The Magic of Love is in the Repair of Emotional Connection

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One thing that I never commented in depth on was being separated from my son for five weeks.  


I haven’t talked much about it because it wounded us both pretty deeply.  In talking with my momma friend sympathizers, I believe this is what took their breath away more than anything.  I know for my own parents and brother it broke their hearts too.  

Most people never got too angry at my husband, but this.  This would stop those that knew us in their tracks.  “I don’t care what anyone says.  He needs you.”  I, honestly couldn’t disagree.  I don’t know that his father could either, however, he feared the threats from the District Attorney that somehow Colorado social services would place our Tennessee son in Colorado foster care.  This is borderline impossible, if you understand the law, but he was very lost and confused.  He felt he couldn’t get advice from his social worker wife.  He consulted with his parents and you can read about how that ended in the previous post. 

Leif had just turned 3, and I had never been away from him for longer than four hours at a time.  In fact, this was my number one complaint in our marriage at the time.  My husband spent time with my son, but often with me there.  I had to do a lot of pushing to get him to watch him.  Even then, I would have to leave the house because he didn’t want to leave the house with him.  As an introvert, I felt like I was on the clock 24/7 for 3 years straight.  Getting to relax alone, quietly, in my bed with a good book was what I longed for to just finally get some rest and rejuvenation.  No matter how many different ways I said it, I don’t think my husband could understand it.  Our compromise was preschool, but it took me 18 months to win that argument.  I was beyond burned out by the time he entered school 3 days a week one month prior to this happening.  

Only when I would say, “I need you to take him to the park for an hour now,” did it click.  Even then, I would often hear, “I need to…”  As though his needs immediately trumped mine. Without thought or consideration, it was my job to care for our son because he worked.  

To some extent I agreed to this.  To the extent of even a 50-60 hour work week, I agreed to this.  I loved my job, after all.  However, I started getting to where I needed a break, relief, sleep, something, when that toddler will started to kick in. 

I think all mothers feel this at some point.  I’m pretty sure no one loves negotiating with a toddler 24/7.  If you do, I want to meet you for coffee or tea and pick your brain. 

Ultimately, though, I never wanted to NOT see him.  Never.  Ever.  We were still nursing.  I was still putting him to bed most nights unless I demanded time for myself.  I was still spending most days “adventuring” with him.  

Then, one evening, he witnessed me being escorted by the police out of our vacation rental with handcuffs on and then he didn’t see or hear from me again for 5 weeks.  

My heart yearned for his tiny arms wrapped around my neck with everything I had.  I would cry myself to sleep every night, longing to hold his tiny body and feel his tiny kisses.  

My mom was with me the first time we talked on the phone.  My husband finally went against the order the state of Colorado placed on me and let me talk to him on Mother’s Day.  His little voice was so beautiful to me.  

My mother was outside working in her flower garden.  After I got off the phone with him, I sobbed so hard that she came running into the house.  She sat next to me, held me, and rubbed my back.  I’ve never loved my mother more than I did in that moment.  

I saw him at the Farmer’s Market a couple days later.  We have gone there every single week for over two years.  He didn’t even notice me the first several times I walked by him.  I wasn’t sure what to do.  I didn’t want to startle him, and just looking at him was amazing to me.  He looked like a blessed little white haired angel.  

The third time he walked by me, he went past me about 6 feet, and then I heard a very tentative, “Mommy?” from behind me.  I turned around and he was staring at me with his mouth open.  I started sobbing immediately. Deep, guttural cries that came from my gut. 

His dad looked at him and said, “It’s okay.”  He came and ran into my outstretched arms. 

“I missed you very much, Mommy.”

“I missed you very much too, Buddy.”

It felt like a piece of my soul finally came back to me.  

I haven’t really written much about this because it was the most painful part of the entire ordeal.  The follow up was even more painful.  He experienced intense trauma in a way that taught him the world wasn’t safe and trustworthy.  He had never experienced anything like this prior because I was so attentive to him.  

Over the last several months, we have been working very diligently on reassuring him that he is safe to trust.  It has been a massive test all around, especially with all of the other things going on: repairing our marriage, interference from my in-laws, and a new pregnancy.  We are both extremely diligent and driven people and my gratitude couldn’t be greater for these traits.  

I’m not going to lie.  We are sleep deprived and both could use a day or two of pampering. I do, though, feel like I can finally confidently say that we have succeeded in working towards the most positive end in all of the above.  Leif still isn’t sleeping all the way through the night, but I’ll take it.  It is only a matter of time before he feels secure enough to do so.  

He now let’s me hold him in such a way that his little body melts into mine.  He holds my hand.  He gives me tiny little kisses.  He is willing to negotiate needs with me and compromise again.  For the most part our days go very smoothly, as much as any 3 year old’s days can.  It has taken months of hard work to come back to this place because of his fear of my leaving him again. 

I finally feel like I can breathe a sigh of relief.  I knew this would be the biggest challenge I faced.  I know that often the biggest challenge that any of us face is repair.  So often, this is a skill that is overlooked, but such a necessary thing.  With my husband, we can at least logically empathize and communicate to facilitate a connection repair.  You can’t do that with a preschooler.  Your only clear communication is loving consistency.  

During this, those that were kind enough to be there for me, all asked the same question.  “How can you be so calm right now?”

Sometimes I asked that of myself.  Ten years ago, I wouldn’t have.  I think that’s a big piece of it.  A lot of good not being calm does.  It’s guaranteed to make things worse.  I’ve acted out plenty in my life.  It never served anyone in a good way.  

I think, though, that I knew, intuitively, deep in my heart that it was going to be okay.  I had been praying at length prior to all of this happening, for the walls between my husband and I to crumble.  Obviously, I couldn’t control his side of things, but I trusted in my prayers being answered.  It was a constant, daily prayer.  I wanted him back, not this shell of a human that transformed the moment I moved in with him.  

Many times, intuitively, I felt this was the massive breaking away, tearing down, crumbling of all of the walls.  Often times when things are torn apart, you are given all of the tools you need to rebuild a better version. 

My heart swells at this strange opportunity we have been given.  Each following blessing fills me with joy.  The growth, connection, and love that we now have leaves me in absolute awe and curiosity of what other blessings await us.  

Faith.  That’s what saw me through.  Faith that light eventually follows the darkness. 

The Moment of Release is the Moment of Welcoming the New

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I have avoided writing this just because of the nature of the topic.  I didn’t want to solidify it as having actually occurred because it hurt me so deeply.  I have attempted a few blog posts only to promptly delete them because I still hadn’t found a space of forgiveness, which is so crucial to me.  I know many of you read them since you commented on them.  Thank you for your support during a difficult time.  God knows I needed it. I, though, feel like all people deserve love and the chance to redeem themselves without me condemning them. 

This is not a condemnation at all.  I want to make that clear.  This is me recording this in order to release it.  Tomorrow is the end of the Mercury retrograde and the Fall Equinox.  It is a big energy shift within the universe, and I’m ready to take full advantage of it.  Holding onto this occurrence does not serve me or my family and I am finally ready to let it go. 


On Memorial Day weekend my husband and I went camping.  We visited with my family, and it was our first showing as a recommitted couple since our separation.  It was a pretty big deal since we hadn’t been reunited for very long.  We were celebrating our family life, our children, and expressing gratitude for being able to have the opportunity and willingness to make amends. 

However, for us to be successful we both had to let go of a lot.  We did so relatively seemlessly for one another.  Our families of origin were another story.  

For me, I had to come to terms with the physical abuse and chaos I suffered as a child and in my first marriage.  I had to agree that I had unresolved trauma that I needed help with.  I began EMDR counseling shortly afterwards to reduce my unnecessary fight or flight response to conflict.  I also went back on Prozac. 

For him, he never addressed any issues with his family of origin in his past.  He hasn’t received any counseling or done any work on emotional self.  He had a “perfect family” as he always expressed to me.  I always thought it odd that he had a perfect family and such a limited relationship with his parents, siblings,  and extended family, but who was I to judge?  It seemed to work for everyone… until I had Leif. 


This precious little one awoken something I had never witnessed before in my husband’s family.  He had done a good job of keeping everyone at arm’s length prior to his birth. 

When I had our son, my mother-in-law took it upon herself to let me know how I was to raise her grandson.  Unfortunately it didn’t align with how I felt I should raise my son.  I respectfully let her know this on multiple occasions, but she was insistent that I do it her way.  I finally said, “Look, you are my husband’s mother and no one can ever take that relationship away from you.  I respect it tremendously.  However, if you want our son raised a certain way, you need to take it up with your son.”  I then blocked her from communicating with me online.  She took major offense to it, and my husband ignored it.  He told me that I should just agree and do what I want.  I countered with that being inauthentic and dishonest, and I had the right to set that boundary.  She never apologized and maintained her stance, and I avoided her as much as possible the one week out of the year that they visited.  

It seemed to work out alright.  They swept it under the rug and I maintained my integrity.  I didn’t back down on my boundary regarding making personal decisions for my child between my husband and I.  However, when we separated, she took it upon herself to come up and “help” with child rearing.  My husband said he eventually had to ask her to leave because he felt that her help was more detrimental than him parenting and using the help of our neighbor.  (She is an elderly grandmother that has “adopted” our sons as her own.  The worst she does is let them watch cartoons and eat Cheerios.  We can both live with that.)

Before she left, she informed him, “You know what you have to do, right?”

“No, I don’t know.  What do I have to do?”

“You need to meet with a lawyer about filing for your divorce.”

He heeded her advice and met with several attorneys and cut off my access to our finances. Finally he met with one that said, “I see you’re still wearing your wedding ring.”

“Yeah, I am.”

“That tells me you don’t really want this to happen.”

“No, I don’t.”

“Then why are you here?”

And then it clicked.  He was there because he was told to be there.  He lived most of his adult life as he was told to live it.  He didn’t live his adult life as he desired to live it, and he had the capacity to do just that. 

I moved back in within a week.  I had the man I met when we were dating, before he started being given “advice” on family life.  I had the man that trusted his intuition, desires, hopes, and dreams without consideration for pleasing his omnipresent parents or society at large.

So to celebrate, we went camping.  He had this newfound knowledge about himself and a freedom he hadn’t experienced in a very long time.  

That Friday evening he had a conversion episode.  In mental health terms, this is a physiological response to childhood trauma being cognitively recognized.  It is actually a form of a panic disorder that results in disassociation.  However, there is a lot of parallels between this and the symptoms of kundalini awakening.  There are also a lot of spirit psychologists that align these two as a release of trauma and realigning with your true self, as one with God, not the “self” that has been projected upon by others. 





It scared us all.  I thought for sure he was having a heat stroke.  He lost his vision, control of his body, and was sweating profusely.  I called 911 but it took over an hour for the ambulance to get there.  I kept ice on his back and under his arms.  I undressed him.  I kept him from falling and forced him to stay mentally present with me so he wouldn’t lose full consciousness.  

My 11 year old went and got the people camping next to us.  One was a nurse and she came and helped me ice my husband.  Another woman went and got the game warden who directed the ambulance back to us.  I somehow, by the grace of God, was able to keep my 3 year old and our German shepherd in the tent amongst the chaos.  I don’t know if I have honestly prayed harder in my entire life.  My sweet boys and dog were my heroes that night.  They really showed a maturity that I didn’t know they had the capacity to embody. 

It took 3 men to carry my husband down an embankment, load him in a truck, and drive him to the ambulance.  If you haven’t gathered, he is a big man.  He is about 200 lbs and 6’0.”  He is often referred to as “the Viking” in his circles.  


I loaded up my car with the kids and the dog.  At this point it was 1:00am.  Our amazing neighbors moved all of our belongings into our tent for us while I did this.  I never got their names, but I will never forget their kindness. 

I drove the kids to my mother’s and beat on her door at 2:00am.  She took in the dog, and tucked the kids into her guest room.  I told her I would be back as soon as possible.  

By the time I arrived at the hospital they had already released him.  He didn’t have any clothes so I grabbed some out of his work bag. His shoes were also at the campsite so we picked up a $.99 pair of flip flops at Wal-Mart. We made it back to my mom’s at 4:00am.  She was fully dressed and sleeping on the couch.  I loved her so much for being a place of peace amongst our struggles in that moment.  

My husband and I fell asleep on her other couch and were awoken a few hours later by our youngest.  I thought the worst was over.  We were all exhausted, but everyone was okay.  I was filled with love and appreciation for how well things turned out.  It could have gone a number of different ways, and this end result was better than anything I could have imagined. 

Before we even made it home, though, his mother started calling and demanding to be spoken with.  He texted to let her know everything was okay.  He would call and update once everyone was rested.  He didn’t do it soon enough for her.  She accused me of “poisoning him to get the glory of saving him.”

……

………

Wait.  What?

Poisoning him to get the… Glory… Of saving… Him.

What?

…………

It has taken me months to even wrap my head around that.  Like I said this happened Memorial Day weekend and I’m just now at a point where I feel confident in being able to release it.  I still don’t fully comprehend it, but it took me at least a month to accept that she actually said those words… About me… To my husband.  

Never mind the fact that doing something like that would put everyone and everything that I hold dear at risk.  What if I couldn’t have contained Leif and the dog when all of this was going on?  What if Leif, in his anxiety, ran off into the woods?  What if my oldest son wasn’t able to help me?  

What about me says I’m willing to put my children and family at risk in that way?  

I can’t tell you how many times I have asked myself this question and I still have not found an answer.  I haven’t found an answer because I’m not sure there is one.  I’m not sure that statement really had anything at all to do with me.  

But it had everything to do with the person that verbalized it.  My husband said it was like his first realization was one smack in the face by the universe.  He said this one was a back handed slap in the other direction to ensure he got the point.  And I think he did.  He told his mother he needed space from her and didn’t communicate with her for almost a month until he got news July 2nd that his father was having emergency heart surgery scheduled for July 5th.  

We made arrangements, and packed up the kids and the dog for yet another impromptu adventure.  A vacation to Florida in July.  It is hot in Florida in July.  It is hot there in October.  The only reasonable time in Florida is January.  However, we went anyway, and the reason was twofold.  My husband wasn’t sure his father would survive since he is elderly, and he wanted to talk to his mother face to face about what she said about me.  This was the first time in our decade relationship ever visiting his parents.


We showed up on July 4th to watch the fireworks in their community.  He tried to talk to her then and she ignored him.  His sister stared at their mother incredulously the entire conversation.  We went and visited a few sites within 2 hours of their home over the next couple of days.  His father successfully went through the surgery and felt well enough for a return visit on our way back north.  My husband attempted to talk to her again.  She refused to discuss it, so he gave up.  We packed up and we left. 

He gave her another two months to approach him and still she didn’t.  I became pregnant and he knew he needed to tell his parents, but he also knew that he couldn’t accept her continued treatment of me in such a negative way.  For the first time in his entire life, he set a firm boundary with his parents.  This is what his email said…

Mom, 

I hope that all has been well with you, Dad, and Meridith since our visit. It has been almost 2 months since we were there and I wanted to take a moment to reach out to you to share some good news as well as clear the air some in hopes that everyone can move forward in a positive direction. I love you tremendously, and would love for you to be a part of both mine and my family’s lives moving forward, but I need to make sure that we have a level of mutual respect and understanding that facilitates a healthy relationship between everyone involved. I am asking for a few things that I feel would communicate the level of respect that I would expect from anyone in my life and my hope is that you don’t find any of this too difficult or find offense in any of it as that certainly isn’t the intention.

I think that the biggest item that I am asking for is that you treat myself and Chelsi both as adults and as equals. Neither of us are asking for your approval or disapproval, we simply want to live and let live. We are here to listen to you without judgment and expect the same from the people who are in our lives. Each of us are unique human beings with strengths, weaknesses, hopes, dreams, emotions, and our own way of seeing and processing the world. We aren’t looking for anyone to solve our problems, nor do we feel it necessary to solve others problems, but we do give and expect to receive some level of empathy if we express something that we are struggling with. I know that sometimes this is hard – I struggle with it as well, both as a parent and as a spouse, but it truly goes a long way towards building relationships. In an effort to clarify what I am talking about, this video may help: https://youtu.be/-4EDhdAHrOg. I think that in the past there has been a rift created, especially between yourself and Chelsi, due to a misunderstanding of a request for empathy, or a situation that calls for empathy, vs. a request for help. Sometimes it feels good just to know that you are understood, the problem doesn’t seem so large then, and often times having understanding from someone and feeling connected is enough for us to make the changes or decisions to help ourselves.

Secondly, and what I often feel is lacking in the way that you view me and my family in our relationship with you, is that we are all individuals. Who we are as individuals is not a reflection of those around us or those connected to us. What you may want for me, beyond health and happiness, may not be what I want for myself. Being able to freely love me and my family for who we are as individuals is liberating for both sides. With that comes the freedom for you to be who you are, just as you want to be in any given moment, and it affords us that same freedom. I have long felt, ever since I was a child, that I had to fit an image that you had created for me in order to gain your love and acceptance, which left little room for me to explore who I was as a person. It wasn’t until I moved to Wisconsin before I felt that I was truly able to start working on those questions. I have often felt pressure from you to be something that you envision for me, rather than to fully be my authentic self, even as an adult. In the past, I have tried to be someone else in an effort to gain your approval based on the things that you have voiced that I should have or do in my life, or your reactions to things that I have said and done. Unfortunately, that has not filled me with happiness because it is not my path, it is the path that I feel that I have been pushed down in order to receive love from you. I cannot do that any more as it has contributed to my unhappiness, feelings of not being lovable or good enough as a person because I based my happiness on trying to gain your approval. What we may or may not do as people, what we may or may not achieve in our lives, has nothing to do with you as a person or a parent. You have done your job and dedicated a huge portion of your life, making sacrifices to teach me how to function in the outside world, keep me fed, housed, and safe. I will always be grateful for that and the fact that I was given the resources to be successful in life. Now it is your time to know yourself and enjoy each day knowing that I am happy and loved in a way that works for me and my family – how each of us achieves that is inconsequential to anyone but each of us individually as long as we aren’t hurting ourselves or others.

Lastly, I feel that I need to voice a disappointment from our visit. After we talked, I had hoped that the impact of your statements regarding Chelsi and the possibility that she may have had something to do with my conversion episode (http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/conversion-disorder/basics/definition/con-20029533) would be made clear. Unfortunately, I felt that the blame for them was put on me. I understand that there may have been many reasons that you might be concerned, as you expressed to me when I was there and via messenger at the time. Regardless of those reasons, she still read the conversation, whether it was assumed to be private or not, and I expressed to you what a profound impact that it had on her and how deeply hurt she was that you would think that of her. I also expressed that if it weren’t for her, my outcome may not have been as positive since I was suffering from heatstroke as a side effect of the episode. Not once did she lose her cool, even though she was terrified the whole time – she assured me that everything was going to be OK, that her and the kids were fine, and that there was nothing for me to worry about, which was essential for me in the midst of an episode brought on by stress to begin with. I had hoped that after we talked, you would be able to apologize to her or at least thank her for her efforts. Therein lies my disappointment and hurt coming away from our conversation. I cannot ask you to do this as I don’t feel that it is my place to tell you when to apologize, but it does cause me concern for our relationship going forward that there was no effort made to undo the damage that was done. That being said, I know that I never truly learned to apologize until the last couple of years, so it may honestly be a skill that we are lacking as a family since I often used to act in a very similar fashion to what I have observed in you. The great thing about that is that we can always learn and grow to be better and more effective people if we choose to do so! I will leave this with you as a take it or leave it item, but I feel that it applies not only to this situation, but is a useful skill throughout our lives: http://mineelachandmft.com/agenuine-apology-requires-empathy/. Again, do what you feel is right, but I know that it has been helpful to me as a person on many levels.

I truly want to have you in my family’s lives, but I feel that requires some healthy boundaries to be set in order for everyone to feel valued and respected. I ask that you think about this and I am happy to have a dialog with you about it if you have any questions or anything that you would like to express.

Now for the news…..

Chelsi is expecting around the end of April next year. Although it was a bit unexpected, we are very excited and joyful about it and look forward to another little one in the house. We plan to leave the gender a surprise until birth and are in the process of getting our priorities lined up before then. There is a lot to do, but most of all we want to thoroughly enjoy the process as it evolves. I don’t feel that I could have asked for a better mother for our children than what I have in Chelsi – she loves our kids to her very core and amazes me every day with her ability to provide a loving and nurturing sanctuary for them within our home.

Love,

Matthew

This was his response from his father…

Matthew,

I have read the subject email that you sent to your Mother. Your micro self analysis of your personal emotional and enlightening struggles from within yourself and between you, Chelsi and us has and is the personal struggles and growth maturity that I assume everyone goes through during their life. We are your parents and yes we have had and still have high expectations for you and have tried our best to guide you forward on your successful life journey. You did not and have not disappointed us as we have always been proud of you and your successful accomplishments and even a limited few failures that you gave your all but did not quit. Don’t you and Chelsi have similar high expectations for Leif and don’t you parent him by guiding him to be the Son, Individual and Person you want him to be? After you finished college you were on your own, we no longer tried to guide or help you unless you asked for guidance or help. You asked for help when with late night phone calls you had Chelsi arrested and you needed your Mom to drop everything, cancel appointments and drive straight through to Hendersonville. Was this trip by your Mother an act of Family Interference, Empathy, Mothers Love or Action taken to Respond to a Son’s obvious cry for Help? The last three reasons are the ONLY true and correct ones. In your email you are expressing exactly what we want for you and your family. We do not ever want to interfere in your life and if at your age you still feel that we expect you to be anything other than yourself to receive our love you have totally misread our actions or reactions for the past 20 years. Our only concern was, is and always will be your and our family’s welfare and happiness.

In you email Empathy and Apologies seem to come up and since they both are a two way street, I want your opinion about the words empathy and apologies? Please put yourselves in our position when Leif was born and assume it is now 20 years into the future. Leif gets married and his wife has their first child, your first Grandchild! You and Chelsi are very excited and travel 800 miles to spend a few days to visit and help Leif his wife and you celebrate this momentous occasion. When you arrive and call Leif, your son, to let him know you have arrived you are then informed that you are unable to even see your new grandson at that time? Would this make you feel accepted, welcomed or just totally ruin what should have been one of the happiest moments that you and Chelsi, as grandparents, could ever experience? At the time of Leif’s birth and even today, we as your parents, are not so self centered as to expect some type of an apology for this lack of empathy, understanding or hurt personal feelings because then and now I believe that we are Family and our parental love and excitement for such a special lifetime occasion certainly out weights any and all hurt feelings? Anyone who gets mired in the past usually loses future fulfillment.

Life is always at least a two way trip, give and take, and we all like to rationalize ours and others behavior. Now I want to direct this following comment to you alone. You went into some detail about how your behavior and evidently your unhappiness was probably due to your trying to find love from us by doing things that you thought were our expectations but not yours? You should review the total experiences of our love for you not just our high expectations. You also did many things that were totally opposite from our good expectations and we supported you and loved and respected you even more as you worked your way through these life learning experiences. You then, in your email, stated your disappointment about your visit with us in July. Evidently you feel we owe Chelsi and you an apology because of our deep and serious parental concern actions for your safety and welfare. It certainly did not make us feel positive about your security after late night wake up calls and a few sleepless nights a number of times when you had Chelsi arrested and told us about her behavior patterns and protection requests. You identified your unhappy behavior as a result of our expectations of what you thought we wanted for you yet you are now blaming your Mom for not reacting favorably to your expectations. Is this fair to expect and or blame your Mother for not performing to your expectations? We never stopped loving or supporting you when you may have failed and needed us and we will always have your back.

I really don’t understand what you mean by, “I want you in my family”? Are you telling us that to get your approval and be allowed into and associate with your family that we must conform to expectations and boundaries set by you? Isn’t this the same reason that you give for your unhappiness all these years but only in reverse order? 

You both will always be part of our family no matter what your expectations or behavior toward us may be. Resurrecting this past unfortunate incident or other similar family incidents will not heal past family wounds while we should be focusing on future happiness and cohesion. We have all suffered from these conflicts and they need to stop forever. Please help and search for peace and understanding from all! This issue is closed as far as I am concerned, I don’t have enough time left in my life to worry about hurt feelings with sleepless nights and allow others to make us more unhappy. When Momma isn’t happy, no one is happy as you have found out. Others already are giving us no relief from continual parental concern and worry that is taking away the retirement happiness we had both envisioned, planned, labored and saved for such a long time before moving to and settle at our Utopian retirement on a Southern Golf Course. Whatever you mean with the first sentence in this paragraph I hope you can live with it without it haunting you for the rest of your life. We will continue to be your concerned parents with mega expectations for your individual and family success, happiness and welfare regardless whether we qualify for meeting your criteria to be welcomed into your family. Perhaps we should strive to obtain the same type of relationship you must have with Chelsi’s Mom and Dad to qualify us to your standards of acceptability? If so, please tell us what is required and we will review and accept or reject your conditions if they meet or fail our standards.

I personally am elated that you have found the happiness that we all search for and many never find but apologize if it was delayed so long because of your misinterpretation of our expectations for obtaining our love and acceptance that you have always held in your hands but evidently didn’t know was always there in your own possession. We are also happy about your expected addition and pray everything goes well with Chelsi’s health growing and delivering a healthy child made to your preferred gender and specifications. Have you told Leif yet and is he excited?

Love Dad

This was followed up with a congratulatory card addressed only to my husband on having a new baby. 

This is hardly my vision of a “perfect family.”

There are many things I could argue against in this response.  Many things.  Just I, alone, from my perspective, could pick this apart in a relentless fashion from my own experiences with them.  I won’t, because I honor their perspectives.  I empathize.  Sometimes I feel that is an unfortunate trait, but I empathize and am saddened by this choice. 

However, I could empathize in human fashion as well, assuming it had nothing at all to do with me.  So I am going to allow you, the reader, to draw your own conclusions.  My husband and I have both already done so, and we feel very confident in moving forward with our choice for our family.  It isn’t ideal, but we feel like it is in the best interest of both ourselves and our children.  

And, so, having recorded this, having mulled over it, having cried many tears, having lived with a broken heart for many months, I release this as it no longer serves me.  

I have received the message loud and clear.  There are some things that I am involved in that have absolutely nothing to do with me or who I am as a person.  They have everything to do with the person delivering.  I do not have to be on the receiving end while I may still love them, forgive them, and pray for their peace and happiness.

My Thoughts on Entering a New Decade

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Today I am 30.  

That is me sleeping with every stuffed animal in the house so that I won’t feel lonely.  In this moment, I mostly want 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep. I think it sums up where I am in my life right now pretty accurately.

I have more on my mind than I currently have time to sit down and express.  I start, but am interrupted by motherhood.  My youngest is not coping well with the Mercury retrograde, so our current focus is so much of just making it through each day.  The end is in sight, and I can finally feel its effects beginning to lift.  I welcome the shift with open arms.  I’m ready to focus on tapping into abundance.  Abundance of time, abundance of love, abundance of friendship, abundance of wealth

I’m not sure what I want to say, just that I want to say something to mark this occasion.  I mean, 30 is a big deal.  I’m proud of it.  I’m not too old and I’m not too young.  I’m just right.  At least that’s what I tell myself.  I’m sure I will say the same when I’m 40, 50, 60.

I have immensely enjoyed my weekend.  My husband made me and the kids pancakes for breakfast yesterday.  We ordered a cheese pizza for lunch.  Everyone had horrible stomach aches and we all remembered why we eat healthy.  We swore off pizza until we forget how bad it makes us feel again.  

My husband and the kids made me a paleo chocolate cake using the Virgo volition ghee from my friend Lindsay Hazelwood.  (She read my natal chart in the spring and I still want to blog about it.  It’s very interesting).  When I roll out of bed, I plan on eating a piece for breakfast.  Because I can.  It’s my birthday.

This is very special. I haven’t had a birthday cake in 6 years. And for 6 years it drove me nuts. I love cake. What a simple, cheap, easy gift that went unnoticed.

My husband has a knack for buying over the top gifts and following it up with very little to no emotion.  Last year I got a Ford Flex for my birthday.  I mean, what an amazing gift.  However, on the day of my birthday, he told me, “Happy Birthday,” and that was that.  

For someone who isn’t very materialistic this is probably the single worst way to treat me.  I find the idea of bought love insulting to my value.  It would make me nauseous and I finally got to the point where I didn’t spend most holidays with him.  

We have addressed this in counseling.  His mother is very materialistic and both of his parents are very emotionally distant.  This is how his father showed love.  He amassed a lot of wealth by doing so.  Which is great if you are a wife that wants to live like you’re in an issue of Good Housekeeping.

I’m a wife that would be better placed in an issue of National Geographic.  So, yeah, not the best fit.  I have communicated this time and time again, but he always thought it was some kind of mind game.  That all women want expensive things, and that is the only way to please them.  My wedding rings cost more than the car I owned at the time, and I remember thinking they are beautiful BUT WAY OVER THE TOP.  Nope.  Buy me adventure.  Buy me experiences.  Pay for my children to go to amazing schools.  Hold my hand when we sleep.  Keep me up until 2:00 am making love.  

So for the first time in 6 years, he finally heard me.  I got a Fitbit Charge HR, which is a pretty big ticket item in my opinion.  He acted like he bought me a bag of Cheetos at the store.  I got pancakes and pizza.  And he and the kids made me a homemade paleo birthday cake.  I’m blissfully exhausted because I didn’t go to bed until 3:00 am.  He is a high achiever.  I got everything that I wanted.  

We hung out in bed.  One kiddo laying next to me and one in my husband’s lap.  We watched it rain outside, and I read prayers from my prayer book over the kids.  

I know it seems simple.  It isn’t something you would see on TV or in a magazine, but it is exactly what you would find in my heart. 

I am going to get to visit my mom and dad, my brother and his wife today.  I want to see my grandmother if we can manage.  It is a road trip, but something I value immensely.  They may not appear perfect, but they all love me exactly for who I am and I can say the same for them.  They don’t have lots of college degrees, live in big houses, or can golf a good game, but they can give good hugs, laugh joyously with you, and sit and cry with you in your pain.  

I couldn’t ask for a better way to spend my 30th birthday. 

Proper Prenatal Nutrition For the Super Crunchy Pregnant Ladies

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Nutrition is paramount to me.  Nutrition while pregnant is bordering on being as necessary as the air I breath.  

I am taking a boat load of supplements. 


When finances aren’t as tight, I will add a greens supplement such as alfalfa, moringa, and/or spirulina and start drinking “pregnancy tea” every day. 

In the meantime, this is what I start my day out with.  

  • Dehydrated grass fed liver pills
  • Omega vitamins
  • MTHFR approved prenatal vitamins
  • 40mg of Prozac (blah!)
  • Garden of Life probiotic

Depending on how my day is going, I try to split it up into taking them twice a day.  I do have a 3 year old, though, so most of the time I’m trying to choke it down in one gulp. 

The grass fed liver pills are super nutrient dense.  I actually buy these at the farmer’s market, but I’ve known many people that buy a liver, chop it up into bite size pieces, freeze it (for at least 14 days to ensure that any parasites are killed) and then swallow the pieces like pills.  

This will benefit me in one of two ways (hopefully).  With my first, my iron was low and I had to take a prescription supplement that made me feel miserable.  It made me nauseous AND constipated.  I definitely don’t want a repeat of that. 

Secondly, I suffered from low milk supply with both of my babies.  This can be caused by a nutrient deficiency in the first trimester.  That’s why I also want to add a green supplement like I mentioned above.  In the interim, though, grass fed liver actually has a similar nutrient profile to the greens I listed.  

I used donor milk to supplement my second baby, and hope to be so blessed this time around as well.  We are planning on buying a deep freeze and finding a donor early on so we can use the breastmilk at a similar age range as our baby.  I have already put out a couple of requests on local milk donor boards.  If you happen to know someone who has a good milk supply and a newborn, I would love to chat with them! 

I use the Seeking Health Optimal Fish Oil supplement in addition to the Seeking Health Optimal Prenatal.  I chose these because I likely have MTHFR, which these are designed for individuals that have this genetic mutation.  Epigenetics is a blog post on its own, so I will just touch briefly on it.  This genetic anomaly was likely turned on within my DNA due to inadequate nutrition throughout my early years.  As a result, some nutrients aren’t properly absorbed by my body.  This impacts baby by also causing the same genetic mutation.  Once it is turned on in the mother, the only way to turn it off in your child is to ensure proper prenatal nutrition.  One of the tell tale signs of MTHFR in newborns is tongue tie.  Both of my kids are tongue tied.  I am as well.  

Most prenatal vitamins contain folic acid, which is actually detrimental to those with MTHFR.  It is assumed that approximately 40% of the population have MTHFR, however, this is new research and still isn’t widely accepted in the medical field – (in the same way that gut health still isn’t widely accepted as a link to neurological health, also new research).  

I have to take my Prozac because it keeps me out of jail.  I really don’t want to be pregnant and in jail.  It probably isn’t healthiest for baby, but me being in jail also probably isn’t healthiest for baby.  Priorities

And, finally, my probiotic.  I like the powdered stuff because I like adding it to plain yogurt.  Plus it’s easy for me to keep a few in my purse in case an upset tummy plagues any one of us while we are out.  A newborn receives all of its intestinal flora from mom, so ensuring that it receives a healthy population of intestinal flora upon birth is crucial for avoiding things like allergies, spit up, colic, etc.  I don’t know that any new mom desires that for baby.  Had I known I could have potentially avoided it in my first two pregnancies, I would have jumped on it.  

I have no guarantee that this will produce the results I want to see, but it’s worth a shot.  When I worked on healing Leif’s allergies and vaccine injuries through nutrition, I had no idea if it would work, but I was desperate enough to try.  I am very pleased with our results.

This time around I am also at my recommended weight and have limited my exposure to toxins since shortly after my second baby was born.  I am very interested to see how this pregnancy is different.  

Wish me luck!  I’ve backed off on rigorous exercise, but am still hiking for at least one hour every other day.  I am considering running twice a week for 4 miles or less until it feels uncomfortable.  I was very physically active with Leif and I do think it benefited him well.  

In the meantime, I had a butterfly sit on my hand for almost 20 minutes today while the toddler was playing.  They are paying our family lots of visits lately. They symbolize transformation, which is very exciting for us! 

The Value of Outdoor Preschool

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Today is the first day of preschool.  


Leif has the privilege of going to one of the first outdoor preschool and kindergarten programs in Nashville.  It is perfect for him since he doesn’t function well inside.  His parents don’t either.  We are both very outdoorsy people.  

My husband grew up in the suburbs but was an avid hunter and fisherman during his teen and early adulthood years, traveling all over the United States for different experiences.  He overcame his drug addiction by hiking the Appalachian Trail.  He followed up with two degrees in Biology, and working in places like The Everglades and Kentucky Lake, where we finally met.  

I grew up out in the middle of nowhere.  I still remember the day we got a Wal-Mart nearby.  It was a 30 minute drive, but the whole community was excited.  

We gardened and rented our land to farmers who raised large animals like cattle, horses, pigs, etc.  They weren’t ours, but I still spent hours roaming about with them in the fields with my dogs.  Anytime I wasn’t in school, I was climbing trees, foraging, or playing in our creek.  Way back on our family land there was even an old settlement with a few cabins and a graveyard.  It took an hour to hike back into it, but occasionally we would go there and picnic as a family.  

I always dreamed of living in the suburbs until I actually lived in the suburbs.  Now I ache for the joy of no neighbors and being surrounded by nature as far as the eye could see, spending hot summer afternoons paddling a canoe along the shore until we spotted the perfect beach to comb and take a dip in.  

When I think about this, it is no wonder that my husband and I found one another.  I wanted a taste of his childhood and he wanted a taste of mine.  Every time I get frustrated with him, I have to remind myself that when we are together, we balance one another in the most perfect of ways.  There almost are no words to describe it.  I embody his growth and he embodies mine.  As long as those are treated as a synergistic spiral of upward growth, our possibilities are endless.  We just must both constantly choose to move forward and learn.  Sometimes that is easier said than done, but having this awareness is a profound gift for our family.  

Today is the first day I have the house to myself in several months.  I have conflicting feelings.  I love the silence.  It is music to an introvert’s ears.  I don’t get silence nearly often enough.  


On the flip side, I already miss my husband and baby.  They both bring me so much joy and comfort just with their presence.  At the same time, I recognize my need for silence for my sake of sanity.  Parenting is also a balancing act.  

This is why I need to get certified in yoga, balance.  

I am happy that despite living in the city, we have so many resources for our children here in creating a healthy reverence for our natural world.  This is something that is still lacking in my generation, although, we are an improvement on the previous generation.  My husband comments on my inherent deep connection to the earth.  I always smile and say, “This is my ancestral land.”  I have a close connection to the Cherokee on both sides of my family just a few generations back.  My husband’s ancestry is entirely European.  I would be interested in seeing him navigating Norway at some point in our lives. 

Growing up in the country, I learned a lot of skills in finding small game, navigation, wild foraging, etc.  This was just a part of our everyday life.  We had such a large tract of land that we just meandered our self made hiking trails to our places of interest.  Along the way, we might gather berries, flowers, or even a couple of rabbits if we were especially hungry.  It was a wonderful thing for a child that desired independence.  

My mother had a signal bell.  She would know where my older brother and father were and if I wanted to join them, she would signal the bell.  She would then send me on my way along the trail I was to take.  My brother and father knew to look for me and if I took too long, they would head along the path to tell me to hurry along.

This knowledge and connection to my earth mother gives me a sense of trust in my intuition that I’m not certain I would otherwise have.  I know that no matter what happens to me, I can live off the land.  I don’t know that many people in this day and age can say that, and it makes me feel sad.  It forces you to be a prisoner of a system that thrives on prisoners.  I can do a lot of what I desire because I am safe in my knowledge and ability to care for myself.  My husband has this same privilege, although, he is a bit more dependent upon tools than I am.  Then again, a big man needs big game, I suppose, and they aren’t as easy to catch with nothing but your hands. 

 

It is very reassuring to me that programs are popping up in the United States that value this connection and foster it in the early years, when the connection is most natural.  I hope that it becomes the norm for our youth with all of my being.  I know it is something I value deeply.  Even my 11 year old, who tries to resist it with all he has, lights up when walking barefoot along a hiking trail.  

Humans are beautiful creatures in their natural habitat.  

When Parents Really ARE Crazy

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On days like today, I think to myself, “you really ARE crazy.”

I woke up shortly after 5am, to Leif having a bloody nose.  He wakes up in a way that there are no words to describe.  I think my mom called it “a cannonball.”  That’s pretty good imagery.  

My children don’t sleep.  Neither of them did.  DJ does now that he is 11, but sleep was always a constant battle.  I’ve read The No Cry Sleep Solution.  I use teas, herbs, detox baths, essential oils, etc.  

This kid still only sleeps 10 hours maximum, which is on the low side of average.  He naps intermittently.  

And, so, this morning, the cannonball was not going back to sleep.  

I made my coffee, put on our rain gear, and took him to the greenway.  We walked for a little over an hour before the fits started rolling in.  At approximately the same time, I had a small bout of nausea as he was screaming, “CARRY ME, MOMMY!”

When he started screaming that the rain was getting in his eyes, I conceded, and carried him back to the car.  

Here it is, nap time for ME, at least, and he isn’t having ANY of it.  

This morning on our rainy walk as the sun rose, my husband said, half-jokingly, “Did you see that article on ‘Have a third kid if…'”

“No,” I said.  I don’t look on the internet much, although it may appear that I do.  Usually it is intermittent scrambles as I’m choking down tea or coffee and trying to not think for a split second in the middle of my day.

“Have a third kid if you’re crazy.  Have a third kid if you hate sleep.  Have a third kid if you don’t like having time for yourself.  Have a third kid if you don’t like having money.”  And then he laughed, quite pleased with himself.

That’s all you can do, really.  Laugh or cry, or better yet, do both.  

My house is a wreck and the midwife is coming next week.  I’m trying to strategize in my head how best to clean it over the weekend while managing a toddler.  Do I forego sleep?  Do I let him “help?”  Do I send him and dad away and do it all myself?

If I’m honest with myself, I realize my husband does a better job of cleaning.  He totally has one upped me in his housewife game on that one.  I love it too.  Cleaning is my arch nemesis.  

Then I’m like, well, Leif, DJ, and I could do something together all weekend.  I immediately feel exhausted.  I miss my housekeeper.  

Nap isn’t happening, because God forbid you rest enough to have joy in this world.  Is this some sort of strange in born trait?  Do some people think, “In this lifetime I shall scream at the top of my lungs because my milk glass isn’t FULL TO THE TOP and completely disregard the real reason for my upset: exhaustion.”

So I sit here, staring at my husband working at the dining room table, beaming that his company decided to switch 99% of their technology to SQL server.  He is a SQL DBA about to be promoted to SQL Architect.  I think that means he goes from database boss to database maximum boss.  I always think of The Matrix when he says this.  That’s as close as my understanding of his field gets.  He follows up, informing me he has to take a business trip to Seattle. 

“They let him work from home,” I remind myself, trying to find my gratitude.

Leif is running around naked.  I have to remind him that we don’t rub our penis on the dog.  He keeps screaming “poop, poop, poop!” at the top of his lungs.  No wonder our neighbors are moving out today after only being here a few months.  I would too.  

I am drinking hot water with lemon.  To deal with my feelings of frustration I over ate.  It was good enough overeating.  You know, sourdough bread and butter and fried eggs.  Comfort food for a harsh day, but pregnancy indegestion was kind enough to kick in.  

I am reading Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn: The Complete Guide.  I just contacted my mother to see if she would like to help us with Leif during labor and for a week or two afterwards.  She responded that she would love to, but likely can’t take off work.  

I wonder if we should go ahead and hire a labor doula for an extra set of hands.  (If you have any great suggestions, let us know!)

I just sigh.  And sigh again.  Then take a deep breath.  

I may be crazy, but at least I make crazy look good.  THERE is where I can find my gratitude.

´╗┐How to Parent Your Children Differently in a Culture That Says Difference is Unacceptable

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My name is Chelsi Williamson, and I parent my children differently.  

I think that my culture of parenting is similar in some European and Asian cultures, but definitely not in American culture.  I love looking at parenting culture in Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Japan.  I think we would be right at home in these countries. 

With a new bean growing and forming in my womb, these things are at the forefront of my mind.  I have no doubt that this child was conceived in some delicate universal balance, as I feel most children come to fruition from some cosmic space – call it God or what name you are most comfortable with.  

Let’s just be real here, America is in a huge flux, and, well, our culture could use a bit of improvement in my opinion.  I am no expert, but I do have a lot of knowledge and good access to my intuition and faith.  Some restructuring of priorities could be very beneficial, I believe. 

I have some fear about birthing a baby into a country whose future is so unknown, and potentially poised for a profound shift, either good or bad. I cannot say.  

All I can control, though, is my environment, my thoughts, and the peace and love that I continue to try to embody in this world.  I keep seeking like minded families and resources that I can study.  I listen whole heartedly to what speaks to me. 

Today I had my first EMDR session.  If you aren’t familiar with EMDR, it stands for “Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing.”  It is a type of therapy used to treat post traumatic stress disorder in order to lessen unwarranted physiological responses to stressors.  It is similar in nature to a type of meditation or hypnotherapy which accesses your subconscious trauma in order to reprogram it.

In essence, it assists your brain in releasing trauma from your body.  


It was immensely uncomfortable for me.  I love talking to others about their souls, hopes, prayers, etc., but when it comes to me, I am pretty off limits.  That is why I started this blog.  Vulnerability for myself is extraordinarily difficult.  With as much insight as I have into others, I know that I would have to willingly give of myself, and that will likely not be appreciated as fully as I feel I deserve.  That is what it is to be human today, I believe. But in that, you find the rare gems that see your true beauty for what it is.  I love and appreciate these people in a way that words cannot describe. 

I have learned to talk lightly about my past in a factual, unemotional sense.  I have made the intuitive connections between my past and my current behavior.  I have gone to school for therapy (master of social work), and while working I did lots of trauma focused training.  I have even seen countless therapists over the years, who congratulated me on my ability to link all of the pieces between my past and my present. 

And, yet, the physiological response still occurs.  I have never talked deeply or emotionally about my childhood trauma, until today.  No one has ever asked me pointed, meaningful, digging questions, until today.  

I still struggle to cry in front of others.  I haven’t cried in front of a therapist since my supervisor when I actually WAS a therapist.  I sobbed in every supervision meeting.  Ugly crying.  Hyperventilating wails.  Luckily, this isn’t uncommon for us bunch and she just held space for me.  

I didn’t cry once in my session.  My heart raced and I had a terrible headache the entire time, but I got to my car, turned the ignition, and just started sobbing.  I drove down historical Music Row, blubbering everywhere.  

This is hard.  This journey I have stepped on.  This is stuff I have come to terms with logically, but not physically or spiritually.  It is hitting me at my core.  Deep, deep inside of me in places I have never let anyone in.  Never.  

I am trying to feel safe in the world.  Not just for me, but for my family.  For my husband and for my children.  I want them to know that they are also safe, despite what is reflected in our outer culture.  I want them to know that we are surrounded in love and light because we are in touch with ourselves.

And to impart this message, I have to do this work myself. 

My anxiety is through the roof.  Our finances are tighter than they have been in a very long time.  It seems like unexpected bills are rolling in every day, including my tiny bean growing in my womb.  I am struggling to tap into that feeling of safety and security right now, but I am desperately seeking it.  I am constantly prayerful and hopeful for continued miracles.  My heart, at least, isn’t failing me and is trusting the process like a boss.  


I am researching all of the alternative modes of parenting a newborn, particularly Waldorf focused and based in soul unfoldment.  Both of my children are highly sensitive (The Highly Sensitive Child is a great resource), so being conscious of that reality from birth onward will be interesting.  My Pinterest board is already filled with “strange” baby rearing items.  I’m quite pleased with myself.

  
In the meantime, though, I am curled up in bed, reading “Your Reincarnating Child: Welcoming a Soul to the World,” and truly contemplating the complexities of consciousness.