Illusions

I’m recycling an old post of mine from an email list this week- edited slightly to make some kind of  sense separate from the conversation.  I’m just tired and decided that rest is my priority at the moment.  And I sort of like this piece of writing.  My apologies if you’ve seen it before, and many thanks to anyone I was paraphrasing in the original (much much love to my shiny peeps!).  Have a lovely, restful, joyful, wonderful week everyone!

For years I have been trying to find the way to truly feel and embrace and embody the kind of parent I have wanted to be.  But knowing something and living it are two very different things.  I struggled, I strived, I read, I thought- and I think I know what was missing through all of it.  *I* was missing.  I think a lot of Moms who are drawn to gentle, connected parenting are those who are “pleasers” by nature or circumstance.  We want everyone in our lives, particularly those we love, to be happy.  We want to support their happiness, we want to help fulfill their needs, but we forget that we also have needs and desires and sometimes want support for our own happiness. 

 In the mainstream this so often turns into a rigid “I need to have my needs met, to hell with yours” (and I have seen this approach taken on by parents who began with the intention to be kind, gentle, loving and connected and then burnt out because they’ve ignored their own needs for so long).  This is often aimed at children, particularly infants, but it permeates interactions with everyone in their lives.  I think for those of us who have chose NOT to take that route, it so often results in carrying the weight of the world on our shoulders.  Often this leads to a sort of under the radar blaming energy- the martyr role- which creates a repeating cycle.

 It really was only in the past few years that I realized that it is not my job, or purpose in life, to make the people I love happy.  As it’s quite literally impossible to MAKE someone happy- happiness is entirely an inside job.  This puts pressure on everyone.  (if my job is to make you happy, your job is to be happy, NOW DO YOUR JOB!) Then it becomes a blame/guilt/shame cycle.  I have finally learned that to support and uplift and be there for those I love does not mean “make them happy”- and I think many moms in this cycle misinterpret the idea of connected, supportive parenting in this way. 

 To support and uplift and be there for those I love means I create a foundation.  I am strong and clear and loving and kind.  And to do that, I need to make sure MY needs are met.  Back to what I said before- this does not mean “I have needs, screw yours”- it means that to be of any use to anyone, to be able to serve our children and the world in the best way we can (which does not mean “making them happy”) we need to be well cared for- and we need to do this ourselves. 

 We need to be happy and be gentle with ourselves, get enough sleep and physical activity and nourishment (both the physical and dare I say “spiritual” kind).  We need to nurture our own connection to our wise selves- not to the exclusion of others, but to the benefit of others.  The love we send out to the world is diminished if we are not already saturated in it ourselves- self-love, self-care.  It’s like the concrete that creates a strong foundation for a building- it allows us to then support and uplift those we choose to carry with us. 

 Maybe those of us who are strongly left brained are more prone to this – not automatically connecting these things, because they exist in the more feeling realm? (I consider myself strongly integrated brain-wise- but usually my initial processing, my default processing is left brained- logical and linear)  We carry the weight (sometimes quite literally- or at least in my case- and I think there’s a huge connection between these revelations and the healing path I am on now- I am both literally and figuratively letting go of the weight that’s holding me down *updated note- I did begin a personal wellness journal blog this week, which can be found here)- and it’s not something you can learn, I think, from a “thinking place”- it’s a “feeling place” thing. 

 And it does come down to honoring and accepting, recognizing and feeling what you are feeling- walking away from those mental constructs we create because we’re so AFRAID of what those feelings might do to us- that they might be too much.  I used to think I was flawed because I couldn’t just “get over it”.  And that’s pretty much the opposite of validation.  Not validating our own feelings makes it awfully challenging, if not impossible to validate anyone else’s.  And when you’re busy trying to “get over it” the kids’ joy and silliness can’t even reach you- the self-invalidation is like an invisible wall- like an awful version of casting a “protego” charm around yourself and living inside it- separated from everyone and everything else by an invisible force field.  Sure, nothing can hurt you, but nothing can touch you either. 

 I’ve known for a while I was one of those people- one of the “try-ers”- but have been at a loss how to get out from under that cloud, that weight, the burden of Atlas- which is something like “Hey, I’m barely avoiding being crushed over here- I’m okay with it, really- I’m smiling- but please don’t be unhappy because then this will actually crush me as I try to help you”.  I’ve had to make a significant investment in myself- to heal, to trust, to rest, to feel.  And hey, it turns out that the world I was carrying around- it was a movie prop- an illusion- it was pretty darned heavy, but I was never actually in danger of being crushed- just seemed that way.

p.s. can you find the teenager in the photo? 

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