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How Healing Myself also Healed my Relationship with my Son

When my son, Desmond, was little, it was him and me against the world. And what it felt like - at the time - was that it was also him against me. My nervous system never had a chance to recover from a very harrowing labor/birth and the following three + years of sleep deprivation. Because of this, and virtually no support from his father or our families, I had a very short fuse. All of this did not pair well with what we call a "spirited child". My mind and body reacted to his strong and powerful soul as if he was trying to destroy me. Every time he refused to do what I asked it felt like an attack. I knew, cognitively, that this was not the case, but that did nothing to help regulate my nervous system. In the 46 years of my wild life, I can easily say that the time my son was born until he was 8 was the absolute hardest time and I do not wish that level of exhaustion and despair on anyone. Even Donald Trump.

I felt like I tried everything to help him be less defiant and grumpy (I realize now that some of my interpretation of his attitudes were a result of my energy and projections). I took him off dairy, gluten and sugar (not all at once - though believe me, I tried!), I took him to play groups, camping, Disneyland and even the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame! NOTHING helped him to be more agreeable with me, though he seemed to be fine with everybody else, which I was both relieved and slightly annoyed about.

When he was 8, I was able to line up childcare so that I could go to a yoga training at Kripalu in Western Mass. When I checked in, they let me know that the facilitator couldn't make it and they were lining up a sub to take her place. I was really bummed out - the whole reason I made this trip happen was to work with this teacher that I had followed for years. 

I went to my dorm room and unpacked my things and decided to go get some food down the hall. Part of the glory of going to this place is the food. Amazing, delicious, healthy food that I did not have to prepare or even clean up after. It was a total dream come true. 

I was sitting by the window, happily eating something other than eggs and toast when someone came and sat down beside me. I wasn't thrilled about this, but she seemed nice. I smiled and said hello. 

She asked me what course I was taking and I told her the situation. 

She told me that she was taking an Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT Tapping) training, and I immediately remembered that the last time I was at Kripalu, somebody did some tapping with me and it was a very profound experience. There was a catalog on the table and I flipped to the page and read the description.  As soon as I finished eating, I went to the front desk and switched to this training. I am SO grateful that lady sat down with me. I think it was divine intervention.

Over the course of the training I processed a lot of trauma.

When I got home I continued using this modality every day, neutralizing triggers left and right, and continuing to process old trauma that was packed into my body.

Things IMMEDIATELY eased up with Desmond.

Shortly thereafter, I was able to go back to Kripalu for a 4 day meditation training. Divine intervention again. These two trips were two of the only times I got a break from parenting and they were so, completely necessary.

I had never meditated beyond little bits in yoga classes. I was interested in this particular style - Vedic, with this particular teacher - Light Watkins, because of a podcast I heard him on. He sounded so light (pun intended), bright and lovely, and spoke of how this style of meditation was different than others in that it didn't require you to focus on anything. It was lazy-man's meditation and really allowed a person to build resiliency. I was sold.

What I received from this initiation into Vedic meditation ended up being all that and so much more. I was finally shown a way to relax with myself, and I don't know if I would have been so successful at the process without my newly installed EFT skills. EFT taught me how to love and accept myself, my thoughts, and my emotions, regardless of context, which made it possible for me to sit and witness my inner experience without recoiling in horror.

I worked with these two tools every day and not only did I stop reacting to Desmond, our lives upgraded almost immediately. We had been homeless at the time and immediately found an amazing apartment, and Desmond was enrolled in a fabulous private school that helped him ground and regulate in no time at all. My vibration lifted which changed everything in our world, not the least of which was our relationship. I stopped reacting to him, not because I knew better - I always knew better, but because I finally had some kind of buffer zone between us. I didn't feel like I was being electrocuted by his whining or resisting what I asked, etc. I have read that meditation has the power to re-myelinate your nerve endings, which literally insulates them. I am still just amazed at how fast it worked. Perhaps it was the combination of learning to love and accept myself with also learning how to be still with myself, and practicing both, that had such a swift, profound impact on me.

Once I was able to harmonize myself like this, I was able to implement all of the amazing tools I learned from multiple "connective parenting" groups I had participated in when he was younger. Things like 'letting him have his problems' made more sense to me because I wasn't all enmeshed and reactive anymore. Remaining connected with him and allowing natural consequences, rather than trying to "teach him a lesson" was now available to me in a way that I wasn't able to access before I was connected with myself. This allowed our connection to remain intact through the ups and downs of life and grow and flourish - fast! I didn't take life and myself as seriously once I had relaxed my constant state of fight or flight, so I wasn't catastrophizing every little thing he did "wrong" anymore. I was no longer worried that he would grow up to be a maniac.

The moral of the story is that it wasn't until I began healing myself that my relationship with Desmond got exponentially better, more peaceful, and more joyful. 

Now he is 15 and absolutely thriving. I don't think we could have a better connection - he is literally the easiest child on the planet. And so cute and funny. And wholesome. Everyone raves about him. I honestly don't know if he could be doing this well had I not given myself the level of attention that I so desperately needed. And I was able to do this self care without taking any time away from him, or work, or my endless tasks, errands and responsibilities. 15-20 minutes of meditating in the morning, before Des even woke up, and EFT tapping for a minute or two (tops) when I was triggered, and sometimes before I went to sleep, when I remembered. 

As mothers, the whole world lands on our shoulders. It is absolutely critical that we learn to prioritize our mental/emotional health and wellbeing. In terms of your relationships with your family, it is actually the least selfish thing you can do.

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