pieces

As I sat around the table, the people around me held out pieces of me. Pieces I had not seen in a while. And it felt so good.

Those pieces are always with me, living inside of me. Sometimes I just forget about them. I live disconnected from them.

My life has moved on from when we were together, these friends and I. Marriage, babies, therapy, life. And it’s good. Moving forward, growth, change. All of those things are good.

And at the same time, sometimes I can forget that the college student me is still in there too. Along with the mom me and the wife me and the almost 40 year old me (ugh, really?).

But I am fortunate enough to still have friends from way back when. We were all on staff at camp together. And camp bonds people in a mysterious way. I have yet to experience it elsewhere. It could be the dirt, the camp food, or any number of the only-appropriate-at-camp conversations surrounding bodily functions.

I think it is all those things plus a whole lot more.

There is a sacredness about it, about the fact that we hold pieces of one another’s history. These people know a side of me that my friends today have only caught glimpses of, if that.

For a while, a few years ago, I felt in between. My friends where I live didn’t know my history but my friends from my past didn’t know the richness of my present. And I had this weird, awkward urge to prove myself to all of them.

But something must have settled in me. Made peace with the fact that the only one who knows me my whole life is me. I am the only one who holds all the pieces.

And occasionally that can feel like too much to hold. Sometimes I forget about the pieces that aren’t necessary right now. But they are still in there. They are who I was which is a part of who I am.

And it was whole-making, to have these people who are dear to me stir some of those piece to the foreground. To the surface.

They had not forgotten those pieces. They loved them. They kept them safe. They saw beauty in them. They remembered them. And being together reminded me of them too.

And it was…..settling, calming, restoring…..for me to be reminded that all of those me’s are really just parts of the same whole.

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sweating like a pig

I can feel the warm drips sliding down all over my face. There are even a few slipping down my chest. The thought occurs to me that contrary to the saying, I have never seen a pig sweat quite as profusely as me before.

Partly, the copious amount of fluid being released from my body has to do with the high heat and humidity of the week. But the sun has not yet risen for the day and the air has yet to hit the stifling point.

I would wipe the sweat from my face; at least from the drops coming down from my forehead into my eyes, if my hands were not glued to my sides by the weights I am carrying.

Another thought that enters my mind. I must be crazy. I mean, who does this…..and enjoys it? Me.

Previously in my life, I have commanded my body to work for me. Grasping for control, I have reviled in the sense of power I received by forcing my body to submit to my will.

But my body does not fall prey to my control issues alone. Often it is the part of me that I beat up because of how the world beats on me. I have days when I am desperate to prove my value through the world’s exchange: external aesthetics. And my body, along with my soul, pays the price.

Other times, working my body as hard as I do has been to prove something to myself. That contrary to what I might have originally thought, I can do it. I am more capable than I give myself credit for.

But more and more in my life, sweating is less about making my body be or do something I think it should. Increasingly, I have a sense of gratitude for how my body is connected to the rest of me. I appreciate the release that comes from moving my body. From pushing my muscles. From breathing hard. From sweating.

Because something mysterious is taking place when all of that is happening. Emotions that have been trapped inside of me are finding a way out. I don’t exactly understand it, even as I experience it.

I simply know it to be true: we are connected human beings. Our minds and our bodies and our emotions and our spirits are all connected together to form us as whole people. And somehow through moving my body, my feelings escape and I settle within myself.

So as I feel the beads fall, I say a quiet word of thanks. I am grateful for physical outlets. Letting out what is inside and living in the mystery of how that happens as each drip trickles down my face.

Moving my body can be so much more about freedom than slavery.

i wanna be a dancing fool

How does he pierce his soul right through his body like that?

There will be no picture with this post. Even if I could catch this on camera, I would never make public such a private and sacred moment of one of my children.

Every once in a while I can catch a glimpse of my son dancing when he thinks no one is watching. This child has more soul in his pinky toe than most people house in their entire being. I am in awe when I catch these moments.

Clearly he is a safe person for himself. I marvel at the beauty of such a thing.

He has some serious moves. I mean it. I LOVE to watch him get his groove on. But I don’t know if he really has rhythm or if I simply see him through the lovesick eyes of a mother.

What I do know is that he is engaging his entire self – body and soul – with the music. He is expressing himself in a way that is beautiful and fun to him, and in that moment nothing else matters.

And that is exactly the way I want to live my life.

But the last few years, I have found it difficult to locate the rhythm of the music playing in my life. There was some “stuff” that came up two years ago requiring intense therapy, and while the rhythm of my life was the same as it had been, I was entirely different, so syncing up was a problem.

Then this last year when I had finally stabilized, the rhythm of my life completely turned upside down. New schools, pre-adolescence, and all the topsy turvy that goes along with learning to navigate a new stage in the life of our family.

And just now, when I think I might be getting a handle on things, my youngest drops his nap. Naptime has been a beloved part of my life for almost 12 years.

Truly, this new shift frees us up to have much more fun and flexibility as a family. But it’s new and different and I haven’t quite figured out the rhythm of the last five transitions we went through so how could I possibly figure this one out?

Can you call something a “new normal” if everything changes again before the actual sense of normalcy kicks in? And the question burning inside of me is……when will I write?

I don’t know. All I know is that life seems to be changing songs on me quicker than I can find the rhythm of any of them.

But then I remember my son when he dances. And I remember that the most beautiful part of dancing is when someone lets go and engages all they have in the dance whether they have rhythm or not. 

scraps

What will come of this? I was petrified to pull out the scraps. The process was overwhelmingly intimate. Delicate, fragile, and timid. One that I only let my therapist into.

I gingerly opened my soul and uncovered the part of me that had been kept in hiding. I feared that if anything more happened to the college student in me, she would disappear completely. So the scraps of what were left of her had subconsciously been put into the witness protection program.

But now it was time. My body was telling me. The nightmares, the panic attacks, the sleeplessness, the anxiety. And lest we forget the depression.

They were all her, whispering to me from my past. She had finally deemed me safe enough to be trusted. She took me on a scavenger hunt of sorts, giving me clues to find where she had been locked away for safe keeping.

Once I found the place where she had been kept, I faced a choice. Do I risk taking out those frail little scraps that were left of her? What if she blows away in the process? What if she disintegrates altogether? I don’t want to lose her. She is a part of me. She is me.

She required every ounce of courage, strength, and gentleness I have ever possessed to bring those scraps back up to the surface of who I am and get her what she needed. Listening. Understanding. Validation.

Not judging her and telling her she could have done more, should have handled things differently, as I so frequently say to myself. Accepting her for the tender, sensitive nineteen year old that she was, confused with very little of life figured out.

Affirming her for being so beautifully valiant in the face of her trauma.

We worked together for quite some time. She would speak and I would listen and love her just the way she was. The whole thing was very mysterious, really. How is it that a soul heals? What magic is there in paying attention, giving space, offering patience, compassion, mercy, love?

I just know that there is.

And I think one of the hardest people to give those things to is myself.

But there are times when I am the only person who can make a difference in my healing. I can receive all the beautiful things I long for from hundreds of people around me, but if I am not willing to both give them to myself and receive them from myself, I remain lost in my own brokenness.

This was one of those times. I had to learn to love myself, both past and present. My healing depended on it.

What brokenness do you have inside that needs love from your own self to heal?