Protecting Childhood

Who protects the children? Who shelters the sacredness of childhood?

This duty falls upon the parents/caregivers. 

And yet, as the quote above states: It is in the homes and in childhood that the wreckage of human life begins. I would say it is also in schools and religious institutions. 

I come out strongly suggesting this because this wreckage is what I care passionately about. My passion was reignited last week as my daughter shared an experience she had. It triggered experiences and emotions still unprocessed from my childhood. 

A family member had compared their daughter to mine, and not in a positive light. This has happened before when another family member did not want their daughter to be around mine because they believed she was a bad influence. I recall the time, as a young teenager, I was forbidden to step foot in my friend’s house because her parents believed I was a bad influence because I dated black boys. I remember how this hurt me, and it wasn’t the first time. It was a reoccurring theme that somehow something in me threatened the adults and they didn’t want me rubbing off on their kids. Absurd! 

I can say that now, but at the time I felt like a defect. I felt ashamed. I felt judged. And, I felt angry. The anger I felt was about the injustice I was experiencing. These parents who judged me did not know me. They never asked me questions. They did not spend time with me. I was instantly forbidden fruit based on a few choices and behaviors. 

My daughter is being judged in the same way. The family members who chose this behavior do not know her. I’ve yet to see any of them sit down with her and ask her questions about who she is or how she is. Or have they sat down with me and asked about what is was like to raise her or how I raised her. And somehow, as parents, they believe they won’t deal with the behaviors they think they know about my daughter and if they do, they rather it be due to the negative influence of my daughter. How ignorant!

What is forgotten, what is not done is to look wider and deeper at the reasons behind so called negative behaviors and influences. Why might someone act out with “negatively”? Why might a child/teenager self-harm? Use drugs? Do we think they are just a defect or do we just blame the bad influences? Or do we consider they are acting out unprocessed traumas that occur within our own homes? Our own toxic environments? Acting out the wreckage of their childhood? Not usually. Instead of adults putting this together, adults project their fears, ignorance and their own unprocessed traumas and emotions at the children and make them the problem. How unjust!

For example, say a young girl lives in a home where a parent abuses alcohol. I know this home. My mom was an alcoholic. It sucks. It damages a child. It creates patterns that can destroy a life. The child might point out to their parent that they drink too much. Instead of the parent listening, the parent feels disrespected. They believe the child has lost their rightful place in the family hierarchy- to be seen and not heard; to respect their elders. All non-sense!

Why should a child not be able to claim their childhood? Why should a child respect a parent who is not protecting their childhood? Why should they not proclaim: I matter. My childhood matters. Why should a child not plead to their parents to protect the sacredness of their childhood? More sad, why should a child have to? 

Kahlil Gibran on children said: 

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

We cause the wreckage when we see them as our possessions and believe they are less than. We do them a great disservice when we do not see them as souls, as a spirit within a body that have their own path to follow. When I was judged, yes, I felt hurt, but I also knew there was nothing wrong with me. I sensed both my humanity and my spirituality. I understand we are dual- both material and spiritual. We are made up of our childhood environments and our larger society that create our psychological experience and we are spiritual- of spirit- composed of high vibrations of energy that are constantly evolving. 

I have no doubt the vast majority of us who are parents are going to fuck up our kids. I thought I was a good mom because I didn’t abuse alcohol like my mother did, and provided a mostly stable environment, but I brought them other traumas. This is bound to happen because we have unconscious realms of darkness within us that hold old conditioning and beliefs. But, there is hope. We can protect childhood!

Here is what we can do: We can 1) commit to our own inner, self-reflective work and practices. We can and must commit to our own healing. And 2) repair the harms we have caused with our children. To do this, we must be open and respect their experience enough to openly listen to them. We must give them safe space to air out their grievances. Recently, my kids sat down with my husband and me and told us what it was like to grow up with our marriage. It was brutal to hear. But it was and is my duty to listen, to repair and commit to healing. 

It is time to end fearful, ignorant parenting based on a hierarchical mindset and unconscious psychological patterns. Instead it is time to begin conscious, mindful parenting, which is a combination of reparenting ourselves with honesty and compassion and our children the same. 

~The Soul Reporter

Declarations, toxic masculinity & protecting our feminine borders

This Father’s Day I declared that I no longer hold, accept or take responsibility for the insecurity of men, or the ignorance about their sense of superiority and dominance over women.

Whether that insecurity and ignorance takes the form of verbal, sexual, emotional, or physical abuse or is just a mindset, I am now one less woman to create a safe and generous space for it. This occurred to me on my daily walk yesterday. I wore a romper. As I walked across the street, a man in a truck waited at the stop sign and (in my head) watched me walk. Instantly, my head dropped down in shame- hoping he was not noticing my menopausal belly and find me unworthy. The next instant my mind flooded with all the times I do this on my walks. And then it flooded with all the major and minor abuses women and girls, including myself, have received by men.

As a young girl, my father made a pig sound when I ate. He also did not talk to me much when I was young and that made me feel ignored and unseen. I have watched male family members treat my two daughters differently— where once they were adored as children and then abandoned once they grew breasts and hips. I have heard stories of fathers laughing at their daughter’s “mosquito bites.”

Girls gain their sense of self-worth from their fathers so what do we think is the message a girl receives from a father who makes fun of her developing body? A father who oinks when she eats? A father who doesn’t say, “Hello, how are you” after a school day? A father who works all day and then is angry at the dinner table? A father that only disciplines but does not love? A father who is absent?

These girls become women and some of them marry men. They marry men who cheat. Men who ignore. Men who abuse. Men who laugh at them. Men who drink too much and do drugs. Men who try and find ways to make them wrong. Men who dismiss their experiences and do not think they can come up with ideas of their own. Men who call them crazy. Men who are silent about other men who abuse or worse, defend them.

As anger, regret and sorrow filled me, I further declared that my sense of worth no longer comes from a man be he a stranger or someone I sleep next to every evening. My sense of worth comes from me. And further, my body, mind and surrounding energetic field will not support, sustain or allow the projections of man’s insecurities.

Men have a lot of work to do. A lot of inner, introspective work. I dare anyone to show me one man who does not have ANY toxic masculinity running through him.

If we women continue to protect men, which is more about how we protect ourselves from possible abuse or abandonment, then I have little hope men will awaken to their ignorance and insecurity on their own. I say this because I believe it is an unspoken expectation that women are here to either accept or enable a man’s toxicity or it is her duty (a false belief we might have) to love or teach him out of it.

None of this is our job as women. It is up to men to love and teach themselves out of it. The only thing keeping toxic masculinity going is fear and ignorance- fear of the truth that men actually are not better, smarter, stronger than women. Fear of the truth of their own pain of having to be better, stronger, better. Fear of being equal and what that mean for them as far as sacrificing their unearned privileges. Fear of all their insecurities being exposed once women stop protecting them.

Donald Trump is the poster child of toxic masculinity. Only those men that are like him, and the women who protect them, believe in his bravado. The rest of us see what an insecure, wounded and sad little man he is. We see that what he does is all a cover for how insecure he is, how shitty he feels about himself and how full of fear he is. The role of Melania and his children is to protect him. They create a facade that this man deserves a wife and children by his side. They shoulder the burden of his shame because he cannot face it. I wonder how many men use their wife and children for these same things….

Let us take take pity on that, and yet know there is no excuse!

Men, put your burden down of upholding the lie that you are better, stronger, smarter. You’re not. You’re human, just like we women. We are more than capable and do not need you to be anything but equal, to be humans. We need you to reflect upon your unearned privileges, to take inventory of all the subtle and not so subtle ways you have hurt women and to show up having experienced and atoned for all of that.

Women, set your boundaries, protect your sacred borders and no longer allow the insecurities, the wounds of men, to infiltrate you. You need to mend, to heal, to love yourself, to know you are worthy because you declare it to be so.

~The Soul Reporter

Guest Post: “The One Who Walks Beside.”

On December 11, 2015 my father lost his wife. Below are the words, images, lessons and teachings from his experience…..

There is an American Indian phrase that is used to designate the person who walks beside another, through out their life; it is, “the one who walks beside.”  This simple expression is clearly referring to a spouse, a best friend, a brother, a sister, etc., who, regardless of the kind of conditions or circumstances that surround the beloved person, will walk by his or her’s side.  This kind of relationship exudes characteristics of loyalty, love, support, protection, respect, selflessness: my wife would say, “they are attached at the hip.”

This phrase accurately describes the relationship my wife and I had.  She was the one who walked beside.  I say “was” because my wife passed away, unexpectedly Dec. 11, 2015.  My wife, Mary Lou, was  not feeling well after Thanksgiving.  She complained of stomach pains, thinking she had an urinary infection, which she had had several times previous.  We went to urgent care, and she was diagnosed with a severe urinary infection, and was given three antibiotic pills.  Mary Lou seemed satisfied that the pills would cure her infection, as they had on previous occasions, and she would be fully recovered in three days.  The next day, Mary Lou wasn’t feeling any better and complained of lower back pain and a severe headache.  We went to see an orthopedic doctor who took x-rays of her lower  back with the result that, other than some arthritis her lumbar area was fine.  The next day Mary Lou was getting weaker. and we decided to go to the hospital emergency facility.  She was so weak that she could not put on her socks and shoes, I had to put them on her feet. Continue reading…..

Have You Ever Wanted To Leave Your Family?

I left my family.

How many of us women, wives, mothers have left? How many want to? Need to?

SONY DSC

It was only for a couple of days. I went to my mother. The irony. Our past relationship is one of the reasons I have walked through the world protecting myself from the need to need anybody. But, I’m growing up. I went to my mom—anyway— and she was there.

She opened her door—could hardly believe her eyes I was standing in front of her. It felt good to be there. By day two, crawled up in a blanket she put on me, I began to feel a twinge of guilt. I was away from my own family and the guilt was probably a sign I was doing something I had not done in a while—take care of my self.

I don’t know all of the reasons I left, but my guess is any woman, mother, wife reading may know a reason or two. What I did discover: the pain that caused me to pack a bag and look into my husband’s eyes and say, “I’m leaving” was no longer seeing my reflection, the essence of who I am in my family—the one container I have put everything in to.

To put it another way— I lost myself in my family and not received a dividend for my investment except depletion and resentment. I desired them to fill me up as my cup ran dry, believing this reasonable, and I resented they couldn’t or wouldn’t. And when the water in our new home stopped working due to a frozen pipe, I had to leave.

For years I endured far worse than a frozen pipe. But, somehow this broke me.

runningwater

It was this pipe that brought me back home. I had to let the service technician in. The water is flowing again. As for me, I am restored enough to see with new eyes, remembering my gaze is needed here in this home because a mother and a wife is what I am. It’s what I have chosen to do. But—my gaze is also needed to stay within my very own soul, a place I must return again and again for restoration, peace, clarity and wisdom.

The Soul Reporter

Paint with Love.

Source: xxjenliu.tumblr.com via Casey on Pinterest

Love is the key- the simple solution but often so hard to achieve.

It has been a long while since I have written, at least anything of great length. I was in transition- I believed from bearing my entire soul on each blog entry, which I have done for many years, to something entirely new, although I didn’t know what. But, it turns out that wasn’t really the transition I was making.

You see, there was something going on within me, beneath the surface- a battle of sorts. On my spiritual path, I’ve faced many of these, and the ultimate one is between love and fear. This battle of love and fear is what was rumbling.

In this battle love does not fight. In fact, love gently and powerfully leads the way even, it seems, when it looks like fear is winning. We often talk about choice, especially in this New Age of The Course in Miracles and positive self-help: choose love over fear, these teachings tell us. But love has already chosen us. The work then becomes knowing this in a conscious and connected way. This is our evolutionary route—back to love and what we can choose is whether we want to be a conscious participant or not on this journey.

I have a personal example. Tonight, during a conversation with my significant other, I watched myself move from being led by fear to being led by love. It seemed to have happened instantaneously, but actually there have been signs this transition was on its way. And, finally tonight I was able to put it into practice. I guess I could say I chose this practice of leading with love, but mostly it just happened as a natural course of my evolution of consciously participating in my route back to love.

As it happened, this transition to love, I kept going with it because it felt so good. It was so liberating. Somehow I knew there was a solution here- an answer I had been looking for, a remedy to my present suffering. I thought: so damn simple, but God  how I have suffered. In this one moment, in this exchange with my husband, I kept throwing love whereas I would usually throw more fear. In my fear I don’t give him the benefit of the doubt. I am paranoyed, afraid he might leave me. I cling and control. Nothing gets resolved and only more pain and suffering ensues.

I always thought it was because I was co-dependent and crazy, which yes, there are many moments this appears true, but actually I love this man. I love him a lot. And I guess this love has frightened me, and instead of taking this love and painting beauty with it, I have taken it, hoarded it, been ignorant of it, and allowed it to almost turn preverse and paint ugly with it. (And of course, it hasn’t helped I have been hurt in this relationship as well).

As my fear told me he was purposely avoidng my calls and texts and I began to feel that familiar panic, love was there and allowed me to be honest. To say things about what was really going on inside me. I actually merged with the truth, instead of swimming around it where the fear lurks, and the truth of this moment was—I don’t want to hurt anymore. I will believe him. I will love in the face of adversity, stress and fear. I will love. Love is the safety net, the simple solution—nothing else.

But this simple solution is not always easy to come by, even though we talk about it like it is. The reason why it is difficult to go to this safety net is because it takes quite a bit for us to get really honest and really real with our selves, with what is really going on within us. We are afraid of the fear and afraid of the love and we move around in chaos and confusion until finally we don’t want to hurt anymore. Until finally we want and are ready for a solution to our suffering.

To love, I mean really love in the face of fear and adversity takes preparation—almost as though we must prepare to receive the love that is within us. We must be ready for it, therefore this process cannot be forced. It must unfold, naturally, and it will. It does. It is.

Love is the gentle force behind the fear. There will come a time in its unfolding when it breaks through and shows us its power and lets us feel its presence within us. That is the time of liberation and restoration. And then love can become our practice. Our way. Our truth.

The Soul Reporter

Are You Recreating Your Childhood With Your Partner?

Got a new column over at elephant journal, and I’m talking about marriage.

Here is the first post:

The Soul Reporter on Growing Up Your Love.

The other day, my husband informed me via text he was going to do something he knew I might not approve of. Him sharing this with me is a new behavior. In the past, I found out these things by accident or because I was snooping around.

I told him how I felt about what he was going to do. I threw in the kids: “Do you think it is a good choice considering we have children?”

Turns out, I had no influence. He was still going to do what he wants to do, and I fell into a funk and sent him this text:

To continue reading…