About megpoulinindeed

Blogger, writer, artist, doula, Rapid Transformational Coach... I love spirit, consciousness, exploring, the gold in my little girls hair, inspiration, the Rocky Mountains, New York energy, the calm I feel holding my husband's hand, black coffee and finding meaning in the smallest pieces of everyday. "Re-examine all that you have been told... dismiss that which insults your soul." -Walt Whitman

I Feel Like I Peed My Pants and God Made Me Do It

“Man’s chief delusion is his conviction that there are causes other than his own state of consciousness.”

                  -Neville Goddard, Barbadian Author and Mystic

 

I am sitting in my office… a Panera Bread booth.  And my jeans are wet, from the knees up.  My undies are wet.  Grateful for the long sweater I chose this morning, I tried to hide this unfortunate fact as I ordered and squeezed lemon in my tea.  When I stood up to retrieve my squash soup, I tried to act cool, despite my suspiciously wet butt.

 It’s all GOD’s doing.

 

Let’s explore.

 

I bought a book over the weekend.   I love to buy books…. they fill my shelves and boxes in my basement and weigh down my bag.  I do my best to read them, but the trouble is, I don’t have much time these days. I schlep them everywhere just in case an hour falls into my lap.

This book has  been calling to me since I first heard about it in May at a writer’s conference.  It’s called E-Squared by Pam Grout.  I went to another conference this weekend, and a speaker there mentioned the book again. There was a large stack of them being sold at the back of the room,  whispering to me.  I finally gave in and  bought one, and added it to the thick, teetering tower on my nightstand last night… wondering how I would find time to read it, along with the other VIP material on the list of must do’s.

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This morning, I had a doctor’s appointment.  And uncharacteristically, I was a half hour early.  What?  EARLY?  Yep.  Go ahead and send me a nice warm pat on the back.  And if you know me personally, you can dab at the tears in the corners of your eyes.  Before I left for the appointment, all the books in my nightstand stack  were transferred to the passenger seat of my car, as I am incapable of prioritizing before 11 am.   I have already begun to read three of the books, ones that have information I know will help me in my work.  So naturally, I plucked E2 out of the stack, a book I know almost nothing about, and took in into the doctor’s office with me.

 

The doctor was an hour late. I sat in his waiting room staring at the white printer paper sign he has taped to the door, kindly asking us out here in the waiting room to give 24 hours notice if we need to cancel, or pay a $30 charge and please don’t be late.  And instead of being annoyed, I realized with pleasure, that I had no other choice but to read my new book!

 

I cracked it open.  And it turns out, it’s one of those “your thoughts create your reality” books. In it, she talks about the science behind this fact.  And she talks about GOD…aka Heavenly Father as I was taught to call Him.  In the book, she gives assignments, or experiments that will prove the claim that we create our reality by our own thoughts, and Heavenly Father is actually a  scientific law, like gravity.  She calls this law, or God, the “FP,”  short for “Infinite Field of Possibility.”

 

This is not the first book I have bought on the subject.  And I am not a world-famous author, (yet) so maybe I have some more to learn about this practice.   Thus, the idea of doing specific things to prove that FP was out there, just waiting for me to plug-in with intention… intrigued me.

 

After I left the office, I decided to run into the Stop and Shop across the street and buy some hand soap…we were out at home, before heading to the “office” (Panera Bread).  These days, driving my car was like getting into a  giant garbage can with wheels, and it was at this moment that I exceeded my tolerance level for sitting on crumpled preschool worksheets and struggling to keep the luna bar wrappers from flying out the open door when I grab my purse.   So, while in the store, after buying my soap and an inappropriately large  bottle of lime seltzer, I grabbed a brown paper sack to use to collect the trash heap in my car.

 

I spent my shopping time contemplating whether I would follow through with reading the rest of E-Squared and doing Pam Grout’s assignments.  Have I bought in to the idea enough?  I have so much work to do!  Should I spend time on this?

 

Should I?

 

Should I?

 

When I got out to my car, I took a moment in the cold November air to gather up all the empty seltzer cans, gum wrappers, Halloween candy wrappers and old receipts floating around in my car and tossed them into the paper bag.  I picked up a very, very old white plastic ziplock bag full of wet wipes.  This bag has been stepped on a thousand times,  it did not close properly, it had been living on the floor of my car for well over a year, unused…because surely the wipes were a brick of filmy, dried out towels by now.

 

My mind said, “Do not throw this out.  You will need these wipes.  The minute you finally throw it out, inevitably, you will want them back….” (said every hoarder in the universe).

Not wanting to play into my inner hoarder any longer, I tossed it in my garbage sack.

 

I got in my seat, put my iPhone in my lap and then wedged my 1 liter bottle of lime seltzer between my legs.  And I thought, “it’s a mistake to put that beverage so close to your phone” but I rolled my eyes at that inner rule-follower… she annoyed the crap out of me…and I had had enough.

 

I began my drive to Panera.

 

You know what happened, right?

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I opened my seltzer and it exploded, as carbonated water is wont to do at the most inconvenient of times, while you are driving a car and it is in your lap and sitting on top of your key to the universe-your cell phone.  And the bag of dried out wet wipes that have been getting crusty on the floor of my car since Stella wore diapers in 2011 had been tossed out.  So I drove to my office as my ass soaked up the lake of seltzer I was sitting in.

 

After waddling into Panera, I decided to crack open this E2 business again.  Just a hunch.

 

In the first chapter, she redefines the word GOD as being the infinite field of possibility, and instead of being a He that judges and rules us, GOD is more like electricity… an energy to be used for our benefit.  Just as we use electricity to curl our hair, wash our dishes, toast our bagels. This energy responds to our thoughts and intentions just as our hair dryers turn on when we plug them in.

The fact that I feel and look like I just peed my pants has me nodding in agreement here, as my first lesson on manifesting things had obviously begun this morning.  I also had a strong urge to set down my soup spoon and applaud after each point she made about the myths we tell ourselves about God.  The one about God looking like ZZ Top is particularly accurate.

 

So I am going to do her first experiment, which she calls “The Dude Abides” principle  and I will let you know how it goes… I figure, you may not be convinced that GOD, or as Pam Grout calls it, the “FP” created the exploding seltzer and my wet pants, so I will accept her challenge to do this first experiment to prove it.

 

She has named each principle of the “FP”  (remember, the infinite Field of possibility).

She also includes a “lab report sheet” for each experiment, which I will fill out here so we can all see the results.

 

For clarification, the words in red come from Pam Grout’s book, E-Squared.  The words  in black, are mine.

LAB REPORT SHEET

 

The Principle:  The Dude Abides Principle

 

The Theory:  There is an invisible energy force or field of infinite possibilities.  And it’s yours for the asking.

 

The Question:  Does the FP exist?

 

The Hypothesis:  If there’s a 24/7 energy force equally available to everyone, I can access it at any time simply by paying attention.  Furthermore, if I ask the force for a blessing, giving it a specific time frame and clear instructions, it’ll send me a gift and say, “My Pleasure.”

 

Time Required:  48 hours

 

Today’s Date:  Monday, November 4, 2013          Time:  12:54 pm

 

Deadline for Receiving gift:  Wednesday, November 6th   12:54 pm

 

The Approach:  I hate to break it to ya, FP but folks are starting to talk.  The’re starting to wonder, “Is this guy for real?”  I mean, really, like it’d be so much skin off your chin to come down here and call off this crazy hide-and-seek thing you’ve been playing.  I’m giving you exactly 48 hours to make your presence known.

 

I want a gift – something unexpected.  I want a clear, unmistakable, obvious sign…something that cannot be written off as coincidence.

 

Research Notes:

 

(I will fill these in after the deadline!)

 

Three cheers to GOD, Heavenly Father, or the FP… I have ordered myself up a gift in the next two days.  Let’s see where this takes me!

 

Onward.

The Mormon Anthem

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I am a child of God,
And he has sent me here,
Has given me an earthly home
With parents kind and dear.

I am a child of God,
And so my needs are great;
Help me to understand his words
Before it grows too late.

I am a child of God.
Rich blessings are in store;
If I but learn to do his will,
I’ll live with him once more.

I am a child of God.
His promises are sure;
Celestial glory shall be mine
If I can but endure.

Chorus
Lead me, guide me, walk beside me,
Help me find the way.
Teach me all that I must do
To live with him someday.

The song I am a Child of God is one of the quintessential hymns in mormon childhood.  A solid mormon upbringing will include this song as a childhood anthem, and my home was no different.  I sang it for comfort in dark, scary places. I sang it to remind myself that I was extra special.  I hummed it, summoning courage in my bed at night.  I sang it with gusto with the rest of my young classmates in church, proud of the touched expressions on our mother’s faces.

But then, things changed for me. I sang it with tears dripping off the end of my nose and into my clasped hands as a teenager kneeling at my bedside, begging to be more faithful and desperate to believe.  In my search for comfort, my mother’s love, the thought of her soft hands squeezing mine would ease me back into bed and under the covers.  But the words tortured my young heart, as a glowing piece of my childhood suddenly felt  threatening.

 I am a child of God,
And he has sent me here,
Has given me an earthly home
With parents kind and dear.

My parents were kind and dear.  The first verse was a way of establishing the expectation that the rest of God’s plans must be accomplished because of their kindness.  And dearness.  It played on my fierce, child-loyalty.  It made me feel as if my struggle to believe in God was a rejection of my parents.  Maybe it was.

 I am a child of God,
And so my needs are great;
Help me to understand his words
Before it grows too late.

“Help me to understand his words, before it grows too late.” Too late for me, a girl who sensed innocent, blind, parent-lead faith dripping through my cupped hands like water I was trying to carry in my palms. I felt desperate to comply…to understand.  The pressure was real, unrelenting.

 I am a child of God.

His promises are sure;

Celestial glory shall be mine

If I can but endure.

“Celestial glory shall be mine, if I can but endure…”  This one.  Am I worthy of glory?  Do I want to endure my life? To endure…to suffer patiently, to tolerate with out wielding.  It made me feel bleak, and as a teenager, bored.  Life can be more than enduring.  The idea that I could fully enjoy my life and each moment and not fear what would happen when I was dead was a unfurling in my rebellion.

 Lead me, guide me, walk beside me,
Help me find the way.
Teach me all that I must do
To live with him someday.

Teach me all that I must do…to live with him someday.  This one broke my heart.  I was the teacher’s pet, after all.  If there are things I must do, I wanted to be valedictorian.  And I wanted acceptance, praise.  A feeling that doing the things that I must do would make me special.  To live with him someday made me envision a thick, heavy door.  And would he open it for me?  The thought that Heavenly Father would possibly not let me in, if I did not perform the things I must do, filled me up with leaden fear, and a sense of failure.

And the song, which used to bring me peace, felt corrupted, dangerous.  I clamped down on it tightly, storing it away.

A few months ago, I was kneeling at the bedside of my youngest daughter.  She was three, and golden, and trouble.  I was stroking her soft platinum hair and kissing the tears from her round cheeks and wet eyelashes, a sore toe causing her newest despair.  I sang her “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” and  then, quite unexpectedly, “I am a Child of God,” a song dug out of the tombs of my now locked up mormon vault.  I felt my love for her crack open my chest, and white, warm, mama love encased my little girl.

I switched to humming the tune after the first line, perhaps unconsciously avoiding the words that carry such weight, and let the song soothe my baby.   I found the place that long ago had soothed me before it hurt. The wounds are healing, the anger dissipating… slowly, ever so slowly.  In the year we have been here in Connecticut, as I write about my life, I am noticing, finally, my ability to accept the beauty under the damage, find the gold thread woven into the cocoon I felt caught in. The song fills me with hope and safety and warmth of childhood.  The feeling that I belong to something.  I am allowed to toss out the words that dish out dogma I don’t hold true…and just sing the song, allowing the spirit of connection be as simple as I need it to be.

The connection that makes me, and Stella, and God, one and the same.

And then she slept.

My On-Screen Life

“The significance is hiding in the insignificant. Appreciate everything.”
― Eckhart Tolle

I got up early today to walk with a friend.  The morning was dark and quiet, the street lamps perfectly illuminated the fire-red and orange trees. The houses that lined our lovely gridded streets were still dark and sleepy, the porch lights illuminating the pumpkins and mums.  The grand white colonials with black shutters and red doors stood at attention, the Tudors took on a storybook quality.  It was picturesque, straight out of a movie set.

I may be a freak, because sometimes, in moments like this, I feel that I am walking in my own movie…a sort of out-of-body experience, where I observe myself and how sublimely orchestrated and beautiful the world is.

I love those moments.

Does this happen to anyone else?  The moment where you are walking down a tree-lined street, or sharing a bottle of wine with a friend, or your husband reaches to lace his fingers in yours and laughs in such a way that your mind starts searching for the sound track to go with the scene…like every detail is thoughtfully orchestrated to convey this moment.  Everything slows down, and you feel yourself softening into a timeless breath that will carry you through the day?

The leaves were crunching just so under my shoes.  Leaves fluttered softly to the sidewalk from the molting trees, gold and crimson confetti that made the quiet daybreak feel like an occasion.  There was a posse of adorable elderly ladies in their walking gear, zipping down the sidewalk.  We ran into them on our zigzagging Continue reading

Gratitude, the Collective Cup

“Invisible threads are the strongest ties.”

― Friedrich Nietzsche

I can not stop watching this video.  I found it on Brene Brown’s blog, where I was seeking solace from a very difficult morning…needing a bit of inspiration and a lift in spirit.

I needed to find a place of gratitude to reset myself.

What an instant spirit boost… it worked after the first view, but I like to be extreme about everything, so I have, of course, watched it about ten times.  Ok  fifteen.   Well, maybe more like twenty.  

What an amazing experience for these kids.  I love the amazing feeling of community and interconnectedness that washes over me just watching the video.

There is something transformative about participating in something so collective and beautiful.  It is a reminder of our unity and wholeness, Continue reading

Unimaginably Hard, Inexpressibly Beautiful

“I will not teach or love or show you anything perfectly, but I will let you see me, and I will always hold sacred the gift of seeing you. Truly, deeply, seeing you.”

 -Dr. Brene Brown

The other day I was at a birth… my client had decided to get an epidural and I was sent out of the room while the anesthesiologist placed it in her spine.  I sat in one of two chairs in the center of the labor and delivery wing, and a strange woman who had been haunting the hallways for the past four hours plopped down beside me.  She informed me that she was waiting for her surrogate to have her baby, a moment she had been waiting for her entire life.  She was wringing her hands, her anxiety palpable.

“Are you a mom?”  she asked.

“Three little girls,”  I said, smiling warmly, I tried to surround her in my calm energy, bring down her distress with my own breath.

“Is it hard?”  she asked a few quiet minutes later.

“Labor?”

“No, being a mom.”

I squeezed her quaking hand.  I told her it was hard.  And marvelous.

“How?  How is it hard?”  she persisted, trying to gather her motherhood in her arms so she could greet her new babe with all of the secrets in hand.

I was called in to my client again before I could give her an answer.

Continue reading

Gratitude: the Back Float

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Wow.  Have you ever had one of those weeks (or two or three or forty in a row) where all of those cliché sayings like, “When it rains, it pours…” and “The shit’s hitting the fan” and “That which does not kill you makes you stronger” are appropriately running through your head?

Not the truly devastating stuff… not the real monsters like a death in the family, or a life threatening emergency or the end of a marriage.  But mid-level crap and madness that are stress inducing and eat away hours of your sleep.  The junk that makes you alternately lose your appetite and then eat a whole pizza at midnight like you are a 19-year-old college kid?

Stuff like that, peppered with ridiculous moments that seem to add insult to injury…since your brain is occupied with the mid-level madness, you don’t realize you are pointing the non-stick spray at your face and not the hot pan while making your kids’ breakfast (yes.  It happened.)  Or you begin dropping things constantly and repeatedly (never the car keys, always the iPhone).  Then you bend over six times in a row before successfully picking it up, making you look like you are doing some ridiculous dance in the cross walk of Target while everyone waits for you.

The moments that kick up that stress level until soon, every word you utter brings tears to your eyes?

Well, that sums up my last few weeks.  A stressful event happens, I freak out, I deal with it, I wake up the next day having talked myself down through a night of sleepless agonizing.  I begin my day feeling much more stable and ready to carry on…and then something else happens.  And slowly, I begin to unravel.   I will try to get some advice from a friend about the day’s non-emergent, mid-level flavor of the day crisis and suddenly I am desperately wiping away insistent tears on the kids’ playground at school.  It seems like a terrible over-reaction to the issue at hand…but  the culmination of it all at once that threatens to take me down.

Having these experiences has seriously challenged my ability to write a Gratitude post.  Something I committed to doing weekly and have been failing to meet the mark.  I am drowning here, people. Continue reading

Open Me

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Birth is a powerful force, uncontrollable and raw.  It brings us into our most primitive, simple forms.  The design of our bodies, the synchronicity of our composition.  It is a compact, intense and potent experience…our whole life collapsed into a single moment.  The moment we become.

Become a living, breathing expression of our soul.

Become a mother, the soul inexplicably and forever tethered to another in the most cosmic and physical sense.

 

I have spent many years searching for the latent and omnipotent meaning behind this soul-altering experience.   I have also been searching for something.   A lost part of my spirit.A way to turn ON the dead parts of me that I have shut off and let die.

I have been aching to define it, give it words, give it LIFE…give birth to this need for the something I can’t even outline.

 

Recently, I have been drawn into working as a doula… a woman who is hired to support a mother during labor and birth.  I have moved into this work with a powerful sense of purpose…there is something here for me to learn.

 

To see.

 

To experience.

 

I need to be here, doing this.

 

Getting into the work has been exhausting.  Emotionally and physically draining, and challenging my patience and communication skills constantly.  I teeter on the edge of quitting, turning tail and running, cutting the stress and expectation and difficult  relationships loose and being freed from it all.  But I stay.  Because there is something here, in this work.

 

Something that I am meant to do.

 

What is it?  What is birth meant to teach me? Continue reading

Stripping down

When worn properly, the garment provides protection against temptation and evil. Wearing the garment is an outward expression of an inward commitment to follow the Savior.    – (First Presidency letter, 5 Nov. 1996).

The garments must be worn day and night.

Mormons are allowed to have sex, (married of course) swim, and shower without the garments, but they should be immediately worn again, as soon as possible.  The prophet and the first presidency of the LDS church are all old men in their 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.  They are not about to advise women on the pleasures of wearing garment bottoms and getting a period, or having a baby. We figure it out.

They make maternity garments, (belly and boob pouches!) and nursing garments (the boob pouches are designed with flap, to give access to the breast once the nursing bra comes down).  They come in different fabrics, and necklines.  I found them all to be drastically uncomfortable.  I was painfully sensitive to lace, and even the simplest styles had trim that rubbed me raw.  It was always hot, even in the winter months, wearing an extra layer under my clothes.  I hated the way the fabric bunched up around the underwire of my bra, and caused my bra straps to slip around.

I hated sleeping in them, I hated golfing in them, I hated never being able to undress or dress in a locker room at the gym.

But, despite the physical discomfort, I wore them diligently, faithfully.  I tried so desperately to embrace the life of a married mormon woman.  I read material about the garments, their sacred nature, the blessing I would get from wearing them.  I taught young, impressionable preteen girls about the importance of wearing temple garments.  I told them how sacred and special they were.  I left the church on those particular Sundays always wondering if they recognized how resolved I was in convincing my own heart.   I wanted my new husband to see me as a valiant, faithful woman.  I wanted Heavenly Father to validate my efforts with a boost of faith.

 Visiting the Oakland Temple

After our daughter Carly was born, we moved to California.  I became pregnant with Lydia just six months after Carly’s birth.  As I  fed and cared for one baby girl, and grew in my womb another.  My spiritual crisis flourished, growing as fast as the new life inside me.

 

Garments are worn as a reminder of the covenants and oaths taken inside the temple.  They are to serve as a constant reminder of who you are, what your purpose is on earth, and the morals and standards you are striving to live.  They keep you dressing modestly and behaving accordingly.  Putting the garments on your body is like dressing in the armor of God.

These were the true reasons the mormon underwear was hard for me to wear.

 

It was an oppressive,  constant weighing reminder of who I was – a latter-day saint (LDS).

 I would step out of a shower in the morning and stare at the blurred outline of my body in the fogged up mirror.

 I was disappearing.

I pulled the garments on, and the woman in the mirror became visible as the fog cleared.  She looked like all the women in my life…my mother, my grandmother, my aunts and cousins, my ancestors.

 It felt like chain mail under my clothes.

 My underwear was immutable evidence that I was trapped, encapsulated in fraudulence.  I hated when Rick would see me in them each day, knowing my garments were a reassurance for him that I was doing it.  I was complying with the temple promises.  It felt like a bold face lie.

I wanted to fall asleep at night, his skin and my skin unsheathed from our armor…my raw self and his.  But it was against the rules, to spend a night sleeping in our bed, holding onto each other without the barrier between.

The lightweight cotton was becoming so heavy, I could barely get dressed in the morning.

 

It seemed that each passing day, as my belly grew larger, so did my discontent.  I had managed to avoid buying maternity garments while pregnant with Carly, eeking by with my regular sizes and the nursing garments afterwards.  But this second baby, fast on the heels of the first, changed my body quicker.  The garments became uncomfortably tight, rolling up over my abdomen.  Rick would ask me almost daily if I had remembered to order maternity garments, and I would always respond with, “tomorrow.”  I couldn’t bring myself to do it.

 

I had respect for the garments, for the people who wear them, for their sacred and spiritual meaning for my loved ones.  And there came a point where I could not put them on.

 I had outgrown them.

I only had a month or two before Lydia would be born…  I sat on the edge of my bed, Carly calling for me in her crib, and I could not put them on my body.  I stopped wearing them.

 Rick began to ask about it as gently as he could, and I would shrug it off, as if I simply forgot. Both of us knew forgetting was not possible.  I could feel his fear building as the force of our spiritual storm began to build and take shape.   I would try to be nonchalant, tell him, “tomorrow,” and almost gag on my words.  His disappointed eyes and my guilt filled me up like wet cement.

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In that last month, Carly, with her imploring blue eyes, would lift my shirt and pat my bare belly, press against me.  She would squeeze my fingers and leave wet kisses on my cheeks.  My daughter.  My little girl, watching my every move.

And inside me grew a fierce and fearless Lydia, straining against my insides, running out of room, ready to come into the world and become.

 

And… there was…me.

 

A burgeoning woman who knew that the time was coming. The moment where soon, I would no longer be able to hold myself in.

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In the green of a blooming spring, amongst the awakening world, it happened.

I gave birth to us both.

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Worthy to Wear; the Initiation

I love to see the temple
I’m going there someday
To feel the Holy Spirit,
To listen and to pray.
For the temple is a house of God,
A place of love and beauty.
I’ll prepare myself while I am young;
This is my sacred duty.
I love to see the temple.
I’ll go inside someday.
I’ll cov’nant with my Father;
I’ll promise to obey.
For the temple is a holy place
Where we are sealed together.
As a child of God, I’ve learned this truth:
A fam’ly is forever.
Words and music: Janice Kapp Perry, b. 1938. (c) 1980 by Janice Kapp Perry.
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I walked into the Denver Temple, hand in hand with my fiance, my mom and dad just a few steps ahead of me…I was ready.  I had been found worthy.  I had a temple recommend in my pocket, and I was going to cross over from a child in preparation, to a grown woman.  I would be making covenants with Heavenly Father, participating in what I had been taught since birth, would be the most sacred, beautiful, spiritually powerful experience of my life.

They don’t really tell you WHAT is going to happen in there… WHAT the ceremonies are really like.  They do not define the kinds of promises and oaths you will take.  It is spoken about with reverence and hushed tones and vague references to spiritual wakefulness and glory and sacred duty.

I walked in filled with anticipation and readiness, I was finally going to be a part of the inside, I would at last be able to feel the tremendous spiritual affirmation that I was going to be ok.  That I was doing the right thing.  That love will conquer all, the naive mantra of so many twenty-somethings…Rick would be in there to share this experience with me, support me as I went through my initiatory and endowment ceremony.

When I came out, my heart thunked slowly and heavy in my chest. One clammy hand held tightly to Rick’s, the other to a sack of new underwear.  I strained to feel the spiritual aliveness, the glow I had been promised.  I was terrified.  I could not process the experience quickly enough to match the lightness in Rick’s stride.

 It was just a week before we were to return to a mormon temple to be sealed for time and all eternity.  I fought the sting of tears in my eyes as we climbed into the car, and I positioned my new purchases, small plastic packages filled with white bottoms and capped sleeve tops that would be my new normal, a reminder of this night’s covenants with God. I rubbed the rolled edge of the garment bottoms through my jeans as Rick started the car.  My parents waved proudly, big smiles on their faces, as they drove out of the parking lot.

“So!  You did it Meg! How do you feel?”  He looked imploringly into my eyes, as he had done in the celestial room of the temple, trying to read me, feel out my reaction.  He knew I was scared.

He knew.

I knew that as a mormon couple, we would live with a constant expectation to return to the temple regularly and perform the same rituals, over and over, in the stead of all the people who had died without the glorious privilege of participating in the ceremonies on earth.  I knew that my zealous, return missionary, soon to be husband, would want to do what was expected.

“I never want to do that again,” I whispered quietly into my lap, tears pooling in my eyes.  I stared at my hands, concentrating on not blinking them out.  Rick squeezed my leg.  I could feel his desperate searching for inspired words.

“Ok.  Meg.  It’s ok.  I know it’s new.  We are going to be married.  You are going to be my wife.  That’s all we need to think about.  Pray about it.  It will be ok.  I love you.”

“I love you, too.”  I squeezed his hand and kissed him quickly. I wanted to grab him and tell him how scared I was, how terrified.  I did not want to let him down.

 I wanted to be filled with spiritual fulfillment.  The disappointment and distaste for my first temple experience after a lifetime of being told it was the most amazing, uplifting, magical experience was a crushing blow to my delicate faith.  But I took some big breaths. I held my love’s hand in mine.  I stared at the golden angel Moroni, glowing in the cold January air at the top of the temple’s highest spire.  He was blowing his horn, announcing his truth.

 I watched him in the rearview mirror as we drove away, becoming tiny and distant in the night sky.

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Sound Gratitude

“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.”
― Thornton Wilder

It’s August.

Late August.

 Which means that we have made it one year here in Connecticut.  The thick humid air, charming old houses, light summer nights ripe with singing wildlife, it has me feeling unanchored in time.  The trauma we went through last year is blinking back at me in blimps and flashes… like post traumatic stress disorder.

We moved.  People do.  But during this time, our daughter Lydia, always a child who struggled with sensory sensitivity, burst into a new and life altering mania.  She hated sounds.  Specific sounds, like chewing and swallowing, and sounds of speech, especially S, T, K, P and C.

She hated these sounds, when they were made by me.

 Her mother.

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 This suddenly made every day life a harrowing ordeal filled with angry tantrums and sudden outbursts of rage.  I could barely communicate a simple “it’s time for dinner” without her falling to the floor screaming.  She flinched, grimaced, covered her ears, kicked her feet, jumped away defensively like she had been burned.  She would stomp around loudly and hum, crash things together, sing obnoxiously loud, anything to drown out my sounds.

 

Lydia has Misophonia.

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Desperate, we turned to the internet for help, and the things we read about Misophonia devastated me.  Completely eviscerated me.  The scarcity of good information and the personal accounts were awful.  Stories of families that can no longer live together, or live in the same household but in isolation from one another.

  “My little girl is ill.  Our lives will never be the same” played in my head, a vicious mantra.  No one I talked to about what was happening  would validate my devastation. In well-meaning ways they suggested  it was simply a discipline problem, perfectly normal considering the transitions the move had forced upon my daughter.

That wasn’t it.

Car rides were a nightmare.  Meal times were a nightmare.

And bedtime made me ache.  Even now, the sight of her summer pj’s has me reliving some of those nights with painful sharpness.

 Just a few weeks into our move, I went in to get the girls to sleep for the night.  I decided to just breeze through it, act nonchalant…not expect a battle.  Be positive.  I took some cleansing breaths, trying to wash away the day’s earlier traumas.

I entered with a smile…and the moment I said “hop into bed and I will read you a story” Lydia screamed and cowered on the bed, kicking her feet angrily in my direction.

Palpable disgust radiated from her expression.

When I turned wordlessly to walk away, not knowing how to bear it, she crawled to the end of the bed and hung on my waist, sobbing.  She begged me to stay, and I could feel how rejected she felt as thickly as her disgust, two emotions that I simply did not have the tools to carry together.  I smoothed her hair and wiped the  tears off my face with my sleeve.

I tucked Carly in first, she complied despite the fear I saw in her blue eyes.  I did not dare whisper, so I signed “I love you” and touched my lips with my fingertips, and then hers.  I tucked Lydia in next, and repeated the sign language.

This silent communication  was not a comfort to me but a physical act that seemed to be shredding our futures together.

 I turned away and she grabbed my hand.  She whispered “Im so sorry mommy.”  She tugged me closer.  I climbed into bed with her, pulling her against me, I held her tightly, buried my face in her freshly washed hair, and wept silently until she slept.

*****

Today, my girls are in Vermont with my in-laws once again.  They are enjoying all the brilliant fun of summer at Grandmama and Grandpapa’s  house…the pool, learning flips on the trampoline (gasp) and eating icecream at the fair.

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 And I am here, with Rick in Connecticut, swimming in memories.

 

But, with the PTSD flashbacks comes gratitude, washing over me in great waves.

 

1.  By the time we settled into our new home in Connecticut, my inability to communicate with Lydia had reached a crisis stage.  Rick and I would pour over internet information at night, searching for a tiny glimmer of hope.  We found a post on a message board.  A woman and her son, in Australia, claiming they had found success with a very specific type of neurofeedback therapy.  She cautioned that it must be this specific form of biofeedback, as she had tried many others that had failed to work.  One positive story, one mother who had not been forced to live in silence or away from her child.

Gratitude.

2. We had just moved to a small town, in a small state.  What are the odds we would be able to locate a therapist that performed this type of specific neurofeedback for our child?  I was skeptical.  And we found Inner Act, run by Rae Tattenbaum, a woman who specialized in this neurofeedback.  Her office is less than two miles from our home.

Gratitude.

3. For the first 5 months, I brought Lydia three times a week.  The minute we opened her office door and Rae would inquire about our day, I would crack open, and weep.  Every time.   But it started working.  I was able to kiss Lydia goodnight.  Ask her about homework.  Take her to buy soccer cleats.  Eat (sometimes) together.  We pared it down to twice a week, and eventually, once a week.  Rae saved us.

Gratitude.

4. Lydia has not had regular therapy from Rae since early June.  When summer came, our schedule went.  We’ve been traveling, visiting family, going to summer camps and beaches.  I had hoped the progress we had made was permanent.

It was not.

Lydia is now showing signs of sensitivity towards her sister, Carly as well.   We have not eaten a meal as a family, in the same room, for well over a month.

But I know there is hope.  To get her back to a place where we can manage.  We can be a family.  I will not lose my daughter.  We will find a way to maintain our bond.  There is hope.

Gratitude.

 

5. A few days ago I found out that the young neighbor who used to babysit for us in Colorado has been diagnosed with misophonia.  I called her mom…

Oh, the cathartic nature of a talk with someone who truly understands.  I can not express my gratitude to Lori enough.  She also shared with us that she has found a new therapy… hearing aids that help decrease the sound sensitivity.  Her daughter has found immense relief.   I can’t wait for tomorrow, to seek them out.

 And then maybe,  I can have dinner with my baby.

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Gratitude.