Where I Am This Week (1/25)

The Experience of Healing

I think my rational mind is in a confused place, but my feeling self has some understanding of where I am and where I am going. I am healing, which feels like a stirred up mix of pain, love, anger, confusion, compassion, peace, insight, learning, grief, hope, and hopelessness all at once. Healing/returning to my true self is not easy for me, but it is becoming easier. There is more often a peace and acceptance, an understanding, that this is what healing feels like. I’ve been here before, I live here more now. And I am so grateful for that. Much of my life before this I feel I was stuck suffering. Maybe a more positive way to see it is – I was learning how to return back to my real self/heal myself by testing out and putting aside the many ways which would not bring me real healing.

New/Old Hobbies

In the last month or so I have picked up a few new/old hobbies and naturally that means I have been putting other hobbies aside for now. The hobbies I have been picking up and enjoying have been art (painting and drawing alongside my kids), learning to play the keyboard and studying how music works, and poetry. The hobbies I haven’t been spending as much time on are reading books and writing.

I used to read books almost daily. I spent most of my free time reading. But my pull to it has lessened. It makes me wonder was my reading often in search of some sort of emotional relief. I did often read self-help books of some form or another. Though I did occasionally read fiction, and oddly enough I do feel quite a pull to that now. Fiction feel different to my mind, an adventure, a story to follow, fun. Often my non-fiction reading was heavy. I highly doubt my days of reading non-fiction are over. I do love to learn, and books are a major source of information for me. But recently my energy seems to be pulling elsewhere, and though I observe how odd it is for me to be suddenly reading so little, I feel content following my energy where it leads.

And a hobby my energy has been leading me towards is playing the keyboard. I have been finding such a flow as I practice learning songs I love and learning to make songs of my own. I tried to learn to play the keyboard about 10 years ago, but never got far. It is the same story with drawing and painting, I have been quite into art before.

Seeing My Old Sketchbook From a New Perspective

A few weeks ago I got my old art sketchbook, from 5 or so years ago, out to get some paper from it. In the process of getting the paper I flipped through and saw my old drawings. It was an interesting experience as I felt such strong emotions. I saw my unfinished sketch of my cat, my brother as a little boy with our pet bird on his shoulder, a blue jay, etc. with such different eyes. I used to be so full of judgement towards everything, and very deeply towards my own creative expressions. But I didn’t feel that as I looked through my sketchbook, I saw my art with the eyes I look at my children’s art. A heart’s representation of the world as seen from its perspective, often the beauty it sees and the joy it feels. I felt a sense of “These are very sweet. I can see your love in these. They look wonderful.” I felt joy as I received these kind words said internally to myself. I felt my own love.

But then it arrived, the regret and sadness, for how I used to treat myself/judge myself and the consequences that judgement had. The sadness and regret of the sketchbook being largely empty. How much beauty could have been on these pages and how much joy of expression and creating I missed out on. Also, how much growth it would have brought to my art skills all those hours of practice.

Next arrived the feelings of confusion, the wondering why I had ever treated myself so harshly. Confusion often brings a sense of urgency to my mind, I feel a pressuring “I need to figure this riddle out now!”. And still mixed in was the simple remembering of how it used to feel to hear the endlessly same and repeating verdict of “It’s not good enough. This is bad. No one likes this. Everyone thinks you are embarrassing yourself.” What if I said that to my son when I set eyes on his art. My mind often becomes so lost in my own confusion, I wonder how could I have ever been so unconsciously and blindly cruel to myself? And quickly I then fearfully wonder, looking back, how cruel have I blindly been to others?

I feel my fearful mind can really run full sprint into its own confusion and drag all of me along with it and I feel a sort of undefined panic. I feel disorientedly confused, but also like I must act or figure out some answer immediately. I am starting to recognize my confusion and fears can pull me to rush into such a dark inner state. A state where I judge myself as being dangerous to others, as being bad, as being someone I hate and who is “worthy of hate” (though I don’t believe anyone is “worthy of hate”, yet somehow emotionally I seem to believe I am the exception). The fact that I do fall into such a dark place frustrates me. But I am trying to practice acceptance and patience. I am living, learning, and healing, one day at a time, one feeling at a time, one confusion at a time, right here in the present.

From the Perspective of Self-Compassion: Looking Back At Being A New Mother

(I wrote this in early December)

Something interesting happened to me a week or 2 ago. I was folding my kids clothes, and as I put them away a baby blanket in the closet made me think back to when I had my first baby. That first year or 2 after his birth was so difficult for me. My mind thought back to all the work I did to take care of my baby. How exhausted I often felt physically, mentally, and emotionally. How it felt like the floor fell out from beneath my feet and I had called out for help, reached out for help, but had been left alone to keep falling. It felt as if I received only words of blame from my mother “IF I’m not there for you, it’s because you didn’t let me see the baby soon enough at the hospital. Showed me how involved you wanted me to be.” and utterly confusing declarations of “I know your pain, no one helped me either.”

In that first year or two after the birth of my first child, there was a feeling of being at a low with a lot of fear and shame mixed in. Shame I didn’t feel like what I imagined being a new mother should feel like. Fear that I was a bad mother, or that maybe my baby was a “bad baby”. These thoughts broke my heart, where was the love? So much fear, and shame, and guilt in me – and so much need from my tiny baby. He needed me, he wanted me, his mom, I could never escape that. Everyday was largely the same, was I about to break? Or was I breaking over and over again to deeper levels? Would I ultimately break or worse break the spirt of my child with my own brokenness?

That was the mood back then. But the mood as I reflected on that time briefly this week – brought me to tears. Soft tears for myself. I could see that time in a way I’ve never seen before. I saw how hard I had worked even though I felt so low and alone. I did get up day and night to feed my baby, I bathed him, played with him, strolled and rocked, kissed and hugged, signed up for social activities as he grew, I read the books to him and the parenting books for myself. I had fears and dark thoughts yes, but I expressed and lived my love in a time so hard for me.

I felt relief and proud. I felt compassion for me. I realized the person who was neglected, who had been for years and was just realizing it in a searing way, was me, not my baby. I felt a sense of “You did well, it was hard, but look you did so well. You were alone then, but I am here now. It will never be that hard again because you will always have me. I see how much you struggled towards love even as you ran out of your own energy. When those who you thought loved you left you alone, you picked yourself up and said “No” I will parent different. You fought for what you have never seen, but for what you dreamed for your child. You became someone new. You stepped out of your comfort zone. But not for you, for your child. And in doing so you revealed who you really are. I am proud of you.”

I have never felt such compassion for myself. It does seem as I practice being more compassionate to my self each day and others my compassion is growing more natural. So when that difficult time came up in my mind, a time I am so used to judging myself for or feeling dark about, a new compassion replaced those old feelings. It was a beautiful moment for me, a healing moment. I saw myself as someone worthy of a big hug, a warm shower, a day off, and a quick word of praise and encouragement that one sweet mom said to me one day as I struggled to get my tantruming kids from the library to the car “You got this Momma” with a look of understanding, encouragement, pride, and love.

Fred Rogers – “The Truth Will Make Me Free”

These are the words from the video above:

“The truth is inside of us, and it’s wonderful when we have the courage to tell it.

Singing: What if I were very, very sad
And all I did was smile?
I wonder after a while
What might become of my sadness?
What if I were very, very angry,
And all I did was sit
And never think about it?
What might become of my anger?
Where would they go, and what would they do
If I couldn’t let them out?
Maybe I’d fall, maybe get sick
Or doubt.
But what if I could know the truth
And say just how I feel?
I think I’d learn a lot that’s real
About freedom.
I’m learning to sing a sad song when I’m sad.
I’m learning to say I’m angry when I’m very mad.
I’m learning to shout,
I’m getting it out,
I’m happy, learning
Exactly how I feel inside of me

I’m learning to know the truth
I’m learning to tell the truth
Discovering truth will make me free.

Are you discovering the truth about you? Well I’m still discovering the truth about me. That’s what we do as we keep on growing in life.”

Fred Rogers television show Mister Rogers Neighborhood was intended for children. And he spoke so beautifully to the child’s heart, he was often able to awaken the inner child that still lives within adults. His gentle, compassionate, and understanding presence along with his wisdom has been/is incredibly inspiring and comforting to me in this journey.

A New Home

“Homeward bound
I wish I was
Homeward bound
Home where my thought’s escapin’
Home where my music’s playin’
Home where my love lies waitin’
Silently for me”

Simon & Garfunkel’s song Homeward Bound played on my shuffle radio. The lyrics “home where my love lies waiting silently for me” spoke straight to my heart. It feels like I am learning a new home. My emotional “home” for so long has been with my parents, I feel I have been obsessively seeking their approval and love my whole life. They were where I thought I needed to be.

But as I tune into my heart and listen I can hear my heart’s love longs elsewhere now. I am not merely searching for someone else’s love anymore, but striving to share my love with my husband and children. Where they are is where “my love lies” and I feel they are “waiting silently for me”. I do not feel I need to be with them, I feel I want to be present and live life with them. They are the chosen home of my heart, my new home.

As I reflected on this song and all the thoughts and feelings it brought up in me, I had a beautiful daydream about my parents. This was my daydream…..

“I see my parents pure.

I hug them.

They hug me

And say,

“Focus on your children now,

I wish I had”

And all at once I’m healed and free

A life of living love lies before me.”