Yesterday

It is November's final day
Then comes December. 

I find myself quiet and contemplative
Tears want to fall, but can't— 
Lexapro numbing— 
It is both a loss and a relief. 

I like being at the corner of the couch
Gazing at the tree 
Snow has fallen
It is windy and cold. 

A question comes to me: 
What do I need to get out?!?!

There is a lot of internal and external weight
Enough to cause my feet to ache
So I plan to make a list of what to get out
And follow it little bit by little bit 
Until my feet feel light. 


~Nikki, The Soul Reporter 

Archetypes

There are two modern-day archetypes for a 
woman (at least this one)

The one who loves and understands, 
makes concessions

Then there's the one that says 
no 
to all of that 

I strive for the first and then feel 
robbed
I move to the second and feel 
mean and cold, you know not very "lady-like" 

When I was taking care of my dad, 
insulin shots, glucose checks and constant meal prep
I also had to work. 
I'm a therapist and a school social worker. 
I love my work 
But this was hard: managing dad and maintaining the life I had built
Where all day long I hold space and no space is held for me

I resented him
How he'd come up the stairs, sit at the kitchen counter and smile
He loves watching the women work 

One morning as I struggled to get myself out of bed for another round 
Him, at the counter, me forlorn scrambling his eggs
He said, you would feel better if you helped people and smiled. 

There's a saying, often on mugs, pillows and inside pretty frames:
A wise woman once said, "Fuck this shit" and she lived happily ever after.

~

I did say “fuck this shit,” once I found a nurse to come in every weekday morning so I could move him back to his house.

I go to his house on weekends, give the insulin, drop off the groceries and prep the food. This morning, I stayed, ate breakfast with him and had one of our old father/daughter talks I once enjoyed. Sometimes his mind is so clear he becomes the dad I’ve always known.

What I learned from this time of taking care of my dad, and as I still learn because this isn’t over, is although this has been really difficult, I see where I was causing my own suffering. I see how I kept bouncing back from one archetype to the other. As a woman, in the patriarchy, with a dad who is accustomed to the “women’s work,” I felt pressured to do my work with a smile—you know so I could be loved and approved of. But I felt burdened and pissed and abandoned my own needs. And then really pissed being judged by those who have not helped in the ways that I have. My dad didn’t have to take care of his parents, except for one summer taking care of his mom who had Alzheimers. My dad is not a therapist or a social worker. My dad is also not a woman.

So I’d swing to the other archetype and say, “fuck this shit.” It brought relief. It feels good not to give a shit for a bit.

It took my own mental health crisis about a month ago to realize I matter, and I don’t have to be a victim or a martyr to matter. I experienced the weight of caring for others. I began to understand how I was not shielding my emotional, physical, and mental boundaries and no one was going to save me from doing this to myself. Only I was. So I got help.

The days now seem to move a bit more fluidly, sometimes even joyfully. Mentally, I protect my boundaries by doing what is needed without the incessant inner dialogue about what I am missing out on in my own life. Emotionally, I protect my boundaries by creating my own support structures and physically, I protect my boundaries by giving my home and work back to myself. I notice when I am with my dad, like this morning, I do not feel burdened. I am with him. I do not know how much longer I will be able to.

Thanks for listening,

Nikki, The Soul Reporter

Mother tongue

What is my mother tongue
Somewhere mercy is underneath

What is my mother tongue
I know it has something to do with my own mother

What is my mother tongue
I've yet to know it but I know
It has something to do with 
The moss that grows on trees

What is my mother tongue
It's alive and generous 
And also burdened and lost

What is my mother tongue
Somewhere poetry exists 

What is my mother tongue
Moist with lush green forests
And arid rainforests

What is my mother tongue
I'm still trying to figure it out. 



*I've been bone dry for words lately
These came out after a short walk in the forest 
Not even sure what it means and that's okay.

~Nikki, The Soul Reporter

No Matter How You Slice it— Patriarchy & a Poem

I was asked by my husband to watch a video with Mike Tyson interviewing Sadhguru. It offered many helpful nuggets to help me through the challenging time I’m in. And something else stuck out, I’d be surprised if any man would notice. This is the first piece (don’t worry, it will come together).

The second piece is how I’ve been impacted by what has been going on with my dad. He was hospitalized early September. He then has spent 3 weeks in a transitional care unit. Tomorrow he goes home, with advisement of 24-hour care. I could go into this loop, but I won’t because here is the main point— the fear and the deep-rooted patterning that has surfaced because of this.

In a nutshell: the patterning is around saving dad. I also felt I had to save mom. This has led to me thinking I have to save everyone. It has caused significant stress, and now causing harm to my body and mind. And why do I try to “save” everyone? Because I felt, for one reason or another, my primary caregivers needed saving. Underneath that, I love them and care for them. Underneath that, or maybe on top of that is, if they are okay, I am okay. But they aren’t okay so I need to save them so I am okay. Hope that makes sense. And now I have to leave this loop so I don’t get you, the reader, lost.

So this morning, reflecting on the video, In my journal and began to open the window to my fear. Mike’s first question to Sadhguru was: why am I afraid? I wrote: The fear— my life will be taken over or completely taken for the needs of my father. I don’t want this. This is a whole can of worms I am not opening here.

As I continued to write in my journal, in the back of my mind was a part of the talk that I don’t think Sadhguru even intended to share.

But first back to my dad. As he thinks about going home, how ready he is and how he tells me it will be okay and he can take care of himself, I breakdown to him and tell him how terrible I’ve been feeling. How stressed and how afraid I am of losing the life that I have to take care of him.

He said: well the women here (at the facility) have been helping me.

I said, dad, yes, but they aren’t following you home. It will be me, one woman, who has a life she likes and wants to continue in.

And he says, well what else do you have to do, you have the time to do that.

And I said, dad, no I don’t. You don’t know all that I’ve had to do in the background of your life.

I’ve been paying his bills, talking with doctors, nurses, lawyers, care coordinators. Worrying about where he will live. Taking care of his plants, checking his mail. This one woman.

My dad is a very spiritual man. Meaning he has meditated for 30+ years. He has studied with the theosophical society. He reads a lot, he writes and he and I did Sadhguru’s Inner Engineering program. My dad, with his other faculties declining, has entered into an expanded consciousness that is either right on point or delusional. I can’t quite discern. And while I keep his earthy life of bills and health and daily living afloat, he can continue to float amongst the clouds in the spiritual realm. Meanwhile, I’d like my own state of bliss. I’d like to write my own books. Maybe I could be a woman up on a stage giving my spiritual perspective.

And here is where Sadhguru comes back in. He chose to share with the audience that his father, within in the next few hours, will be dead. He said not be there with him does not mean he does not care and he sent his “girl” (maybe his daughter or granddaughter) to be with his dad (did any man catch that). Sadhguru was with the Americans and Mike Tyson. His girl was with the dying dad.

There are so many layers to the space I am in, but this one keeps hitting. This one where it is the goddam women trying to save us all and I just can’t stop thinking about it. I just can’t stop thinking about how yes, the underlying and very real psychological layers of conditioning and the trauma of childhood neglect does indeed contribute to this fear of my life being taken over AND also, the very real threat of a woman’s life being taken over by man and his needs and his privileged requirements and expectations. Where his life stays afloat while the women work their asses off in the background of their existence.

And here is my sad little poem to reflect on this time I am in:

The poetry has stopped. 
Sometimes I think this is the biggest loss. 

I'm surrounded by those who need
But never ask 
I just do
Too much 
And yet nothing at all. 

***full disclosure- I realize some victim narrative here, that may be dramatic or even false when unpacked to its bare bones. However, I am not at the bare bones. I am still in the meat and it occurs as salty and sour. My writings are moments I share as I process my experience. They aren’t meant to be fixed or static. I continue to evolve, grow, expand.

I also recognize there likely was no ill intent in Sadhguru’s words. This is only how it occurred to me based on where I am in my own unfolding. And lastly, I recognize to care for an elderly parent is different than caring for them in other ways. Two things can be true at the same time: I don’t want to give up my life and I want to help my dad during this time in his life. I also know that I have taken on this “burden” of trying to save others as a way to stabilize my purpose in this life and it is no longer stabilizing me. It is debilitating me. There are other possibilities right now and I am open and willing to discover what they are so a more authentic, stabilizing and sustainable future can be created.

Thanks for sharing this moment with me,

~Nikki, The Soul Reporter

*Repost of the post with the most views* Now~ a sort of poem about healing the mother wound

Now

my mom greets me like a small child. Her eyes light up and she is filled with such love for me. 

This is what flowed beneath the layers of suffering that was my mom- that was our relationship. 

I hated her a lot. And I believed she hated me the same. 

We must be careful who we deem unworthy of love but worthy of hate and abandonment. We must not dismiss a family as dysfunctional or a person damaged and leave it there as if it/they held nothing else. 

Now

I really know this.

For there were many necessary years I felt anger and betrayal- sometimes rightly so- and the only way I could function in our dysfunction was to protect myself. 

And yet, now…

I feel I am a good daughter for sticking with her- for staying in the process, the journey that is ours. 

Now

I understand I needed to love her but couldn’t and wouldn’t and instead exchanged vulnerability for codependency (unknowingly of course). 

Now

I continue to play this out within my marriage. 

And yet, now

I see the possibility that what flows beneath the wounds of my suffering might redeem me

Maybe not quite now but eventually. 

Chicken

Together we play a game of chicken
Russian roulette even—
eventually the bullet kills us
Moth to flame—you say it all the time—
eventually we burn
Bait-and-switch—what are we selling that we won't be giving

Game of Chicken
Your freedom or mine
Certainly not ours together

You go your way
I go mine
Now we collide
Toward death or to freedom
Or are they the same

What gives and when
We are at the edge
Which one of us will swerve
Or will we, at the end?

~Nikki, The Soul Reporter

Evolution

Evolution moves slow and steady. 

I once believed I could clear wounds enough to transcend my upbringing—
To not be my mother. 

What cleared are protections that made me function and survive. 

My daughter said to me: I like seeing you struggle—
A once controlled and efficient mother now stumbles a bit. 

Bring on the staggering
And the unease of failing
And seeing the apple does not fall far from the tree. 

It is true some improvements were made
Maybe I'll see more as I age
But for now I acknowledge evolution is slow
And at least it is steady. 

For we are not efficient machines
We are human with hearts and needs
We store treasures from ancestors and thieves. 

Keep going. 


~Nikki, The Soul Reporter 

Devotion

What’s underneath this madness? Devotion?

I cant see a future without him now that I’m standing at our death door. It was fun to play with the idea of leaving when I was still in a familiar hallway.

Now I am numb again. Familiar only to my pain, and not ours.

But it will return.

Rumi says, keep digging your well, water is there somewhere.

Is it devotion?

~Nikki, The Soul Reporter