Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘holiday giving’

Part 7 in my Series on Giving and Forgiving

You can also read Part 1: Deck the Halls with PsychoAnal Gifts, Part 2: The Spirit of Giving and Forgiving, Part 3: Balancing the Four Rooms, Part 4: The Candy Cane Crux, and Part 5: Why I Don’t Believe in Santa Claus, and Part 6: A Parenting Carol: Being A Ghost Story of Christmas.


Wanted: Santa

Wanted: Santa

This jolly old elf is responsible for the crime of calling attention to a major problem in my home.

Clutter.

I was almost through wrapping presents when I began feeling slightly ill. There was so much stuff! How were my kids going to deal with so many things? I don’t know how many gifts are too many, but somewhere during the wrapping, I crossed that line.

More stuff was coming into my already overstuffed house. And once something comes into my house, the odds are good that it will stay.

If the item is for my husband, it stays. He keeps everything. I don’t judge him for that. He kept everything when I met him and he still has everything all these years later. I’m sure his junior high girl friend would be pleased to know he still has the notes she passed to him in class. Every computer he has ever owned is in our garage. Ski boots that are too small have accompanied us over four moves, and he doesn’t even ski. I managed to pass on those ski boots, but it took him 10 years to let them go.

If the items coming into the house are for the kids, they most likely fit well into my weak spot: educational play. The possibilities for learning and fun are enough for me to keep the toy. It doesn’t matter whether they have no interest in it or if it is a marginally different repeat of one we already have. The mere possibility that the kids might enjoy and learn gives it a home. I can always justify it for when they kids get bigger or because they each have different personalities, perhaps one would take to it better. I’ve got a million rationalizations, but the truth is a bit deeper.

If the gifts are for me, however, I can downsize without much effort. I used to have a problem with holding on to things, but I went through a semi-obsessed purge after losing my daughter. Since then, I am more detached from objects. Apparently, this is not uncommon after a loss. I remember my midwife saying that she has seen many mothers include their partners in the purge. While I kept my purge to inanimate objects, I can see how easy it would be to toss relationships while in that mindset after a loss. My hold on reality was tenuous. I was directly confronting the transience of objects and of existence. There were no possibilities or future for me, I existed in the present. But, not in a good way.

I think this flirtation with death is part of why I have trouble letting go of the toys for the kids, too. I can’t face the possibility of their impermanence. I balk at detachment to their bright futures. Their things are tangible representations for me of their futures.vAnd, possibly, through them my own mortality can be hidden from me.

Afrikaans: 'n Klassieke Westerse uitbeelding v...

Image via Wikipedia

I’m staring at Saint Nick and seeing the grim reaper.

And that’s where I think the entire winter season of holidays and observances is rooted. It’s human nature to fear the dark and trust the light. The longest night also heralds the return of more light. Neither is permanent. Each is a balance. Impermanence and inevitability. Staying attached to either won’t create anything but suffering. Light and dark will change whether I hold on to one of them anyway. Death and life are natural, but not something we enjoy thinking about all of the time.

The possibilities of impermanence are still far more palatable to me than remaining static and unchanging, even if it means facing immortality.

When I look at gifts as a representation of possibility, they also seem to be an affirmation of life. I believe it is this, slightly misplaced, ideal that we hold when we give too much and hold onto it all. And the converse can be true when we feel we don’t deserve joy or life, when we can’t receive or hold onto gifts that are given to us.

What do you think about the symbology of gifts as potential joy and wishes for life? Can you give too many gifts when viewed this way? Do you have trouble getting rid of, or the opposite, holding onto everything that is given to you?

Remember, anonymous comments are always welcome. I’d love to hear from you.

***

  • Questions from Part 1: Have you ever been charged for receiving a gift? Do you have expectations when you give to someone else?
  • Questions from Part 2: Do you feel that giving and receiving freely is important or is a gift a gift? What do you think about the concept that giving objects are a representation of the feelings inside?
  • Questions from Part 3: Do you visit the four rooms of your house? Are there any areas you need to offer the key of self-forgiveness before you unlock them?
  • Questions from Part 4: How do you handle candy in your family? Is giving candy in a separate category from giving gifts? Why or why not?
  • Questions from Part 5: How do you reconcile the idea of Santa Claus with your worldview? Do you treat the magic of childhood as something intertwined with the spirit of giving and forgiving?
  • Questions from Part 6: If you were visited by the ghosts of parenting past, present and future, what would your visits look like? Would you see joy and pain in the past? How does that inform your present? And how do you think it will affect your children’s future relationship with you?

I hope you will feel moved to respond, especially on your own blog or here, as a guest post. I’ll happily share responses that add to this interesting discussion.

This article contains all original content by TouchstoneZ.com and is protected by copyright. If you are viewing this post on another site than TouchstoneZ.com please notify the author at zoie.touchstonez(at)gmail.com
Image Credit: Kevin Dooley on Flickr
Related articles

Read Full Post »

Part 6 in my Series on Giving and Forgiving

You can also read Part 1: Deck the Halls with PsychoAnal Gifts, Part 2: The Spirit of Giving and Forgiving, Part 3: Balancing the Four Rooms, Part 4: The Candy Cane Crux, and Part 5: Why I Don’t Believe in Santa Claus.

I have been incredibly moved by the response to this series. Thank you to everyone who has reached out to connect. While I was writing one of the posts in this series, I realized I was aching to hear from the voices of parents I admire. One of these is the guest writer today. What she shares here has far exceeded my expectations. I gets to the heart of the many facets of giving and forgiving yourself and those you love. Today, I am honored to present a ghost post from Vickie of Demand Euphoria.

***

Cover of "A Christmas Carol"

Cover of A Christmas Carol

You’re a parent of a young child. You are struggling with exhaustion and complicated life issues. You are pretty sure you want to be a gentle parent, but you are finding it more and more difficult to do so as your child gets older. Today was a particularly difficult day, in which your child had more than a few meltdowns, and subsequently so did you…

It’s the middle of the night. You wake up from a sound sleep when you hear a noise. You are used to waking up to comfort your child who still doesn’t sleep through the night, but tonight is different. Your child is still blissfully asleep. You wake up into a dream-like state, to hear a strange voice with an even stranger message: Tonight, you will be visited by three spirits…

You are pretty sure it’s part of a dream, so you roll over and continue your sleep. Another voice wakes you up shortly after. There is a person next to your bed. You are scared but the person looks friendly, and explains she is the ghost of parenting past.

Copy of Original illustration from "A Chr...

Image via Wikipedia

The ghost whisks you away to your childhood home. You are looking in the window at a scene from your childhood. You see yourself at the same age as your child is now. You have your head hanging in shame as your mother is yelling at you. You remember the day well.

You didn’t want to bother your mother while she was sleeping, so you tried to pour yourself a glass of milk. The jug was heavy and you spilled milk all over the kitchen counter and floor. In trying to clean it up by yourself, you only made the mess even bigger.

 

Your mother walked in. She didn’t ask questions. She only yelled. She yelled about how naughty you were. She commanded you to come over so she could hit you. Then she sent you to your room. You were still thirsty.

Watching this scene again as an adult is particularly painful. You want to go give your younger self a hug and a big glass of milk. You want to go tell your mom that if she had only asked for an explanation, she would not have reacted that way.

Now you start to see flashes of other scenes from your childhood. All different times when you were called naughty, punished, and sent away. All different times when you were misunderstood. When you needed something and no one asked you what it was.

Suddenly you are back in your bed at home. You go to check on your child and are relieved to find her still asleep. Another voice echos from the other room. It’s the ghost of parenting present.

This ghost shows you times when your child is happiest, when you are gentle, supportive, in tune with her needs. When you have time for her. When you put down whatever you are busy with and play with her. When you get involved in things she is most interested in, even if that means watching the same movie for the third time in one day. You even get to watch a scene of your daughter telling her friends what a nice mommy she has.

This ghost also shows the struggles. You watch as your child gets overwhelmed with life, collapses into your arms and feels safe. You watch the times when you are better at handling the difficulties, when your own needs are met. You watch the times when you are drained and your child’s meltdown leads to one of your own. You know it’s because you are tired, you are frustrated, you feel helpless.

A Christmas Carol (1843) English: Mr. Fezziwig...

Image via Wikipedia

Back in your bed, another voice: the ghost of parenting future.

You are looking at yourself in twenty years. You are awaiting the arrival of a someone special. Your child walks up the path to your house, baby in arms. You open the door and greet each other with big smiles and warm hugs. She is as excited to see you as you are to see her.

The future scenes are exciting. You are friends with your grown child. You do fun things together. You talk about everything that matters. She trusts you. She wants you in her life. You have succeeded in the most important way, by upholding your half of  this beautiful relationship with your child.

*************

Window on Parenting

Window on Parenting. Photo Credit: Ghost Writer

What would your visits look like?

What scenes would the ghost show you from your past? Times when your parents misunderstood you and your relationship suffered? Times when you were punished and made to feel ashamed and guilty?

What would it be like to watch yourself as a child in these situations again? Did you deserve to be treated that way? What did these experiences do for your relationship with your parents?

What about the present? If you could watch yourself be a parent to your child from outside your body, would you be proud of how you are handling yourself? Would you see lots of scenes of relationship-building, of strengthening your bond with your child?

Would you see yourself apologizing when you haven’t been the parent you know you want to be? Are you being the friend to your child now that you hope to be in the future?

And what about the future? Will your child look forward to spending time with you? Will she trust you? Will your relationship be strong and healthy? Will she have other healthy and beautiful relationships?

This was inspired by all of the different versions of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol that we have watched on television this holiday season. If only we could all be visited by these three ghosts…

Asking yourself these questions can help you find the true spirit of giving and forgiving. I hope you will feel moved to respond, especially on your own blog or here, as a guest post. I’ll happily share responses that add to this interesting discussion.

Remember, anonymous comments are always welcome. I’d love to hear from you.

***

Vickie is the mother of two children, ages 5 and 2. She writes about gentle parenting and unschooling at Demand Euphoria.

  • Questions from Part 1: Have you ever been charged for receiving a gift? Do you have expectations when you give to someone else?
  • Questions from Part 2: Do you feel that giving and receiving freely is important or is a gift a gift? What do you think about the concept that giving objects are a representation of the feelings inside?
  • Questions from Part 3: Do you visit the four rooms of your house? Are there any areas you need to offer the key of self-forgiveness before you unlock them?
  • Questions from Part 4: How do you handle candy in your family? Is giving candy in a separate category from giving gifts? Why or why not?
  • Questions from Part 5: How do you reconcile the idea of Santa Claus with your worldview? Do you treat the magic of childhood as something intertwined with the spirit of giving and forgiving?
This article contains all original content by TouchstoneZ.com and is protected by copyright. If you are viewing this post on another site than TouchstoneZ.com please notify the author at zoie.touchstonez(at)gmail.com
Related articles

Read Full Post »

Part 5 in my Series on Giving and Forgiving

You can also read Part 1: Deck the Halls with PsychoAnal Gifts, Part 2: The Spirit of Giving and Forgiving, Part 3: Balancing the Four Rooms, and Part 4: The Candy Cane Crux.

I have been incredibly moved by the response to this series. Thank you to everyone who has reached out to connect. Today, I am proud to present a guest post from a writer who enjoys their anonymity.

***

1914 Santa Claus in japan

Image via Wikipedia

Santa will not be squeezing his well-nourished body in his pristine red suit down the chimney of any of the tents at the Dadaab refugee camp. No sack loads of toys or stocking fillers will be getting delivered there. He won’t be coming to my house either.

If by some miracle any part of the story were a reality, but there wasn’t enough magic to go round every little boy and girl in the whole world, I’d find it really easy to explain to my kids why he wasn’t headed for our house. I can’t begin to imagine how you explain to a child that such magic will be delivered by flying reindeer to them, but not, for example, the children of Somalia.

When he does visit he gives more to rich kids than poor kids. Magic indeed. This leaves those who can least afford it putting spare cash in mis-sold schemes with little or no guarantees they’ll see their money back never mind any interest and / or taking out loans at exorbitant interest rates to try to keep up with the pressure to “give the kids a happy christmas.”

I’m currently in the very fortunate position of being able to afford to buy my kids lots of toys, books, day trips etc etc, so we could easily have them wake up on Christmas (or any other) morning to a mountain of gifts and watch their little faces light up over and over as they opened package after package. Items which would presumably be promptly set aside as the next was opened, which in turn would be superseded but the next and the next.

What would this teach my child about how happiness is achieved? Visions of spiralling credit card debts as my grown-up shopaholic tries to soothe herself with yet another pair of shoes, another bag, that cute little top flash in front of my eyes. It’s not definitely going to end in tears, there are lots of other possible outcomes;

I’m just wondering why you’d want to teach your kid happiness is a mountain of stuff you don’t look at after you’ve unwrapped it. Not least because what if there comes a time my finances aren’t so in the black. What if next year it’s a choice of a 20% pay cut or redundancy instead of a bonus and pay rise? How do you explain tough economic times in the North Pole economy?

Let’s not forget the concept of the annual “must have toy.” Somehow word gets round that there’s this new toy and every kid wants one. So the shops promptly up the selling price and it still sells out. There are fights in the aisles of any store that gets a delivery of this treasure. There are online auctions allowing those parents who put off buying till late November a chance to hope something they’ve paid many times the retail price for arrives in the mail.

Every family in your kid’s school class is likely to own one of these toys, but until December 25th no one will have actually played with it. I’m not saying they all turn out to be over-hyped plastic tat, but so far as I’ve noticed there never seems to be a mad clamour for the same item the following year.

It’s important to me that my kids know where stuff comes from, the effort, materials and other resources that went into producing it, packaging it, shipping it, selling it, the impact on them and the wider world of the choices they make regarding what stuff to buy. These are pretty big concepts to explain to a small child. I can’t think of a way to incorporate magic or the slave labour of elves into the discussion without making it significantly more confusing.

I’m not disputing that childhood is a magical time. I absolutely believe that it is.

We live at an extraordinary time in an extraordinary place, surrounded by mind-blowing biodiversity and endless opportunities and potential. To be able to see all that for the first time, experience it without the distractions of responsibilities or deadlines or preconceptions, to just absorb and enjoy it, to figure it out at your own pace, that’s the magic of childhood.

Life is good, childhood is great! Of course children have to figure out who they are and where they fit in this big, sometimes bad, world, which is a pretty momentous task. I don’t see how it helps to throw misinformation into the mix.

“Seek the wisdom of the ages, but look at the world through the eyes of a child.” Ron Wild

It’s not the spirit of gift giving I have a problem with. If you want to have a party and have someone dress up in a fancy suit to give gifts to children, the needy or needy children, it sounds like a fun day to me. It’s irrelevant to me whether that person is dressed in a red furry outfit or a mickey mouse costume.

I would think the kids benefitting from the experience would get even more from it knowing it was their more fortunate neighbours who wanted to do something to help them. But the whole nonsensical charade of adults wrapping up deodorant and toothpaste to give each other as stocking fillers, so it appears everyone got lots of gifts is just crazy!

If we are starting to realise we shouldn’t bring the toiletries back from the supermarket in a single use plastic bag, why would we still think it’s a good idea to surround some of the items in shiny printed paper, hold it together with single use sticky tape which cannot be recycled, with or without bows or decorative ribbon or a gift tag? There must be another way!!

Christmas gift suggestions: To your enemy, forgiveness. To an opponent, tolerance. To a friend, your heart. To a customer, service. To all, charity. To every child, a good example. To yourself, respect.” ~ Oren Arnold

Wishing you warm winter moments and the merriest of memories, whatever or however you are celebrating.

The Writer

How do you reconcile the idea of Santa Claus with your worldview? Do you treat the magic of childhood as something intertwined with the spirit of giving and forgiving?

Remember, anonymous comments are always welcome. I’d love to hear from you.

***

  • Questions from Part 1: Have you ever been charged for receiving a gift? Do you have expectations when you give to someone else?
  • Questions from Part 2: Do you feel that giving and receiving freely is important or is a gift a gift? What do you think about the concept that giving objects are a representation of the feelings inside?
  • Questions from Part 3: Do you visit the four rooms of your house? Are there any areas you need to offer the key of self-forgiveness before you unlock them?
  • Questions from Part 4: How do you handle candy in your family? Is giving candy in a separate category from giving gifts? Why or why not?
This article contains all original content by TouchstoneZ.com and is protected by copyright. If you are viewing this post on another site than TouchstoneZ.com please notify the author at zoie.touchstonez(at)gmail.com
Related articles

Read Full Post »

Part 4 in my Series on Giving and Forgiving

You can also read Part 1: Deck the Halls with PsychoAnal Gifts  Part 2: The Spirit of Giving and Forgiving  and Part 3: Balancing the Four Rooms.

Giving and Forgiving via Wikipedia

Giving and Forgiving via Wikipedia

 

 

My two oldest sons and I were getting into mischief downtown this past weekend. They were running around the green space in front of the performing arts centre and enjoying the crisp December weather.

A horse and large carriage comes along the main street, complete with jingling harness and a-caroling people. My kids run up to see it just as I notice the sign on the carriage’s side for a certain religious group that promotes intolerance and hatred. While I attempt to diplomatically explain to Nat, the 5yo, who the people are as he is sounding out the words on the sign, I don’t notice the carriage is flanked by walking people carrying baskets.

One of the people comes up to us brandishing candy canes as big as my children’s’ heads, wrapped in bags that contain shiny, colorful religious pamphlets. After wishing us a firm, “Merry Christmas” in reply to my own “Happy Holidays” response to his greeting, he extends the sweet to Gan, the 3yo, then says warningly, “Only if your mom says it’s okay.”

I’m uncomfortable with this entire situation, yet also slightly glad for the candy distraction from Nat’s curiosity about who they are. I say yes, deciding that I will handle the candy “situation” (yes, I coined it so in my mind) later.

English: A Candy cane, against the background ...

Image via Wikipedia

The Forgiving Crux

I felt like the entire situation was a set up for this group to spread their message of intolerance. It was an unwelcome intrusion into my enjoyable time with my children and felt against the spirit of the holidays.

I understand their point of view that they are spreading the word of love and acceptance into their special group of happiness. I don’t have an issue with this type of spreading the love as long as it’s unconditional. But, I mind when it is used to exclude, dehumanize or pass judgment.

Acceptance Exceptance.

The exclusions and requirements to be accepted into the group are where the message leaves me chilled. And my feeling process in those moments was like this:

Using Christmas icons and candy feels like a proverbial trap inside a gingerbread house to me. It opens the door a crack to lure someone into a gradual decent of excluding those who are different. This particular group is highly vocal about who they consider immoral. They have no problem bashing away the humanity of those who disagree with their views. It’s bullying and it’s hate-speech. And it defiles those who practice the same religion in an accepting way.

I had to get to a place of forgiveness about this situation. I was angry about the outward show of love hiding a cold hate. I was angry about the candy being proffered to my kids in this passive aggressive way that made me look like the bad guy if I said no. I was upset that I was going to have to figure out a way to get rid of the religious pamphlets without reading them with my kids.

I was frustrated that our carefree time together was now poised on the tip of this candy cane.

I decided that I didn’t have to like any of this. I didn’t have to stay silent about what I didn’t like either. I told the candy cane person, politely, that we would accept the candy canes, but give back their literature. He handed over the candy and left in a huff before I could return the papers to him, with another firm over his shoulder, “Merry Christmas. I will put you in my prayers.”

I took the canes out of the bags and told my kids we could mail the colorful holiday papers to the candy cane people for the holidays. They were satisfied enough with this and distracted by the incoming sugar that I didn’t have to discuss it further much to my relief. But, I expect that Nat will remember to bring it up in the future.

Then, I handed the candy canes without the papers back to the kids. That’s when I started laying down the rules.

A candy cane hanging on a Christmas tree

The Giving Crux

I don’t think the canes had even left my hands before I said they needed to keep them wrapped until it was time to eat them. And they couldn’t eat them until after we had finished dinner at the restaurant we were going to after running around the greenspace.

This was their cue to begin negotiating. I listened calmly and empathized as we walked to the restaurant. I knew that acting anything but unflappably patient would not end the negotiations, but would move them to the level of whining and then possibly tantruming.

Besides, they’re kids holding candy. It’s sweet, delicious treasure in their hands. Of course, they want to try to get it. That’s natural. My thwarting them wasn’t going to magically negate these feelings. If I were holding a candy cane as big as my head and someone told me to wait, I’d be annoyed, too.

We got to the restaurant, ordered our food, and I settled in for the next round of negotiations. I checked in with myself and noticed I had a similar kind of anxiety as I had while next to the horse and carriage. I was feeling resigned and stuck. Then, I checked in with my kids. They were holding candy given to them and acting quite calm about it, actually.

Wait…candy that was given to them.

This wasn’t my candy. This was their candy. And I was holding parental power over them, as if I was the owner of the candy. No wonder this felt wrong.

So, I said with honesty, “I am sorry. I was acting unfairly. Those are your candy canes, not mine. It’s your decision when and how much of them to eat.”

Nat, who is the kid that will say, “I’m not hungry for dinner. Can I just eat broccoli?” wanted to save his candy cane for dessert. Gan, who is the kid that won’t speak for stuffing treats in his mouth, decided to unwrap his candy cane and eat some of it before dinner and some after.

The world didn’t come to a screeching halt; my kids didn’t become obsessed with candy; they don’t suddenly expected to get candy, candy, candy all the time; their morals and teeth haven’t become rotten.

A squat candy snowman outside a gingerbread house.

Image via Wikipedia

Actually, I think this has created a healthier, more empowering relationship with candy for them. Like most kids, they adore candy, but since they felt respected and unlimited, I think the power around obtaining it is diffused-at least for a little while-this is candy, after all. I’m not expecting them to suddenly become abstemious or anything.

I believe in natural consequences. For example, if it’s cold outside, but the kids want to wear shorts, they’ll feel cold and change into something warmer or not. I don’t argue with them or try to make them do things.

Most importantly, I feel as a parent, it is my job to observe, support and facilitate them as they learn to navigate life. We discuss the ramifications of decisions. I try to explain things in ways they will understand as often and as patiently as needed. So, I will probably bring warm clothes with me to produce if asked, out of courtesy and support.

I try to practice natural consequences. I try not to hover or insert my judgments. And I’m constantly finding new ways that I have to think or act differently to be the parent they deserve. I have opinions on things and will share them, hoping I do my best to give space for other opinions.

We have spoken about the types of foods that help you grow and foods that don’t. And we have spoken about people who are mean and people that are loving. I am sure that both of these will be conversations we will have for many years.

Ultimately, I hope to model the skills for tolerance, conscious choices, critical thinking, and forgiving on their own terms. If nothing else, they can see what an imperfect person looks like as they strive toward unconditional giving and forgiving.

How do you handle candy in your family? Is giving candy in a separate category from giving gifts? Why or why not?

Remember, anonymous comments are always welcome. I’d love to hear from you.

***

Questions from Part 1: Have you ever been charged for receiving a gift? Do you have expectations when you give to someone else?

Questions from Part 2: Do you feel that giving and receiving freely is important or is a gift a gift? What do you think about the concept that giving objects are a representation of the feelings inside?

Questions from Part 3: Do you visit the four rooms of your house? Are there any areas you need to offer the key of self-forgiveness before you unlock them?

This article contains all original content by TouchstoneZ.com and is protected by copyright. If you are viewing this post on another site than TouchstoneZ.com please notify the author at zoie.touchstonez(at)gmail.com
Related articles

Read Full Post »

This is part three in my series on Giving and Forgiving…

Forgiving yourself even when you can’t let go.

Christmas gifts.

Image via Wikipedia

In Part 1 of this series on Giving and Forgiving, I began with how my laughing epiphany helped me make the connection between giving and accepting freely. Please stop by to read the background for this post. In Part 2 of this series, I make the distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation in giving gifts and discuss how giving and object is a representation of the feelings you feel about someone else.

*There is a trigger warning on this post for mentions of child abuse and survivor guilt*

Where did my Yoga posts go? I’ve been writing some about meditation and mindfulness, which are a part of Yoga, but where are the rest of the 8-limbs in my life[1]? Why has my daily personal asana practice disappeared? Why am I not going to the studio daily like I was?

I’ve felt like I’ve been missing a significant part of my life. It has been more difficult to balance and stay centered with things that I used to skip by without a problem. Yoga takes the edge off of everything for me. It’s something I need on a regular basis, but I’ve been avoiding writing about it and practicing it regularly. I’m centered and prepared to do the work of healing and parenting with a sense of playfulness and joy when I have a daily Yoga practice.

Yet, the physical practices of Yoga, such as asanas, or poses, have consisted mostly of restoratives and relaxation poses. I have been shying away from poses that open, expand, or give me a workout. I have been resistant to taking classes with my favorite teachers because they are often the ones who are best at helping me locate and work my edge that day.

I’ve been wondering about this resistance. Then I came across this quote and it started clicking together for me:

“There is an Indian proverb that says that everyone is a house with four rooms, a physical, a mental, an emotional, and a spiritual. Most of us tend to live in one room most of the time but unless we go into every room every day, even if only to keep it aired, we are not a complete person.” — Rumer Godden

I’ve been spending all of my time exploring the mental, emotional, and spiritual rooms in my house. I’ve been tending them and learning about them on my path to healing. But, the physical room has been neglected. I have literally been hiding from my body by concentrating with my mind.

I stopped riding my bike, walking, running and hiking regularly because I was avoiding sensations in my body. I still did these things when I had my family with me because I could focus solely on them and forget about myself.

I can track back to when this began. It started last spring when the memories of abuse started to resurface. The more memories I uncovered, the more I retreated from connection with my body.

I have always heard people talk about abuse and the pain it caused them, both at the time and later. I didn’t understand that there was an element of pleasure mixed with the pain. I can’t admit to any pleasure my body felt because that would be saying that I wasn’t abused. If I liked it, it was consensual.

As if an 11 year old girl could have a consensual relationship with a sadistic orthodontist.

But, my head has yet to let go of the fact that in that warped, manipulated emotional and physical torture, my body responded in ways I didn’t understand. And once I did understand, I think they helped to further repress the memories of horror.

Girl looking up chimney from fireplace.

Image via Wikipedia

I have read about the hold that the abuser has on the victim and how they are often convinced that it is a loving relationship. In my relationship with my abuser, he made me think his causing me pain was helping him. I remember him telling me repeatedly that if it weren’t for me, he would be in pain himself.

I rode my bike to my appointments for years. I could have skipped out on them. No one would have known or cared at home. But, I went back over and over again because I was the only one who could take care of him. And I took pleasure in the pain. Even while I yelled or cried out because it hurt me, I felt physical pleasure.

The feelings of guilt and of being a disgusting person that my body could respond in this way and I didn’t do anything to stop it overwhelm me to this day. I feel dirty in a way that will never wash off no matter how hard I try to wash or cut it out of me.

This is what I am doing. I’m giving that 11 year old girl a gift. The gift of an adult who forgives her. The gift of an adult who knows her in a way that no one else can and will never leave her. The gift of forgiving her for not having enough power to stop it. The gift to forgive my body, which was her body, and no one else’s-not even his.

 

I’m also linking this post up with McCrenshaw’s Latest Thoughts and It’s Ok Blog‘s Mindfulness Parenting Challenge #2: on Forgiveness. Please go check it out.

 

[1] The 8-limbs of Yoga and using them in daily life will be in an upcoming post

It is the spirit of exchange that moves someone to give freely. It is interesting to think about the gift of forgiveness for ourselves and others. This can be an especially challenging thing during the holidays.I’ll explore forgiveness, guilt, as well as giving our truth (including the idea of Santa Claus in future posts in this series)

Questions from Part 3: Do you visit the four rooms of your house? Are there any areas you need to offer the key of self-forgiveness before you unlock them?

Remember, anonymous comments are always welcome. I’d love to hear from you.

NaBloPoMo 2011

Questions from Part 1: Have you ever been charged for receiving a gift? Do you have expectations when you give to someone else?

Questions from Part 2: Do you feel that giving and receiving freely is important or is a gift a gift? What do you think about the concept that giving objects are a representation of the feelings inside?

This article contains all original content by TouchstoneZ.com and is protected by copyright. If you are viewing this post on another site than TouchstoneZ.com please notify the author at zoie.touchstonez(at)gmail.com

Read Full Post »

This is part two in my series on Giving and Forgiving…

Giving and receiving of you.

Christmas gifts.

Image via Wikipedia

In Part 1 of this series on Giving and Forgiving, I began with how my laughing epiphany helped me make the connection between giving and accepting freely. Please stop by to read the background for this post.

To begin this post, I am making the distinction here between manners and requirements. I don’t believe in insisting that my kids say, “I’m sorry” or “Thank you.” I talk with them during a neutral time about empathy and kindness. I explain to them about societal expectations and choices.

Most importantly, I model caring for another person and giving kind words whenever needed. I don’t want to encourage the idea of stuffing down feelings in order to please someone else, rather I want them to have the ability to fix a situation, or not, as they see fit.

Insisting on gifts, reciprocity or gratitude is the same thing to me as forcing a child to apologize. I would rather receive an honest silence than a disingenuous thank you. It is similar to when someone asks, “How are you?” For many, this translates to, “Here’s my polite platitude so that I can tell you about me.” When I ask “How are you?” I want to know if your day was stressful or joyful. I want to listen and care (and I don’t really mind if you don’t ask me in return.)

I understand that not everyone agrees with this view of manners. For many, being polite should be performed without regard to intrinsic motivation. I honor that, as well. But, I would like there to be a clear distinction between those times as I raise my children.

I want to empower them to move from the heart and once they are able to figure out what is required in a situation, to give the social niceties from a place of giving freely because they give from their heart. This is intrinsic motivation and is how to give true gifts.

This freedom in giving and receiving allows me to enjoy gifts. I can give with no expectation of reaction from the receiver. If they are pleased, I can enjoy their pleasure. If they don’t react in a way that I expect, I’m not disappointed. I took pleasure in choosing and giving to them.

The same for receiving. Once I get over my own issues with being worthwhile to receive a gift (that’s a whole other issue, fairly common to women and victims of abuse.) I appreciate the offer from the other person. Whether the gift hits the mark for my personal enjoyment or not, I feel a sense of contentment in the connection that is formed within the exchange of giving.

Laughter

Image via Wikipedia

I want to live my life freely and that means giving freely of everything.  In order to do that, I have to do a lot of inner work to fill my bucket.

 

When I look at my kids, I notice that their behavior is more even when they are feeling nurtured and safe. They are more able to handle the frustration with a challenging puzzle or when encountering a difficult concept when they have assurance of their needs being met.

And conversely, they are more apt to lose control of their emotions when they are tired, hungry, or emotionally disconnected. The same goes for adults. Only we’re better at labeling our tantrums as something more benign because we’re grown up. If we have years of not having our needs met, we may be out of touch with our needs and just like that 3 year old screaming on the floor, we’ll feel terrified about the lack of control.

It’s time to step back and breathe, then try to connect with the unmet needs either at that time or later. For me, I need lots of time to write, read, be outside and practice Yoga and meditation. I also need lots of physical affection. I know that these things fill my emotional bucket, so I cultivate them. I try to notice when I’m running low and seek them out.

It’s not selfish to put your own oxygen mask on first. It benefits everyone’s survival.

When my bucket is empty, I do a poor job giving freely and it’s often a major effort to rise above it. But, when I’m feeling content, I am able to connect with giving more easily. Identifying and meeting needs for yourself and those around you is something I’ll cover in a later post. For now, I highly recommend you read Vibrant Wandering’s: Giving From the Heart.

Giving love, extending friendship, caring for someone, giving of your time, and so on are gifts in exactly the same way as purchasing or making an object. I would even argue that the bought or made object is a representation of those feelings. A tangible gift is an outward representation of feelings the giver, just as saying “I love you” or “I’m sorry” is supposed to be.

Receiving and giving love, friendship, forgiveness, empathy, care, time, and so on are also gifts that you give to yourself and the giver.

Santa Claus with a little girl

Image via Wikipedia

Even giving attention is a gift. They are the type of gifts that are done without thought of reimbursement because they emerge from the person you are. When done in this way, they have no cost. In fact, they pay both people back richly.

 

The things you give the most attention to are the things that will flourish.

 

 

It is the spirit of exchange that moves someone to give freely. It is interesting to think about the gift of forgiveness for ourselves and others. This can be an especially challenging thing during the holidays.I’ll explore forgiveness, guilt, as well as giving our truth (including the idea of Santa Claus in future posts in this series)

Questions from Part 1: Have you ever been charged for receiving a gift? Do you have expectations when you give to someone else?

Questions from Part 2: Do you feel that giving and receiving freely is important or is a gift a gift? What do you think about the concept that giving objects are a representation of the feelings inside?

Remember, anonymous comments are always welcome. I’d love to hear from you.

NaBloPoMo 2011

This article contains all original content by TouchstoneZ.com and is protected by copyright. If you are viewing this post on another site than TouchstoneZ.com please notify the author at zoie.touchstonez(at)gmail.com

Read Full Post »

This is part one in my series on Giving and Forgiving…

You can only control your own feelings about gratitude and generosity.

Christmas gifts.

Image via Wikipedia

Gifts often come with a price tag, but perhaps not the one you would think of at first. I’m talking about those passive aggressive reminders that can keep you making payments indefinitely.

For the first few years of marriage, I would say, “I love you,” fully expecting “I love you, too,” in call and response style. I distinctly remember one day when my husband and I were cleaning out the garage, and I said it. I know he heard me, but for whatever reason, my husband didn’t respond.

I flew off the handle. I was yelling at him about his insensitivity, until I realized something. He was frozen in place like prey before a loaded gun, deciding whether to fight or run. And I began laughing in my head at the absurdity of what I was saying, while I was still yelling.

Then, I couldn’t hold back the laughter and out it came mid-sentence. My husband paused for a moment, and then joined in as I gasped my apologies through tears of laughter.

It was a laughter epiphany (my favorite kind.) I realized that I wasn’t saying “I love you,” to my husband. I was saying, “I need reassurance of your love.” I expected him to read through my words and give me what I needed in this passive aggressive transaction.

When I didn’t get my payment, my insecurity started tantruming in a way that would give a three year old pause. I should have said what I meant, instead of expecting a specific reaction. There’s nothing wrong with needing that reassurance, unless I expect him to figure it out without me telling him.

Laughing couple.

Image via Wikipedia

But, here’s the thing. I didn’t want to get married for a lot of reasons, including the idea of marriage as a contract for love. I believe that love should be given freely or not at all. If I can’t say, “I love you,” to someone without expectation of the affection being returned, then it’s not really love.

If I can’t stay or leave without legal ramifications, then I’m not staying freely[1]. It was in this laughter epiphany that I made the connection between my views on love, friendship, gifts, work, service, parenting, teaching, et cetera.

Have you ever asked, “How Much Will this Gift Cost Me?”

There is an appropriate level of gratitude to be displayed when gifting. To a certain degree, some surprise and gratefulness that you were even remembered for a gift is appropriate. Taking the opportunity to mention appreciation of a gift at later times, especially when an opening is made in a conversation to drop it in is encouraged. And, of course, bringing up the continued gratitude for the gift over the next few weeks or even years can be expected in both written and verbal interactions.

Giving gifts also exacts a cost. The appearance of humility in the offering, whether feigned or real is expected. The giver should seem as though no thanks are necessary, that it was purely a selfless act, and that any received gratitude is a welcome surprise.

This dance is exhausting. It is difficult to know exactly how much appreciation or humility is required because the price is set by the other person. Often, it is difficult to tell whether you got a bargain or were ripped off until after you are finished with the transaction.

Traditional envelope containing money as a gif...

Some gifts are given with the explicit or implicit expectation of getting a gift or a favor in return. Again, the payments have to be commensurate, or you’re looking at a lifetime of being beholden. The pressure is even greater when gifts are exchanged in a group or even simply in public. The judgments, weighing of social standing and envy can add to the unknown final tally.

I used to respond to any of these passive aggressive transactions in one of two ways: in a giving situation, I either opted out of the giving entirely or I gave too much. And on receiving, I made a huge deal out of everything I received. I remarked on the thoughtfulness of the gift-giver, for all the time they spent choosing something so exquisitely tailored to my wants. Actually, the less personal a gift was, the more I tried to act like I adored it.

This is the same exchange of payments is expected in the “I love you” scenario. The need for reassurance, misplaced in the giving and receiving of gifts.[2]

Where was the joy in giving? Where was the enjoyment in receiving? Where was the connection between the people who were giving?

This type of gifting certainly sucks all the spirit of giving and receiving out of it. There is no way to enjoy something freely with all the baggage tied to it. I don’t want to be charged for a gift at any price. It is a gift.

Gift (noun) A thing given willingly to someone without payment; a present

So, I removed myself from the market. I wanted to enjoy gifts freely or I wanted to purchase them myself. If I was giving a gift because I wanted a reaction from someone, I didn’t give it. If I was given a gift and I couldn’t receive it freely, I gave it away. If I was being charged for a gift, I firmly, but politely said, “I like that you remember that experience we shared.”

Part 2 will be up tomorrow and cover the balance between manners, freewill, and filling you bucket… (The Spirit of Giving and Forgiving)

Have you ever been charged for receiving a gift? Do you have expectations when you give to someone else? Remember, anonymous comments are always welcome. I’d love to hear from you.

NaBloPoMo 2011

[1] My thoughts on marriage are another lengthy post entirely. I realize these sentences here are limited. I’m not critical of anyone’s marriage. I spent a long time making peace with being married. I see it as a completely separate, although often, complementary part of lifelong commitment.

[2] How much of this discomfort with receiving, giving and directly naming needs is female and male conditioning in different approaches and for different reasons? That’s a good question.

This article contains all original content by TouchstoneZ.com and is protected by copyright. If you are viewing this post on another site than TouchstoneZ.com please notify the author at zoie.touchstonez(at)gmail.com

Read Full Post »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,742 other followers

%d bloggers like this: