The Nihilism of Parental Perfectionism

As a new mother, I was especially keen on how I viewed what would make me a better mother and what wouldn’t. I was very judgmental in my views of myself. My views became so narrowed in their focus, however, that I was missing the bigger picture. In trying to live up to an unrealistic self-imposed standard, I set myself up for failure, I argued frequently with my husband and most importantly, I was not very present as a mother. 

I’ve since begun to see things differently. Perhaps post-divorce means I’ve let go of some of my over-bearing tendencies. Or perhaps I’m now able to see the forest through the trees. It’s all a work in progress.

As adults, my kids won’t care how long they were breastfeed, how long their mother made their baby food from scratch, how many times she washed their cloth diapers or how many play dates she arranged. No. I’ve decided what has mattered and what will matter most to them revolves around how present I can be for them as a mother. To hear what they’re saying and what they’re not saying when they are feeling whatever they are feeling. By being able to “be there” for them, I am also showing them how to show up for life: fully present and fully accounted for.

Yes, they do have more “screen time” than I’d like to admit. Yet there are some boundaries that I have set. I’m doing my best to keep them present, for the days of their time at home are numbered. What I want for my grandchildren are parents that can show their love by being present. As Thich Nhat Hanh has said, “The Present Moment is a gift.” In a way, I’m paying things forward.

I am grateful to have recognized this while my children are still relatively young. Sadly, this shift did not occur overnight. Yet, now that I am more aware and more present, this understanding helps me to keep my focus on what’s important: being present with my kids.  

So that also means less screen time for mama now, too. I have discovered how much I had been escaping the present via my writing, texting, blogging and time spent over the years on dating sites, and social media sites. Now when I find myself “searching” online for something, I often find what I’m seeking is a greater degree of presence in my own life. Yet, somehow I’ve feared it. By focusing on being perfect on the outside, I had been neglecting the inside. In letting go of another layer of Perfectionism, I am able to be more present and to enjoy what I have more and more.

Namaste 

Relationships: Insecure Attachments

Sometimes we go through life completely unaware of some of our own inner mechanisms and motivations. In doing research for an upcoming certification exam, I discovered a research article that had discovered a correlation between women who have pelvic pain and who are insecurely attached. So naturally, my inner “armchair psychologist” wanted to know more. 

I took two online quizzes that confirmed for me that I am indeed insecurely attached. No, I did not really need to take the quizzes to know this about my attachment style. However, what I have discovered is that there are different types of attachment styles.

Attachment Styles in a nutshell (source: dianepooleheller.com)

Secure Attachments are ideal. When we are securely attached, we set and keep healty boundaries, we are able to engage socially and are accepting of our own and our partner’s individuality. We feel safe and do not fear becoming involved with others, nor of them abandoning us.

Avoidant attachments are formed when caregivers are hostile, disconnected or emotionally unavailable. Children learn to fear the very source of comfort they seek. “Lone-wolves” and self-reliant adults often have avoidant attachments and seek permission to exist. (Think Wolverine)

Ambivalent attachments occur when caregivers are inconsistent in their child care and attention. Children (and then adults) are cue seeking and become very concerned about how they can affect their caregivers’ responses to them. “Chronically dissatisfied” may characterize them as adults, yet they feel incomplete without a partner. The song “Fallin'” by Alicia Keyes seems to fit this bill. (Think also Seinfeld)

Disorganized attachments are seen in adults who as children were given mixed signals by their parents. Children who cannot seem to do anything right in their parents’ eyes, who are criticized regardless of what they do, where children can never win. These adults then have difficulty with problem solving and both desire attachment as much as they fear it. 

Quiz & The Results:

http://dianepooleheller.com/attachment-quiz/ this one requests your email address at the end of the quiz

My results:

Anxious 25%

Disorganized 23%

Avoidant 21%

Secure 13%

Self-Prognosis

I’ve written before about how I fear the very thing that I seek. The lover that I desire scares me as much as he intrigues me. In taking these quizzes and in looking over this information, I see more levels of myself that are needing attention. Each of these involve core and root chakra issues. They affect my feeling of deserving to be here and deserving to be loved. 

In seeing these aspects of myself, I also see how they have affected my ability to relate to men in the past few years. I have prematurely ended several developing relationships because of what I would now consider “Seinfeld” reasons (if you’ve seen Seinfeld you will know he always found something wrong with each woman he dated, excuses, I believe, to avoid intimacy).  

The past few days of introspection has opened my eyes to seeing how I fear being devastated again, as I was with the final years of marriage. Yes, I have grown in ways I never would have by remaining married. Yes, I am a more whole and complete person now in my own eyes, I no longer seek to be completed by a partner. 

Yet I am also finding that I seek for a lover less. Is it because I fear that intimacy, or is it because I now feel more complete and no longer believe I require a partner to feel whole? Hard to know. What I do know is that it is my desire for my attachment to my future partner to be secure at the highest level, with anxious, disorganized & avoidant at the lowest possible levels. Because you (meaning I) gotta have goals! 

Making the Time

Frequently I find myself saying that I don’t have time for something:

To feel what I’m feeling. I’ll feel it later. 

To take an extra second or two to be sure that I did it right the first time. I’ll fix it later.

To cut my kids’ pancakes. I need to get ready.

To do a 5-8 minute exercise routine. I don’t have time for that.

To fill up the gas tank. I’ll wait until it’s on “E.”

To check the mail. It will be there tomorrow, it’s only bills anyway.

To listen to my daughter when she’s angry or sad. I’ve got to get ready.


Last Tuesday, I stopped and realized what I was really saying is that I don’t have time to love. What am I getting ready for? To what destination am I rushing?

So starting now, I am challenging myself to pause for a moment longer and ask myself: how can I make this moment more meaningful? how can I express more love, more compassion, and have more in this moment? 


While in many ways I have been doing this throughout my life, this is a new level of understanding and a new level of accountability. Challenge: Accepted!

Let the games begin! 

Interestingly Thursday morning I was almost in an accident because a woman who didn’t have time to apply her face (makeup) at home was doing so while driving 45mph+. She then suddenly cut into my lane when traffic in hers stopped… I hope she now finds 5 mins in her morning to not apply her face and drive! 

Raspberries in Spring

Laughter fills the air

From those with little care

Tickles and frolicking

On this day in Spring

He boyish giggles and grins

Fill a mother’s heart within

Another burst of bubbles blown

Against bare skin

Raspberries in Spring 

Finding the joy within 

Once again

~~~

Namaste

Metta & Ananda

Image: Google

The Heart: Mother Part III

http://youtu.be/a4tD8dy9Reg

“For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.”
― Cynthia Occelli

It can be a challenge to connect so deeply with the dark that one forgets that there is light. There were moments in this past week where I felt that way. I forgot what the sun felt like on my face, what joy felt like in my heart. I was the seed in the darkness.

Once I see the nature of a problem I do not generally stop until I can get underneath it to see it from the lowest perspective. For those who watch from above, it can appear as destruction. In a sense it is complete destruction as the old thoughts must be obliterated to make way for the new pathways. 

Usually I prefer to walk through the darkness alone, withdrawn. It can be a challenge to ask for help and I prefer to not want to share my pain until I’m through at least the bulk of it. So I am most grateful for those who stayed with me on this dark journey. I needed the light and the reminders of joy from your words of support. 

Yesterday brought the return of light and a new understanding. In the morning I told a patient that if she were to breathe through the self-doubt that her body would know what to do. Later that day, another patient told me that she listened to my same words and was able to find that the words rang true when she was at home practicing. Ironic, right?! It was not until “My Secret Me” pointed out the same essential message that the lightbulb finally lit up and I realized this concept applies to my issues with mothering: “Relax (and trust) in the face of uncertainty, your heart knows what to do.”

So today I start out with a very new view of mothering. I laugh now at the pain and suffering. This universal truth applies in so many areas of my life and yet when in the darkness of self-doubt, I cannot see the light of this truth. Much like any training, I suppose, we must learn the same skills in many different settings for the lesson to apply.

Now to focus on the connections I have with my children, with less emphasis on what this looks like. All of this is so much part of my work of softening into femininity.

So on Good Friday I am so grateful to be back topside. Thank you to all of my loving supporters! Each of you played an important role in keeping me from drowning. Your words were life rafts when I felt the most alone. It is through our connections in this community that is helping each of us to be more and more free.

Special gratitude and heartfelt love to Amy, Tosha, Ken, Miriam, Wayne, Elizabeth, Rita, Stephen, Vic & Kay. I appreciate all the support I’ve received both on and offline, said and unsaid.

Looking forward to a much needed long weekend! ❤️🌻☀️☯

Namaste

Image: Laurie Justus Pace 

Acquiescence of Suffering: Mother Part II

A Follow Up to “Mother

“Beautiful” played this morning as I drove to work in tears. It seems to be my attempt at balance in this time of deep and painful introspection while I clear. 

After writing this post, I began to feel relief as I recognized that this clearing that I am doing right now is much bigger than me. When I get knocked back this far, I know the energy is not just mine, I am clearing the suffering of generations. 

The energy of the full moon is shining light on the weeds in my garden. Since the full moon is in Libra this week it calls for us to find the balance and the truth of our souls, to find balance in our relationships showing where there are any inequalities. Perhaps this is why my work on and off WP continues to focus on my place as a mother.

  

Present Predicament

“You are the most qualified unique person [to be your children’s mother].” – Becky, a supportive friend on my journey, replies after I asked her rhetorically if motherhood ever gets any easier.

Hot tears like lava quickly race down my cheeks, burning my eyes and my face. I had no ability to stop them. It was time to go, so I climbed back into my Jeep and thanked her while looking down. The tears still flow now as I hear her words echoing in my mind. The opposite of qualified for me at this time is failure. And this past week the feelings of failure rise repeatedly to the surface.

Failure. The word seems fitting and harsh all at once. The places where I feel I am not doing well cast a cloud over where I shine. The places where I have healed and improved my station in life are covered up, drowned by the emotions that pour in as would an epic biblical flood: “epic failure” repeatedly flashes on the screen in my mind. There is no where to hide. 

Yes, I know I’m being harsh on myself. Yes, I see where my idealism gets in my way and blocks my light. Here I see where I stand in my own way. Yet glossing over the feelings, covering it with a veneer by telling myself “you are doing the best you can do” just hides the underlying feelings from my view and keeps the truth of how I feel in this very moment hidden from view. 

A little perspective of where I find myself

These past few weeks have brought several personal challenges with my work, with several things stacking up and are causing me some grief; all things beyond my control. Add to this a minor medical issue this week, and increased demands on me as a mother with their father being out of town. It is no wonder that this area where I have felt weak for a long time is pressing so hard on me. Add to this my inner work to soften further into femininity and to be less controlled by my inner Animus, it’s no wond I’m seeking relief in the “beautiful” world described by India Arie.

The Landslide Brought Me Down

Right now, in this moment if I could, I would fold. I would close out my losses and my meager winnings and leave the craps table. I feel like the House always wins and that I’m losing the game again and again, hence my repeated feelings of being a failure. Tomorrow is a different day. Tomorrow I’ll ante up and roll the dice again because I choose to live. For now, though, I would love to just crawl into a hole and close out the world. Yet, there is not much relief at this time. I’m a solo mom with some help from my parents. I’m a healthcare practitioner who has clients to take care of. 

Widening the Lens

So now I will take a broader view of motherhood in an attempt to gain a better perspective of motherhood and my role as a mother.

The energy of the Divine Feminine for Mother is nurturing. Too much nurturing can be suffocating of life. Not enough nurturing can stifle growth. Almost like over or under watering a plant: neither is good for the roots to take hold. Salts build up around roots that lack water, the roots become desiccated and useless. Too much water around the roots does not allow for enough oxygen to get through: death by asphyxiation. There is a balance that is needed even in nurturing.

Primate Mothers

There is a fantastic PBS Documentary called “Born Wild: First Days of Life” that illustrates the different ways that mothers nurture their progeny across the breadth of the Animal Kingdom (for some it is giving birth and moving along, while other mothers keep their progeny under “their wings” for years). There are some aspects of the father in the documentary, yet most of the examples illustrated are the connections between mother and offspring. It is an amazing and diverse look at life and I can find myself in nearly each example of parenting at different times.

One of the animal groups observed in Born Wild was a type of primate that has a strong social hierarchy. I believe the animals were monkeys and observers noticed an interesting trend. Higher ranking mothers were more confident. They allowed their babies to explore the world more and as a result their offspring were more confident. Mothers who were lower in the social order were more insecure and clutched their babies more, disempowering them and keeping them from exploring. These offspring were less confident and also became more clingy. Amazing it is to see how directly different parenting styles affect the monkey’s offspring. I can see where I have clung to my children in some areas, disempowering and suffocating their creativity and curiosity. Yet I can also see where I have empowered them by trusting them in other ways, allowing them to bloom uninhibited.

20/20 Hindsight

Taking this a step further, I can see where I was disempowered and also empowered by my parents. At some point, it is important for me to acquiesce and allow forgiveness for their trespasses. It was not intentional that they disempowered me, I believe. The areas where they were disempowering reflects their own fears. 

I often appeared as a child to be “too much” for them. In those areas I was told to be quiet, to hush, to not express, to “play cool” so that I could fit in. All, I believe, so that I would draw less attention to myself so that I would not get joked or ridiculed. Instead, I find that other children (and adults) find our weaknesses and can exploit them regardless if we try to hide them or not. As a result, I do my best to allow my children to express their interests and allow them to explore them. 

Mother as Queen

As a mother, I can rule over my queendom with an air of a dictator, or I can choose to be more mothering and nurturing. Society plays a role in my choices at times, though this is sad to say. I can be more of a dictator in public than when at home. Perhaps this is due in part to the masculine role exerting external control when in public view. I also feel the pressure of onlookers, however I will also say that with each passing day I am switching my focus more and more to the connection I have with my children versus fearing the judgment of others. This is different than how I was raised, so it is a conscious change for me to make and uphold.

Moving Forward and Upward

The challenge so often I find as a mother is discerning when to be firm and when to be warm. Frequently I feel I have it backwards. Working from a view of opposites can make this more of a challenge for me, creating so much of who I am from the film versus the print of my childhood. 

Right now, I feel like in the flight of life that I am in a flat spin. A nose dive is easier to recover from, or so it is my understanding. Tonight, I will be climbing back in the cockpit with a new perspective of myself as a mother. Through this writing process, I have released more of the dross holding me back. The albatross of guilt has lost some of her feathers today. Perhaps tonight I will roast her over the fire, for she weighs heavily on my heart. This makes it a challenge for me as a mother to fully live my part. 

Onward and upward, I find myself moving again. Thank you for joining me in the journey of going into deeper levels of processing. The softening further into my femininity, softening further into my role; mothering myself and my children. 

Much love & Happy Easter to those who celebrate. A time of rebirth and renewal that comes after bloodletting; letting go of that which no longer serves. Once again I can return to my place of bliss. Grace grows again in my heart now that I’m on the return flight.

Late addition: I’m seeing this very differently this evening having gained a new perspective. Perhaps I will share in the days to come. Suffice to say I’m only leaving this here I case it can help someone else in this journey of deeper understanding. ❤️ my sunshine has returned. ☀️

Namaste

Metta & Ananada

Image: Google (why I avoid FB)

Mother


Crying babies held to breast in love,
Easy to care for physical needs.
Eat, sleep, change, hold and then just repeat.

As they grow, their needs start expanding,
Teaching, learning, much to discerning,
Mom feeling her own wounds more clearly.

Her faith in the unseen comes and goes,
Feeling, being, becoming open.
In healing childhood heart’s size growing.

~~~

Being a mother is hands down the most difficult role I have taken on. It was relatively easy for me to care for my children as babies. Meeting their physical needs meant less sleep, yet I really did not have to think about it.

As my children have aged and their need for play grows, I find it more and more challenging to keep myself from being triggered. It’s much easier for me to work and complete tasks than it is for me to sit on the floor and play. When the family was together, their father easily took over that role while I took care of other needs.

It’s sad for me to confess that playing is difficult for me. I come by it honestly and my story behind that just keeps me stuck. Let’s just say I learned this from my mother and she from her mother. I am also confident that games and play were used as lures by the men who molested me. So I find myself having difficulty playing. Breathing into that can be difficult, especially when being tickled. (some of you will see irony there…)

Add to this that as I raise my children, I am also reparenting myself. Discovering and doing my best to heal the wounds that I have incurred; mothering myself, as it were. Being a parent means that all of my wounds are resurfacing. Common themes that rise up revolve around fears of: abandonment, lack of worth/value, needs not being met, resentment, expressing negative and positive emotions, not having enough resources: time, money, patience, love; to name but a few. My children easily trigger these fears. It can be a challenge to differentiate the trigger and the one causing it.

It is rare that I get on social media sites anymore. The FB and IG feeds are filled with happy, Rockwellian images of beautiful and happy families – like the Brady Bunch. Part of me sounds the B.S. Alarm and part of me feels jealous. I know the snap shots are one second “screen grabs” of the truth. The images represent on a small slice of the pie in their lives. Yet it triggers me, sad to say. Fear-avoidance healing means I should probably look anyway…

One of the hardest things for me to mitigate right now involves the two ends of the continuum in which I live on a weekly basis: 50% single; 50% single mom. I see the infinity symbol and the path I travel can only rest in the center when I am at work. At home, I live on one side or the other.

Another difficulty for me is in accepting the way that I was raised. As a mother, I do my very best to keep a level head. It’s not always easy and sometimes I feel that I fail at this miserably. Some of the things I swore I wouldn’t do as a parent, I do. It seems the harder I fight against the things I don’t like, the more I become them. Recognizing that the severity is lessened with each generation, I am still paying for the sins of my mother’s and the mothers before. Doing my best to keep this from being pushed forward takes great effort and awareness. It’s a sideways pill to swallow, the cure is bitter, healing so much pain from so many ancestors. Doing my best to minimize the building of more walls (ala Pink Floyd)

My role here is to further soften into my femininity. To allow my fullest expression as a mother, allowing my heart to remain open even when I want to close it down completely & batten the hatches. Here is a glimpse of that allowing from years ago (a small slice of the pie)

69a7c683-ab35-4559-9de7-41a6003dfd63

 http://youtu.be/gObFOPYhVGg