live a more fulfilling life.

A few days before the training I was asked to set an intention for the training. I decided to set the intention to embody Empowered Clarity. I chose this as I can think myself in to a corner quite easily and I not only wanted more clarity, I wanted to have the power to move into action (or not) once I was clear.

On day one it was such a relief to see that I was among many strong women who were in various stages of owning their power. Some women struggled with claiming it, others claimed their power and struggled with other’s reactions this, others felt alone due to being in touch with their power and did not have other people who they could engage with in their respective places of power. As for myself, I was in a place where I feared losing people if I step into my power.

Since our trainings included practice-coaching sessions, we were able to explore these issues and many more. Through the practices, I came to understand more about my history of losing people when I step into a place of power. When I was 19 I moved away from home and gradually lost connections with close friends. At age 24 I became engaged and soon after my mother died. When I moved away to graduate school at age 26, my fiancée left me. When I moved to the town I am in now, I lost everything I knew as familiar.

Sure enough, as the training proceeded, I began to get more clarity on my fear of stepping into my power. I also began to understand that, when you step into your power you will lose some people. However, you will also move closer to your integrity and be connected with others on the same journey towards their authentic lives.

When I came home on the second night, I felt exhausted and renewed. I was ready to step into my life on a newer empowered level. Soon after arriving home, my boyfriend talked about breaking up. Right on schedule. It was a long tearful night of talking, silence, and being alone. I was ready to let go and face the fears that began to surface.

The next day I walked into the last day of training completely spun out. I was overwhelmed with feelings of inadequacy and fear. A support coach helped me to shift through the experience using the shadow and light integration process. It was extremely painful and dizzying, and in the end, I had a foundation of compassion for very young parts of my psyche. I faced some deep level of well-traveled self- criticism, and learned how to love them so they can help me be more whole.

I came home with a lot of stillness in me. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I came home, yet somehow I know I would be okay. My boyfriend and I didn’t break up after all, and I was able to let my needs be known. The upheaval of the last three days has shifted my life in such subtle ways, despite my life looking exactly as it did the day before the training. Sometimes, internal changes are like that.

 

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