For when your ‘stuff’ starts coming up

Have we laughed, cried, sang, danced, ran, ate, drank, prayed together?

That is the question I am sitting in the middle of this New Moon as I’m thinking about who I want to spend more time with in and out of lockdown. I’ve been reading that this moon invites us to reflect on the relationships in our lives, and I can already feel the gravitational pull.

I’m bracing myself for a collective initiation around belonging. At a time where social distancing and quarantining is for the benefit of the greater good, all our ‘stuff’ around community might start coming up, especially as we enter into a moon phase that may amplify your desire for connection.

I’ll tell you how this is playing out for me so far.

I was laying in bed feeling pretty catatonic. I’ve never been much of a morning person and usually just pooh-pooh my lethargy and lack of motivation to start my day. I’m usually frustrated with myself. “C’mon.  You should’ve grown out of this by now. There’s so much you want to do and you’re wasting all this time.”

But this day I try to meet this criticism with some kindness. Cooperate with it instead of resist it. That’s a core principle of trauma-resolution, and now I have this new perspective, I wonder if there’s more going on than meets the eye.

First, a mini trauma lesson**. Your flight, flight, and freeze responses are narrowed down into two nervous system responses.

Hyper:  Lots of energy to propel you towards or away from the perceived threat (think anxiety, hyperactive, over-working, stressed out), or

Hypo: Your energy disappears and you drift into a state of stillness until the threat passes you by (think depression, lack of motivation, ‘lazy’, shame-spirals, and collapsing from exhaustion).

I always assumed I was a ‘hyper’ workaholic, always busy doing something, find it hard to rest, and my brain always ‘on’.

And then it clicked. That’s true except for when I wake up every day in a state of ‘hypo’ low energy, the day feeling heavy before it even starts, and with zero motivation to break-out the to-do list. I’m constantly telling myself, “Just do what you can for now to get the ball rolling.” So I clean the bathroom, put on the laundry, and brush my teeth until my body finds a doable groove.

So as I cooperated with this feeling of ‘blah’, staring at the clouds, journaling, and finding new dance tunes from the comfort of my pillowed bed, I let myself feel for once, instead of rushing into my day.

And what I found was this…

I felt like I was 19 years old again. Home from college for the summer, miserable, lonely, crawling out of bed at 5pm, just in time to get up for a run, have dinner and climb back into bed.

At the time this coping mechanism was excused. ‘She must be tired. She’s worked so hard all semester. Her body needs to rest.’

Possibly. And it also was possibly a hypo-response of energetic collapse as a need for belonging in community was not being met.

I was in transition. No longer held by a close-knit high school friendship and teammate circle, and out from under the ostracizing yet strong community of the church, I hadn’t landed into a new group at college, I was socially ‘floating’. As was my nervous system; taking me to the safety of daydreams in the clouds, instead of grounded in connection within my real life.

So what’s going on now, 20 years later?

Well, I’ve kept floating. I’ve never really ‘landed’ in community since then. And now that we’re in lockdown with a new moon calling us towards belonging, community, and relational communication, some shit is being pulled out of me.

It might be pulling something out of you too.

Can I offer you a tip? Be kind to yourself. See if you can notice what’s going on in your body, give yourself some time to listen to your heart, and instead of trying to fix yourself, cooperate and let it be.

If you feel you’ve got some energy to dig a little deeper, here’s a short journaling practice to help you stay present to yourself.

  1. How am I feeling? Eg sad, depressed, anxious, angry, etc
  2. How old do I feel right now? Eg 19 years old
  3. What did I need at that age? Eg community rhythms,  like friends to go for a run with  on a daily basis
  4. If I could give that to myself now, what difference might that make in my life? Eg I’d have accountability. Possibly more energy. I’d feel full from the sharing of ideas and life experiences on regular basis. I might feel like I belong.
  5. What’s the smallest doable step my adult self can take towards meeting that need of mine? Eg go for a walk with my neighbor (staying 2m a part of course)

These journal prompts can be used across the board, whenever feeling ‘blah’, ‘meh’, or your ‘stuff is coming up’. Use liberally, with lot of love and care.

**Shout out to Rachael Maddox and her ReBloom trauma training for illuminating so much of what I’ve been able to share with you.

Taking a trauma-informed approach to my life has been game-changing. To be able to work with your coping strategies instead of needing to fix them overnight is healing in and of itself. As is honoring your body’s natural rhythms and trusting your timeline for healing.

There is so much room for grace. The more I learn and practice in this field the more excited I am to have others taste this medicine.

You can apply to work with me here.

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