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My 200-year present

I recently heard a theory about how we each live in a 200-year span of history.

You mark the beginning of your span, your “200-year present,” by thinking of the oldest person who could have held you as a baby (my great grandmother, born in 1900). You mark your span’s end by estimating the potential lifespan of the youngest person in your extended family that you have held (my 3-year-old nephew).

I estimate that my 200-year present is actually 215 years, from 1900-2115.

This concept has helped me understand my role – and my impact – within my family and the greater world.

A False Calm

Six weeks ago I got Botox for the first time.

I’ve always had good skin, a genetic gift found in my ancestry goodie bag, nestled between debilitating anxiety and alcoholic tendencies. (A mixed bag, for sure.) But gravity, sun damage and pharmaceutical marketing are powerful forces. So after years of trying to convince myself that I should love my laugh lines and complaining about how our culture doesn’t value age, especially in women, I swallowed all my feminist sentiments and shot my face up with botulism.

Of course it worked. I love it.

This is the world I live in – that we live in – a world of unceasing contradictions and tension. Some days I want to save the world, and some days I want to buy a pretty pair of shoes. But what I never, ever want to do is just be in the world – accept it, love it, and be content with what it is.

For 45 years of my 215-year span, I have worked to control and arrange things – to be successful in this Culture of More that is our current collective reality. Powered by a high-octane fuel of anxiety and fear, I got quite a bit done. Degrees, marriage, house, babies, jobs. My list has a lot of checked boxes.

But the fuel of fear and anxiety was eating me up. My alcoholic tendencies were flourishing. I stopped drinking, but cannot seem to stop trying to control and arrange things. My mind buzzes with thoughts of what might lie ahead. How do I adequately prepare myself and my family for the future? How do I make preparations – how do I get things done – without my toxic fuel?

Botox was like a shot of tequila for my face – it artificially and temporarily smoothed out my external edges. But now my outsides most definitely do not match my insides. My face displays a false calm while my mind continues to buzz. Serenity eludes me.

In the world. Not of the world.

My great grandmother converted to Catholicism as a teenager. Seeking serenity from her own century’s demons, she found it sitting in the back of a neighborhood church while she waited for friends to finish their weekly confessions. Converting to Catholicism against her family’s wishes was a radical act of self-love and a defining moment within her 200-year span. I know that this act sustained her throughout her long life because whenever she held me and my many cousins, she also held her rosary.

This is the 117th year  of my 215-year present and I am painfully aware of my place in time and what is passed from generation to generation. I want to pass down a key to contentment, but where do I buy that? Organized religion holds as much appeal for me as botulism injections may have held for my great grandmother. And is not lost on me that both of them, organized religion and Botox, are part of a patriarchal structure that crosses way too many generational spans. They can be trappings and traps – distractions from the truth of our own worthiness, our own beauty.

At the heart of what has been passed down to me – and what I hope my own great granddaughter recognizes early in her life –  is that the unyielding search for serenity is our common gift, passed down from many, many grandmothers. And along with this gift comes an understanding that while we are in the world, we are not of the world. These truths, and making our peace with them, allows us to just be in the world – accept it, love it, and be content with what it is.

Erin W. is the managing editor and lead writer for the She Recovers blog. She lives in Virginia where she has been working on and blogging about recovery since 2013. After years of trying to do recovery alone, she discovered the beauty of connection and friendship through She Recovers in 2017.

The post Moving Beyond Botox and Religion appeared first on She Recovers.

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“Your birth altered my whole posture on this planet … because of you, I couldn’t die and couldn’t monster myself, either. So you were the agent of my rescue – not a job for somebody barely three feet tall.” –– Mary Karr writing about her son in Lit: A Memoir 

Last week my son turned 13 and we gave him a smart phone. We gave it to him as a birthday present, but in reality a smart phone is not a gift. It is an act of submission to our 21st century world of constant contact, instantaneous information and, of course, Amazon and PornHub. It is a recognition of – and ticket to – the world we live in.

I did not want to give my boy this world. I wanted to give him some other world, a world where it is easier to be good and kind. A world where we don’t require constant contact; where our current information is relevant for more than 24 hours; where we don’t need all the stuff on Amazon and where sites like PornHub don’t even exist.

But I am committed to living in reality. I know that I cannot shield my teenage children from the world, but instead am responsible for showing them how to live in it wisely. Mary Karr’s sentiment is also my own: my boys have been the agent of my rescue and in return, I am theirs.

To become a better mother, to become the mother that my children need, I stopped drinking. But sobriety was just the beginning of the changes I had to make. We are walking this world together and what we do matters to one another. This means I no longer numb myself, but instead make myself available to my family. It also means I no longer pretend that my needs are secondary to theirs.

The ultimate act of self-care is asking for help

The world we live in tells us we should never, ever ask for help. That we should keep our struggles hidden from view. That we should not trust other women to gently witness our messy needs. The world tells us that self-care looks like the occasional girls’ nights out; a bubble bath; a new pair of shoes. The world tells us that it’s not very motherly to make our lives about ourselves.

To stay in my recovery, and to stay available for my family, I am increasingly learning that I cannot listen to this world. I am breaking its rules, one by one. It began with asking for help, which is the hardest rule to break. What I know now is that asking for help is not an act of weakness and selfishness; instead it is the ultimate act of selflessness and self-care. It is only by recognizing our own needs that we can truly see the needs of others.

What self-care looks like

Today, the most important element of my self-care program includes making time to be alone – both here at home and trips away. It also excludes small talk (always a bit of a struggle for me) and most items on our family’s calendar. Not all of these changes have been greeted warmly by important people in my life.

My husband has questioned our empty calendar. My friend Emily calls my solo journeys “indulgent.” My friend Sondra can’t even speak the words “self-care,” but instead physically recoils from the very idea of it. At times, their reactions have made me pause and reconsider my actions. Am I being indulgent? Are these changes repugnant? I think not.

At the beginning of this process of recovery, my husband and friends gently questioned my desire to stop drinking. So of course they are also questioning the changes that follow. They love me, but they do not know what I need. Only I know that. I may not always require such an introverted self-care structure, but it is required right now. I am providing it to myself, just as I would provide it for my children.

By trusting and valuing myself, I am creating the world I want to give my sons – a world where it is easier for all of us to be good and kind. When I gave my son a smart phone, when I gave him the world to keep in his pocket, I did it with my eyes and heart wide open. He entered into his teenage years with a mother who may occasionally be out of town or out of the house, but who is always engaged, always available. I am showing him how to be the agent of his own rescue – and perhaps even how not to need rescuing at all. And that is a birthday gift worthy of us both.

Erin W. is the managing editor and lead writer for the She Recovers blog. She lives in Virginia where she has been working on and blogging about recovery since 2013. After years of trying to do recovery alone, she discovered the beauty of connection and friendship through She Recovers in 2017.

The post The Ultimate Act of Self Care appeared first on She Recovers.

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The fallacy of the ideal mother

I was a reluctant mother.

Unless they are just bathed, dressed in clean pajamas and holding their own warm bottle in their tiny hands, I don’t like babies very much.

Before I had my two sons, I would see moms in the Walmart with their carts full of diapers and peanut butter, pleading with the snotty-nosed toddler in their cart to stop spilling their raisins. I would cringe and think, “Oh my god. That is so going to be me some day.”

I would read stories about kids who wandered away from the family reunion and were later found face down in the hot tub. I would silently whisper, “Oh my god, please don’t let that be me some day.”

For years before I actually had children, I knew that I would not be an ideal mother. An ideal mother is patient and soft spoken. She stares tragedy down with grace and faith. She gently wipes snot and shit without reaction. She would never lose her kid and she is completely fulfilled by her role.

Once I had my boys, I became the dread-filled mother. Driven by fear. Exhausted, resentful. Making it through each day with my breath held, I never really saw the upside of parenting.

Unfortunately, I was not without the ideal mother’s assistance. For years, she kept residence inside my head, providing an ongoing narration on how I was failing at maternity and femininity. Against her backdrop, there was very little joy. I saw parenting as a care taking business – a transaction. I was supposed to keep the children safe. They were supposed to provide me with my life’s purpose. This was all part of a rinse and repeat cycle, going back generations.

And so, dutifully and without enthusiasm, the three of us plodded along. My eyes always scanning the horizon for hidden hot tubs, the kids trailing their raisins behind us.

Embracing the upside of parenting

When I stopped care taking my kids, I created my family.

The rebellion against the ideal mother started the night I scrapped nasty (but homemade!) casserole into the kitchen sink and drove my kids, then 3 and 1, to McDonalds for the first time. Over the years, more skirmishes occurred. During this time, the boys and I sort of waited each other out – they got older, and I got over myself. Eventually I smothered the ideal mother. I killed her dead. I introduced myself to my kids and started practicing “organic parenting.” I yell, I curse, I kiss and I hug. I hold onto them and push them away. They hold onto me and push me away.  Together, we horrify and delight each other, all the time.

A few months ago I read about a new study that found that babies as young as 13 months old can learn perseverance by watching their parents muddle through failure and repeatedly attempt to reach a goal. Babies who witnessed an adult struggle with an activity were significantly more likely to try longer before giving up, compared with babies in groups who did not watch adults struggle.

I read that and thought, “It turns out, I’m an ideal mom after all! My boys are so lucky.”

Now that we have actual relationships, I have started to see the upside to parenting. My friend Anne, mom of three boys, is fairly confident that her sons are going to turn out ok because they are growing up in a house where the mom talks. I love this theory so much, because if talking is the criteria for building mentally-sound adults, my boys are on track for spectacularly healthy lives.

At ages 14 and 12, our conversations can cover a lot of ground. “My throat hurts.” “I sat by myself at lunch today.” “How do you think Luke Skywalker knew to find Yoda in the Dagobah system?” “What’s a blow job?”

We have three rules: 1) I keep my eyebrows low (facial expressions that show surprise or shock shut conversations down fast). 2) If they want to talk about it, I want to talk about, too. 3) If I want to talk about it, they have to listen. I muddle through as best as I can, dragging my husband in when things get away from me. We say a lot of words at the boys, and then we hold our breath. (Holding breath is a consistent parenting tactic, no matter who is running the show.)

We are all operating inside the system of Free Will, so in the end it’s a wait and see situation. I want to believe that we are headed for happy endings, but since I exchanged the transaction of motherhood for the actual parenting, all I know for sure is that I am wide awake for the ride.

Erin W. is the managing editor and lead writer for the She Recovers blog. She lives in Virginia where she has been working on and blogging about recovery since 2013. After years of trying to do recovery alone, she discovered the beauty of connection and friendship through She Recovers in 2017.

The post The Ideal Mother is a Terrible Parent appeared first on She Recovers.

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She Recovers by Blog Admin - 1M ago

I’ve come to know and believe that each of us has a soul message that only we can share, and if we don’t discover this message, the world misses out on a beautiful offering.

Our message is within us when we are created, and although our childhood and other life circumstances may bury it, it remains our life’s purpose to uncover it and share it with the world.  It’s not easy. Life can take us on many detours, painful detours. Reconnecting to our soul’s message often takes an intense undoing, delayering, and shedding. When we find it – that which may have been hidden for a long time – we have found our life’s work. Our offering.

Like so many women in recovery, I am extremely grateful that Sarah Blondin has found her soul’s message and is sharing her light work with the world. Sarah is a beloved and gifted meditation teacher, founder, writer, videographer and podcast host for the “live awake project.” Most of us know her from her profoundly beautiful meditations available on the Insight Timer app.

Much to my delight, when I reached out to Sarah a few months ago, she agreed to meet with me in person. And so, a few weeks ago we met at a coffee shop in the small town of Vernon, British Columbia, Canada, a mid-way point between where we both live. It was love at first sight, for me. Sarah glows, as if radiating a light from within. The conversation flowed easily, as it does between two women sharing about the struggle that is the human experience. I was deeply curious about where Sarah’s deep insights and inspiration come from.

Sarah spoke of her unique journey to Source.  Self-described as a hypersensitive human, Sarah believes that we all have HSP – Hyper Sensitivity Disorder – in varying degrees.  She shared that she was always  sensitive to the human struggle existing in each of us; that she had spent years crying and longing to find equilibrium within herself, without understanding why she was crying, or why she felt in such misalignment with herself.  She longed to be of service to the world, to bring some peace to the suffering of humans.

Sarah grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and from a young age always felt a kinship with those less fortunate, accompanied by a deep longing to make things different for them.  When she moved to Vancouver, BC to pursue an acting career she made friends with the people living on the streets in the Downtown Eastside. She always felt compelled to stop and ask homeless people about their stories. She spoke of the rich conversations she would have, conversations at a level that in our usual lives, we don’t often have even with the people closest to us. Sarah described what it was like to really “get” and “see” these people, to understand them, see their longings for love and for the same human belonging and connection that we are all seeking.  We all share the same deep longing to find God/ Source/ Spirit, and Sarah found this truth in the lives and the stories of the people living on these streets.

Sarah pursued acting for a number of years, but the experience eventually took its toll. The extreme highs and lows that transpired were too much for her. She grew tired of the spiking emotions, and began to experience a longing to reach equilibrium, to be of service.

Enter the undoing.

During her first pregnancy Sarah’s sensitivity spiked to uncomfortable levels. Gently guided by the whispers of her spirit, Sarah surrendered to the beckoning of nature and fled to the interior of British Columbia. Into “the woods”, as she fondly refers to her now home.  While Sarah has never struggled with addiction in the more traditional sense, she describes entering into a form of “recovery or rehab”, where she was forced to shed her old, trusted means of coping and escape, and let go of it all through a process of heavy purging.  The depression that she entered lasted about two years.

Always a writer, it was around this same time that Sarah started to notice a shift in her writing. As she explains it, she found herself able to tap into a “Mainline to Source” and learned that she could tackle anything that she was processing simply by asking the question. Her work and her words are the direct result of the wisdom and inspiration that flows from her Mainline. Her prayers in the solitude of nature bring forth the necessary guidance – unfiltered, unedited, as is. Today, Sarah’s profoundly moving guided meditations are helping to heal people all over the world.

We will soon be able to add Sarah’s written words on our heart, just as we have embraced her spoken word. The book that Sarah is writing is about healing the divide between the Self and the Heart. Sarah believes that this our journey, our human voyage home. The path will be different for each of us, will often be bumpy, but we can all get to where we need to be.  Through her work, spoken or written, Sarah Blondin guides us to live wide awake and consciously.  It is a beautiful way to live, not easy, but incredibly rewarding. This coming September, Sarah will be a special guest at She Recovers in LA – a perfect setting for her and her gift.

My own words can’t convey what a joy it was to meet Sarah. I am her biggest fan, and will be first in line to buy her book. Her words feed my soul, guide my growth with love and compassion, and provide the gentle nudge that I need to continue to excavate the unique gift that is my soul’s message.

Lori Ann H. (on right) lives in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada, where she has been writing/ blogging privately about her recovery since 2016. She discovered She Recovers in 2017, and her recovery took flight. Lori Ann is passionate about writing, the healing that comes in working recovery, and living consciously.  She believes wholeheartedly that we each have a unique gift to share with the world, and that this gift can only be found in our healing.  Once we find this gift, it is our obligation to share it with the world… this is light that only we can shine. She is on the threshold of sharing her love and light.

Sarah Blondin (on left) is the founder, writer, videographer and podcast host for ‘live awake’. She lives with her two beautiful sons and husband in British Columbia, Canada. Sarah will be presenting a beautiful spoken word meditations at She Recovers in LA in September, 2018.

The post The Undoing appeared first on She Recovers.

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She Recovers by Dawn Nickel - 1M ago

Yesterday was my mom’s birthday. She would have been 86 years old but leukemia killed her on April 27, 2000.  Most days it feels like forever since we lost her, but I still wake up once in a blue while (her saying, not sure where it came from) and forget that she is gone.

If your mama has passed away in the more recent past, I want you to know that I am very, very sorry.  I remember some of what you are feeling, and most of what you are trying not to feel. If you loved your mom so much that you are practically certain that you can’t go on, I want to tell you something.

You can recover from losing your mother.

Not fully. Not ever fully. But one day, maybe many, many years down the road, you will realize that you are kind of okay-ish. Perhaps one day in the very distant future you may even feel strong enough to share your own mother-loss experience with other women.

But not right now.

In these earliest of days (early means at least one year) you are probably swinging between paralysis and hyper-activity. You will find yourself having some difficulty getting through the motions of daily life. Don’t forget to eat, and drink lots of water. Brush your teeth. Put clothes on if you leave the house (bras are optional) and remember that deodorant is a good idea regardless of the season. Staying up all night listening to the music from your childhood that sears through your soul and makes you feel, feel, feel the feelings – is okay for a few days at a time. But please don’t do it every night for a week. Pace yourself.

You need to rest, to recover, to heal. You need to be as gentle with yourself as you would be with your mother if she was going through what you are going through right now. You may need to tell your person (whoever that is) that although she/he mourns too, she/he will need to take charge of your lives for a while. Be firm when you tell your people that there is not a hope in hell of you making any decisions about much of anything in these first few weeks, months, seasons, years. We are all different and on different grief schedules. Take all the time you need. And write this down and refer to it often:

“I need a lot of time to get over this because I really, really, really liked my mother a lot.”

You will think that the worst pain comes in the immediate aftermath of her death, and while that certainly does hurt horrifically, it’s usually a few weeks after the funeral, memorial or whatever your family and loved one chose to mark her passing that the full extent of the loss will hit you. Like a brick. You will recognize the brick minute when it hits. If you are driving, pull over. Go home. Go straight to your bed and let it out. It will be scary but it will be such a release. I promise you.

If you have kids, they will be watching you closely (as mine were), looking for a sign every once in a while that tells them there is at least some hope that you will eventually be okay. You might not believe that, but fake it once in a while, just to give them a break. If your children are really little, snuggle and sleep with them right beside you. If your kids are teenagers, yell at one of them for something ridiculously unimportant. Believe me, they will be encouraged by that. If you are up to it, give them each a hug and say “honey one day soon we will talk about your grief, your pain. But for now, It’s pretty much all about mine.” They will giggle (mine did). Eventually, but not at this moment, you will need to consider that they have been through double hell from losing their grandmother and also watching you crack.

For now, just let all of your children, regardless of size, give you a lot of hugs (hugs heal our broken hearts) and tell them to brush their teeth, wear deodorant (if they are of that age), and put their toys away or turn down their goddamned music down after midnight. The taking God’s name in vain part is optional, but growing up in our family, the option was almost always taken.

I will tell you the one thing that has sustained me through nearly two decades of “mother missing” has been that I always speak to my mom. In my head, that is. I talk to her about all of the good things that are going on, as well as the bad or scary stuff. And because I knew my mom so very well, as you did yours, I can always, always hear what she would say, if she were here.

You will hear your mom too. It might be too painful to chat with her in the beginning because you are just going to want to keep asking her why she had to fucking die. That will soften. Keep her close and just listen to your heart. Like her favourite music, photos of your mother will bring you both comfort and agony right now. When you are ready, speak to her photos and tell her what you are going through.

Please, do let somebody know if you really hear her talking back to you – out loud. That might be an indication that you require more support. Or maybe not, who am I to judge.

I wish that I could tell you that 18 years from now all of what you are going through will be behind you. Much of it will, but the longing for one more day, one more talk over tea, one more argument even, will likely never fully go away. I am fifty-seven years old and there have been so many moments over the past years when I have whispered to myself or even said out loud, I want my mommy. Speaking about the loss of her own mother, my mom told me that daughters never get over losing their mother, but they do get through it.

I did. You will. Our daughters will.

And after all is said and done, we really are the fortunate ones. We had amazing mothers. Our mother-daughter bonds will never die.

Dawn

Dawn Nickel is the Founder of She Recovers. She lost her mother the same week that she turned 40 and although she has not been the same since, she is doing great. She Recovers is in part a tribute to her mother-loss, in that it was created as much for women grieving as it is for anyone else. 

The post When Your Mother Dies appeared first on She Recovers.

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Show me a woman in her late 30s/40s, whose life partnership is at least a decade old and whose kid(s) is out of diapers, and I’ll show you a woman who is about to say, “Wait. What?” to her life.

This woman has done life mostly by the rules. She did both what was expected of her and what was needed from her. And she did this willingly.

Career. Marriage. Pregnancies. Feeding/sleeping schedules. Back to work (part-time/full-time/all-time). Daycare, preschool, grad school. Meals: three a day. Exercise: four times a week. Cleaning/laundry: constant.

Doctor appointments every year. Specialist appointments when things aren’t right. Sex when things are. Vacations away. Holidays at home. Weekends with friends. Parents with failing health. In-laws with baggage (both kinds). Adolescents with braces. Teens with attitude. Homework/report cards. Work evaluations/deadlines/colleagues. Soccer cleats/mouth guards. Terrible, no good social media. One million emails. Two million texts.

And right around this time, right after the millionth email, but in between soccer drop off and rotisserie chicken pickup, she says to herself, “Wait. What am I doing? Why am I doing this? I don’t even like chicken.”

This woman’s partner has been busy too. Long hours away; working hard earning external achievements at the cost of internal connections. For many men in their late 30s/40s, success is narrowly defined and their numbers are upside down: too many bank accounts, not enough friends.

But as interesting as he may be, let’s stay focused on her. We will need to do this – stay focused on her – because odds are very high that she won’t. And despite her best efforts, after the kid is picked up and the rotisserie chicken is eaten, our girl is going to come face to face with the “Wait. What?” from earlier. It is following her around now, nipping at her heels, getting louder. She is going to have to make a choice.

She’s got Three Doors to choose from.

Door One: Opt Out.

Behind Door One, our girl drops the pretense, even to herself, of having any real curiosity about the “What?” Behind this door, it’s low lighting and even lower expectations. She stays busy, stays numb, stays in control, stays the same. She doesn’t look too closely at her life, her marriage, her work, her world.

She chooses Door One and stays small. She can stay here a very long time. She can, in fact, stay here forever. Lots of women do.

Door Two: Opt Other.

Behind Door Two, our girl gets highly curious about SOMEONE ELSE’s “What?”. Her husband, perhaps. She can fix him. He needs support, understanding. Also, he really needs to get his shit together. He should look at his childhood, his traumas, his insecurities. She will help him with this.

And her kids. They need better food, more sunlight. They need more space, less pressure. Also, they need to find their passion, write a compelling essay about it and get into a good school. They need to unplug, engage, and focus, and their lives will be better, happier. She will help them with this.

She chooses Door Two and pours herself into the lives of others. She can stay here a very long time. She can, in fact, stay here forever. Lots of women do.

Door Three: Opt You.

Behind Door Three, our girl accepts an invitation (which often comes in the form of a marriage crisis, a health crisis or a job crisis) to hold up. Wait. Go back and look at her “What?”

What happened back then? What expectations work for her today? What does she need to move forward tomorrow? She finds support, a person or two who can help her grapple with these questions. She shows herself some understanding. She looks gently at her own childhood, traumas and insecurities. She gives herself better food, some sunlight, a little space, less pressure. She stays here for some time and is a little (a lot) uncomfortable. She learns what is hers to keep and what is hers to let go.

She chooses Door Three and pours herself into her own life. She loves herself first, and then she loves her kids and her partner and her world – madly, deeply, passionately. And has the wherewithal to do it.

She chooses Door Three and moves along, because she cannot, in fact, stay here.

She chooses Door Three and knows that she is lucky, because lots of women don’t.

Erin W. is the managing editor and lead writer for the She Recovers blog. She lives in Virginia where she has been working on and blogging about recovery since 2013. After years of trying to do recovery alone, she discovered the beauty of connection and friendship through She Recovers in 2017.

The post Three Doors. It’s Your Choice. appeared first on She Recovers.

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For the past few weeks I have been consumed by negative thoughts about the world and worries about my family. Life’s headlines – both inside and outside of my house – have had me holding my breath, waiting (almost wishing) for “the other shoe” to drop.

My son is deeply unhappy at school and I don’t have answers for him. My sister struggles with her ex-husband and I don’t have answers for her. My community is fraying and I don’t have answers for it.

I do not want to look away from these hard things, but I cannot let them overwhelm me either. I am learning to face hard moments without diminishing them (“It’s not that bad, son”), offering fake solutions (“Would you like some wine, sister”) or casting blaming (“Why are you doing it that way, world?!”).

But it is so hard.

An unsatisfying truth

Loving my son and my sister and my world – loving them fiercely and without numbing – carves me out. It requires me to be comfortable in uncomfortable situations; to listen to crying instead of hushing it; and to hold space for pain instead of numbing it. It creates a terrible, unyielding tension that wants nothing from me – no plans, no solutions, no answers – but instead demands my complete surrender and trust.

I come to this (unsatisfying) truth out of sheer exhaustion. None of this sits well with me. I am a woman of action. I judge the success of each day by how productive it was – how much shit I got done. Surrender and trust are for lesser creatures. All things being equal, I would choose weapons of war over tools of recovery. Every time.

But my weapons of war (my will, my way, my vision) created unintended carnage. My marriage was weak, based on a constant shifting of power, rather than a balance of mutual respect. My parenting decisions were one-sided, based in fear instead of joy. And my relationships were fragile, based in ever-narrowing circumstances that restricted growth.

Eventually, after years of lobbing bombs to make things “right,” I could no longer ignore the barren landscape I was living in.

Better weapons

For me, surrender and trust are inextricably linked. Despite their insufficiencies, I would never surrender my weapons of war unless I was certain I could trust in a stronger will, a better way and a bigger vision. So I did not so much as give up my weapons, as I exchanged them for better ones.

Richard Rohr writes:

Learning that you are not in control situates you correctly in the universe. You know you are being guided, and your reliance on that guidance is precisely what allows your journey to happen. What freedom and peace this can bring!

But I must warn you: initially this new empowerment will feel like a loss of power, almost a step backward. … You must get through that most difficult first step of admitting that you are powerless before you can find your true power. 

Situated correctly in the universe, I am now armed with my true power. Game on.

Our true power

Our true power is not found in our amazing productivity skills. Nor is it found in our insistence on controlling things.

Our true power is the same thing that carves us out – it is our fierce, wide open, undiminished love. It is love that allows me to hold space for my son to cry and my sister to scream and my community to fray. And it is love that allows me to trust that the crying and screaming and fraying is moving us along in a larger, beautiful, mysterious plan – a plan that I am lucky to be part of, but will never fully understand.

Surrender and trust do not keep me from dark moments. Fear and panic still come – as the past few weeks have shown. But they do not consume me. And I know I am not alone in the dark.

Erin W. is the managing editor and lead writer for the She Recovers blog. She lives in Virginia where she has been working on and blogging about recovery since 2013. After years of trying to do recovery alone, she discovered the beauty of connection and friendship through She Recovers in 2017.

The post Our True Power: The Tool That Saves Us and Our Families appeared first on She Recovers.

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“Your birth altered my whole posture on this planet … because of you, I couldn’t die and couldn’t monster myself, either. So you were the agent of my rescue – not a job for somebody barely three feet tall.” –– Mary Karr writing about her son in Lit: A Memoir 

Last week my son turned 13 and we gave him a smart phone. We gave it to him as a birthday present, but in reality a smart phone is not a gift. It is an act of submission to our 21st century world of constant contact, instantaneous information and, of course, Amazon and PornHub. It is a recognition of – and ticket to – the world we live in.

I did not want to give my boy this world. I wanted to give him some other world, a world where it is easier to be good and kind. A world where we don’t require constant contact; where our current information is relevant for more than 24 hours; where we don’t need all the stuff on Amazon and where sites like PornHub don’t even exist.

But I am committed to living in reality. I know that I cannot shield my teenage children from the world, but instead am responsible for showing them how to live in it wisely. Mary Karr’s sentiment is also my own: my boys have been the agent of my rescue and in return, I am theirs.

To become a better mother, to become the mother that my children need, I stopped drinking. But sobriety was just the beginning of the changes I had to make. We are walking this world together and what we do matters to one another. This means I no longer numb myself, but instead make myself available to my family. It also means I no longer pretend that my needs are secondary to theirs.

The ultimate act of self-care is asking for help

The world we live in tells us we should never, ever ask for help. That we should keep our struggles hidden from view. That we should not trust other women to gently witness our messy needs. The world tells us that self-care looks like the occasional girls’ nights out; a bubble bath; a new pair of shoes. The world tells us that it’s not very motherly to make our lives about ourselves.

To stay in my recovery, and to stay available for my family, I am increasingly learning that I cannot listen to this world. I am breaking its rules, one by one. It began with asking for help, which is the hardest rule to break. What I know now is that asking for help is not an act of weakness and selfishness; instead it is the ultimate act of selflessness and self-care. It is only by recognizing our own needs that we can truly see the needs of others.

What self-care looks like

Today, the most important element of my self-care program includes making time to be alone – both here at home and trips away. It also excludes small talk (always a bit of a struggle for me) and most items on our family’s calendar. Not all of these changes have been greeted warmly by important people in my life.

My husband has questioned our empty calendar. My friend Emily calls my solo journeys “indulgent.” My friend Sondra can’t even speak the words “self-care,” but instead physically recoils from the very idea of it. At times, their reactions have made me pause and reconsider my actions. Am I being indulgent? Are these changes repugnant? I think not.

At the beginning of this process of recovery, my husband and friends gently questioned my desire to stop drinking. So of course they are also questioning the changes that follow. They love me, but they do not know what I need. Only I know that. I may not always require such an introverted self-care structure, but it is required right now. I am providing it to myself, just as I would provide it for my children.

By trusting and valuing myself, I am creating the world I want to give my sons – a world where it is easier for all of us to be good and kind. When I gave my son a smart phone, when I gave him the world to keep in his pocket, I did it with my eyes and heart wide open. He entered into his teenage years with a mother who may occasionally be out of town or out of the house, but who is always engaged, always available. I am showing him how to be the agent of his own rescue – and perhaps even how not to need rescuing at all. And that is a birthday gift worthy of us both.

Erin W. is the managing editor and lead writer for the She Recovers blog. She lives in Virginia where she has been working on and blogging about recovery since 2013. After years of trying to do recovery alone, she discovered the beauty of connection and friendship through She Recovers in 2017.

The post The Ultimate Act of Self Care appeared first on She Recovers.

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The fallacy of the ideal mother

I was a reluctant mother.

Unless they are just bathed, dressed in clean pajamas and holding their own warm bottle in their tiny hands, I don’t like babies very much.

Before I had my two sons, I would see moms in the Walmart with their carts full of diapers and peanut butter, pleading with the snotty-nosed toddler in their cart to stop spilling their raisins. I would cringe and think, “Oh my god. That is so going to be me some day.”

I would read stories about kids who wandered away from the family reunion and were later found face down in the hot tub. I would silently whisper, “Oh my god, please don’t let that be me some day.”

For years before I actually had children, I knew that I would not be an ideal mother. An ideal mother is patient and soft spoken. She stares tragedy down with grace and faith. She gently wipes snot and shit without reaction. She would never lose her kid and she is completely fulfilled by her role.

Once I had my boys, I became the dread-filled mother. Driven by fear. Exhausted, resentful. Making it through each day with my breath held, I never really saw the upside of parenting.

Unfortunately, I was not without the ideal mother’s assistance. For years, she kept residence inside my head, providing an ongoing narration on how I was failing at maternity and femininity. Against her backdrop, there was very little joy. I saw parenting as a care taking business – a transaction. I was supposed to keep the children safe. They were supposed to provide me with my life’s purpose. This was all part of a rinse and repeat cycle, going back generations.

And so, dutifully and without enthusiasm, the three of us plodded along. My eyes always scanning the horizon for hidden hot tubs, the kids trailing their raisins behind us.

Embracing the upside of parenting

When I stopped care taking my kids, I created my family.

The rebellion against the ideal mother started the night I scrapped nasty (but homemade!) casserole into the kitchen sink and drove my kids, then 3 and 1, to McDonalds for the first time. Over the years, more skirmishes occurred. During this time, the boys and I sort of waited each other out – they got older, and I got over myself. Eventually I smothered the ideal mother. I killed her dead. I introduced myself to my kids and started practicing “organic parenting.” I yell, I curse, I kiss and I hug. I hold onto them and push them away. They hold onto me and push me away.  Together, we horrify and delight each other, all the time.

A few months ago I read about a new study that found that babies as young as 13 months old can learn perseverance by watching their parents muddle through failure and repeatedly attempt to reach a goal. Babies who witnessed an adult struggle with an activity were significantly more likely to try longer before giving up, compared with babies in groups who did not watch adults struggle.

I read that and thought, “It turns out, I’m an ideal mom after all! My boys are so lucky.”

Now that we have actual relationships, I have started to see the upside to parenting. My friend Anne, mom of three boys, is fairly confident that her sons are going to turn out ok because they are growing up in a house where the mom talks. I love this theory so much, because if talking is the criteria for building mentally-sound adults, my boys are on track for spectacularly healthy lives.

At ages 14 and 12, our conversations can cover a lot of ground. “My throat hurts.” “I sat by myself at lunch today.” “How do you think Luke Skywalker knew to find Yoda in the Dagobah system?” “What’s a blow job?”

We have three rules: 1) I keep my eyebrows low (facial expressions that show surprise or shock shut conversations down fast). 2) If they want to talk about it, I want to talk about, too. 3) If I want to talk about it, they have to listen. I muddle through as best as I can, dragging my husband in when things get away from me. We say a lot of words at the boys, and then we hold our breath. (Holding breath is a consistent parenting tactic, no matter who is running the show.)

We are all operating inside the system of Free Will, so in the end it’s a wait and see situation. I want to believe that we are headed for happy endings, but since I exchanged the transaction of motherhood for the actual parenting, all I know for sure is that I am wide awake for the ride.

Erin W. is the managing editor and lead writer for the She Recovers blog. She lives in Virginia where she has been working on and blogging about recovery since 2013. After years of trying to do recovery alone, she discovered the beauty of connection and friendship through She Recovers in 2017.

The post The Ideal Mother is a Terrible Parent appeared first on She Recovers.

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She Recovers by Blog Admin - 3M ago

I’ve come to know and believe that each of us has a soul message that only we can share, and if we don’t discover this message, the world misses out on a beautiful offering.

Our message is within us when we are created, and although our childhood and other life circumstances may bury it, it remains our life’s purpose to uncover it and share it with the world.  It’s not easy. Life can take us on many detours, painful detours. Reconnecting to our soul’s message often takes an intense undoing, delayering, and shedding. When we find it – that which may have been hidden for a long time – we have found our life’s work. Our offering.

Like so many women in recovery, I am extremely grateful that Sarah Blondin has found her soul’s message and is sharing her light work with the world. Sarah is a beloved and gifted meditation teacher, founder, writer, videographer and podcast host for the “live awake project.” Most of us know her from her profoundly beautiful meditations available on the Insight Timer app.

Much to my delight, when I reached out to Sarah a few months ago, she agreed to meet with me in person. And so, a few weeks ago we met at a coffee shop in the small town of Vernon, British Columbia, Canada, a mid-way point between where we both live. It was love at first sight, for me. Sarah glows, as if radiating a light from within. The conversation flowed easily, as it does between two women sharing about the struggle that is the human experience. I was deeply curious about where Sarah’s deep insights and inspiration come from.

Sarah spoke of her unique journey to Source.  Self-described as a hypersensitive human, Sarah believes that we all have HSP – Hyper Sensitivity Disorder – in varying degrees.  She shared that she was always  sensitive to the human struggle existing in each of us; that she had spent years crying and longing to find equilibrium within herself, without understanding why she was crying, or why she felt in such misalignment with herself.  She longed to be of service to the world, to bring some peace to the suffering of humans.

Sarah grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and from a young age always felt a kinship with those less fortunate, accompanied by a deep longing to make things different for them.  When she moved to Vancouver, BC to pursue an acting career she made friends with the people living on the streets in the Downtown Eastside. She always felt compelled to stop and ask homeless people about their stories. She spoke of the rich conversations she would have, conversations at a level that in our usual lives, we don’t often have even with the people closest to us. Sarah described what it was like to really “get” and “see” these people, to understand them, see their longings for love and for the same human belonging and connection that we are all seeking.  We all share the same deep longing to find God/ Source/ Spirit, and Sarah found this truth in the lives and the stories of the people living on these streets.

Sarah pursued acting for a number of years, but the experience eventually took its toll. The extreme highs and lows that transpired were too much for her. She grew tired of the spiking emotions, and began to experience a longing to reach equilibrium, to be of service.

Enter the undoing.

During her first pregnancy Sarah’s sensitivity spiked to uncomfortable levels. Gently guided by the whispers of her spirit, Sarah surrendered to the beckoning of nature and fled to the interior of British Columbia. Into “the woods”, as she fondly refers to her now home.  While Sarah has never struggled with addiction in the more traditional sense, she describes entering into a form of “recovery or rehab”, where she was forced to shed her old, trusted means of coping and escape, and let go of it all through a process of heavy purging.  The depression that she entered lasted about two years.

Always a writer, it was around this same time that Sarah started to notice a shift in her writing. As she explains it, she found herself able to tap into a “Mainline to Source” and learned that she could tackle anything that she was processing simply by asking the question. Her work and her words are the direct result of the wisdom and inspiration that flows from her Mainline. Her prayers in the solitude of nature bring forth the necessary guidance – unfiltered, unedited, as is. Today, Sarah’s profoundly moving guided meditations are helping to heal people all over the world.

We will soon be able to add Sarah’s written words on our heart, just as we have embraced her spoken word. The book that Sarah is writing is about healing the divide between the Self and the Heart. Sarah believes that this our journey, our human voyage home. The path will be different for each of us, will often be bumpy, but we can all get to where we need to be.  Through her work, spoken or written, Sarah Blondin guides us to live wide awake and consciously.  It is a beautiful way to live, not easy, but incredibly rewarding. This coming September, Sarah will be a special guest at She Recovers in LA – a perfect setting for her and her gift.

My own words can’t convey what a joy it was to meet Sarah. I am her biggest fan, and will be first in line to buy her book. Her words feed my soul, guide my growth with love and compassion, and provide the gentle nudge that I need to continue to excavate the unique gift that is my soul’s message.

Lori Ann H. (on right) lives in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada, where she has been writing/ blogging privately about her recovery since 2016. She discovered She Recovers in 2017, and her recovery took flight. Lori Ann is passionate about writing, the healing that comes in working recovery, and living consciously.  She believes wholeheartedly that we each have a unique gift to share with the world, and that this gift can only be found in our healing.  Once we find this gift, it is our obligation to share it with the world… this is light that only we can shine. She is on the threshold of sharing her love and light.

Sarah Blondin (on left) is the founder, writer, videographer and podcast host for ‘live awake’. She lives with her two beautiful sons and husband in British Columbia, Canada. Sarah will be presenting a beautiful spoken word meditations at She Recovers in LA in September, 2018.

The post The Undoing appeared first on She Recovers.

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