A dialogue with my inner two-year-old

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7473064878_9df4de6a00_o2 yo: Look at me. Listen to me.

Me: No. You need to listen to me. I don’t have time to deal with this now.

2 yo: (louder) Look at me. Listen to me. (Stomps foot)

Me: Listen here, I am in charge. We have to grow up. I have things I need to do, places to be. Expectations to fill. You don’t understand so just stop this and come along. Maybe later we can talk…

2 yo: NOW! NOW! NOW! (getting louder)

Me: You’re being ridiculous and stubborn. People are watching. You’re making a fool of me. Now just calm down, we’ll talk later, I promise.

2 yo: You always say that. You never do. (sits down, crosses arms) I’m not moving.

Me: Oh damn it all! I don’t have time for this. (grabs hand to start dragging her along)

2 yo: (screaming) Let go! You are hurting me!

Me: No, I’m not. If you’d just listen I wouldn’t have to drag you. You’re just being a stupid little girl. You have no idea about real life and responsibilities. I do, and life just sucks sometimes. It isn’t fair.

2 yo: (crying harder, whimpering) You’re hurting me, stop…

Me: (screaming) Oh just grow up will you!

2 yo: (whimpering) No. I just want you to listen to me.

Me: Oh go to your room! You can come out when you are ready to cooperate.

2 yo slinks back to the dark recesses of my soul. I can still hear her whimpering and sobbing. I carry that weight with me everywhere I go. It drags me down. Every once and awhile she comes out again, trying to get me to listen but I am too busy, too proud, too wounded to hear.

I think it’s time to listen and to be heard…

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It is Time to Heal

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IMG_20141001_175030Sixteen years ago I lay on the floor trying to sleep, anxious and excited about the events of the next day. The room was ready. Clean sheets on the bed, beautiful flowers on the side table and many little touches of romance all around.

Waiting…. waiting…. waiting….

I was in a place of waiting. Alone but knowing very soon I would not be alone any more. The anxieties, the nerves, the hopes, the dreams crystallizing in that moment as I lay on the floor unable to sleep for the sheer excitement that I would be a bride in just a few short hours, and then HIS wife forever.

How young and naïve I was sixteen years ago to believe marriage could save me from my anger and my pain; to think that marriage would change being a single mom into being a family with the minister simply uttering a few words for us to repeat and then blessing us by the power of the church vested in his 91-year-old hands and heart.IMG_20141001_175301

How so much more complicated the process would all end up being…. And how much more pain we’d unwittingly cause each other in the process…

It has been sixteen years filled with passion, love, anger, disillusionment, grief, and struggles of many varieties including power struggles, parenting struggles, health struggles and financial struggles, but here at the threshold of another celebration the biggest fact I cling to is we are still here. Every day we get up and reach for love, reach for understanding, reach for forgiveness and we look at each other across the bed sheets hoping we can find the love, the healing, the forgiveness to carry us through many more years.

There is a lot to forgive and a lot of letting go that needs to happen. Sometimes the pain feels overwhelming and like a gaping hole that can never be filled with enough love to wipe it out. It’s an ongoing, ever-challenging, ever-changing, ever-demanding process. Some days it still involves a lot of waiting… Waiting for patience. Waiting to feel loved. Waiting for validation – to feel noticed, to feel seen and to feel heard.

One of the most intentional emotions I brought away from my retreat in August is that it is time to clarify, to re-define, to evaluate, to change, to face the challenges of my relationship. To stop settling for unhappiness for the sake of my children. It’s an old story. What kind of example are my husband and I setting for our children when we settle for unhappiness in one of the most important and singularly defining relationships of our lives? I wouldn’t want this kind of relationship for any of my children so why am I settling for living in one and asking my spouse to do the same?

After sixteen years my husband and I are at a crossroads. Neither choice is an easy one.

Down one road, there are lawyers, not enough money to keep two households functioning, inevitably more anger and resentment, children having to adjust to missing one parent when they are with the other, missing their bedtime routines of “I love yous” and “see you in the mornings”, and so many more crazy changes and adjustments we haven’t even thought of. Down the other, there is work, lots of work. Reconnecting work, honouring work, loving work, re-defining work, hard work. Really hard work. Divorce will seem like a viable option at times because it would be easier to move on than face some really tough emotions we’ve spent a lot of time and energy avoiding over the last sixteen years.

It is time to heal.

It is time to face our relationship, ourselves, our choices, our responsibilities and find the love again or, and this is always a possibility, not find it but I want to know we did everything possible to save this family because we do owe our children that much and if at the end of the day we can’t, hopefully this process will at least help us choose an ending that honours each other and our children.

For now we are choosing the path of hard work and in that spirit my husband and I have decided to go on a relationship retreat in December. It’s in Paris, France. For a week, the focus will be us, there will be no hiding from each other behind screens or responsibilities or day-to-day life or the needs of the children. Anni and Tim Daulter will help us find our way back to each other, help us find ways to reconnect, help us find ways to redefine our relationship in healthier ways so that there’s less hiding behind pain, resentment and anger.

As we embark on our seventeenth year of marriage, I commit myself to the work that Paris will bring, to meeting my husband in a safe place where we can begin the process of letting go of all the burdens that weigh us down and keep us from being the people, the couple we are capable of being. I believe in my heart that if we don’t fix us, nothing else matters and that’s why this trip to Paris is so important and I am soooo grateful that my husband has chosen to participate in this retreat with me.

A friend asked me if I was placing too much hope in this retreat solving our problems?

The truth is I have to believe it’s possible, that this retreat could bring us the closure on a less than stellar past and an opening to a better future together. I have to believe we love each other enough to give this gift to each other and be willing to open the package and accept the gift into our lives. If I don’t believe that than what’s the point of going to Paris at all? We might as well give up now… So yes I believe this retreat can help turn our relationship around, can temporarily plug the holes in our sinking ship and give us the life boat to save ourselves. We just have to be willing to get in the life boat and row like hell.

I am willing to do the work. I am willing to let go. I am willing to find a new path. I am willing to get in the life boat with my husband and row like hell, hoping that both of us will be pulling together and working together towards the goal of a healthy, happy relationship that is the center of a healthy, happy home. At the end of the day I believe that’s all either of us really want.

So as we celebrate our sixteenth wedding anniversary, we look to our future, waiting, waiting for the day we pack our bags and get on an airplane and for five days make us the center of our world for better or for worse…

I am ready to change, to heal, to love my husband with all my heart and in return open up myself to accepting his love, his healing and his changes, and together creating a safe place within ourselves and around us for the evolution to happen.

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Holding Space

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10453309_10152753801500572_7444336559685040366_nIt was a life-altering experience.

For four days I had nothing to do but take care of myself. My meals were prepared for me. There was very little housecleaning to do. No toys to pick up. No mountains of laundry to wash. My only responsibility was learning and connecting with my soul and heart.

At first it was really hard, I mean REALLY HARD. Even with coming back to my writing this year the moments of connection I had experienced were fragmented, disrupted and often overwhelmed by a world of negativity. For four days I could no longer hide behind my excuses. I was surrounded by a group of women all there to do their own soul-searching and together we supported each other as we faced our pain, our regrets, our demons. They took many different shapes and sizes but there was no competition to out do each other or downplay anyone’s journey. We all just accepted that each of us were facing what we needed to in that space and so we honoured the journeys, held space for the stories and allowed each women to process what they were ready to process and to do so in their own way. For many of us I think that was a first.

For me I know it was a first.

To be able to talk about my pain, past and present, without being shamed, tuned out, ignored or downplayed was an incredible gift and to receive that gift from virtual strangers was even more incredible. I had never met any of these women before sharing that crazy house with them for four days and I now consider them my tribe, my safe place to find refuge when my world is turning upside down and inside out.

My plan is to take these moments of connection out to others who like me are desperately searching for them. To create circles of women supporting women without shame. To be able to hold space for the incredible amount of pain in this world that just wants to be seen and heard. And through rituals and cleansing practices support each other to let go, to accept ourselves, our stories, and realize our worth as a person, as a human being living on this planet connected to everything and everyone.

If the world could collectively exhale its burden of pain and anger, we might find peace. It starts with acknowledgment and a willingness to sit in circle with each other and hear each others stories. To hold space for every individual person to feel the peace that comes from the release of our pain and when we release our pain there is more room for love. If more people experience that life-altering love peace stands a chance, barriers will come down and we will see each other as the connected people we are.

Anni Daulter has created a sacred living movement with the ability to change our world. I am deeply honoured to have spent those four days with her, learning from her amazing zest for life and love and to now take her teachings back to my small corner of the world and help spread that love a little further.

https://www.facebook.com/SacredPregnancy

http://www.sacredpregnancy.com/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sacred-Pregnancy-Ottawa/492137364217191

I have so much more to write about my experiences on this retreat but these are the first real words I’ve put to paper since I got home. There will be more posts to come with more details about the specific experiences and my hopes and dreams for my personal future as well as details about how I intend to bring this movement to my community. Stay tuned.

 

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