Skip to content

boundaries

Energetic Boundaries 101

Some pretty mind blowing stuff went down for me in September that I’m only just beginning to articulate. I went to this rad women and kids communing with nature power weekend with Jo. We ate and sang and played and learned and gathered around the fire together. And once Jo got his bearings, and he and a friend were absorbed in scratching at the dirt with sticks, I took a class about energetic boundaries. Which is to say that for a couple of hours one morning, I sat in a circle of women on the ground near a big fallen tree I wish I knew the name of, and listened to this woman share her wisdom about the ways we habitually do and ideally can choose to create boundaries that protect or reveal ourselves.

I still don’t understand exactly what it was about that class that changed things for me, but it did.

Here’s the best I’ve got:

It helped me understand the fundamental way I align myself with other people. In short, I’ve got some pretty loosey goosey boundaries. And I always track the people around me. I take in what I think their needs and feelings are. I’m like an octopus with hyper extended tentacles, constantly scanning in all directions for what my people are feeling, thinking, wanting.

TentaclesOut

It. Is. Exhausting.

And obliterating. Cause where do my thoughts and needs and feelings come in, given the OCD tentacles? Well, dear reader, I’ll tell you. My needs and feelings are stifled at the bottom of the heap. They play second (or third or fourth) fiddle. Those suckers languish deep inside the proverbial haystack.

But somehow, in a circle of women sitting on the ground of a crisp fall morning, I gathered my tentacles in. I chose to create some boundaries. Now I look more like this.TentaclesIn

I deliberately chose to disengage with the endless stream of

Jo is happy and absorbed (sigh of relief) . Cal wants water and needs to put his pants on. Where are his pants? . That guy on the sidewalk seems really desperate . AJ is still mad at me after last night, but I don’t want to say I’m sorry . Jamie wishes I visited her more . Cybil called me three days ago and I haven’t gotten back to her . Ryan seems pissed, is it something I did? . This person wants . This person needs . This . Person . Feels . . .

Reeling in the tentacles made me lighter, buoyant even.

I started to float.

I could see and hear and feel things that hadn’t gotten in for a long time because there was so much noise and obstruction, and so little of my attention left over.

Here’s what I saw:

Everything is a game.

Every relationship, project, chore, obligation.

Some games have higher stakes than others, but at the core, there is a lightness, a playfulness in the atmosphere around all the heavy stuff.

The playfulness is this: in every game, you get to choose your move. Every time. And you don’t know what’s going to happen next. Then the other people get to choose their moves. Now it’s back to you. And the game plays on.

For years and years, I’ve gotten stuck trying to play other people’s moves for them, while my piece languishes in one damn square not very far from START.

That hyper focus outwards, on other people, has been crippling. It’s been deafening.

It has weighed me down, drowned me out, and left me listless on the couch because I’ve quite literally forgotten myself.

It was part of the reason for my post-partum depression with both kids–in that first year, rarely was I able to see and act on my own feelings and needs in the snow-storm of everyone else’s.

Well, I found my way out of that bullshit.

I have a new sense for where I end and everyone else begins.

And I wanna play.

For now, while I’m still learning these new moves, and how to keep my own needs and feelings at the core, I try to keep the tentacles for me. I use that super scanning empathetic power on myself first, because then I know the most key intelligence about the game: where I’m starting from. If I don’t know that, I can’t really play.

It’s game on, people.

 

A toddler sleep clustercuss

Do the sleep challenges ever end? We’re having a rough day over here.

After our delightful time away in Colorado, aka my soul place, J has adopted all sorts of different sleeping patterns. When we were away, J said he wanted to sleep in the “flat bed” and since the room where he stayed had one, we gave it a try, instead of using his travel crib. It worked great and we really enjoyed being able to snuggle with him while he went to sleep. So much so that we would sometimes fall asleep too or just lay there watching his little eyes droop and cheeks bloom into that sweet, rosy napping boy color.

…not to mention the sweet, sweaty curls…

Now that we’re back at home, in the land of the room with no flat bed and only a crib, things have been pretty topsy turvy. In short, over the past 2 weeks, he got pretty used to having someone lay down with him while he was falling asleep. So now he’s been screaming maybe 70% of the time when we leave him awake for night-time or nap. I’m able to write at this very moment because our nap battle, which began at 1 and ended a few minutes ago at 2:15, has ended with victory for me. I have a sleeper. But here’s how it went down:

  • We read 3 books, sang 2 songs, then “boo boos,” our very secret code for “boobs,” the typical routine.
  • J cries when I put him in his crib, wants me to snuggle with him and leave the door open.
  • I don’t want to, so I don’t.
  • He yells. Then climbs out of his crib and plays with toys.
  • Then opens his door every few minutes, sticks his hand out, holding a random object — a rubber band, then a dragon wing — and saying “Here, Momma.”
  • I go in, tell him that if he doesn’t want to sleep he needs to have quiet time.
  • He announces he has to poop.
  • He poops.
  • He announces that he wants to watch Thomas the Tank Engine.
  • I say that if he takes a nap, he can.
  • I deposit him in his crib and he screams.
  • I walk out.
  • He climbs out of his crib.
  • I walk in, make no eye contact and put him silently back into bed.
  • Repeat these last 2 steps 15 times.
  • He climbs out, plays quietly on his floor for 20 minutes, then begins the “Here’s a random toy I’m gonna thrust through a crack in the door, Momma” routine again and says “I wanna watch Thomas.”
  • I say he needs to have more quiet time if he’s gonna watch Thomas.
  • And then somehow, I wound up in there holding him on the rocking chair and he nursed himself to sleep.

I know that this is, as one Fantastic Mr. Fox would say, a complete cluster-cuss.

I know I was not consistent. I know I tried a jillion different strategies (and I didn’t even mention when I went in, grabbed his crib mattress, blankets, stuffed animals and pillows and put them on his floor–in all my wisdom, I was trying to simulate the “flat bed.”). And after all that, I ended up “caving” by nursing him to sleep.

Here’s the deal: J is almost 3. The same strategies that used to work just don’t any more. And a lot of the good resources I’ve found for sleep drop off after the first couple of years. Like this one my friend B, mom of a 3-month-old, emailed me, with the endorsement, “I just found it and I am like yes finally the answers in plain English!” If you have a 0-12 month old, go forth and enjoy.

I also read and re-read choice sections of the Weissbluth sleep book when we go through a period like this. I’ll be the first to admit that I credit the Weissbluth sleep book as one of the things that saved our lives in J’s 5th month. I’ll also be the first to admit that his book will probably push your buttons if you take your place on the “anti-cry-it-out” side of the firestorm that is the baby sleep debate. Regardless of his opinions in the cry-it-out department, I think Weissbluth has some very useful things to say about naps, and sleep cycles and typical sleep patterns for infants in particular. Again, though, I’m kinda coming up empty now that I have a willful boy who can climb out of cribs, open doors and hit, kick and scratch.

So kids, what are your recommendations?