A Deeper Call to Being Child-Free

child-within.jpg

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.

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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: Envy

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Early in Day 2 of the “Rise Up Break Through – Blast Off 2015” workshop, we explored the passions of each enneagram type. According to the Enneagram Institute, “The Passions represent an underlying emotional response to reality created by the loss of contact with our Essential nature.” At best, each passion is a misguided coping strategy that we can learn from to regain our connection with our essential nature.

As a type four, my passion is Envy. It is the deep longing and wanting for something you don’t have. You can imagine how being in a large group and admitting your are envious can feel somewhat embarrassing. However, going through the process with others of recognizing out passions felt incredibly supportive.

We paired up to explore how our passions showed up and impacted our personal and professional lives. As I wrote down my reflections of this exercise, I began to realize, on a deeper level, how I hadn’t realized that, for so many years, I was living from an “out there” perspective. I always thought that happiness and fulfillment was “out there”, and everyone else seemed to be getting the goodies that were “out there” but me. I spent so may years chasing down what I thought was “out there”, which resulted in more misery as I could rarely achieve the happiness I was in search of. I knew I was envious, as it’s a trait I can recall having since childhood, but I didn’t realize that being envious had believing that happiness and fulfillment was “out there” somewhere.I know now that happiness and fulfillment are not “out there”, but rather inside me, and because it is inside of me, it is with me wherever I go. Now, of course, I slip into old patterns, however, it feels good to not live in those patterns anymore.

I also realized that I used to think envy fueled me. It was my whipping stick I used to convince myself to do better. Additionally, I believed I needed to suffer in order to reap the reward. It was the perfect set-up.

In my relationship, I noticed that when I am envious of others relationships and comparing my relationship to others, I am not honoring the relationship I am in. In being envious an comparing, I don’t get to see my relationship for what it is, and as a result, I miss out of discerning what I need from my relationship. Additionally, I do not honor myself or my partner when I compare us to others relationships.

The bottom line for me and envy is that envy blinds me to “what is”. It traps me in old stories and steals my presence in the here and now. It robs me of having a relationship with myself. And it robs me of my potential.

During the large group share, a type four shared her reflections which hit me deeply. She mentioned how envy can still show up for her, even when she is trying to avoid envy. She described how avoiding envy makes her play small, and keeps her from playing with “bigger” people. This way, she gets to be big and doesn’t have to envy anyone. In doing so she also settles for less, and likes “the less” as she doesn’t have to be envious. This really hit me, as it forced me to see how I do this as well, and it was quite a jolt to my system.

These types of realizations aren’t always pretty, but they can show us where we can grow and heal. This is what I love about these events. Doing deep work with a group of people on the same journey has been supportive in ways I have needed for along time.

If you would like to know more about your enneagram type, and they ways in which in which it holds you back, and can propel you forward, I highly recommend signing up for Ben Saltzman’s free enneagram teleseminar series.  Although it has already started, you can still register for the upcoming calls and gain access to the replays.

For more information, and to register, go to: http://myaccount.maestroconference.com/conference/register/8CNRA3DNIEQ2H850 

To read more about the types and passions, go to: http://www.enneagraminstitute.com/history.asp#.VP2yMmTF8rt

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.

Day 1: “You Want Me to WHAT?!?!”

OGNO

Our Alchemist group has gone through two rounds of Enneagram and Shadow/Light workshops. This time around we were in a much bigger group at the “Rise Up Break Through – Blast Off 2015” event.  Some people were new to the concepts being presented; others are well seasoned in this work and leaders in their fields, and everyone else was somewhere in between.

When we begin these workshops we always do some kind of warm-up exercises that usually include some kind of whole body movement. I am usually the one who is reserved and uncomfortable with doing anything that is expressive in groups. There are too many eyes on me and there is too much attention. My self-consciousness becomes inflamed.

This time around I noticed that being in the bigger group made it easier to free myself up and do the exercises with less self-consciousness. As we were warming up on day one, I began to move and sing freely, as it gave me energy. Although there were more eyes in the room, they were not on me. I felt free to show up, and simply be. This, in itself, felt like a breakthrough.

Then an interesting thing happened. There was one man next to me who, when we were doing an exercise together, was very rigid and reserved. He had a hard time relaxing into the exercise. “Are you uncomfortable with this kind of stuff?” I asked. “Oh yeah.” he replied with a tight smirk. I think that if he could have curled up and disappeared he would have. A similar thing happened again with different person during another exercise. That’s when I noticed there were people experiencing discomfort and this time around, it wasn’t me! This helped me to notice my compassion and acceptance of their experience. Instead of trying to convince them to relax or open up, I simply let it be how it was going to be. Other people did that for me and it helped me to keep taking chances

in showing up this way. My heart smiled a little, noticing where they were in this process. This also helped me to understand that I am not fucked up. What? Well, let me explain a little. As a 4 on the Enneagram, I have a tendency to believe that I am inherently flawed (emphasis on inherently). This usually results in any discomfort I am experiencing being translated to an internal message of: “something is wrong with me”.

Through my healing journey, I have wrestled and flirted with this phenomenon. Over time I have been peeling back the layers, gaining clarity along the way, and slowly releasing this distorted way of thinking. At this point in my life, I don’t have this experience as much. My brain finally gets that discomfort holds a lot of opportunity.However, more recently, my heart has begun to understand the falseness of this twisted belief even deeper.

In my past, this “something is wrong with me” belief was ever present and always showed up during these body expressive group activities. I was always hesitant to do them, critical of others who did them, and would become reserved and rigid while everyone else was dancing and having fun. I would think and believe that some thing was wrong with me and criticize myself with thoughts like “What’s wrong with me? Why am I so serious all the time?” or “Jeez I am so self-conscious!!”

At this weekend’s workshop, when I caught myself being able to relax and enjoy these activities, I knew that another layer of this belief about being flawed had been lifted. When I saw other people where I once was (nervous, rigid, and self-conscious), I noticed that I didn’t believe that anything was wrong with them either. Bingo! And neither was I when I had that experience, nor will I be, should I find myself in that space of reservation again.

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.

“Get Over it Already!”

In the first half of 2010, I was in the depths of my depression and anxiety. I was on a leave of absence from work, having consistent suicidal thoughts, inert, had no appetite, and prone to fits of spontaneous crying. I was receiving counseling, medication management, going for daily walks, receiving care from a naturopathic doctor, and attending my mediation sangha.

I was doing what I could, and yet, found myself unable to get out of bed or living room couch. Some days were slightly better than others, yet I couldn’t shake the persistent negative thoughts, suicidal callings, and paralyzing panic.

It was during this time that my father came to visit me for 2 weeks. He was worried about me and, I suppose, wanted to check-in and/or keep me company. I welcomed the visit, yet was not sure how it could bump me out of my depressive state.

He came with me as I drove to my counseling and psychiatrist appointments. We went out to lunch and went for daily walks. It was nice having company, but it didn’t shake my lack of energy or appetite. If anything, it make it worse.

For most of my father’s visit I was thrown across the bed unable to sleep, move, or talk. On one occasion he said “Talk to me!” and when I expressed the suicidal thoughts and feelings I was having, he yelled at me for having them. He made the critical remarks of “I have no idea why you are still fat if you don’t eat”, and “I came here to spend time with you, and all you do is sleep.”

After one particular argument, my father became frustrated and left a week early.

As you can see, my father does not have a bedside manner. He never has. He is revolted at the mere glimpse of weakness. So when he saw the reality of my depression, he had absolutely no idea how to handle it. In a moment of absolution, he sat in the car ready to leave, with eyes cast down he said, “I’m sorry I yelled. I just don’t know what to do. I love you.”

The memory of this came to me this morning, as a reminder that, trying to “get over” something with force is not always a good idea. My father is a “get over it” kind of person, and when he imposed this on  me, my condition worsened.

I have heard people say to other depressed people, that they need to “get out, go do something, stop thinking about it” and so on. Although this is somewhat true, forcing one to do so at a dramatically different pace can sometimes be a set up for depression to worsen.

Depression calls us to listen to ourselves. Depression will be call out to us by any means necessary. When we don’t listen by pushing it away or ignoring (denying) it, depression will raise it’s voice and demand our attention. Yes, we must challenge ourselves when depression is here, but the challenge looks far different from what a non-depressives is familiar with.

When depression arrives, we must ask what it’ is trying to tell us and listen with compassion. We challenge ourselves in a manner that is so slow and gradual and we accept when inert will not budge.

Imagine your depression as a fussy newborn cradled in your arms. Forcing the newborn to do something it doesn’t want will only make the them fussier. Yet, if you slow down internally, pay close attention to the newborn’s cues as you try different soothing actions (feeding, swaddling, etc.), you may find what the newborn needs in that moment. Sometimes everything we try doesn’t work, and we simply hold the newborn, and accept the moment as it is.

It’s the slowing down and listening to your depression that can help you to find what self-care you need to take action on. ACA talks about reparenting, and this is one way we can re-parenting ourselves.

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.

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