Amazing Parents

Sometimes it\’s AMAZING. Sometimes it\’s just A MAZE.

The Blueprints We Need For Love

What’s funny to me about the house I live is this: it’s currently falling apart.  The hardwood floors need refinishing.  I need a couple of new vinyl windows for better insulation.  The bathroom needs to be re-tiled.  The yard needs to be better landscaped so it looks pretty again.  But that’s because this house is over 60 years old.  It’s older than my own mother, gasp!  (and that’s really, really old, huh Grandma?)  So after all the years of wear and tear, you’d expect that by now it would need some work.  That’s just life.  Without maintenance, things don’t stay perfect forever.

But what about when the house was first built?  Can you imagine the architect standing on the plot, looking around, with a vision in his mind of what he was about to create.  He works hours and hours and hours to design his vision with precision.  He rolls out the blueprints on the table and with his pencil and eraser, he sketches and erases, and then sketches again and again.  He has to get the house “square”, he has to place the doors and windows just so, and the support beams need to be in exactly the right places.  And even beyond the mechanics of it, there is a certain feel, an ambiance, that he is striving to create.  So he continues to work…and work…taking that feeling from a 2-D idea all the way to a 3-dimensional realistic structure.  He buries himself in the task of creating a place where a family can live.  Forever if they take good care of it.

How much more complicated are human relationships than one dumb stick-built house?  How much harder is it to get our relationships “square”?  Putting all the support beams in just the right place, creating a “feeling” and a structure that is safe and secure?

The thing is, building a house is similar to building a relationship.  Much more complicated, but still the the same.  Relationships, like houses, require the right “blueprint”.  A foundation upon which to begin laying the stones.  The blueprints we have for these relationships come from our experiences in our lives.  Did we have a mother that held us a lot and took our feelings into account?  Was our dad supportive and gentle, or was he stoic and strict?  These are the foundations upon which we begin to lay our parenting stones with our own children.  Think back to your past relationships.  What kind of “blueprints” have you been given?  What kind of foundation did they lay for you to build on?

For many of us, looking back at our blueprints is confusing.  It’s confusing to be asked to build something that you don’t have the blueprints for.  What do we need when our own blueprints are not ideal?  We need support.  We need to find a person or a group that can “reparent” us.  We need them to teach us what it feels like to be heard and cared for.  We need to have an experience of unconditional acceptance and the safety to express ourselves.  It is only when we have these blueprints, that we are finally able to pass that on to our own kids.

Sometimes I work with parents who have been torturing themselves, trying to parent their children in this love-based parenting model.  But after years of trying, they still aren’t getting very far.  The relationship continues to collapse and crumble all around them.  Sometimes they paint the outside, but underneath that paint, it’s still that same old, deteriorating relationship.

To these parents, my heart goes out.  I feel their struggle.  I have lived it.

There are many places out there where we can go to acquire the blueprint we need to parent these children.  There are instructors and therapists that know exactly what support beams you need and where to put them in your life.  So reach out to one of the support groups listed in the side bar.  Post to the Consciously Parenting forums or to the Daily Parenting Reflections group and allow the other parents there to hear your voice and to tell you they love you.  Allow them to support you, right where you are.  Stay in it, soak it all up.  Put your fears to the side and just take in that support.  Because each time you experience that, you build a little more of the blueprints your kids need from you.

Because that’s just what they need too.  They need to be heard and made to feel safe enough to express those big, big feelings.  They need to be unconditionally supported.  They need to be loved.  And so do we.  I have to say, I’m only alive today because somebody loved me.  And not because they had to.  But just because they chose to.  Thank you for that.

(This one is for Rebecca, for finally giving me the blueprints I have needed for so long.  I’ll “pay it forward”.  You know I will.)

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November 27, 2008 Posted by | A New Paradigm, RAD Education | Leave a comment

BCI Support Group for Oregon?

November 12, 2008 Posted by | Support Groups | 2 Comments

At a crossroads?

I’m sitting down to write now.  About what, I do not know.  But whatever comes out is what is supposed to. That is about all I know.  Something about being at a crossroads.  And the Captain said, “It’s not a court thing, but an emotional thing.”  That made me mad.  REALLY mad.  But two days later and I realize that he is right. He is always right.  I hate him for that.  But I love him for that at the very same time.

Because I’m so sick of being in charge.  I am raising these kids alone and making money alone and sleeping alone and eating alone and stacking wood alone.  And all the decisions are always up to me to make.  And I am so exhausted from that.  It gets frustrating.  And my brain is fried.  So much “cognitive noise” that it’s disgusting.  That’s why I’ve turned it off.  It’s all off.  And all I am left with is the silence.  The golden silence of the present moment.  Now I know why they call it golden.  It just is.  Worth every ounce.

There is this popular song called “apologize”.  It says that it’s too late.  I can’t really say that I believe that.  I don’t believe it’s ever too late.  If someone wants to say they’re sorry, then why can’t they just be sorry?  Why do we have to put up our guard and say no?  Who are we to judge hearts?  And motives?  And intentions?  Aren’t we all just getting by in life?  Aren’t we all just as screwed up as everybody else is?

You know, someone from highschool just called me “cool”.  I told him that I resent that.  I wasn’t lying.  I do.  Being called cool makes me very uncomfortable.  He has no right to call me that.  No more of a right to say I’m good than he does to say I’m bad.  Why can’t we all just be who we are?  I don’t know.  I just don’t know.

The Captain is right, though.  It is an emotional thing.  It so totally is.  It all is.  It all is so raw to me.  So deep inside of me.  And I can make no sense of it whatsoever.  I don’t know which way to go at this cross roads.  I don’t even know if I’m at a crossroads.  Maybe this is just the path I’m on.  And there is no choice to be made.  Do I love him?  Absolutely.  Do I think he’ll ever love me? I don’t know.  And that scares me, because I don’t understand it.  Is that about him, and his inability to connect, or is it about me, and my insecurities?

I just don’t know.

So now what?

Maybe instead of telling someone else that it’s too late for him to apologize, maybe I should just beg for his forgiveness.  Yep.  Say, please forgive me.  For not knowing what I want.  And for not knowing where I want to go from here.  For not knowing what is best.  For not wanting to be right anymore.  I just don’t care.  And for that, I’m sorry.  But I just don’t care anymore about any of it.  I just want to be happy.  And right now, I am.  That’s enough for now.  Don’t you think?

November 9, 2008 Posted by | Soap Box | 2 Comments

I Want To Hold Your Hand and The Mind/Body Connection

There is one.  A connection, between the mind and the body.

We’ve already talked about how memory is stored.  It isn’t stored just in the cognitive brain.  It is stored much, much lower inside our bodies.  All the way down to the cellular level.  Trauma, especially so.

I have talked to so many people who understand this.  Yet more that don’t….sadly.  And the ones who don’t just keep trying to “talk it out” in traditional therapy or with traditional parenting.  They don’t understand that just talking does not reach deeper than the cognitive level.  But the fact is, not everything is something we can “talk out”.  We must also rewire our entire neurological system at the same time.

So how do we do that?  There are many options: massage therapy, neurological “reorganization”, psychosomatic experiential therapy, etc.  But the first step is simply education.  Do the research.  Read the books.  One excellent book on this is written by Candice Pert and is entitled Molecules of Emotion.  Dr. Pert also recently appeared on the Larry King Live show and talked about how this connection is not just figurative.  But literal.  What happens to the body also happens in the mind.  And what happens in the mind also happens to our bodies.  Much of this wiring occurs within the first three years of life.  But we also know that the human brain is plastic, meaning that it continues to change and grow forever.  Nothing is ever etched in stone.

When we experience something, our bodies literally wire itself to fit into that experience.  If it was a positive experience, our cells literally remember that and will seek it out again.  An example of this is human touch.  If we had positive experiences with our mother holding us, we will find pleasure in it throughout life.  Our brains have learned that being held was satisfying.  Hormones were created, pleasure was felt.  We want it again.  And we will attempt to replicate that throughout life.

The same thing happens with negative experiences.  If we have negative or traumatic experiences, our cells will remember that and could lead us to avoid that experience again.  For instance, if we lacked human contact in those first three years, our brains have not been wired to appreciate the closeness of another human being.  When someone does hold us now, we feel much less satisfaction than the baby that was held a lot.  We haven’t yet learned that human touch feels good.  This is the case of many fostered/adopted children.  They fight us when we pick them up.  They dig their chin into our shoulder.  They cry and cannot be soothed with a back rub or a hug.  They do not quite feel the same sensation as mom does in this moment.

But it’s not all lost.  Because the brain is amazingly malleable.  We can change it.  Just like when a person devotes themselves to learning an instrument.  At first they struggle.  There is far less pleasure in it.  It is uncomfortable and hard.  You force yourself to practice.  Every day.  Day after day.  But as you do this, the brain begins to literally change.  Connections between neurons form that were not there before.  Synapses fire that have never fired before.  Eventually, the more you practice, the more pleasure you find in playing.  Every part of your body craves it.  You have learned that it is, in fact, something desirable.  You will continue to seek it out and recognize it through out the rest of your life.

When we have a child with a trauma history, it can be hard to parent them.  They don’t find pleasure in us.  Not at first.  But we can teach them to.  But it depends on us.  We must reach out to them everyday.  Offer affection, smiles, eye contact, soft touching and lots of physical contact.  It is through this repetition that the brain will change.  The entire neurological system will change.  Over time, this child will begin seeking it out.  More and more.  And each time, they will find a little bit more pleasure in it.  Pretty soon, you will be their drug of choice.  Oxytocin and all of that.

So keep “practicing”.  Keep touching each other.  They might not “get it” at first.  Maybe you won’t either.  But eventually you both will.  You just need to breathe and just be in the present moment.  Regulated and safe for them.  And it will change.  I promise.  Science promises.  So do John and Paul.  Now THAT’S a pretty good reference!  🙂

November 8, 2008 Posted by | A New Paradigm, RAD Education | Leave a comment

Give It Birth

It has been brought to my attention that my posts are candid.  That I don’t really hold back when I write on here.  Well, I guess I didn’t think of it like that before, but it’s true.  I am just writing whatever comes out at the moment and I am not really editing to make it fit into anything nicely.  I am just typing as quickly as my fingers can go.  Thoughts rambling.  Ideas popping up.  Situations in my life that need to come out, come out.  All the dizzy stuff inside of me is given words and in the end it begins to make sense.  And man, does that ever feel good.

The best part is, I really don’t care what anybody has to say about it.  I honestly don’t.  Because it’s not about them.  It’s about ME.  This is really one of the only places in my life that is only about me.  No interruptions, no editing, no planning ahead.  Just me.  When I am writing on here, I am literally just in the moment, completely oblivious to anything around me.  I am in a deep place inside myself.  Very in touch with myself.  In a way, it’s a good practice for the rest of my life.

Sometimes I hear that people don’t know how I can take time like this out for myself.  And that touches me deeply.  Because it makes me recognize that that’s exactly what I’m doing.  I’m taking time out for me.  That is so true.

And what I have come to learn about that, is that my kids need me to.  I need to vent and to process and to put words to experiences.  I NEED to.  It’s not indulgence.  It’s a necessity of my life.  And I am so proud to know that I appreciate my own needs enough to do something like this.  Something as write.  Something that comes so naturally to me, so easily.  Something so tiny.  But it’s huge.  Thank you for helping me to see that.  That it’s huge.

What I want to say to you (and you know who YOU are) about this is: write!  Get a journal or start an anonymous blog.  Spit out your words.  Even if only a few words at a time.  Just write.  Write it all down.  Get it all out.  Put words to all that stuff that’s been floating around inside of you.  Because as my friend Yael says, “there’s a beautiful mess inside“.  And how can we stay outside of that?  Go deeper than you’ve ever dared.

So give it birth, Jazmine Gene!  You deserve it.  And you are worth it.  And YOU are as important in your family as those babies are.  Mabye even more so.  You’ve given birth to them.  But maybe now it’s time to give birth to YOU!

I love you.  (I always have and I always will.  You have been with me along the whole way, whether you knew it or not.)


To hear a free tele-seminar by Janet Conner, author of Writing Down Your Soul, please click here.  By filling out the quick form on the link, you will receive the free recording which you can then listen to on your own time or even download to your iPod.  Thanks again Consciously Parenting Project for another great resource!

November 5, 2008 Posted by | Soap Box | 2 Comments

Slowing down to connect in the present moment

A lot has happened to me in the past several weeks.  The roller coaster that I’ve been on has stopped and then started again.  It’s moving slower this time, which is good.  Because I don’t feel like throwing up anymore.  I just want it over.  I want the ride to be over.  I want to get off now.

But…

I have come to realize that things happen sequencially.  In an order that cannot be sped up, nor slowed down.  We have no control over what has happened, nor what is yet to come.  We cannot fit our lives into pretty little boxes that make perfect sense.  We do not have that kind of power.

I also realize that most of us wish we did.

Because when we are on a ride, a crazy loop-de-loo ride, controlled by someone else, it’s very scary.  You move along at someone else’s pace and the curves just come without you knowing.  Suddenly you’re just in it.  In a fight to keep yourself together.  To not throw up.  And I’m sorry that is what some of you have been through.  I am sorry that it’s sometimes a ride like that.  You have no idea how much I feel your pain.

But I can’t change that for you.  It’s not in my power to stop the ride.  If I could, I would.  You all know that.  Because I want off too.  They say that in car accidents, people who saw the other car coming are worse off than those who didn’t.  Because when you see it, you tense up.  And when every muscle inside your body is flexed like that, the impact causes much more damage.  I think that is what it’s like in life.  A lot.

If we could just learn to relax and enjoy the ride we’d suffer much less damage.  It wouldn’t hurt so bad on impact.  We could recover sooner, stronger.  If we could just learn to breathe and to slow down our bodies and our minds….oh if we could.  Why is that sometimes so hard?

So what I’m going to do right now is commit myself to slowing down.  To stop existing in the past and in the future.  I am just going to exist in the present.  Right here.  Right now.  I’m going to take deep breaths and I’m going to feel my feet on the floor beneath me.  Because it’s there.  I just need to take my shoes off and actually feel it and recognize it’s solid.  Maybe I’ll even rub mud all over my body to remind me I’m alive, with skin that is healthy and growing around me, to protect me from my environment.  Yes, my body has everything it needs.  I just need to let it do it’s job.  And I want it to do it’s job.  Because I can’t do it any other way.

I am going to learn to love myself and my body and my life.  No matter what happens along the ride.  That is going to be this year’s love for me.  I just hope that it lasts.  It better last this time.

November 3, 2008 Posted by | A New Paradigm | Leave a comment