Monday, January 14, 2008

How Did I Get Here?

This is an article I wrote for It's another draft of one already on there and also a compilation of a couple of my articles I have previously written. But I thought I would share!

How Did I Get Here?

“Can you believe we are here, honey?“, I say sitting in a stream of dappled light. My husband and I love cafes. We are certifiably addicted to mochas. Every weekend we leave our two children with their grandmother, who bless her dear heart, gleefully keeps them for us overnight. This means we get to date again! We especially look forward to our java runs in the morning after a lovely night of...well, you know. Our favorite place lately has an atmospheric vibe that I love. There are paintings on the walls featuring Eric Clapton, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, and Duke Ellington. We sit and sip, we muse and talk, we bond and eat. These are the moments that conspire to infuse me with enormous bliss. I feel indelible gratitude for my life, for our life together. I often find myself asking rhetorically and knowingly, "How Did I Get Here?". Born into fear, chaos, pain, and emotional annihilation, the proverbial phoenix has risen, baby.

For one thing, I know I wanted to face the truth from a young age. It was a craving. I had an inborn razor sharp drive to see reality. I was smart enough to keep this to myself mostly, thank you, as I had to keep myself alive until I could make the great escape. I can not attribute this to anything other than my innate nature. I just did. I do not question this, I just say Thank You, Universe. I fought tooth and nail to get into therapy at 14. I threatened, coerced, I begged, I yearned. I believe that this is not always the case, some folks turn toward repression, denial, and thus the proverbial head-in-the-sand result.

I don't know why some mothers lack that, besides of course their own pain, unresolved and unprocessed, of which they are so unconscious. I do not know the answer to why my father raped me, why he could never provide for me, why he insisted upon neglecting me, emotionally manipulating me, and being outright cruel and sadistic toward me. I’m not about to make excuses for either of them. Unresolved trauma, an inability to even see that they were abused is part of an answer to our questions, like, what was she thinking? How could she? Why did he punch me for no reason? As if there is ever a “reason”. Why did he call me an “idiot”, a “bitch”, a “whore”. What seven year old is a whore, anyway? I digress. So in my case, the same can be said of my father, though he did not physically abandon me until later.

I’m not saying parenting is not hard. No one is saying that. Of course mistakes will be made. That’s not the point. It is hard, parenting. Selflessness, shaping life around another's want and need is not always a breezy walk on the beach. Especially when we have unhealed wounds, of which I had many. My parents lacked the capacity for reflection that is essential to facing unhealed trauma. It has been hard for me to swallow that, for instance, my mother, having been abandoned herself, more than once, could possibly inflict this on me. Had she not felt her own pain? Where is the empathy?

When actively healing, it is hard too. I had some very hard days as a young mama. But never did I walk out on my children. I was speaking with another fellow advocate recently, who said to me, "You do not give up, parents who abandon their kids take the easy way out." My therapist explained to me that abandonment of a child is "total annihilation." Perfect description. Infuriating as it is, essentially, they are the ones missing out. They miss the magic and wonder and challenge which propagates such soulful growth. We miss out too, yes. But in taking stock, do we really want to be raised by such selfish people, or do we want them to be different people all together? Unselfish (they are not), loving and attentive to us, stable, responsible, healthy boundaries, caring, empathetic, attentive to us. I do not remember my mother ever telling me I was pretty when I was little, despite my best attempts on the rare occasions I saw her, to illicit this from her. She was totally self absorbed. I never felt seen.
The child within wants a mom, period! Or a dad who did not molest or rape or beat them. As the adult we know we can not reconcile the wish parent with the real one, they are not the same. My good girlfriend and I call these parents "biological birth vehicles." They got you here, and whether you can see it right now, you are here for a reason. I am glad you are here! All of the pain and suffering and betrayal will not be in vain if you decide as such. When you choose to heal, you begin to see how beautiful, valuable, sweet, innocent, and worthy of all the doting in the world you were (and are), how worthy of wholeness and love you are, how worthy of. safety and protection you were as a child. The next logical question is what happened? As we heal, our light illuminates the darkness of the pain that was placed on us, so some would rather sit in the dark.. We begin, with our own soul light to see the reality of our wonder and worth which begs the question, What is wrong with people? How can a mother/father do -(insert proper issue, abandon, molest, drug, rape, ignore, slap, manipulate, pick one, or more than one.)

Many people would rather make excuses for parents, because we do not have easy answers to this and it is so hard, scary and downright overwhelming to confront such a huge issue.. The question itself is so painful. In the end, it really is not our job to attempt to heal previous generations. Our job is to focus on healing ourselves and raising a healthy future generation. If you choose the darkness either by chosen silence, minimizing your pain, excusing parents who have abused, neglected, beaten, emotionally raped, sexually abused, dismissed your needs, or abandoned you, you do so at the cost of your soul. Living that way is to enslave yourself. You will get sick, you will be depressed, you will suffer. It goes against the divine order of things as we are all meant to shine.

Suggestions: Educate yourself, discern what you wanted, then and now, and what you deserve and deserved. Then give as much of it to yourself as possible, and give it to your child. Surround yourself with the energy of soulful mothering/fathering. My husband grew up never knowing his father, and he is truly an incredible, connected, emotionally available, sensitive father. It is hard but it can be done!

One amazing miracle of giving someone else what you did not get, is that in a vicarious way, you get it too. The most amazing part is that we are capable of doing this in the first place. Think of a world in which no one could turn it around. Jesus. No one would ever heal. I remember journaling about a vision of the kind of family we wanted to create. One of my entries which I wrote when carrying my second born, went like this:

"We travel, drink organic coffee from artsy mugs as we drive, we listen to groovy music like French bistro classics, Led Zeppelin, Tori, Sade. We roll the windows down and tell the children to feel that warm sun, we soak it in, we have the energy of love and passion all around us, we stop on the way to our destination, lay down a cotton blanket, and have a picnic of organic strawberries, homemade pasta salad, muffins and subs. We affirm the children's reality and sense of themselves each day, we tell them they are beautiful, smart, loved, loving, and lovable. We mirror back to them their worth. We dance in the sun and then get back in the car and keep going. At home, our children have organic fruit for breakfast, we feed them so well and ourselves, we wake up grateful for each day, turn on Sting or Buddy Guy, and light incense. Dylan rests peacefully in my arms with tiny blue socks on his feet. Our home smells of ylang ylang. The windows are open and a warm summer breeze blows in. Dylan sees the clouds and laughs for the first time and we rejoice. (This actually happened, he laughed for the first time under the sky) We sit outside under a sycamore tree and talk and laugh. There are many hugs, kisses, I love yous, and just nourishing love! They see Daddy loving Mommy and Mommy loving Daddy. They see Daddy and Mommy working out problems in a respectful way. Daddy and Mommy are so in love. They see and feel this everyday."

How powerful it can place that wish in your palm and blow it back out to the universe.
In knowing what you wanted,
deep within that means you have the ability to give it to your children and to yourself.
With my own kids, my mantra for this is: Be What You Wanted. Be What You Deserved.

It works, it just takes time, practice and patience. Eventually the rage and grief of the child dissolves and gives way to an understanding that these parents could barely care for themselves(some still can not) let alone you, and most have immense amounts of unhealed, unaddressed pain that they are very unaware of in themselves. In other words, it is not your fault now, nor was it then. Just because your light and worth went unacknowledged and in some cases purposefully so, does not mean it was never there. Breathe in the light that you are, exhale that light and send it into the world. Nothing is worth the sacrifice of your soul light. And anyone who would ask you to do that is not loving you well. Mantra and Meditation: Good Love Does Not Hurt. The confrontation and assessing parental legacies of trauma is intense. The cost of snuffing your own light is immeasurable, even deadly. (think addiction, suicide, depression, self mutilation, abusive relationships, self hate, domestic violence)
It took me moving away from home to be able to stand up and see a new reality. The paradox for me is that in leaving home, I found out how I arrived, how I got here. I began to stop taking out the abuse on myself when I choose to accept my own goodness. I saw my light again.

We can shine that light outward into the world. Please shine. This year, I joyfully keep healing, light, and love in my life, I invite miracles and nurture peace, and I pledge to enjoy many blessings. And mochas.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Warrior Mothering

I am on a healing path. I am a mother, and I will put that first. I brought my three year old to Starbuck’s the other day for our “dates.” We go and have coffee, well, I have coffee and he asks for chocolate milk and the biggest cookie there is. We sit and hang out, we talk about colors, Star Wars, the merits of bigger cookies. When I was three I was afraid to walk through our den because I felt embarrassed that my Dad would have a porno on. My child lives in a world that may as well be in another galaxy. I can’t help thinking this as he mows through his cookie. He walks through our living room, same age, same innocence, same vulnerability, and his worst night mare is broccoli, two nights in a row. “No Bock-EEE!” The contrast is sharp, I see me walking averting my eyes from my father’s perversions and thus learning I have better just avert myself from my rights as a child, and Dylan walks in on the kingpin of all his misery, the green monster known as broccoli. It’s so stark in comparison it’s just about existential. I giggle at the images. I giggle because he is so gorgeous and free, and because he reminds me of who I was, gorgeous but not free. His intense stare awakens the feeling of the wildest freedom in my chest. It’s like he tells me with his green blue stare, YOU ARE FREE, like me, Mama.
I am free, now. In a café, getting him milk, drinking coffee, wiping his sweet mouth thinking of the amazing things that will come from them, the big words, the knock knock jokes already emerging. I feel pride in taking tender care of this delicate flower that is my child, checking with him to be sure he is comfortable, does he need to potty, does he know he is seen, not only seen, but heard, and that he is visible on a soul level? Doe she know I truly SEE him for the gift he is? I practice folding him into me, like a seedling in the garden of his mother, pressing firmly, covering, softly watering, I think of how I could never leave him. I think of his face frozen to the window, his marrow aching with a savage hot grief. His body wracked with searing pain, a child ripped from his mother by the mother herself.
Not this child, and not this mother. I see you, Dylan, I see INTO you, around you, I FEEL you, all over, You are so seen, so loved, so known, so precious. I SEE you, you exist to me, you are beautiful, free, and never, never, never invisible, especially the essence of you. Small innocent hands, vanilla skin, wispy blonde hair, blue oceanic eyes, open heart. Your laugh, your tenacity in expressing yourself, anger, joy, love.
So is my other child.
And the ones inside me too.
We are coming out of the dark, into the to all. SES

Friday, January 4, 2008

Supreme Court to rule on death penalty for child rape.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Supreme Court said on Friday it would decide whether the death penalty can be imposed for the crime of raping a child, expanding its review of how capital punishment is carried out in the United States. Read more HERE

Finding The Book

It's safe to say that I have always had a harder time of it in the winter. In Seattle, it is relentless. Day after day of rain and gray skies. I log onto a weather website each weekday hoping to see that bright orange sun icon hovering over the ensuing weekend days. I haven't seen that sun in what seems like too long.

The weather has an effect on mood. I can feel it. I just might have a mild case of seasonal affective disorder. Just mild enough to put my mood on simmer. I'm willing to put up with it if it means living in Seattle. The mountains are so close to the city and there are four great seasons.

In the back of my mind is a discussion I will soon be having with a close family member and friend, about my abuse. He doesn't know the details, and it's the details that will forever change his world not unlike the way they have changed mine. We will soon talk. In a week or two, and I feel it will be the right time to tell him. There is no right time I guess. More accurately I would say that I feel 'compelled' to tell him.

I trust him, even though he loves and admires my abuser. My instinct tells me that he will be responsible with the pain that I share with him and he will be as respectful as he can be. But I don't know what to expect really.

I made it through Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years, not without difficulty. I have a beautiful wife who cares about me, it can be hard to be a scrooge. I think I have always felt my worst during this time of year. If I get sick it's usually in December. If I get depressed, it's usually in December. My body has it's own clock and it knows December well. Having said that, I think I had more fun than I have in quite a while.

We had a Christmas party (social gathering! What is that?!). I spent Christmas at the families house and we all pitched in to cook dinner. That may be the first time that's happened and I enjoyed it immensely. I think next year I will propose we take less advantage of my mother's cooking prowess again and make it a team effort. Though I think we will leave it up to mom to figure out the gravy situation. It wasn't pretty!

So what does all this have to do with a book? It's no ordinary book. In fact, it has been out of print for quite some years, despite it's popularity in certain circles. I ran over to the bookstore on the strip, hoping to find a copy of it. Alas, none to speak of. So I checked Amazon. "This book is currently out-of-print and unavailable at this time." I finally found an online seller with one copy! The book was in 'average' condition and they wanted $70 for it!

The contents of my wallet include two dimes, a penny, and a credit card a few bucks from being maxed out.

So I don't have the book. You are probably running at a threads-width of patience to know what makes this book so damn special. It was written in the 70's by two well known adventurers. It contains 50 of the greatest adventures you could think of, all in North America. I have only been on ONE of the 50, but it was the best ONE adventure that I have been on in nearly all of my life.

So i'm trusting the author on the other 49. I decided two days ago that my NEXT GREAT ADVENTURE would be to do all 50. I was so excited that I sat down at my computer and pulled up the calculator program. I am 33 years old now. I calculated that if I did 4 of these adventures a year, I would be finished by the age of 46.

It would take me 12.5 years to accomplish EVERY adventure. I have never been a consistent fellow, so this would take all the persistence and will I could muster to keep to this mission.

These are difficult adventures too. No walks in the park by any measure. I don't even have the skill level to accomplish some of them, yet. I will need to train. I will need to get into the best condition of my life to complete most of them.

I don't even know if I can call this mission of my a 'resolution'. I wasn't even thinking about New Years when it struck me. I just wanted to set a bar for myself. I thought that I want to do something that get's my heart rate up, something that invokes an internal HOLY SHIT! I AM GOING TO DO THAT?!

50 adventures. One at a time. Starting now.

It's a goal, and the path is going to be the best part about it. I want to be able to tell you about the time I "froze my ass off in sub-zero temperature in the snow" or how I "woke up to one of the greatest sunrises ever." I can't even imagine what the next 12.5 year will be like.

We want to be thrivers, that's the goal. As a survivor, it has become very easy to forget the people and things I love. I love my wife. I love our dog. I love my brothers. I love adventure and self-discovery.

It all starts when we are ready. I hope you are ready for your next adventure. If not, you soon will be. Trust me. Even if you can't find the damn book!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

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