Connection – Part 2

Many of us carry around inside of us the idea that fundamentally we’re not worth very much. Through family, classmates, teachers, religious institutions or society at large we have come to view ourselves as inadequate – accepting at face value the idea that we have little to offer and much to be ashamed of. We worry that if we were ever to connect deeply with another person than the best we could expect would be judgement. 

These feelings of inadequacy make us reticent to connect with others because we (incorrectly) believe that we have nothing to contribute to the relationship and that others are better off without us.

Connection – Part 1

I grew up a lonely and often-bullied or ostracized little girl. I wore hand-me-downs that were ten years old (and possibly out-dated when their original owners got them). I wore leg braces and running shoes – often with a dress, just to up the awkwardness of the look. I couldn’t run and play easily on the playground. I was good at school and socially inept at the same time, which is a terrible combination. And I was constantly in pain.

None of this made for an easy time building deep connections or relationships with those around me.

Turn The Wind Down

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.

Grounded, Not Grasping

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.

Trauma, Triggers and Moving Forward

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.

So I started to dig deeper. 

Tools in your Toolbox – What Makes You Come Alive?

One of the first questions that we need to ask with our compassionate curiosity is what makes you come alive? The reason is simple – all of us are exposed to lots of different voices, from lots of different directions. Everyone wants to tell us how to live, how to think, how to make decisions, whatContinue reading “Tools in your Toolbox – What Makes You Come Alive?”