This is a picture of my husband, Trevor, walking the slackline.
It’s basically a horizontal bungee cord, upon which he somehow maintains some semblance of balance in spite of the fact that it bends and sways in response to the slightest breeze, much less his weight or movement!
People see him walking on it in the park, and either assume they could never do it, or that it’s easy.
But it’s actually neither. Most people (although sadly not me) could walk a slackline if they were willing to put in enough time and dedication and willingness-to-fall-off effort. Trevor spent weeks just trying to stand up on it, and then months more mastering the art of walking, turning, crouching and walking backwards on it. And there are others that have taken the art to the level of impressive, and can even do tricks on the slackline or cross deep canyons on a high rope!
And I think that slacklining is a useful metaphor for us as we think about what it means to begin to live life over our centre.
So we talk a lot here about there being two ways of living – fear and love – and that we have to pick one.
Fear leaves us grasping. It’s the drowning victim flailing away in the water. It’s the cartoon character falling from ridiculous heights, trying to hold onto any leaf or branch they pass on the way down. It’s the labouring woman clutching at the hand of their partner with such force that no one’s certain whether a hand will end up broken during this process, and if so, whose.
The problem with grasping is that it doesn’t work. If the drowning victim actually grabs hold of their rescuer, chances are they will pull the rescuer down with them. If the cartoon character ever gets hold of a tree, even cartoon physics means that the force of their momentum can be enough to pull the tree out of the ground. The labouring mama clutching at her partner’s hand is more likely to make him terrified than to calm herself down.
Yesterday was the day we’d been training for all summer!
After over four months of waiting for my chair it shipped over a week ago. Problems with delays at the factory where it was made, and then issues with shipping meant that by Friday afternoon it was stuck in a semi-truck at the UPS Depot in Windsor, with no chance of getting it to Barrie before our race.
Marianne from My Team Triumph Canada, and an amazing friend who lives in Windsor called, pestered, insisted and succeeded in emancipating my chair from the depot late Friday afternoon, drove it up from Windsor and assembled it on Saturday, and arrived with it in hand Sunday morning.
Back in 2011 I was given the opportunity to expand my birth work to include working with women who had experienced sexual abuse. In doing the training for this role, I began to read more and more about trauma and especially about triggers.
And the more I read about triggers, the more I realized that they explained the experiences I was having – overwhelming fear coupled with completely ‘over-the-top’ responses to everyday situations.
I was ending up in a fight-flight-or-freeze state over things like whether I was going to be two minutes late to meet up with someone, or whether my kids were properly behaved, or whether my husband came home a little late after work.
The only thing was that – unlike the clients I was working with – I had no knowledge of having been sexually violated.
And the prevailing responses in all of these cases is either to become defensive or to grovel in guilt or wallow in shame.
The problem with all three of these responses, is that all of them create big emotions that we then use to distance ourselves from the pain of the one we’ve hurt. If our emotions are big enough to take up the whole room, we don’t have to see the emotions of the person who is suffering. They are actually just different forms of self-protection.
Today is Infant Loss and Awareness Day – and the 15th one I’ve observed as a mother who lost her child.
The little boy at the top of this screen is my son.
He was born the day before my 23rd birthday – the second of my three children – fifteen years ago this past August.
He was beautiful and a fighter and had these intense ‘old eyes’ that felt like they could see into the depths of your soul.
But he also had Trisomy 18 – a chromosomal abnormality similar to Down’s Syndrome that causes each and every cell to end up with too much genetic information. In Jeremiah’s case – and in the case of the 1:3000 live births with Trisomy 18 – this meant that Jeremiah’s chances of reaching his first birthday alive were less than 10%.
So I slurped up every ounce of my baby, knowing that his time was limited, but with no knowledge of exactly how long we had.
So we’ve spent the last few weeks talking about getting to know the different parts of who we are – heart, soul, mind (part 1 and part 2) and body. We talked about how important it was for us to get to know these different parts of us, because each of these parts are designed to work together to help us to function in the best way possible.
But what does that look like? How do we get to the point where we know the answers to these questions?
There is this tendency to want to “fix” people. To make it so that they stop responding “inappropriately” or “fit in” better. But what if we viewed those with disability, autism or mental health issues like canaries – vulnerable yet valuable members of our community, who had the capacity to help us see when we might be in trouble, and make adjustments to the way in which we were living sooner rather than later?
Because of the role that worthlessness and disconnection play in self-harm and suicidality, if someone is courageous enough to tell me about what’s going on, I do my best to respond immediately with deeper connection.
I might take them out for coffee, for a walk in the woods or by the water; I might invite them back to my place for dinner and some chill hang out time, or even invite them to spend a night or two with us.
I know that this response is not going to fix all of the underlying reasons for where this person is where they are. That’s not my goal.
My goal is to create an immediate, felt sensation of increased connection for the person – like first-aid for the soul.