Peace

It is a word to which I feel connected. It is a word that is all over my home and how I sign my emails and posts. It is a place and feeling I have been searching for for a long time.
It was not until the gift of the pandemic that I realized I have arrived into peace. It is a strange feeling.
When you live your life in hyper-vigilance and trauma for so long you forget when it feels like to really breathe, slowly and intentionally. I was talking to a friend the other day and said it is strange not to have to explain why I want to do nothing but knit or read. Why choosing to do nothing, or everything, in a day is liberating. Why sitting still feels so strange.
For years I killed myself in my home, as a mom and in my career. I was exhausted and made to believe that I was still not doing enough. “Why are you so tired?” (after teaching all day, driving kids all over, coaching, cooking dinner and doing other work) “What did you do all day?” (after keeping kids alive and out of the er, fed and happy all day plus house chores) “Why is (insert anything) not done yet?” (after doing all the things and fixing all the things and cooking all the things) I was conditioned to believe that I was not enough, I was not doing enough, and I was “lazy”. Yes, conditioned to believe those lies because I am a people pleaser (more on that trauma response later). I did not want to disappoint anyone. I did not want anyone to be angry with me so I killed myself….slowly and deliberately …. For the happiness of others.
What I failed to realize at the time is that I could NEVER make them happy.  The more I gave, the more they demanded. I had no boundaries.  Over the past 6 years, I have learned boundaries. I have learned balance. I have learned to honor myself.
It took a global pandemic to drive home the “slow down” message. I learned that slowing down to sit and knit, watch a whole movie, read a book or go for a long walk is ok. I am not “lazy” when I do those things. I am at peace. I do not have to be constantly moving. I do not have to give all of me in the name of the happiness of others. I do not have to explain my activity(or lack thereof) to anyone. I still want to make others happy (remember…people pleaser!) but I want to do it on my terms. It is not easy but I know what it feels like now to be at peace…..and I like it.
Peace
#tutulady
#forwardisapace

Kids

These kids.
My kids.
They have been though a lot as individuals and together.
They are the cause of my grey hair, my tears and my laugh lines.
They are the source of my pride and the origin of my insanity!
They build each other up more than they tear each other down.
They may be at different ages and stages of life, but watching them share space as they grow and mature fills up my momma heart.
I find peace in the fact that long after I am gone, they will still have each other….. and the memories of our times together.
I have, and always will be, their Kristine (mom)… whether they like it or not…. they can work that out in therapy!
Peace
#tutulady
#forwardisapace

Images

Visual representations of times, places, people. Images can be real, imagined or manufactured. Images capture a single moment in time but not the context. While we spend time looking sometimes enviously at others photos of holiday and other family celebrations, we know not the daily struggles behind those smiles. Every picture tells a story. Sometimes the story is one we tell ourselves and sometimes it is a fairy tale others want us to believe.
This years holiday gifts in my family were those of photos. My children were gifted photos of childhoods long gone and gifted me with photos of who they are now. Each photo carried a story that was told as we turned the pages of the books and our lives. Memories were shared and new ones created together.
As I sat alone at the end of the night in the glow of the Christmas tree, I scrolled social media. I looked at the images that family and friends had posted. I saw more than the surface in many of those photos. In some I could see strained smiles and sad eyes. In some I could see body language that most would not recognize unless they had lived similar lives. I looked at the often highly curated settings of many photos and saw what many would miss. Most people would just hit the ‘like’ button and keep scrolling but not me. Perhaps it is because in the past I had been the one posting those “impression management” photos to cover for the inadequacies, deep pain and heartache I felt. Perhaps it is because some of those posting the photos had privately shared their struggles with me or because I just knew the reality of their lives.
We all want others to believe that our lives are perfect and without strife or struggle. We see the ‘picture’ that others present and think “why not me?’ or “what is wrong with me?” We step into that place of lack…that feeling that we are somehow inadequate….that feeling that somehow we are not and do not have enough.
STOP THAT! STOP right now!
Life is real and messy and imperfect…and so are we. Which is why I shared the stories behind the photos my kids had in front of them. I shared joyful, happy memories as well as pain-filled moments as we looked at the photos. I owned moments of grief and anger as well as moments when my heart overflowed with love and pride for each/all of them.
The more that we are authentic and real with one another, the more grace we offer each other, the kinder we are……the more love is created. Accept yourself for who you are and love the person looking back at you in the mirror. Accept one another, and yourself, for who they are and love the person…not the image. Every picture tells a story…own your truth and tell your story.
Peace
#tutulady
#forwardisapace

Sleep

I have always been a morning person. Early bird catches the worm and all. I was never one to sleep the day away like my kids often do now. I do my best work in the morning and love to see the sunrise.
This time of year, my anxiety gets the better of my and I have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. Insomnia is my constant companion. I worry about so many things at the holidays, making lists in my head, replaying conversations, and catastrophizing all that can happen. It is always an issue but this time of year it gets worse.
I have worked long and hard to calm my anxious thoughts and behaviors, but sleep is one of the most difficult. For years I would lie awake waiting for my wasband to arrive home. He worked nights and often went out drinking after work. I never knew what his mood would be when he arrived home and often slept on the edge of the bed afraid to even breathe. Mornings I would tiptoe out of the room as not to wake him and incur his wrath. I would keep the kids as quiet as I could for the same reason. It was a difficult dance for all of us.
For years after I left, I still had trouble sleeping and would get out of bed feeling like I had been in a fist fight. Every muscle ached…especially my hands.
One evening, my therapist mentioned that I looked more tired than usual and asked me to talk about it. As I spoke, she watched me then she asked me to lie on the floor and show her my sleep position. I did as she asked, hopeful she could provide insight into my insomnia.
She asked me to talk about each part of my body and how I felt. What I realized was that every single part of me body was tense, my whole body was in a tight ball, my shoulders were by my ears, and my hands were in fists.
She told me that I was a resting fighter, always vigilant. That I was ready to defend myself in while I was resting. I was not, in fact, really ever sleeping. My body and brain would not allow me to let me let my guard down. Trauma is stored in the body and appears in many different forms unless it is healed.
It has taken intentional practice to release that trauma and vigilance, letting others into my life. The boundaries are firm, walls are high, guarded fiercely to protect myself and those I love. I am keenly aware of my body and its cues when it comes to sleep and other trauma responses. During the holidays, insomnia wants to not just visit but stay. So when the insomnia rears its head I can say hello and send it packing again, not allowing it to overstay its welcome.
Trauma takes many forms. With the help of others, we can identify as well as address the issues in order to find hope and healing. This is an ongoing process as healing is not linear. We are all in the process of becoming stronger humans. With some help, and some sleep, we can all find peace.
Peace.
#tutulady
#forwardisapace


Healing

Healing is not linear. It is a process. People would love for you to move on NOW. Why? It makes life easier for THEM. Healing from pain and trauma is not about THEM….it is about YOU.
Coping with trauma takes many different shapes and forms. Some people stuff it down and bury it. Some people choose to smother it with addictive behaviors like alcohol/drugs/food/gambling/etc. Some put on the mask of happiness telling all ask that they are “fine.” The problem with those and other unhealthy responses is that they are just that….unhealthy. The trauma is always still there, just under the surface, waiting to rear its ugly head at an inopportune time. Moving on is not fast nor easy and those that tell you it is are lying.
Time does not heal old wounds. Healing takes work and dealing with trauma is work. Offering ourselves the same grace we give to others is not easy. It is difficult learning to create and hold boundaries. It is emotionally exhausting to do the painful work of growth, self improvement and self love. Grieving the loss of dreams of the future is often overwhelming. Processing all the emotions can debilitating. Sounds like a super fun party, right?! Not really, but the time invested in healing from trauma is worth all the pain, making us stronger and healthier humans.
One vital part of healing is sharing our story. Sharing our story, is not only empowering to us but also to others. Giving a voice to our experience validates our pain, our process and our healing. Sharing our story helps others in similar situations. It allows others who may feel alone in their trauma and pain to find a safe space of validation. How we share our story is ours to decide.
Not everyone will understand your process or have the patience to endure the time involved with your healing. Some will be critical of the choices you make in your healing process. Some will listen, leaning in, offering a place of grace sitting with you in your process. Some will love you through it all without judgement. People’s opinion of you, your choices and your process is …well….none of your business. You are on a healing journey from victim to victor, from survivor to thriver. You are in charge of your future and you decide who is a part of that future. This part of your life’s journey is invitation only. Choose wisely.
Peace
#tutulady
#forwardisapace