Ah, yes...what to do when your heart hurts fit to burst, your anger is unexpressed and oozing out in the wrong places or things are just darned HARD?
I heard from someone today that i just always seemed so ‘together’. I laughed.
Believe me, i have lived hard and fast and there's been many a hard time. I’ve just got my head out of a mire at the moment. Hard times will come again. This i know. I have had alot of practice at staying calm in the centre of a storm. I try to stay present to what is going on for me and if i have ‘stuff’ up, try and address it as it comes. I have chosen the kind of life where i took a bunch of time out to heal after extreme trauma so it didn’t haunt me in the years to come and have done work on well, my inner world...oooh, how to put this with-out sounding twee or have you run screaming from the computer? ...Since i was 12, i have taken time out to figure out who i am (my challenges and gifts) and have chosen to be around people who enrich my life rather than tax it. It’s like unravelling layers of myself as my understanding deepens with each person i connect with and rub up against the triggers to places i need to heal.
I still stumble. I still flounder and feel stuck sometimes.
Ironically, i forget the things i most need to do when i am stuck. It’s harder as a mama. I can’t just walk away to get perspective and there is the scarcity of time issue. I find my way. Gracefully or with the knowledge every moment is a new beginning. The worst is the rare times i find myself being out of balance in relationship to my son. That really sucks. When i catch myself doing it, i explain to Jed what i have going on (in terms he gets, not going into any ridiculous adult stuff) and apologise if i was putting it on him. (You know the scenario...you are tired and stressed and an exploratory project/mess turns into an irritation rather than seeing it as the play it is...) Kids learn from what we model, not from how we say they should act. I think he needs to know that my feelings are my responsibility and witness healthy ways of working through anger, sadness, fear etc so he knows:
a) i’m human,
b)it’s okay to feel whatever it is he feels,
and c)so he can develop tools he can use instead of hitting out with whatever big feelings he’s got going on.
On a more practical note: if you are hands on parenting (and especially if you don’t have much support), when else do you get time to work through stuff? The small ones among us are so in tune with what goes on around them (and especially in their mama's) i reckon it must be relief to have it acknowledged and know it's not their fault.
What ARE my tools to cope in the hard times?
They change as i do. At the moment:
-I go for walks, a change of scenery (and sea air in my case) works wonders.
-I write a letter to my MP or current political or environmental ‘bad guy’, channel the strength of feeling in their direction.
-I write. Computer, paper or in the sand and let the sea wash it all away.
-Sometimes if it feels TOO much, i’ll want to take a nap, curl up somewhere warm and safe awhile and then get back to business.
-I turn the music up loud and dance hard.
-Light an oil burner with appropriate essential oils.
-I do tarot. Great for cutting through circling thoughts in the head.
-I weed the garden. As i weed, i imagine the no longer needed defense mechanism’s i am weeding out of myself.
-I play. I get down to my sons level and put my own stuff to the side and let him remind me of what is important in life.
-I do something nurturing – let myself know that if i slipped up, it’s okay. Bath, handpicked herbal tea in nana’s special tea cup and saucer, pick wildflowers for my room, something, anything.
-Do something caring or thoughtful for someone else. This gets me out of my own head and gives me pleasure. It is amazing how a kind act can transform the giver.
-I practice tonglen.
-Find a place deep in the bush or tucked away in the roaring of the surf and let rip a primal scream. Or if you are close to ‘civilisation’ big sighs work and so does using the breath to release. Oh so therapeutic and kids love it. Many of these things kids love to do.
-I craft something. Or ask for a cuddle. Or reach out to a friend.
These are just a few. Many of them are child-friendly.
Ahh, expressing the feelings. Identifying what is actually going on for me and whether it hooks back into some painful part of my childhood and then having some space to question where my big emotional reactions come from is priceless. Then i have compassion for myself if i know where it comes from. I'm more likely to choose a healthier way of communicating or coping next time round. Kind of like re-wiring. I figure if i’m not learning, i’m not very alive. Consciously choosing to grow in this way has gotten easier over the years. I was recently re-united with some very old journals and was heartened to see how thought patterns and behaviours i had become aware and was trying very hard to shift have become unconscious and easy.
Let go of the hard stuff and the fun flows easier. Phew.