Saturday, June 25, 2011

I eat because/

/when I need:

to feel angry
a break from my kids
time with girlfriends
to talk and be deeply listened to
color (knitting, lipstick, shopping)
to be outside
to shower/groom
to cry with someone actually listening

I eat because I need to be listened to, deeply, fully given quiet presence, and to be invited to talk - to be asked, questioned, explored, dived into. And to be mirrored, to be given wisdom and encouragement. But I don't really let people most of the time. I compulsively kick into "How are you? Tell me about yourself?" and can go through hours of conversation without revealing anything of myself. I eat in place of being vulnerable. It's how I take care of myself so others don't have to, so they don't have to hug me, listen to me, calm me down, hurt for me, talk to me, go after me.

It's really uncomfortable for me when people do.

I eat because I need to open up little by little, to be able to trust. That's the hardest thing still walled up inside. I let down a little a few nights ago, cried on the shoulder of my friend's mom who was a single mom for 10 years. She understood. I was feeling raw because we were at a family camp and there was a carnival full of families, and the activities had to each be done as a family. I looked around at all the dad/mom/kid sets and felt the old sadness. Even if I was remarried, it wouldn't be the same; they're still primarily my kids that I'm shouldering. I lost something I can't get back, the possibility of a strong partnership with deep, genetic links between everyone. Step-familying is hard, messy, a slow process, confusing. My siblings and parents and a lot of my friends get to have something precious and unbroken. I just needed to cry about that. And Deb let me.

"Any of us, when faced with more internal stress than we can handle, will find external ways to cope if we feel we cannot talk to someone who can handle our stress and our pain." (Heather Forbes)


I was thinking about us & Christ being one, and went to pick Ella and Eden up from their playroom at camp. They had made colored paper crosses with their names on one side and this on the other.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


Have been too lazy/rushed/something to give the correct quote attributes (or maybe I've just wanted someone to ask, to see if you're still reading, haha). That fundamentalism passage a few posts down was John O'Donohue in "Eternal Echoes," and the most recent post on gentleness was Geneen Roth from "When You Eat At the Refridgerator, Pull Up a Chair." (Long title, but one of my favorite books. Though I'm listening to "Women, Food, and God" on tape and it's also really, really, really excellent.)

Monday, June 13, 2011

more gentleness

"I often hear a variation on this statement: 'If I'm not intolerant of my shortcomings, how can I ever expect to change them?' And the answer is, By doing the opposite of what you think you need to do to change. By being kind to yourself.

We seem to believe that if we abuse our minds enough with self-hatred and self-condemnation, somehow that abuse will be a path that liberates us. But generosity coming from self-hatred becomes martyrdom. Morality born of self-hatred becomes rigid repression. Love for others without the foundation of love for ourselves becomes a loss of boundaries, codependency, and a painful and fruitless search for intimacy.

The only way to learn the difference between self-indulgence and self-kindness is to experience firsthand what self-kindness actually feels like. You learn by going slowly, gently."

Friday, June 10, 2011

now that's fascinating.

Fundamentalists are people in a lot of pain who aren't letting themselves feel it.

What a hypothesis. I am really mulling this over.

This was true for me - I was drawn to black and white thinking when I was hitting new adulthood, at a point when I prided myself on not crying much, when I would eat whole rows of Oreos to avoid feeling certain things I just didn't know how to face.

When I think of every friend or acquaintance who I've seen go through a transformation, go through good intensive therapy, become open and vulnerable - they've always (in every case) dropped a fundamentalist approach as they've moved into their new transparency.

People are drawn to fundamentalism because it's a band-aid, it promises protection, seems to provide a way to control your future by ensuring the bad feelings will go away for good because you are doing The Right Thing All The Time - without having to do the other hard, scary thing of facing pre-existing feelings and experiences. (Or being gentle with yourself, cutting yourself slack, instead of obsessing over your sins.)

A big percentage of adult children of alcoholics convert to the more conservative branches of Christianity. Which is fascinating, because alcoholics avoid their emotions by drinking, hence their children both lack a model from which to learn how to deal with emotions, and don't have a safe place to share their own (because a parent who can't deal with their own usually can't deal with their kids', either).

A church that preaches a loving God who is there to heal all your hurts - while also modeling even more strongly that he is expecting you to toe the line of following his precepts in order to win his love just like you couldn't win your distant earthly fathers? If I was an ACOA, I'd say "Yes please!" too.

God is in the wound, God is in the experiencing of the wound. Crying or getting angry can be the most holy of experiences, just like laughing can. That's what actual Christianity is to me. Jesus and I are united in experiencing the suffering of being human. Everyone around me is an extension of Christ, suffering their own crosses, moving towards resurrection if they want it. Christ isn't holier than or separate from them, Christ IS them.

The center of the cross is also the center in yourself where emotions wait to be expressed, released, and received in gentleness (hopefully also by the presence of some loving other) - making room for much, much more light.

divorce sadness

I've heard about two more divorces in the last two days. It's strange to be more on the outside again, to be just a normal hearsay person, to not be hugely triggered. I always immediately think of the kids and just want to weep. It's like hearing about civilian casualties in a war bombing. (But I wouldn't say that to the parents of the kids, because I know they are already hurting horribly for the kids, and I know at least one of them is not doing it just because they are selfish.) On the other hand, the kids have been living in the war zone for quite some time, so the divorce can also mean the beginning of a different kind of healing for everyone.

I'm struggling to pull together my viewpoint. I don't know if I'll ever have a solid one again. The temptation when facing these emotions and the chaos of "why?" is to retreat backwards, to avoid feeling the feelings by taking refuge in rules like There Must Be Biblical Grounds For It.

I know that empathy is the deeper magic, the anchor we can cling to (which might result in even more uncomfortable feelings to experience, because you're adding those of others on top of your own). Yet that anchor will fragment into many bits of light, like how rainbows of sunshine go off of a crystal in so many directions on the wall. Empathy goes towards the kids, who are emotional victims. Empathy goes towards the spouse who may or may not have "cheated," because to be driven to cheat sometimes means there was a severe drought of love. Or, on the other hand, empathy goes to the spouse who was cheated on, because the cheater was a narcissist. Or empathy can even go towards an abuser, one who was not able to give love whether from past abuse, or a personality disorder, or just choice.

Or empathy goes towards both parties, neither of whom cheated but both of whom had too much stress and never saw each other because human beings were never meant to partner up in a society where it's possible to both work 80 hour weeks and have kids on top of that and move across the country 10 times in a lifetime, preventing family and communal support from ever growing into place. It's the best of times, and the worst of times. Great possibilities come with great challenges.

Any relationship - your kids, your friends, your spouse - requires a conscious investment of energy, time, joint relaxation, laughter. It's easy for any of them to not be getting enough. The strongest love, like the healthiest plant, can die without the right conditions. (And the not-strong loves will still die, even if you invest everything you've got. I've lived through that.)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

to keep the borders of choice porous

I'm 30 today. Ella keeps singing to me, "Happy birthday to you, you're not 102, you're ooooonnnlly 30, Happy Birthday to You!" Somehow she knows this is a big one. I'm hanging out at home with the kids, hemming a dress, receiving multitudes of birthday joys on Facebook and calls from my lovies, and I put together an outfit including an antique Victorian top I bought for $5 five years ago in a small Wisconsin town near where I used to live. Just found it again while I was going through some stuff and realized it fits perfectly.

"When beneath the frame of your chosen path, the garden of your unchosen lives has enough space to breathe, your life enjoys a vitality and a sense of creative tension. Rilke refers to this as 'the repository of unlived things.'

You have not avoided the call of commitment; yet you hold your loyalty to your chosen path in such a way as to be true to the blessings and dangers of life's passionate sacramentality.

If we opt for complacency, we exclude ourselves from the adventure of being human. Where all danger is neutralized, nothing can ever grow. To keep the borders of choice porous demands critical vigilance and affective hospitality. To live in such a way invites risk and engages complexity. Life cannot be neatly compartmentalized."

And on that note, I am off to get a delicate tattoo on the curve of my left foot...

Thursday, June 2, 2011

can't handle the goodness!

Wide open spaces appreciated so far this week: running in a big green field with my kids, out in the country, on Sunday night (Ella called it "the big space, with so much grilling!"). The wide open arms of the friends at that grillout who welcomed and delighted in my kids.

The wide open space of staying up extra late one night (2am) because it was the last week of school and I could afford to be lax with myself. There's something so freeing about that time of night - no deadlines, no interruptions, no calls or texts, the whole night ahead of you and sleep to be chosen when you're good and ready for it.

I have so many good things coming up in the next two months of my life. Just in the next few days: going to the most joyful, loud Irish family pub on Friday with Nate and the kids, canoe floating with great friends on Saturday, getting to be a Lady Dude by going to Xmen with the bachelor pad men that night, drinking with my friends on my birthday Tuesday.

Going to Wisconsin, holding my fresh new nephew Ian, spending bonding time with my grown up sisters now that none of my kids are babies, hanging with two great girlfriends at my parents' cabin, bonding with my kids even more by going to family camp with them and my folks.

I was journaling at the airport on the way to Spain about all my residual assocations that need breaking (love=hurts, babies=hurts, marriage=hurts, trusting others=hurts, dreaming=hurts, hope=hurts) and then realized John Lennon was singing, "Don't need to be afraid, the monster's gone now - every thing, in every way, is getting better."