when the fire is burning

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8am. Nov 8th, 2016

I sit at my kitchen table, listening to Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, looking back at a week no one could have ever expected. This is where it all lies: Expectations. I remember going out on a Saturday morning with my three year old daughter. I left behind independent boys and my husband. While I was away, I fantasized about how much he would get done around the house. I was imagining a clean kitchen, tidy play room and shiny floors. When I returned home a few hours later, the house was upside down, just how I had left . At first, I was very angry. I couldn’t think why it had not been cleaned. I stayed with the feelings long enough to realize it was rooted only in my fantasy. In the expectation that my husband would take the opportunity to clean the house. I had not asked him or communicated my wish for a clean house. Therefore, the anger had to be directed at my expectation NOT at my husband.

In the weeks leading up to the 2016 US Presidential Election, I found myself emotionally enthralled. I watched all of Hillary Clinton’s rallies. I compulsively researched controversies and conspiracy theories right wing reporters gratefully spread. I listened to podcasts and read her books. She, as all of us humans, has made some mistakes. Some greater than others. I watched polls closely and anxiously waited the moment the glass ceiling would shatter. When girls and women could look to the future as bright and endlessly possible.

Last Tuesday evening, I made myself a stiff drink and sat in front of the television waiting for the results to roll in. Once Florida and Ohio went red, I went to bed. Through the tears, I whispered to my husband: “They always win.”

I spent the last week in mourning. Feminism got a great big blow to the teeth. Equality for women was pushed off the playground. Sexual abuse, racism, bigotry and bullying has, once again, been normalized. “They always win.” But it didn’t win. SHE won. More people in America voted for a well prepared, intelligent, well spoken and experienced woman. I try to find solace in that.

I also decided to remove myself from Facebook after I noted a friend’s post claiming Canadians are to remain without opinion; we don’t get a vote. Let us be very clear: we will NEVER quit speaking the truth and point out abusive behaviour.

Today is Sunday. The only tear I shed was over Kate McKinnon’s rendition of Hillary Clinton singing Hallelujah. I am still heart broken over what was lost. NOT who lost.

To the Trump supporters: the election is over. You won. There is no benefit in resoundingly reminding us of what has happened. We saw. We heard you loud and clear. What we are doing is making some space for the sorrow and the loss. We are not “pearl-clutching” or dwelling. We are devastated. Devastated that over 50 millions Americans felt they needed to remind all women, African American, LGBT, and other minorities not to think for a moment we are equals. What we are doing is tightening our bra straps, protecting our vaginas and looking inside our deepest selves to channel the anger. When we are ready, we will get off the floor and fight like hell. As poised Hillary reminded us in her most difficult and gracious concession speech, “never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it.” 

To all the women who saw themselves in Hillary, I get it. I understand the transference. A brilliant woman losing to a rich white man who says whatever crosses his mind. I understand how watching him lurk behind her during the second debate triggered old feelings. How the mention of grabbing women by the genitals being dismissed as “locker room talk” is a reminder that it is easier to stay quiet. Well, I am DONE. I will not be quiet anymore. I will speak up. I will act. I will fight.

Let’s give ourselves time to heal. Let’s keep an eye on those whose healing might not come and let us help them. Let us love. Let us love those who are not so easy to love. They most likely need it desperately.

To Hillary Rodham Clinton: Thank you. Thank you for lighting my fire which was put out so many years ago! This election was personal for many of us. You proved we are worth fighting for.

I am Nasty. I am raising a Nasty girl and some Nasty loving boys. Love WILL prevail.

Maman M.

 

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keeping count

IMG_3511I was too skinny and my mental health was suffering. I had just turned 18 years old. I knew little. I did know there were feelings I had never felt before and I sort of knew they were not what I wanted to be feeling. There were some major transitions coming in the summer of 2000. Two of my best friends were heading West to better their English skills, others were off to cool adventures with family or boyfriends. I was so lost.

When I loaded my life in a few luggage and embarked on that bus, I took 3 or 4 Gravol. I wanted to sleep the entire way to Toronto. Perhaps I did not want to wake up. But I did. I woke up. At Union Station with the content of my life spread around my legs and those of my mind spread across thousands of kilometres.

My children are nowhere near the age where they want to pick up and go on an adventure. In fact one of them claims he will never marry and live with us forever. At this point, I’m ok with that. I however understand how my parents must have felt. I was to be gone only a few months; a year maybe. Today marks my 16th year as an Ontarian.

It is nearly impossible to remember the first feelings. The first few months living in Orangeville with my aunt and trying to figure myself out. I learned the language and was hired by an airline. I worked, made money and began travelling. As time passed, the world opened itself to me and my views broadened with each experience.

I have found it helpful and encouraging to count each additional year since my big move. However, this time around, it doesn’t bring me as much joy. I am not sad or angry, simply indifferent. I am counting the 5 more years before I graduate, which will mean my eldest son will be 13… a teenager. I am counting 2 more years, where I will have lived here as long as I lived in my home town.

The thing is, those year are passing much too fast. The months, weeks, days, hours, minutes… There is always so much to do and not enough time. I want to hug my kids and play in the creek with them. I want to sit outside with my man and talk about our lives and our dreams. I want to spend time with my beloved friends and all the love they share with us. I want to read all the knowledge I can absorb. I want to make space for all the feelings I am digging up working so hard at becoming a psychotherapist and be able to help people some day. I want to write all I feel and think and one day, look back at this amazing life we made for ourselves and let my mind travel through the beautiful memories. All because I did wake up.

I woke up and the sun rose again. Some days are a little darker but one thing for certain, the sun will shine again.

From here on, I’d like to quit counting and revel in the days, bright and dark. Because I know now, after all the diapers and colic and sore nipples and scratched knees and tantrums and soccer  practice and piano and swimming lessons, I am fully and blissfully awake.

Love,

Maman M.

i am fat

You see, I am fat. There are no other way to say it. I am not exactly curvy as standards would have it. I am not voluptuous

fat-catunless my husband is concerned. I am simply FAT. The scale says it. My BMI says it. Everyone one on my Facebook feed says it.

You see, I am studying to become a psychotherapist. Some of my work is a VERY intense training group which makes be dig up all the hidden ghosts in my imaginary closet. The thing about being a psychotherapist is having little to no judgement. AT ALL. Toward others AND toward yourself. FAT CHANCE! Thankfully, I have 3 more years of this work to do.

Let’s get back to the fat. I have been wired to feel that, the fat cells on my body, the ones people see and judge, are like penalty cards to my intelligence. My place in the world and my entitlement. Entitlement to opinions, feelings, bravery, etc. I am FAT therefore, I have less of an impact on others and the world.

In the last few years, I have had a few “free” passes. The last 8 years, I have been either pregnant or nursing. I suffer from a thyroid problem that makes it that much more difficult to lose the baby weight. I am on an anti anxiety/anti depression med that makes me gain weight. WHAT-eh-VER. I AM JUST FAT.

For my body to become smaller, I must starve, have emotional ups and downs, work out until I throw up and live like I am a different person. All because I need to be a certain way so I am seen a certain way!

My weigh and my appearance are a constant reminder that I am worth less than the common human being. People who bullied me had a right. People who didn’t like me were justified. People who looked at me differently were allowed.

My boys are 8 and 6. They know. They know that my stomach, which isn’t quite like the flat stomach of this other mom with 3 kids, isn’t “normal”. HOW. How do my children know and feel like my stomach should be flat and not protrude from the seam of my yoga pants?

Will my little girl know what it feels like to be FAT? Feeling fat is a complete other topic and please visit this article my friend Dawn posted which is brilliant and she is totally freaking gorgeous, inside and out.

Will my girl OR my boys get my genes? Will they feel what it feels like to be FAT. Will I have ingrained enough power and self awareness into them so they know they are magnificent, regardless of size, color, race, gender, etc.

You see, we are not wealthy. We are not wealthy because my main focus is to ensure they know who they are inside. We are not wealthy because I spend, or my guy is willing to invest, 8 plus thousand dollars a year in my self discovery so I can help people one day  love that they are FAT and smart and compassionate and generous and aware.  That the size of their asses has absolutely nothing to do with who they are as people of this world. And we, can do anything and everything. We are worthy or everything and anything: Friends, husbands, children, no children, families, friends, network, communities, faith, God, love. LOVE. LOVE. We are WORTHY of LOVE. ALL THE LOVE. Your size is utterly unrelated to the level of love you’re able to give or entitled to receive. LOVE WITH ALL YOUR HEART. AND LET US BE LOVED.

LOVE,

Maman M.

 

 

 

 

 

that shameful thing

Mindsight_LGI think overall, I am a decent parent. I feed, I love , I clothed, I listen, etc. I question my every move. Each decision, each comment, every little compliment is weighed. Whether before it is verbalized or after. My eldest son’s favourite come back now is “we all say things we don’t mean when we are angry”.

A very important notion in our family is that emotions are allowed, granted and celebrated. Not only the ‘fun’ emotions. All the emotions. If my children are never angry or sad, they will never be happy. However, in spite of how strong an emotion gets, the consequences of our actions live on forever. An insult to a beloved brother or too much talking back to a parent. If it makes the journey from your brain to your tongue and is delivered, it is out there. We must all live with it. Yes, it is physiologically known that when we “flip our lid” (Siegel, 2011, p.27) as Dr. Daniel Siegel explains so well in his book ‘Mindsight’, the brain connections working to regulate emotions don’t exactly fire properly. Still, it has a 99.9% chance of hurting someone we love very much.

So, I preach. I preach kindness and auto regulation. I preach to them, but I mostly preach to myself. Because when I ‘flip my lid’ (Siegel, 2011, p.27) and the ‘limbic lava’ (Siegel, 2011, p.27) starts to boil, I scream. I feel I must put it out there for the whole world to see. I am a screamer. Those sweet babies whom I nursed and cajoled and baked for all these months, they get the worst of my hot blooded self. My  wonderful psychotherapist likes to remind me I have European blood and I am ‘unique’ in certain aspect of personality. However, accepting my failure in keeping cool is oh so difficult. After all the neurons reconnect, I look at their little tiny faces and my heart sinks. I want to cry and hold them tight. I apologize for raising my voice but maman is just so tired and a bit frustrated repeating the same thing 100 times. School has been on for 5 months and when I ask them to get dressed and brush teeth in the morning, they look at me like I have 2 heads and they have never accomplished that task before.

So, I put heavy blame on myself and my ability to raise these little humans. I put more money aside for the therapy they will one day need. I watch from the corner of my eyes all the other mamas dropping off their kids at school and whispering sweet nothing to them. While I get out of the car, weary and filled with guilt because of another morning I didn’t handle with poise and calm. And, I know I am not alone.

There, I said it. This mothering business is difficult. It is a test. When I kiss them in the hall and watch their little backs walking away from me in to a life of their own, I wonder if they are happy and if they remember the apology that came shortly after the loud words. I pray they remember how much they are loved and utterly brilliant beings.

I will try again. Every. Single. Day.

Love,

Maman M.

References
Siegel, Daniel J. Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation. New York: Bantam, 2011. Print.

learning to land

Scan 10There are so many elements of my training in becoming a psychotherapist. I attend lectures weekly and lecture seminars monthly. There are the odd days when graduates share their most recent papers on the Oedipal Complex or Winnicott’s concepts. A very important part of this program, which few people understand, is a very intense, 4-year, 440-hour Group Therapy session.

In order to be a therapist and manage to support patients on a daily basis, a clear and profound awareness of self is necessary. Not only to help others, but to maintain sanity and survival. As a first year student, I am learning the ropes. Sharing my trials and tribulations and being able to sit and hold myself while reaching places within I would rather not attend to. Often, others’ sharing is the most enlightening.

Other than Freud’s Psychoanalysis Lexicon’s MANY terms and definitions, psychotherapists employ a jargon of their own. Much like educators or administrators, we develop a language of our own. For the actions of our work carry such meaning, they need terms or expressions. I am quickly learning my way around them. Although cerebrally processing words like “coming in” or “taking it in” and “holding” isn’t too difficult in the context of daily life or group, applying them is another challenge in itself.

This week, I had an epiphany on the word “Land”; to land or landing. Obviously, landing could mean arriving somewhere or at something. In this case, landing grabbed my attention in a way I have always wanted to understand and reach.

I detest conflict. I have difficulty facing a situation which may result in anger toward me. I rather walk away when I notice others heading to an argument, heated or not. I immediately reach flight reaction and fear danger. When faced with adversity, I have a tendency to hide. It is more comfortable to take the blame or pretend than having a needed conversation with someone. My fear of rejection wins. This week’s session shone a very bright, concert worth, light on my issues facing negative feelings and conflicts.

Landing. Making space for emotions, conflicts, etc. Allowing all these to land somewhere allows one to take ownership; to hold these situations in the basket with all the other parts of us.

I have noticed myself become increasingly assertive. The fears associated with speaking on uncomfortable topics or situation are slowly, very slowly dissipating. I have even been able to say “no” at times.

Amazingly, making space for all these things to land some place safe, instead of keeping them in, deeply nestled in my super critical self, has allowed the better parts of me to take more space. Clearer, neater and safer mind.

This is going to be a journey. A winding road I am learning to face. Small steps toward feeling worthy and entitled to those ugly and terrifying confrontations. Because, most times, the outcome is made so much scarier in my mind, than it actually is.

I want to make space for a smooth and bump-less landing of self. To grow to the best and most wholesome self I can offer my future clients. Much work; much work.

With love and hope.

Maman M.

 

 

 

Prayers for Sweet Baby Doll

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Dear Baby Doll,

It has been a little over three months since you came in to our lives. Everyday has been a pure blessing. Your brothers and Papa are deeply smitten by your sweetness. Everyone we meet stops to look at you, and most of the time, you charm them with one of your blissful gummy smile.

Today we got your little ears pierced. My heart ached as you cried, trying to decide what had just happened. My ears were pierced when I was your age. I sported fancy little diamonds which you will be wearing as soon as your precious little ears have healed. I wore them for years and I am so happy you will too.

For the last three months, you have filled our lives with love and pride that isn’t quite describable. I savour every one of your spit-bubble smiles and sweet little noises. Everyday, your little legs get stronger. You try to stand on my thighs and look at me proudly. I smile and laugh in pure joy. Watching you grow has been the greatest blessing. You seem to think that a fly marrying a bumblebee is the funniest. The more I sing it, the bigger the smiles get!

When I pick you up and you get close to me, I take a big breath and smell your little head. The sweet scent of Ivory Snow, drool and freshly washed hair fill my heart with happiness. Then you take a breath and open your mouth wide. Latching on my shoulder, my cheek or my mouth, if I try to kiss your lips. You keep looking for milk. Nature is fascinating. I remember watching the little House Finch babies open their mouths as Mama Finch landed on the nest. Although much cuter, your little mouth always seem open when you are close to me.

God, in his magnificent ways, has given me the opportunity to mother you, a blessing, but also the ability to nourish you. You could survive for months, with only what I have to offer you. What an incredible gift from God!

I looked at you today, with shiny jewels in your ears and couldn’t help but dream about a day when you will try on my jewelry and play dress up. Or the day you want to borrow my earrings to go to school.

With all the gifts God has given our family, I can only pray.

I pray that you grow healthy and strong.

I pray that you accept and follow Jesus and keep Him close to your heart.

I pray that you are able to LOVE. Love yourself, love others, give back to the world and be a servant of Christ.

I pray that your little heart never gets broken. I understand that you and I will not always agree but I pray that you never cease to know how much I love you and how much you mean to me, to everyone who knows your heart.

I pray that, when it is time to choose a man, you will look up to your Papa and remember what a wonderful man he is. How great he has been to me, to you and to our family. I pray that you look for someone just like him.

You are surrounded by strong willed women and I pray that you are able to listen to them, have compassion and believe in yourself. You can do anything through Him.

I pray that God gives me the tools to help you grow strong and beautiful, inside and out.

My baby girl, watching you, holding you, nursing you, caring for you and loving you is one of my greatest joy. I am overwhelmed having you as my daughter. I thank God every day for the gift of a little girl.

You are special. You are beautiful. You are a child of God.

I love you so much! You are loved by many.

Maman

A little touch of pink

When I was 9, my mother gave birth to a bouncing baby boy! He was everything I had ever dreamt. I had imagined what it may be like to have a sibling. For nine long years, then nine long months, I waited and planned. I watched pregnant women my mother knew and thought they were the most beautiful. I felt they had to be strong and caring to be able to carry such weight and love in their swollen bellies. I wondered if they were anxious to hold their babies in their arms and be able to rock them and love them. I was obsessed with babies. It hasn’t changed much.

When I was 25, I gave birth to my first son. He was nothing like I had dreamt. Those pregnant ladies I had watched 15 years before, could they have felt that same strong love for their baby as I was feeling for this little miracle. My entire self changed that New Year’s day! I, the little girl who fantasized over the mommies to be, had become a Maman. The Lord was trusting me with this amazing little life. I spent days, weeks, months just watching him, smelling his head, watching his fingers on my heart as he nursed. He was and still is perfect, 5 years later.

During our sons first year, we were thrilled to learn we were expecting yet another miracle, someone else to love and cherish. Unfortunately, we now have 2 angels in heaven, watching down on our family. We look forward to meeting them some day.

Finally, our fourth pregnancy ended on a cold and sunny day in January and our second little boy was born. He also was perfect and not only were we, his parents, over the moon with this little train fanatic to be, his big brother, who takes after his mom, would sing him to sleep and try to hold him and kiss him every chance he got. We were whole.  We were a family, overflowing with joy.

We are now a family of four. We have two little boys, full of life and attitude. Full of love to give and trouble in which to get in. Two boys who love each other even if most of the time they want the same toy at the same time.

We are still counting our blessings for our perfect little family as we are expecting number three. Three miracles.

This is pregnancy number five and it has been the most challenging twenty two weeks of my life. Somehow, I do not see in the mirror what I saw back then. Pregnant women are still beautiful, I just don’t happen to be the glowing type. However, the Lord knows best and I should not waver from my trust in Him.

Adding to the blessing of another life to love, we will be bringing pink to our family. Sometime in February, I will be holding in my arms a sweet little daughter. I am ecstatic yet petrified. I do not know girls. I am a woman who was very uncomfortable as a girl. I have only raised boys. They are all I know!

Although the thought of having a lifelong shopping partner, a head full of hair waiting to be braided and ballet recitals to attend has me dancing around with joy, the idea of having a daughter has me terrified!! I never questioned my capacity at mothering my boys. I educate myself everyday on parenting but I don’t challenge my ways or decisions. Will I be able to raise a self confident, self respecting woman?

All I can do is pray.

Dear Lord, you have entrusted me with another life. The life of a little girl who one day will choose a career path, a husband, her Faith. I pray that you will guide me in showing her your ways. I pray that you will help me be strong enough to make her believe she can do anything. That she will be able to conquer any obstacles. I pray that she will know, everyday of her life that I love her, unconditionally, with all that I have, with all that I am. That I will support her dreams and sometimes have to knock sense into her. I pray that she grows up to be a kind, humble, dedicated, genuine and gentle human being, like her daddy, and that she will teach me ways
I have yet to learn.

To my little girl, growing happily in the dark corners me. You are loved more than you will ever understand

Maman M.