People Are Not For Comparing

I am eating ice cream off a stick, tasting the sweetness and feeling the coldness with only half of my mouth.  I put my attention on tasting with the “awake” side with double focus.  The chocolate shell is melting quickly, but I have a plate to catch it when it falls, here at my table in a small ice cream shop in Santa Tere, Guadalajara, where I can watch people walking by on the sidewalk.  The air is hot and dry.  I recall how my mouth dried so quickly when I was sitting in the dentist’s chair, under her bright light, less than an hour ago.

I am thinking about so many things.  About comparing; the energy of comparing.  What happens when I am afraid?  I analyze and judge.  For me, it’s automatic: When I am afraid, I see people in terms of their threat to me.  What I’ve recently realized is that I’ve found “safety” in being “better” in some way.  Growing up, us children divided ourselves into two groups: “the good ones,” and “the bad ones.”  At least that’s how I made sense of the world in my childhood.  Mind you, it wasn’t that I was “good” but that I was in that group because nobody knew how bad I was.  Just me.  And often staying out of harm’s way meant maintaining or nurturing this divide.  Now that I think of it, I am definitely responsible for perpetuating this idea among my siblings.

Problem is, the “safety” I achieved from this strategy wasn’t safe at all.  It might have protected me from disapproval, physical blows and contempt that my sisters received when they expressed dissent, but in terms of relating with people, it put me at a very unfortunate and decades-long disadvantage.  My already stressed-out body responded to this constant inner chatter (analyzing and comparing myself to others) by bracing, warding off confrontation, and maintaining a steady flow of stress hormones.  Judging and dividing my siblings left me with a sense of uneasiness in groups, an inability to let my guard down with people who were different from me, to feel close or to take in the goodness that other human beings have to offer, through their very essence.

Prettier, thinner, more deserving, etc.  In my adult life it has remained mostly unconscious, but it has never left me, particularly in social situations where I do not feel I have enough control.  It has been very, very present: “I am safe if I am on the right side of this divide – you over there; me over here.”  That’s how my attention was oriented.

As I gain tools, and a general understanding that judging and comparing are actually things that signal that I’m experiencing vulnerable emotions (feelings I had learned to automatically disconnect from), I’m vigorously exploring healthier alternatives.

This habit of comparing has affected all my relationships.  I’ve found safety in partners who are “good enough” to make me look good but not quite as “right” as me.  I found comfort in relationships where my opinions were the ones that “counted” (in my mind, for one reason or another).  That required – you guessed it – me feeling somehow “one up.”  I wasn’t at all confident in my ability to advocate for myself or negotiate.  And I had no concept of what it might be like to coexist peaceably alongside someone with whom I disagreed (who must be wrong, of course).

Moving through life like this did nothing but perpetuate my anxiety and fear about my place in the world.  Judging and comparing others always does this funny boomerang thing; fear of being judged and coming up short is always the result.

I did not know that I was chronically afraid, that I felt threatened by the “betterness” of other people, much less how to turn that around.

My lifestyle now offers me a time warp through which, rather than living afraid, I now Iive more consciously and at peace.  And my body, as a result, is learning to relax as my senses come back online.  I follow what gives me pleasure, choose what I desire, filled with gratitude for all that I have.  Since I live with a nervous system that is no longer on high alert, I am more aware of what there is to appreciate in this sacred moment, and in the other beings around me.

There’s a profound difference between seeing others through a lens of guardedness and anxiety and removing that lens and just allowing pure sensory information to enter, no longer needing to be “one up” somehow.  But this distinction is – more than you might imagine – a product of the nervous system.  What has happened to me in the past four years was a subtle but life-changing shift.  It has affirmed in me a deep knowing that I don’t need to pretend to be anything I’m not.  That I am safe, as perfectly imperfect as I am.  That all is well.  That regardless of what happens, I will be okay.  None of this was possible when I was constantly analyzing my safety based on how I measured up to those around me.  That kept my body tense and poised for battle.

In my new life, there is time to do my emotional work.  It is safe to feel what I feel and know what I know.  Though I am alone, I know that I am safe and have adequate support.  Alone, what I enjoy and what I want matters immensely.  I am curious about what amuses and entertains me, and it certainly varies from day to day.  And my interactions with others is based more on what I like and what leaves me feeling affirmed and inspired.

I’m thinking about the other evening that I spent with my sister, Tracy.  It was a very strange visit.  I’d had a long day.  I was returning from the lake, where I pack in a lot of socializing and play.  Back in Guadalajara with Tracy, I noticed my faculties failing me.  I literally felt “retarded,” kind of stunned, not at all able to express myself or even find simple words that I needed.  Her being four years older, there are a lot of things about Tracy that can trigger me.  But this time, while it is true that I was triggered and my body was not acting right, I did not go into an emotional flashback like I have during longer visits with her.

I had been looking forward to seeing her before she left on her trip to Texas.  Throughout our visit I was trying to understand what was happening, holding off on any self-judgment or despair about how stupid I was in comparison to her.  I was able to just notice the sluggishness of my mind.  I didn’t blame Tracy for directing her attention outward and interacting with others in her fluent Spanish from time to time as the evening wore on or for moving at a vibration that was too high/fast for me.  She was excited about her upcoming trip and her travels are always interesting to me.  Besides, it was a short enough visit, and Tracy is super kind, so I didn’t feel judged or even embarrassed, really.

As usual, my relationship with Tracy gives me so much to chew on.  Spending time with her always provides me with information that I can use to grow.  I “got through” the visit continuing to hope that I could rebound and be my fully-functioning before it was over, but I didn’t.  My brain didn’t come back online until after I left.  I did leave fully connected to my sense of humor, my curiosity, and a knowing that I would eventually recover, and that Tracy loved me unconditionally.

Among the triggers that tripped that night were:  Being the little sister.  In our family, Tracy has always been the one who reaches out for what she wants.  That hasn’t come so naturally for me.  Tracy is in full swing with her vibrant, exciting career, a career that she declared so many years ago when she went to school for journalism in her early twenties.  Tracy is many years ahead of me in terms of language acquisition (Español), so our visit threw me back to being two (when she was six) and she got real good at telling everyone what I meant, thought and wanted.  Or so I hear.  Tracy’s home here in Mexico has taken shape rapidly; a reflection of the amount of time she has lived in Mexico and the many harrowing and costly trips she has made across the border with trucks, cars and caravans.  She actually has furniture.

With my sense of humor intact, I could recognize, that evening, that there really was no competition involved here (and there never was), no one up or one down.  I could also recognize that I was not functioning at my best, and that it wasn’t her fault.  Some days I am likely to return, momentarily, to my habitual way of comparing and judging.  I apologize in advance.  But when I do, I more quickly remember that it is no more than a red flag to alert me to my own vulnerable feelings.

And as I do my emotional work, my body relaxes.  Intrinsic to this growth journey I’m on is taking responsibility for who I am, getting clearer about what’s important to me, and through staying connected with my entire system, returning again and again to conscious awareness of not just what is okay with me and what isn’t, but what I like, what I need and what I don’t.  The effect this has had on my nervous system is enormous, and that evening with Tracy gives me evidence of this.

When I am physically relaxed, novelty is the spice of life, and not a threat.  In this state of receptiveness I more readily greet the unknown with playfulness, laughter, and delight.  I don’t have to be perfect to be good enough.  Recovering from developmental trauma involves relaxing the body so that the world can be experienced as the rich and delicious place that it is.  Each of us brings our own gifts, our own essence to share in the world.  We are surrounded by inspiring, talented, brilliant and interesting people.  Not one of us more or less than the other.  Just different.  People are not for comparing.

Decolonization and my Refrigerator

Decolonization.  A great word to describe what is happening in my world today.  It’s an idea that you have to experience to “get.”  For me, it’s a newfound commitment to living within my means.  Not drawing on nonexistent resources or borrowing from the future.  And you know what?  It’s amazing.  Going through life, moment by moment, using my gut as my guide, never wandering too far from joy and pleasure in just the right measure, checking in to see what my purpose really is, as many times as it takes.

This is where it’s at folks.  It is breaking to smithereens all the ways I used to feel about the world, first and foremost that I don’t get what I want, or I don’t get the support I need because, you know what?  I do.  If I can quiet myself enough; if I can receive; if I can listen.

My refrigerator had been giving me fits.  The freezer’s been just fine, mind you, but down below, it’s more like the temperature of a root cellar.  And about a month ago I had figured out how to deal with a different problem: it was freezing everything.  So what I own is a refrigerator that is trying to make up its mind.  I know better than to try to ask some technician to look at it.  That will be an investment of very questionable value in terms of both time and money.  Instead, I get to have this experience, which as it turns out, is kind of fun.  I’m decolonizing.

I have been intimately aware of my addictive patterns around food.  I devolve down a well-worn groove from good intentions to just a little more of the comfort food, to full-on surrender to my cravings.  And I’m forced to find my way back to myself again.

When I came home to my decomposing celery and spinach I got mad.  But then I made soup.  My heart ached because I had just bought whipping cream for my tea but then I made cream of spinach soup and used the sour cream for my potatoes.  It was divine.  I froze what was left of the spinach and I went to the market looking for what would keep better in my “root cellar,” began to make more frequent trips to the market (on my bicycle), and purchasing less each time.  I also had to stay on my toes (conscious) about planning meals around what needed to be used up first.  I made smoothies out of things I’d never used before, and used my dehydrator.  And I became even more conscious about scouting out foods that were on sale or offered as surplus.  When I do this I know that I’m more likely eating what’s in season and local – at least at my neighborhood market here in Guadalajara.

This, my friends, is what it takes for me to avoid seductive patterns that offer the illusion of comfort; that lure me with their “convenience” but actually lull me into unconsciousness and addiction.

Underneath all that, I am discovering as I listen, are my unconscious fears:

  • I’m not going to have what I need.
  • Taking care of myself well is a thankless, all-consuming drudge.
  • My food needs are overwhelming and unreasonable.

Well.

Now I can see them.  Thank you Spirit.  Here is what I’m shifting that to:

  • I have what I need.
  • I am not alone in caring for myself.
  • I am well supported, though support sometimes comes in the form of change and I don’t understand it at first.
  • My needs are normal.
  • Meeting my needs is actually a lot easier than I thought.

The thing is, I need to keep my focus more on the short-term, and not extend my food planning out so far.  This is what it takes for me to come out of addiction, to follow my guidance, and live, fully embodied in the present.  I’m not sure I’m going to ever fix my refrigerator.  I may just begin seeing it as another instrument of God – slowing me down, bringing me back to myself, reconnecting me with my purpose, and helping me to live more sustainably and aware of my body’s needs and the planet.

Getting to the Roof Without a Ladder

My birthday is February 4.  The week before my birthday this year, the ladder to the roof went away.  It’s happened before.  The landlord is renovating an apartment on the other side of the street.  It always comes back, though.  Eventually.

But it’s been several weeks now, and that’s given me a chance to notice all the things I give up when I can’t get to my roof in the mornings.  Firstly and most obviously are my exercises.  Without access to my roof, I start the day sedentary and don’t seem to be able to overcome the inertia of that kind of start to my days.  I also really missed the little magical things that always seemed to happen on the roof while watching the sun coming up, watching its movement patterns and the visual show it puts on every morning, whether I take the time to notice it or not.

I had spent some time with my sister Tracy on my birthday, and I had been telling her about the ladder situation.  She had suggested I buy my own ladder.  Well that might make sense to her, I thought, with her money flow and low tolerance for inertia.  But I was saving up my money.  What about belly dance classes, braces?  Pocket money for my upcoming trip to Cuba?  And besides, there was just no way I wanted to add to my already too-large collection of belongings that one has to move with them from place to place.  I am, after all, a traveler.  I could hunker down.  The ladder would come back.

So here I was, this morning, with still no access to my roof, when I began to look around at the things I had in my house that I might be able to stack up so that I could climb up and out through my patio.  Bingo.

Returning to the sacred time I spend with myself.  It’s all available to me once more.  All I have to do is decide that it’s what I really want.  The sky, exercise, the sunrise, nature, my beloved – all available to me.  I had allowed myself to disconnect from the sweetness of that part of my day.  Unlike Tracy, I had learned to accept too easily that things I want just aren’t available.

What might have made this morning different, however, was the mounting of irrefutable evidence.  I was better off when I could connect.  Doing without was causing me a level of discomfort and annoyance that I was willing to notice and tend to (along with that spark of an idea that came from Tracy).

Today is a day of real celebration.  My happiness actually matters to me.  A lot.  I am creating new neural pathways in my brain.  I need not settle for a life that does not provide my most essential needs.  I’m now in the market for a new place to live.  It will have easy and regular access to the skyline.  It won’t have two jynormous media signal towers that keep me from sleeping well.  In the meantime, I am aware.  I will not as easily forget, when my connections to source are taken away, that I am powerful and that I can restore them.

I have resources, and I desire to stay connected to the sweetness that is my source, my beloved.  Whatever is necessary to maintain that connection is available to me, even if it means I need to move the furniture.  I need not accept disconnection, and Source, in her way, is happy to support me in my efforts to reconnect.

Left and Right Hemispheres of the Brain

Yesterday, while listening to an online class by Bonnie Badenoch, PhD, LMFT, where she is talking about how we need other people to regulate our emotions (our whole lives, not just as infants and small children), I gleaned a very concise description of the functions of the right and left hemispheres of the brain.  Being an EMDR therapist, my ears perked up.  But she took it further than that.  In her description, the emphasis she placed was on the relationship between the two hemispheres (EMDR is a therapy that successfully integrates left and right hemispheres in order to resolve trauma that has remained frozen, often for decades).  Early in her talk (which is free and available online, she points out that effective therapy follows the client, allowing the healing to happen on its own (which is what both EMDR and CranioSacral therapy do.  Here is a simplified version of what she said.

Right Hemisphere

Left Hemisphere

Sensitivity to suffering

Attending to what is going on

in the relational realm

In the present moment

(what’s happening between us?)

Staying with the unfolding process

EMERGENCE

DEEP CONNECTION

(with nature and/or with another)

DEEP WARMTH

BOTH – AND

Can handle PARADOX

Values Individuality, Uniqueness, Connection

WE

Meaning > Happiness

Offers distance from emotions

Provides Stability/Steadiness

Takes what we receive from the other hemisphere and disassembles it so that it can be used to create systems that we can rely on.

It has to freeze things in order to take them apart and use them.

TASK > RELATIONSHIPS

Can provide WISDOM

(Why does this make complete sense?)

EITHER – OR

Values JUDGMENT

Creates Protocols and Frameworks

I

Thinks everything will turn out okay

(but there is an underlying paranoia)

There is no meaning

(except for what I WANT)

I want to take this a step further and suggest that adequate self parenting, which is necessary to overcome early relational trauma, could be thought of in terms of the relationship between the left and right hemispheres of the brain.  And if you wanted to get really crazy, between the Inner Feminine and the Inner Masculine (which has been referred to – I suspect – as the Divine Marriage).

Which brings me to this point at which I want to share a recent experience with you.  In a moment of inspiration several months ago, I drew (with the help of a collection of slumped postures online) a profile of myself that I had projected onto another person, who I then felt slightly judgmental toward.  It occurred to me that I might put the image out on Facebook, tagging a few friends who I thought might have knowledge or resources to “read” that posture to see what it had to say (I said it was a client I needed help with).  I had been doing tai chi and listening to Trina’s song, This Simplicity, when I heard the lyrics, “What the soul is longing for, and what this body needs.”  Everything stopped while I wrote down these words, which I used, along with a very practical, physical question, What happened to this body from a physiological perspective, and why does she hold herself this way?  The questions I asked came from two different places, and from the responses I got on Facebook, two different answers emerged.  To what can we attribute these two different approaches?  Before Bonnie Badenoch, I would have, hands down, said Inner Masculine and Inner Feminine.  Now, if I need to, I can say Left Hemisphere and Right Hemisphere.  If you’d like to see what emerged, use the links to read more (you can enter through the portal that feels most comfortable to you)!

I’d love to hear which portal you used, and what you think of the material you find there!  If you are curious about what your soul is longing for and what your body needs, we could try continuing the Facebook conversation.  As always, I’d love to hear from you!

Slowing Way Down

I’m watching the sky light up this morning.  I begin watching well before the sun comes up (6:45 is early enough, actually), so that I can be a witness to the contrast of the darkness, where the stars are still visible.  It’s nippy out, and I have leg warmers, fluffy socks, and three layers up above.  I’m wearing a fluffy purple muffler to keep my neck warm.  I’ve finished my tea and I’m at a point now where I might usually go and start my stretches because nothing is really beckoning me to continue watching the pre-sunrise sky in the east.  Then I notice two little groups of birds flying with each other.  They are flying in tandem.  They make sort of a figure 8 in the sky; they float toward and through each other and then out again in this rhythm where they are repeating the pattern over and over and over again, flying with each other.  It seems to me that they are playing.  As they continue this pattern, it’s kind of hypnotic to watch, and interesting too because they know what they are doing and they are doing it purposefully, and for some reason that I can only imagine.

I’m still facing east and it strikes me that these birds are right there, in my line of vision, and I keep watching.  It seems to me that there are no other little groups of birds doing anything anywhere else.  But this little group of birds has positioned itself right in front of me.  And I just continue to watch them until they merge and become one group.  And that one group of birds continues flying in my line of sight back and forth and around.  And there are little outsiders, and I watch how they have to fly extra hard to catch up, from time to time, to avoid falling out of the group, and the distance they have to fly to stay in the formation is bigger.  But they do their part to continue to be with the group, and the group continues to function like a group and it just keeps moving and dancing and doing what it does.

I think about this group of birds, and what motivates it to do what it does.  I can’t imagine that it is striving for perfection, or that any of those individual birds are working on a technique, or that they are trying to get it better than any other little group of birds or needing to get any better than they were before.  They are just doing it.  They are flying.  They are flying because that’s what they do.

I’m admiring patterns these days.  Some patterns that are emerging are the similarities I see between bodywork (tai chi, etc.) and being with other people.  The three levels of patterns that are occurring to me are 1) Slow down, 2) Let Pleasure In, and 3) Don’t Try; Just be.  Today I’ll focus just on the first, but I know they are also all woven together.

Slowing down when spending time with other people improves the quality of the connection.  It improves the likelihood that what is being shared is a person’s deepest truth and not some unexamined word pattern that emerges from habit or old wounds; discharge of (and/or distraction from) unfelt emotions, or defenses against really being known.  Our culture does not currently support being slow with one another, but I say this is where so much richness, beauty and potential lies.  What would it take to create an environment in which taking two deep breaths before responding would be natural?  And a listener would not rush in to fill the silence.  An environment like this would offer an unspoken, “There is no need to rush.  Take your time.  Take all the time you need to express yourself fully.”  How amazing and how terrifying would that kind of environment be?

I desire to mend old ways of relating with others: hiding, controlling, defending.  It is my intention to get better at staying connected with myself and my felt sense as I share myself with others, so that I can benefit more from the connection that human sharing can offer.  Talking before connecting with myself, I have found, can result in saying things that might be “true” but are unkind, or “true” only at a superficial (usually injured, egoic) level.  What I communicate when I am fully grounded and embodied is an expression of what I value, it invites a response from you that is an authentic expression of you, and the sharing creates something of value that simply nothing else can.

With the body, in activities such as yoga or tai chi, we are gently coaxed into asanas or forms that are different from what we would habitually assume.  Such activities give us opportunities to slow down – to explore and know ourselves better, to listen to our deeper truth, and to improve the quality of our lives.  Slowing our movements down allows us to bring awareness to unconscious ways we have used our bodies to avoid discomfort or pain it might have just been more “pleasant” to ignore.  When we rush from Point A to Point B we are likely to take the path we have habitually taken, whether it’s the most elegant, most expressive, most effortless, or most ergonomically sensible path.  When we take this path (from A to B) unconsciously, despite the extra effort this route may cost us (both in terms of its inefficiency and the energy required to keep information outside of awareness), we inevitably communicate our unconscious pain in the world – at the very least to the unconscious selves of others, who have brains designed to pick up such information.  Such subtleties match up with other information patterns they have stored in their memory banks, beneath conscious awareness and are likely to later trigger unconscious responses and unexplained emotions in your relating with one another.

In slowing down, we may feel something we’ve been avoiding.  And we might not like that, actually.  But in slowing way down, we may make connections, and gain understandings about ourselves we never had before.  In slowing down, we bring consciousness to those painful places we’ve been avoiding, to find out what is actually there.  And in bringing consciousness there, we can understand that the pain is nothing more than sensation.  You thought that was pain.  But approaching that sensation with curiosity instead of judgment, with gentle exploration and generosity in terms of time and pacing, this “pain” might actually offer you information that heals and pleasure that you hadn’t afforded yourself before (which besides feeling good, brings resilience, vitality and gentle supportive presence to the body).  It’s not the scary thing we’ve been spending so much energy protecting ourselves from and avoiding.

When the person I’m with is accelerated, I feel compelled to share what I have to say quickly.  I am somewhat skilled at meeting other people where they are vibrationally, and have built my identity around matching and attuning, and blending in.  Unknowingly, I have postponed developing the ability to claim my own vibrational frequency and maintain it in the presence of another.  As a result I have often settled for the superficial (shiny, exciting) interaction that happens between two people, when what I am yearning for is so much more.  The pleasure of a particular kind of connecting that I yearn for is one in which I am unguarded, grounded, and connected with exactly who I am.  Grounded, in this moment, is nothing more than being attuned to my senses in this moment, being willing to slow down and take those two breaths before responding, and speaking only those words that I need to speak to express my experience in the moment.

It’s not possible to be truly compassionate with ourselves or others when we are running on adrenaline and cortosol, on guard, defended and triggered.  That is why I recommend learning how to slow down, calm the body, connect with yourself and then communicate with those around you from a grounded, mindful place.  It takes more than a sound bite to express oneself.  And it takes more than sitting in front of the television to relax after a stressful day at work.  Changing gears after living a high-vibration lifestyle for years and years is something that has to be done on purpose; it doesn’t just happen on its own.  That is what I have put my mind to doing, and let me tell you, I will never turn back.

 

The birds this morning, in their flying and being who they are reminded me that we all know who we are, though we might have temporarily forgotten.  We have worked so hard to cover up what makes us uniquely us, to mask it, or to make it different so that it is acceptable to someone else.  The birds’ message to me this morning was: Don’t try; just be.  Right now, do what is necessary to reconnect with the God-given greatness of all that you are.  Be right here in this moment, now, and play as if right now were all that there was.  You have a way to express yourself, and you have your own, inherent vibrational frequency.  Re-member that it is right to want to do what you do effortlessly, naturally, and with great playfulness and joy.  And then give yourself permission to go out and do it.

Winter Update 2016

As many of you already know, I came to Mexico not just to travel and learn Spanish, but because I wanted time and space to process.  I wanted to have time to heal, to recuperate, to connect with myself.  I learned after I got here that I am also here because when I was in close proximity with my family I had a hard time maintaining my personal boundaries, and from this distance I actually have enough boundary (distance) to begin to know who I am, how I differ from those I love, and which feelings are actually mine.  It has taken me being here and them there for me to do that.

This Thanksgiving/Christmas I am here by myself, and though it feels weird to be here when all my family is there, and I have no plans to go back until spring, it feels exactly right.  I am doing a tremendous amount of emotional work, I feel incredible support, and I am grateful for this time to redefine myself in terms of my personal life, the way I work, and my evolving professional identity based on this growth.

The work I am doing is multifaceted and deep, and is absolutely blowing my mind.  Developmentally, I feel that I am finally completing my individuation process (that under the best of circumstances is largely completed by age 3, with a blessed make-up period at age 14).  At 52, I’m thrilled to finally be feeling the reality of this–what the Weinholds call psychological birth (with which comes a much stronger sense of a durable boundaried self).

This transformation process isn’t just something I woke up one morning and decided to do.  It’s an assignment that’s been shown to me and told to me in so many ways from mentors and way-showers, my own dreams and intuitions, and from just watching the patters of my life and following my guidance from day to day.  It involves a lot of not knowing, and that can be uncomfortable.  And it involves breaking out of old patterns, which is also uncomfortable.  It involves a lot of being with myself, which I actually can’t get enough of, and it has also involved being with others in new ways, which can be uncomfortable, but I’m willing–stretching myself, and eager to grow into this new, more embodied skin I’m stepping into.  I’m making progress in releasing control over outcomes, and my intention is to be more guidable by the forces of nature that are wiser and greater than my mind.  Notice that the photos I include below are upside down.  I decided that I was not going to be perfectionistic about this and left them upside down because today I’m not in the mood to troubleshoot that.  Progress!!

One of the ideas I’m currently developing I got from the Weinholds.  It has to do with the Drama Triangle I talked about a few blog entries back.  It also fits nicely with the section of Being In My Body that deals with self abuse (in the Violence and Abuse section of Chapter 5 – Healthy Adult Intimacy).

persecutor-diagram

rescuer-diagram

victim-diagram

What I am now noticing in my own processes, and the processes of my new clients, is a version of the Drama Triangle (DT) that is played out inside one person’s head.  The Weinhold book, How to Break Free of the Drama Triangle and Victim Consciousness deals primarily with the DT being played out in families, communities, and between nations, where it is so prevalent and so confusing.  When this chaos plays out inside one person’s head it can be even more so because it’s hard to see who is playing which role, and roles can quickly switch from one to another, which makes it all impossible to decipher without appropriate support.

Another idea I’ve been thinking about (also compliments of the time I spent in Colorado with the Colorado Institute for Conflict Resolution and Creative Leadership) has to do with Surrender, one of the key features of many spiritual disciplines. The way the Weinholds explain it, Surrender has a masculine essence and a feminine essence.  The masculine essence is our willingness to take charge of our lives without guilt or shame.  The feminine essence is our willingness to receive without resistance or judgment.  I am seeing how these two sides of Surrender play out in virtually every aspect of connecting, whether it’s between two people, or the parts inside an unintegrated mind, what I refer to in my book as the fragmented self.  There is so much to learn here as I play with this idea of Surrender, superimposed on the Drama Triangle.

What happens for me, personally, is that with these tools I can more easily recognize internal abuse when it begins to happen.  As is usually the case with my practice, new clients have been coming in with questions that invite me to expand to better meet their needs–which mirror mine in many ways.  Together we are cultivating different kinds of alliances that are better suited to meet our more refined needs.  What it feels like I’m developing is a fairly reliable well-balanced Inner Marriage that makes both Masculine and Feminine contributions to my day-to-day, moment-to-moment movement in the world.  And of course all of this is built on my new level of commitment to staying fully embodied.

I am immersed in ideas that are begging me to develop them, and I’m doing my best to keep up.  They include collaborations with other people, where we’ll have a chance to play with sharing leadership, and of course I continue to privately explore, write and follow my muses.  My attention returns again and again to such ideas as pleasure and play, healing touch, expressive movement and so much more.

Thank you for your interest.  I’d love to hear what you think or what you’d like.


Stay Tuned for my online course: Learning to Parent Your Tender Vulnerable Self: Getting Off The Internal Drama Triangle for Good

 I’ve been working on an Online Course based on the Drama Triangle and how it can play out inside us (with the different parts of the triangle represented by different parts of us in our minds: The Victim, The Rescuer & The Persecutor).  This online course will break the Drama Triangle down into simple terms so that it can be more easily understood and applied in order to stop inner abuse and self sabotage in its tracks.

During the course, participants will learn how to replace the Drama Triangle with its magical counterpart, the Empowerment Dynamic, to help overcome early relational trauma.  They will also gain a framework for better knowing when and how to trust themselves, which naturally impacts knowing when and how to safely trust other people.

I’d like for this course to provide the container for an online community where participants support each other in their process of becoming empowered and taking charge of their lives without guilt or shame and receiving their hearts desires without resistance or judgment. The class will include a series of lessons, visual diagrams, lectures, assignments, a sharing forum, one or more individual Skype session(s) and other materials to supplement learning, facilitate sharing, and deep, safe and lasting connections.

Look for it in early 2017.

Learning to Mother and Father Myself

On the roof this morning I was reconnecting with myself after a day of feeling overwhelmed and ungrounded much of the day, yesterday. First thing I did this morning was write a list of things that I feel like all have to be done RIGHT NOW (which helped – they don’t). And while I was doing my stretches on the roof, with a tiny peek of the now-just-waning full moon to the west (we’ve been in full cloud cover for the past week), and the splendid sunrise to the east, I had a series of “downloads” from my guides and muses – you might call them inspiration (I keep my iPhone up there so I can listen to Trina Brunk, doesn’t matter how many times).  I e-mailed those “downloads” to myself so I wouldn’t lose them (technology can be so amazing when we use it consciously).

I cherish these nuggets of inspiration, and know that they will sit patiently in my Hotmail inbox until I can get to them. One of the downloads I got came from the realization (again) that I am fully supported, that I have all the time I need, and that when I feel overwhelmed, I can stop and parent myself. Feeling overwhelmed is actually a message from my younger self that I need some care and attention. I sometimes need to be reminded that I am held in loving arms. What occurred to me is that I could easily go back and re-read letters I had written to myself after a “playshop retreat” created by my sisters (Tami and Trina).

I’ll share the letters with you here. They are from my Inner Masculine and Inner Feminine.


From My Inner Masculine:

June 2013: My Dearest Toni,

I am so sorry I have not been fully here for you during the first part of your life. It has truly been my loss and I would like to reconnect now. I understand, now, how much I adore and appreciate you. I give you permission, now, to be all you came here to be, to be a woman in all senses of the word – to experience the joy of physical pleasure. Toni, you are the master of your experience and it is yours to explore pleasure and find what gives you joy and fulfillment. Go ahead. Take those steps. I will be here to support you if you’re not sure at first. I am here. I will continue to be here, whatever direction you decide to go. You will not disappoint me. I promise you this. Trust yourself. Your instincts are good. Your judgment, your discernment can be trusted. I am so proud of you, and excited about this work you are about to do.

I love you. You deserve deep satisfaction, contentment, and the fulfilment of your heart’s desires. You are good. You are pure. You are kind. You are enough.

Go forward. Be yourself.

Your Inner Masculine.


From My Inner Feminine:

June 2013

My Beloved Toni,

I adore you. You are a child of God. I give you permission to be all you came here to be. Take your time. Take all the time you need. I am strong enough to nurture you, while you explore who you are and what you will do next and next and next. How precious you are to me. I can’t wait to see what you next discover about yourself, your strengths, your yet unexplored gifts and qualities and potentials. I give you permission and my blessing to indulge in pleasure, to explore the world, inner and outer, to be great, to be vulnerable, to be playful, to be a beginner – to be exactly who you are now. I am holding this space and time for you while you do this very important work. Go ahead. Let yourself feel your emotions. It is safe to be in your body now. Listen to what it tells you. I will offer you guidance and direction through your sensory experience and I encourage you to enter the full expression of your deepest self, from this moment onward. You are enough. You are so precious to me. I love you so.

I will be here for you always.

Your Inner Feminine

Daring to Trust

I’m sharing a quick preview tonight about a book I just finished.  As its name suggests, it’s about trust.  I love love love this one, and can’t wait to share all my gleanings.  I’m also sure I’ll be integrating these ideas into my Boundaries 101 class in December.  For now, here is an excerpt from page 37 of David Richo’s Daring to Trust:

 

pg 37: An original secure attachment is the basis of trust.  Feeling that we are lovingly held with the five A’s (attention, acceptance, appreciation, affection, allowing), that holes in trust  can be darned, that safety and security are reliably present — all these build our confidence in others.  Our trust is also in ourselves as people who are now capable both of showing trusting love and of being willing to work on repairing ruptures in fidelity.

Today I Walk

Thoughts in July

On the last leg of my walk this morning, my upper realms connected with my lower ones and I came to a glorious epiphany.  Let me explain.  In my spine lies a story that repeats itself at countless levels, the most visible and obvious of which is my living situation.

I realized today that my downstairs represents the places in my mind I don’t want to go.  The dark unconscious places that cause discomfort and pain.  Things like fear of being alone; fear of not being able to make it on my own; fear of not being enough; not having enough; not fitting in; not being able to connect, or have a whole, full, conscious, happy life if I don’t make particular sacrifices or tend particular safety nets.  Today, on my walk I let myself venture into those dark places.  What, I asked myself, does my grumpy roommate  represent to me?  She  spends her time in the lower realms.  She represents negativity, emotional immaturity, an unconscious need to protect one’s self from the unpleasant, the unsafe, the uncomfortable.  But this was the path of blaming, and projection, and I knew it was more complicated than that.

Her grumpiness had been on my mind of late.  But this morning I realized that what was at issue with me were my fears, not hers.  What I realized this morning is that my basement had begun to represent my fears to me, and that’s why I didn’t want to go down there.  Didn’t want to feel the ways I felt when I visited there.  Perhaps, because I am an empath, picking up on my roommate’s fears (that tend to resemble mine) was making the situation even worse.

A growing conscious aversion to the lower realms is what had guided me to discreetly move my bedroom upstairs in the past month.  This along with other conscious shifts in my behavior based on my relationship with my body, my higher power, my guides, my inner knowing have resulted in a subtle but noticeable improvement in my connectedness with myself.

This morning’s walk allowed me, for the first time, to go certain places in my mind to entertain the most frightening of thoughts, to explore how true they were, and to notice my feelings about them.  What if the natural consequence of my behavior is that my roommate can’t tolerate living with me if I don’t share the lower spaces of the house with her, or for some other reason she decides not to be a partner in the household?  What then?  Would it be a crisis?  For either of us?  Going through all the places in my mind: separation, splitting assets, furniture, all that we have built in the past three years, buying her out, determining real equity, etc.  What would it be like – a future without the stability she has represented for me?  In a way she has served as an emotional anchor.  Without that anchor, who and where would I be?  A rudderless ship afloat at sea?  I think about my traveling sister, Tracy, living out her dream but seeming at times so alone.

And somehow my thoughts, on the last third of my walk, came back around to what I know.  Being tethered to a particular person in a particular place is not the grounding I seek.  What grounds and centers is intimacy with the self.  And that, for me, today, is knowing at my core that regardless of the players at the physical level, there is enough, and I am enough, I have enough.  Connection, creative opportunity, guidance, love, purpose, affection, worth, credibility, strength, etc.  Whether I have the responsibilities of caring for small children or not, whether I have an incredible client base or not, whether I have a wonderful home or not, whether I have a partner or friends or savings or not, I am okay.  When I am connected to myself, I am not alone.  Those I know, those I have yet to know, and those I will never know; we are all connected.

Without a doubt, feeling some efficacy around money, probably for the first time, has helped me achieve this place.  Not having to worry about whether I’m going to bring in enough money to make the mortgage payment or meet the next financial obligation that comes with being a parent can consume so much psychic energy that it’s almost a luxury to tune in to the deeper inner realms.  Reaching this stage in my life has been a long time coming, but now that I’m here I can breathe a little more freely.  I can afford to entertain ideas one has a harder time entertaining when the biggest numbers are red.

So the great epiphany.  Maybe two-thirds of the way around my circuit, maybe a little more, I straightened a little taller, allowing my head to be suspended by the light nimble energy from the heavens.  I pushed my shoulders down, brought my jaw back and sent my shoulder blades down my back once more, and I felt it, if just for a moment, the connection with my core, my upper leg muscles, my psoas, my abdominal wall.  This was the feeling I had been wanting to avoid — and still do, if you want the honest truth — as these core muscles are so weak as if they are only now waking up from a very long slumber.  I’m not sure of the extent of the power that lives here; it’s so far been easier to let it sleep.  But now, as I watch my father (who is wrestling with the question of life and death) playing with the idea of waking up, and as the Universe pushes me to wake up, connecting upper with lower, I realize I’ve been slumping and restricting my movement and avoiding life experiences because I have been afraid.

Bringing consciousness to these dark fearful places, using the guidance I have learned to trust, feeling the resulting feelings, and building intimacy with myself is a sustainable path.  And it is a path of joy and deep fulfillment.  And to this path I say a heartfelt yes.  For you I am so grateful.