Chaos: A Part of the Beautiful Unfolding of Life.
Healing is messy. Sometimes it looks like chocolate coconut water on a plate that you snorted out of your mouth and nose.
I’ve not been okay at all recently, which probably signifies being more okay than I’ve ever been. I’ve lost my drive, run aground. In short, I’m having a disproportionate reaction to a heartbreak, which is triggering the early trauma of not being met. Sometimes when we are ready to heal experiences of separation or abandonment from our babyhood, we project all the feelings of heartbreak onto a situation later in life.
Last weekend, I sobbed and laughed hysterically for four hours. Thankfully, two of the best women I know were with me, and they knew exactly how to keep me crying — one of the benefits of having trained everyone around me to listen really well. At one point, I started speaking nonsense that I really believed at the time.
“I shouldn’t be allowed to live in this house, they should keep me in one of those ‘safe houses’ for special people. I should have a warning sign on me.”
“What would that say?” urged my sister.
“Keep upright. Handle with care.” I wailed.
And then I rolled about laughing and remembered all the times where being horizontal with a certain person recently has got me into this mess. The relevance of being kept upright on loving skin as a baby, rather than horizontal in an incubator, was not lost on me either.
It was an epic release. Snotty tissues piled up. My tear-stained t-shirt became a beautiful piece of art that my friend Alice dubbed ‘Rainfall on heartache’. We continued with our ritual Sunday pancakes until someone said the words ‘fragile friends’, and suddenly liquid was escaping from me in every direction, first in laughter and then wild bawling. Luckily the plate caught some of it.
Sometimes you just gotta let yourself come completely undone. I become a sobbing, trembling mess in the kitchen while my friends hold on to me as my knees give way, wetting their shoulders as they take turns. Then I’m curled up in a ball and letting folks reassure my boy that the primal howling emanating from his mother is safe. It’s a community effort to keep things afloat when a ship this big goes down.
My sister’s morning of work derailed as she holds on to me through the raging storm in her bed. Emails and tasks gone unanswered for another day. My dear friend who makes a detour to compensate for my sudden immobility and scoops up my kids. Skype and professional support from several different countries.
What surprised me were the many moments of profound intimacy through this experience today. Finding new depths of emotional vulnerability with my sister. Several beautiful calls with friends who really get me. Sweet cuddles from my kids, who notice that something is not right.
And a stolen moment on Skype with my beautiful listening partner when both our kids were occupied in the middle of the day. We didn’t do a Listening Partnership (a practice from Hand in Hand Parenting, where two parents exchange listening time with a focus on relieving stress through emotional release), but simply sat and looked at each other, wordless, tears streaming.
And after a long, smiling, tearful silence, we sobbed this exchange in husky, cracked voices:
Me: You are so precious to me.
Her: Thank you for being in my life.
Me: You are giving me a reference for what love is.
Her: And you are showing me what it feels like to be totally accepted.
Me: Thank you, I will remember this moment forever.
Her: Me too.
When your heart is wide open in pain and you share that with others, it seems to open a channel for a much deeper exchange of love also. Maybe love and pain are two sides of the same coin. Healing is messy, and in the epicenter of the chaos, all I can do is trust that I’ve got this, and that it’s a part of the beautiful, playful unfolding of life.
Roma Norriss has been birthkeeping since 2006. She trained with Binnie Dansby in Ecstatic Birth, and is interested in the impact of early trauma. Since qualifying as an NCT Breastfeeding Counsellor in 2011, she has helped over 3000 parents with breastfeeding. Roma is also a Hand-in-Hand Parenting Instructor, leading courses and consulting in this transformational work. She and Binnie run After Birth at the Active Birth Centre, supporting perinatal trauma. Roma writes for HuffPost, JUNO and Practicing Midwife. If you’re interested in discovering Listening Partnerships to build more intimacy and support into your life, check out Listening School, which starts June 13th.