WOW! What a response from that last post. Thank you for your emails and comments! That theme seemed to really resonate and reverberate through most everyone and was so interesting/encouraging/insightful/helpful for me to read about your experiences with it. This whole issue with connection or rather disconnection is truly a universal problem in our culture, and one I have begun to focus on in my life. I have to say, that I didn't recognize in my previous post that I DO have wonderful friends who are offering and willing to truly be my tribe... But what I find is that it's not enough. I need connection with my husband or all the help from my tribe doesn't wipe out the aching loneliness I feel inside. But I also couldn't do this without my tribe.
So after getting really clear, over the past few months, about what I don't choose in my life, I was concerned that it might take me an equal amount of time to get clear on what I do choose. But no. As soon as I was able to voice clearly to my husband what it is that's not working in my life, it was very clear about what I need. It's years and years of programming that I'm eliminating in my life. Stories and beliefs that I adopted from my own parents' marriage and their views about what jobs were or weren't important. That being said, I truly have no idea what they really thought as all of my stories come from my own experience of it, what I perceived to be happening, what I imagined they thought and felt... And so, recognizing that, I see so clearly that in NOT CHOOSING their experience, it opens up a whole new realm of choosing my own. What freedom! And when I'm clear and feeling connected with Brent, it seems quite easy. When I'm not, it seems impossible. This is a journey, nonetheless, and will take the rest of my life to complete... But here's the changes in my itinerary that I'm undertaking right now:
1. I am no longer leaving it up to chance whether or not I'm connected with my husband. I very consciously connect with each of my children every morning when they wake up, each time they come back from an extended play, and every time we're separated for any length of time. Neufeld calls this "collecting" and I've learned that it is essential for emotional safety to my children. I am extending this same idea to my husband. I will not wait and hope that it just happens any longer. I am bumping the importance of this up to #1 as I am very clear that when I am disconnected with him I cannot mother the way I want to, I'm jittery, distracted and snappy. When I feel solidly connected with him, I feel like I can handle anything. So, I'm going to be planning regular time to connect: picnics, dates, walks, early-to-bed nights, writing in our co-journal, emails, phonecalls, etc.
2. I am no longer waiting for people to offer to give me time to myself. I've always known that I need time to myself, but I resist it somehow. I know how fleeting these years are with my children so young and precious and I honestly don't want to miss out on a second of them. Yet I also know that they need more of me now than they ever will in their lives -- they need ALL of me every moment of the day and that is very draining. And so it's clear that I NEED TO RECHARGE. And I'm clear that I can be with them always, never get time away, and the years will pass just as quickly in angst and resentment as they would if I get a few minutes to myself each day and they pass with joy and gratitude... SO! I will be making sure that I get regular time out, whether it be 10 minutes of yoga stretching, or an hours' walk by myself in the evening, or asking friends to play with my children for a bit while I catch my breath. The key here is regular. I can't wait until I'm empty or it's a vicious cycle. I have taken our empty teapot and held it over a cup to show Annika why I need to get away by myself so that I have something to offer her... Change of direction: I'm no longer going to wait for the pot to be empty before getting away to put something in it. I have also let my husband know that I have found that I am able to be the sole-parent well for about 8 hours. After that, I start to slide into a state that is satisfying to nobody. It was SO difficult for me to voice that need because in our culture so much of our worth is tied to how busy you are, how much you work and how much you make... All of those things are cut back when you only work 8 hours a day! But I do see clearly that this is something that is very important to me. It's interesting to me that when I decided to stay home, and Brent decided to work, that I stopped asserting my choices while he continued to do so. I take responsibility for that. When he found he was getting more and more responsibility at this job, I didn't say "Uh oh, what are we going to do? Sounds like they're asking you to work 10 or 12 hours a day, hey? What are we going to do? I can only do 8 on my own..." You know? This is my life, I have as much choice in my life as he does. What is it about our culture that gives a stay-at-home mum the message that she doesn't have choices? She just gets what's ever left-over? Because that's crap! THIS is the most important job, we ALL know that. HOW the breadwinner makes enough to live comfortably on (a whole other topic, yeesh!) has very little to do with how happy the family is. As long as the breadwinner is satisfied and content in his/her work, it doesn't affect the children what the job actually is, right? But the time spent away absolutely affects the entire family. How drained the breadwinner is upon arriving home absolutely affects the family. Yet we give very little thought to all that, and much more thought to how prestigious the job is, how much money is made, etc. Trivial, truly, when it comes to the well-being of our families and how well our society functions. We're so ethno-centric about all this, thinking that we've really figured it out -- we make heaps of money, buy heaps of stuff to fill ourselves up with, and look how very very happy we are. Heck, all those people in developing worlds want to be just like us, right? Cause they're sure not happy living in their little shacks and existence lifestyles... Until you actually go visit them, and see that they are genuinely happy with very little... and come back home and see that we are truly NOT very satisfied or happy and that all this stuff we buy to fill ourselves up with is completely destroying the planet -- for us AND for them. Ack!
3. Focus. Yes, not just a problem in this post, but a problem in my daily life. I wake up with a gazillion things I desperately want to accomplish -- everything from catching up in my garden to really being present with my children... and I haven't been taking the time to focus on what my greatest need is for that day and then choosing to focus on one or two things... I think this alone will drastically alter my itinerary. I hear myself complaining that I need time to focus. I want to do SOMEthing without being distracted. Focus-time. Yet why don't I choose one or two things to actually FOCUS on each day? Seriously up the chances of feeling a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. Of course this means letting everything that I'm not choosing to focus on, GO.
4. Choosing each and every day to CREATE my life. Not letting things happen to me. Not falling back into my comfortable old familiarity of being disappointed or powerless. Stopping the vicious cycles of being a martyr-mother, a misunderstood-underappreciated-wife, and CREATING my best life every moment. And when I don't? Letting it go and being kind to myself, knowing that I'm making progress and growing... Remembering that my life is a journey, and enjoying the adventure of it all...