Parenting the Child You Didn't Expect While You Were Expecting: The Hero's Journey of Parenting Self-Guided Course
Welcome to this journey stop!
Now that you have a better idea of where the exhaustion comes from, I’d like to introduce the first tool that I ever used. This tool helped me create an awareness of all that was going on within me, which was mostly happening in my mind. Didn’t take long for me to see why I was so tired!
Back when my son was three, I hit rock bottom. I realized that I had become a shell of a person with all of my energy spent in those three draining areas - Emotional Lockdown, Warrior Mom and in a constant state of Fear of Judgement. I had been standing on the other side of the threshold wanting desperately to know what to do. It felt like I was constantly doing something though now I realize that essentially I was just pacing back and forth feeling busy but not really getting anything done because I had no idea where to start. This is what I hope to support you with and want you to know that you are not alone. Even though I am not there with you physically, I am with you every step of the way.
Once you hit rock bottom, or even hit that feeling of “Something has got to change!” “Things cannot go on this way!” You have a choice.
Give up or get curious.
Having lived in that exhausted state for so long, I knew that if there was even a chance of life being different and better, it was worth taking a chance. So, I got curious and as a result, I found my glimmer of hope. It came as a flash of remembering that I used to be fun. I used to laugh. I used to be interesting. I used to be able to hold a conversation that had nothing to do with speech therapy or potty training. In contrast, my life at the rock bottom point felt like I had no joy and felt like I brought no joy to those around me. I couldn’t go on this way.
My son deserved better.
My husband deserved better.
I deserved better.
I had to find that person I knew was still in there and let her come back out and find joy in the here and now.
Almost immediately after that awareness, a book came into my life that changed everything. I kid you not, this book was titled, The Joy Diet, and it was written by Dr. Martha Beck, who went on to become my life coach mentor. This book was a really important teacher for me on this journey and I am forever grateful for all it taught me. You might be wondering what The Joy Diet and stillness have to do with one another. While you may not be able to see it at first, they are tightly connected. The first and most important step in this joy “diet” - do nothing for 10-15 minutes - was necessary in order to be able to proceed to the other exercises. Sounds easy, right? Or perhaps you are like me at that point thinking that there was too much to do and that sitting and doing nothing for 10-15 minutes was a big waste of time.
While my exhausted self craved stillness and rest, even thinking about getting still brought up fear, anxiety and agitation because of what might happen if I wasn’t occupying my mind and body with something. I feared what stillness might bring up and at that point, I didn’t realize what I was afraid of but looking back, it was that I would feel things I had been suppressing for years, that it would be too much and that I’d get stuck in the despair of what my life was turning out to be. If these are resonating with you, fear not! I thought all of these things AND because I had committed on some level to trusting in the unknown, I did it. I took my judgement of how this was a waste of time along with all of my fears and I passed the parental baton to my husband, grabbed a blanket, went outside, set my timer for 20 minutes and sat anyways.
Just as expected, my mind and body set out to protect me from the “scary” unknown. My mind went crazy with all sorts of things that I “should” be doing instead of sitting. My body became very uncomfortable because my mind was so loud and convincing that it was hard not to get up and start cleaning up dog poop. (Yes, cleaning up dog poop was preferred to sitting and doing nothing, never mind that I hadn’t thought about the dog poop in weeks.) I noticed the thoughts that were streaming through my active mind and found them really interesting. Some were mundane and others struck a nerve. I didn’t know what to do with them at that point and now know this is an important place to begin.
I am inviting you to sit and do nothing for 5-10 minutes. Find somewhere comfortable, even if this means reclining the driver’s seat of your car as you wait in the carpool line. I’ve had times where my nothing time happened in the bathroom because it was the only place I could go to lock the door and be alone. If you are able to sit outside, even better! Sit and breathe. Notice the thoughts. Notice how your body feels. Don’t do anything with the thoughts or feelings. Don’t even pay attention to them beyond simply noticing.
**I will say that if your mind is particularly loud and it is bringing up resistance that is keeping you from giving yourself time for stillness, try bringing out a pad of paper and a pencil, set it on your lap, don’t look at it or focus on it but when a thought, fear, worry or reminder comes to mind, jot it down without looking at it. If you are anything like me, my monkey mind is like microwave popcorn, at first nothing much happens and then lots of thoughts popping up like crazy before slowing down. Try and stay in stillness beyond the slowing down phase. Once your timer goes off or when you are done with your stillness session, you can see all of the very important things that your mind was trying to share with you. Some might be helpful, others might be comical. You don’t have to do anything with any of this right now and can toss the sheet away if you want.
Again, there are complete journey sessions sharing what to do with what you notice so don’t worry, just do nothing. You have my permission.
Click HERE for a pdf to help you take notes of what you noticed.