Deep Breath

This is another one I started about two years ago that I decided to add onto and post.  It could use some editing, okay a lot of editing, but as you can tell from the overall lack of posts, I don't have make the time to write so I definitely don't edit!

September 2016
I've spent most of my life thinking that I was broken, that I was a person who needed to be fixed.  I was convinced that I was the only one who didn't have this life thing figured out.  Why did I cry all the time?  Why were seemingly simple tasks like making a phone call so difficult?  Why was making small talk with people so hard?  Why did other peoples emotions effect me so deeply.  Why was my inner voice talking ALL THE TIME?  Why did I pick up on other people's energy so intensely?  Why wasn't I just normal!  Like seriously, what the fuck is wrong with me!  To be honest I still often feel this way but there has been a shift over the past few years and it all started with me realizing that I am actually not broken at all, and I am not here to be fixed.

Like so many other revelations in of late, it took me having my own children and seeing the world through their eyes to understand this truth.  Yes, this most important truth that took me over 33 years to discover my own children at the tender ages of 2 and 5 already have figured out. I'm convinced that this is because we are all born with everything we need inside of us.  It's the world around us that messes all of that up.

Sure they spend the day wavering between screaming and crying and belly laughing.  They throw themselves on the ground in a limp pile of sadness over a pink spoon.  They impulsively grab and throw.  They are a roller coaster of emotions on any given day, but then again so am I.

I just hide it really well.  I am a master at putting on a brave face.  A skilled liar when it comes to questions of how I am doing.  I can stuff down my feelings with the best of them.  But you know what.  It doesn't work!  It never works!  The body knows this is utter bullshit!  You can only fill the balloon so full before it bursts...

Have you ever watched a young child throw a tantrum?  Like full on screaming from their very soul.  Pounding the ground and heaving with frustration, disappointment or sadness.  How did it make you feel?  I'm not talking about this happening in Target or at your in laws house when all you are is embarrassed and you'd give them the golden goose and the chocolate river if they would just stop!  I'm talking just at home, just the two of you.  How does it make you feel?

For most adults it is very uncomfortable.  Unacceptable even. 

For me, in that moment. I'd rather die.

My body goes into full on panic mode.  Sweat pouring from every pore.  Heart racing.  Head pounding.  My whole system goes into a panic. Make it stop.  Just make it STOP!  I can't handle that kind of truth.

Only I can.  And I do.  And it's beautiful.

But it wasn't always this way.  It used to feel impossible for me to ride that wave.  I was a novice surfer staring down a 20 foot wave in a panic. I could already feel the ocean swallowing me up and suffocating me with all it's force. But with a lot of  practice (toddlers give you A LOT of practice)  it has gotten easier and now I can ride that wave life a pro.  I can honestly say that meltdowns and tantrums don't phase me (most of the time) because I know they are necessary and I don't take them personally!  They are a normal part of life, a natural stress release that all human beings need.  Sure as we get older and our brain develops self control they look a lot different, but you can not sit here and tell me that grown ups don't have temper tantrums and meltdowns when they are tired, hungry or things just don't go their way!

So I wonder then why parents are so quick to disallow their children their feelings.  Of course happy feelings are always accepted, but negative or sad feelings are often minimized or dismissed all together.  I can't tell you how many times I hear parents tell their children you're fine or stop crying.  Children are punished with time outs or worse just for having normal human feelings.  Can you imagine what this is doing to their developing brains?  I can.  What message are we sending to our children if we only allow good feelings?

Imagine for a moment the last time you had a good cry.  How did you feel afterward?  Pretty good right?  Or a good meltdown.  Damn it feel so good to slam a door or break shit sometimes.  SO GOOD!  We all need to feel those deep emotions. Ideally we process them when they are a voice rather than a roar, but none the less,  we need to let them in and feel them fully.  Only then can we let them go. 

We have got to let them go.

We were never meant to carry them for the long term.  They are heavy!  You guys, they are so heavy.  My own body was literally crumbling under the weight.  All those feelings just stuffed into every cell of my body.

But back to the kids for a moment.

A recent moment with Cache...

He was having a hard time.  I could see it.  It was an off day.  He was purposefully lashing out.  Knocking things over.  Picking fights with his sister.  Making ugly faces and using an ugly voice.  He needed to deal with something but was acting out instead.

I let him carry on a bit seeing if he could work it out on his own but it came to a point when I needed to intervene.  I told him I was going to lift him up to go inside where we could talk.  He completely lost it.

His long limbs flailing in a panic. "Put me down," he screamed.  His face bright red with anger.

"I can't right now.  I'm trying to help you."

I carried him inside and put him on the couch.

"I don't want to talk to you!" he screamed.  "That's fine."

"Let me go! LET ME GO!" Over and over.  But I wasn't even touching him.

He pounded his fists into the couch and yelled so hard that his voice was becoming hoarse.

He moved to the floor and stood up, his body rigid, "I'm leaving," he yelled.  "You can't make me stay."

"You're right, I can't, but please don't go, I don't feel like you are ready to go back out there."

"Why are you being so mean!? I'm leaving, he roared! "I don't need to talk to you!"

He fell to his knees and sobbed, his little body heaved.  He tried to kick me.  I moved a bit further away. 

After a few more minutes his screaming turned to a whimper and his tears stopped falling.  His face was splotchy and warm, his shirt wet with tears.  His body has softened and his little voice was hoarse but sweet.

"Mama, will you hold me."  "Sure buddy."  He melted into me and breathed deeply.  Neither one of us spoke for a while. 

"Mama, I was really angry.  But mama, I don't know why.  And mama, I'm sorry I yelled and kicked at you.  Can I have some water."

"Of course you can dude."

And that was that.  Nothing else needed to be said.  He already knows that kicking at me is not okay, I don't need to remind him of it.  He already knows that throwing a huge fit isn't ideal but he is still learning how to control himself.  He knows he is safe so he doesn't hold back.  Feeling those feelings and moving through it all WAS the lesson.  I don't need to punish him or teach him anything else.  He is just fine.

Now imagine if we all had someone to just listen.  Someone who didn't try to fix our feelings or make us feel like our feelings weren't valid.  Someone who would sit just far enough away to avoid our kicks but wouldn't leave because of them.  What if we all had someone who wasn't phased by our quarks, who knew us deeply and told us it was okay.  All of it, every single bit of  us was okay with them.  You can show your anger and I won't match it.  You can show your fear and I will stand with you.  You can show your weakness and I won't exploit them, you can show me your strengths, you can show me everything and here I stand steady in love.  How would your life be different if you had that person from the very beginning? 

That is who I want to be for my children.  But in order for me to be that person for them I first had to be comfortable with all of my OWN feelings!  Not easy!  Oh my gosh NOT EASY!  I still stuff felling.  I still burst in fits of anger.  I still disallow myself "bad" emotions and try to mask them with good.  I'm still learning too but this I know for sure.

Just because you feel angry doesn't mean you are angry.  Just because you feel sad doesn't mean you are sad.  Just because you did something bad doesn't mead you are bad! And just because you feel broken doesn't mean you are broken.  Emotions are meant to be visited for a while, not moved into for permanent residency.  And when you learn from a young age that feelings aren't scary and that they don't define you I think you find it easier to embrace them for what they are and allow them to just be.  No fixing, no hiding, just love

July 2018

I still feel the same and I still ride the waves with myself and my kids.  Do I always stay calm?  Hell no, I am but a human being myself.  But together we are learning to embrace all the feelings life has to offer.  

Caches is getting older and I am really starting to see the rewards of this in him.  He is not afraid of sadness or frustrations or anger.  He knows that the suffering is temporary.  He is so aware of his own feelings and that of others around him.  He is freshly seven years old and already a lifetime wiser than I.

Arlowe is getting there.  Her personality is so much different than her brother.  You would know that if I ever wrote about her!  Good lord I can already hear it!  Mom, why does Caches have monthly love letters and pages and pages written about him while I have one birth story and a small paragraph?  Anyway, she is making progress.  He knows what's up.  She is going to be a fun teenager!

And as for me...deep breaths all day long ;)


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