“Did you hear what you just said?”
I didn’t. I had been rambling about my boys. I leaned back into the chair in my therapist’s office to think. The tree branches behind me snatched at my curls.
Yes. My therapist has a tree in her office that is constantly getting stuck in my hair.
I love it.
“That your boys are physical….”
She paused like a teacher giving the pupil a moment to catch up.
“Yes?” I said with my brow furrowed.
“And…you love it.” she said slowly.
My hands shot up to my face. I peered at her between two hands pressed against my cheeks. I repeated the answer.
“And I love it.”
I whispered those words in disbelief and then the tears came. I bowed deeply in my chair and beneath that listening tree with relief. Tears of joy spilled forward and then I wiped my face and said,
“I almost made it through an entire session without crying.” Laughing I continued, “You fucking ruined it.”
She laughed but her eyes were harboring quickly escaping tears too.
You may not remember but there was a time where touch felt like the enemy. Connection and intimacy felt like a cheese grater on my soul. My healing required an end to passive consent. My soul needed some time to seek out it’s true loves. My body needed to learn what is safe, safe, safe…I am safe here.
I am safe here.
The little girl I was, the little girl in need of a constant barrier between her heart and connection is leaning into connection and intimacy. She is letting go of her shield. She is slowly backing away from the tools used to fortify walls. She is coming out to play, love, gaze, connect.
I love this girl. I love how she gazes into the eyes of her children. I love how she understands that criticism doesn’t mean that she is bad, dirty or broken. I love that she listens and can lie under a pile of freshly bathed and pajama dressed boys with wild abandon.
I love that she doesn’t seem to feel trapped anymore or not as much.
I have learned that healing happens in a place of safety.
I feared that my trauma was stealing joy from me and my children. Honestly, it did steal joy for a time until something shifted.
The story I told my therapist:
I held one of my sons in my arms. I gazed into his eyes and I simply paused. I didn’t move. I let him bathe in my love for him. It was like a freeze ray. He couldn’t remove himself from my adoration. I felt like I might be staring at him like a creep.
“Children don’t stare. They gaze.”
My therapist interjected that tidbit. Science has proven that when you are making eye contact with an infant and you stop, there is an immediate change in their brain chemistry. That chemical reaction identifies our basic need for attachment.
I held him and gazed at him until he was ready to go. All filled up with love.
My oldest son feels no shame about kissing his mother goodbye. My middle son starts his days by leaning into me with his face tilted upwards for a kiss.
“Good morning, momma.”
My boys are physically affectionate and I love it. It has taken 3 years but I am the mother I always wanted to be.
Fearlessly affectionate, hilariously embarrassing and stingy with the ice cream.
But mostly that first one.
PS – Let’s talk about this more. Join me here.