I am bi-cultural.

So, I have been reading about immigration and mental health a little bit, trying to find a topic for my thesis that I have to begin in a year. In the process, I have discovered that I am bi-cultural, if not tri-cultural. This is kind of a big “duh” moment–of course this is true, but knowing that there is a term for it, and a condition associated with it, gives me some kind of comfort I think I’ve been seeking.

Being from three different cultures (Finnish, Danish, and American) has my heart in three different places. I have never felt secure and grounded in what I am and where I belong. I have never really thought of myself as an immigrant, because I have not suffered in the way so many immigrants suffer who come to this country. I have had food to eat, a warm bed, and clothes on my back. I spoke English when I arrived here, although not very well, but it made the transition relatively easy. Now I realize that I have not honored the ways in which I did suffer, and that I am indeed a part of more than one culture. This has been a strange and confusing thing, and I haven’t really realized it until recently.

I am beginning to realize the experience of my parents, especially my mother, leaving their families and their countries and being separated from who they are and where they come from. It makes me sad. At least I am partially from here. I have one foot in this country and the other in Denmark. Then an eye in Finland, maybe. My parents lived in their countries for much longer than I did, and their parents and siblings were there, too. My parents and siblings are here.

Again, another lame post resulting from sleep deprivation and inability to fall asleep.
Goodnight.

Weird to look back.

Four and five years ago, I was writing on this blog. It is so weird to read my posts from back then. They were pretty frequent and carefully written, and had nice photographs along with them. I had a lot of time and energy for this. It feels like a different life, and like they were written by a different person.

Back then, Mia was as old as Anna is now. I was a different mother with her then compared to how I am with Anna now. I don’t know what I think about that. I was extremely devoted and connected with Mia, and my life revolved around giving her the kind of experience I felt she deserved, which, in hindsight, I still think was pretty awesome. In the meantime, I think I denied myself the experience I deserved, and neglected myself quite badly. That was not so awesome.

With Anna, I now have lower expectations of myself. I have made countless mistakes with her, and I am trusting that things will work out. I am more forgiving of myself than I was back then. It is easier. It is better now. The girls play with each other and don’t need me so much, and I have room for myself. More room than I had back then.

Over the years, my idealism has faded. That is a good thing. It’s still there, but much more realistic and forgiving. We’re each on our own path, and there is no one-side-fits-all. I see that now. It’s okay that we are all different. It is good. I am not as defensive and protective of myself and my beliefs as I was back then. People will agree sometimes, people will disagree sometimes. I am more comfortable with that now.

What I did not realize back then is how hard it is to let go of those old patterns and beliefs that I thought I could just “think” away. The gut reactions, the handling of stress, and the self-defense mechanisms I had back then have not changed all that much. Those deep, unmet needs from childhood that are still hanging on. I would like them to change. I would like them to be healthier and more functional. Those things cause stress to my family. What is the purpose of that? I am trying to figure that out. (This is how we are trained to think as Adlerians! All behavior has purpose!) Perhaps the purpose of overreacting to stress is to have significance, to get attention, to matter. How can I get that in a positive way? Maybe just by being nice all the time. That is hard for a Gemini to do.

This was probably the dumbest post I have written in a long time.

Good.

Since my last post, there has been action and closure.  My action was not easy, but it was necessary.  I am in a good place now, and ready to move forward and leave the past in the past.  

The pieces are coming together for the journey I’ll be on in the coming year.  I will attend my first birth in August and also begin an exciting internship for my mental health training in August.  I am so excited for both, and for the new beginning that these two signify.  I feel like I’ve been on one train for a long time and am now arriving at the station, ready to step onto a new train, heading in a new direction.

My internship means that my children will need some before and after school care, because Alan and I are not always able to drive and/or pick up on time every day.  This will be a new and different experience for all of us, and hopefully a smooth and positive one.  It’s a little hard sometimes with the notion that I’ll no longer be a stay-at-home mom like I’ve been for so long.  It will be different.

Alan will be at the girls’ school 3 days a week–the same days I will be at my internship.  He did not get the school administration jobs he applied for, and this is a relief for all of us, actually! It means a minimal change in our lifestyle and routine, and also that he will have Mia in his 5th grade band next year.  We are all really happy about that.  Having all three of my most special people at the same school is a comfort, and I know that the girls are in a good place when I am away from them.

I am back on Facebook.  With new boundaries and enough personal work under my belt, I feel ready to handle it in a healthy way.  I choose who and what I let into my world, and it’s that simple.  It is so nice to be in touch with people who matter to me, those who are far and away, and those who inspire and support me and make me laugh!

Alan and I are in love with Portlandia.  I highly recommend it for anyone needing a good laugh.

Have a good week, friends!

xo

 

Complexities on The Journey

I view my life as a journey: one of constant discovery, and adaptation and change resulting from each discovery.  After each discovery, I am never the same person as I was before the discovery.  Sometimes, the discoveries that come to me are complex, and sometimes they are humorously simple and have been right under my nose all along.  Sometimes the discoveries are painful, and sometimes they make me doubt or lose track of who I am; sometimes they erode the earth beneath my feet and have me falling and not knowing where I will land.  I am pretty sure, however, that this fall is always temporary, and that it has a larger purpose in the scheme of my life (even if I only recognize it in hindsight, years later).  Right now, I am in the middle of one of those falls, waiting to see where I land.

About one year ago, a complex discovery knocked at my door.  This discovery arrived in the midst of many other ongoing discoveries, mainly about who I am, what I want, and finding courage to own that.  While moving through period of personal transformation and feeling like I had a lot of new things figured out for myself, this complex discovery threw me off course. Since this secret entered my world, my integrity has been tested like never before.  Not a day has passed in which I have not felt the “ick” of this discovery, or in which I have felt confused and unsure of how to best handle what I know.

I am the keeper of a dark and destructive secret.  This secret has a life of its own, and the longer it is a secret, the more destructive and toxic it becomes.  Someday it will likely be discovered by the person to whom it rightfully belongs, and it may come back to me that I knew all along and chose not to reveal it.  I am not the only keeper of this dark secret, but one of several keepers.  However, to my knowledge, I am perhaps the only person who is aware of the enormity and the toxicity of the secret. The secret means that the person’s spouse is in the dark, living in a lie, and removing his/her choice to be with or to leave a partner who has deeply betrayed him/her.

It feels like a dark, rotting blob of toxic waste is living and growing inside of me.  I have spent the last year trying to ignore it and pretend it isn’t there; “it isn’t mine”, I try to tell myself.  I have tried to pretend I’ve forgiven and forgotten, only to realize that I can’t forgive or forget something that is happening in this very moment, something present and alive inside of me.  Until the secret is no longer a secret, this is a present reality that I must face each day.

I have been in the fortunate position of receiving solid advice from a variety of professionals through my school, and am so thankful for having that opportunity.  In addition, I have received support from my wonderful, wise husband who has the healthiest boundaries of anyone I’ve ever known. There is a reason this secret came to me when I had so many resources to help me handle it, and I am trying to remember that someday I will be thankful for this.  

The consensus from my wise advisers has been this: secrets are destructive.  We’re not talking about keeping a secret about a surprise gift or party; we’re talking about secrets that cause harm. Spouses eventually find out about betrayal, and the longer the time goes by, the more it hurts.  Spouses would rather know than not know, and be informed by the spouse rather than an outside informant. Keeping the secret only temporarily benefits the secret-keeper, and is done in self-interest so that he/she can continue the path of self-serving behavior. As relationship therapists, we do not keep secrets from partners and spouses.  As friends of people in the relationship, we do not keep destructive secrets from partners and spouses (although there are some therapists who will keep secrets between spouses, but I am not one of them). When dealing with relationships as a therapist, we leave work at work, and go home to our personal lives.  This is very different from having toxic relationships in our own personal lives, and this is a boundary in progress for me.

The parameters for relationship boundaries, ie the “no secret-keeping” rule, must be set up at the beginning of the relationship.  I did not set up this parameter with this person.  At all.  In fact, when I received this secret, I didn’t even realize how I felt about it until I ad stewed about it for quite some time.  It was a first–I can definitely say that much.

So, through my complex discovery and being the keeper of a toxic secret, I have learned some important lessons.  There has been a lesson of what different relationships mean and what I must to to maintain my own marital bond.  There has been a lesson of integrity that has not yet been fully resolved.  There has been a lesson of beginnings and endings, of commitment and loyalty. There has been a lesson of what it means to be a friend versus what it means to be a therapist.  In this situation, I am a friend, not a therapist.  It is my personal life.

I’ve learned that when a person is in a marriage or committed romantic relationship, there must be a limit of intimacy in friendships outside of the marriage.  Over-sharing in friendships can be addictive and destructive in a friendship, and also often a betrayal of the marriage.  Friendship must exist outside of the boundaries of marriage, and some things must remain private to the marriage, only discussed between the couple. This is called “primacy”, and it is the key to a long-lasting and healthy marriage.  If we can’t find the strength to be honest with our spouses, then we can seek the help of a therapist.  Together.  These are all things I have learned over the past year, and I am grateful I made it this long not knowing those things and not practicing them until now.

I sit here today, in a cafe with a decaf cafe miel beside my laptop, waiting for Mia to finish her writing camp.  Anna is at a play date with her cute little friend, and Alan is at home prepping the house for our big siding project.  My life is sweet, and simple and good.  I love my people.  I am surrounded with people who care about me, far and wide, and I care for them right back. My life is filled with goodness, and this “complex discovery” is just a little something that has been mixed into it.  It’s both necessary and unpleasant, and I will grow and move on from it. I am remembering that today, and I am grateful.

Here’s a picture I randomly put in, because I wanted some kind of photo with this post.  Strength and standing tall.

XO

 

Image

 

 

Life is change.

Mia’s last day of fourth grade is today, and I can hardly believe how much she has grown up this year.  She is a confident, kind, and sweet girl, and I feel so lucky to be her mom.  It has been special and fun to watch her become increasingly social and interested in her friends, and the best part is that her friends are as sweet and wonderful as she is.  Sometimes I get worried that she will lose interest in me and our family unit the way kids sometimes do at this age.  I am hoping that we can create something different and both family and friends can coexist in her world.

I have been applying and interviewing for internships starting in the fall.  I was accepted for my top two choices, and aside feeling flabbergasted and surprised, I am extremely honored and happy about it.  It will be a fantastic learning experience and prepare me for the work that I want to do after I am a licensed therapist.  I will begin at Park Avenue Center this fall and intern there through the school year.  After that, I will intern for the Hazelden adolescent program.  

Interning and going to school will have me occupied as much or more as a full-time job, and it will be a major life adjustment for all of us.  I have been a full-time caregiver of my children for ten years.  Now they will both be out in the world without me for much of the week, and I will be out doing my own thing.  Somehow we will have to balance school drop-offs, errands, housework, and meal preparation.  How do people do that? I am so used to “doing it all” and I think the biggest change will be for me to let a lot of things go.

I am looking forward to summer, and my hope is that it is a good balance between fun and relaxation and productivity.  We have a lot of house projects that we must complete this year, a pool pass and Childrens Museum pass to use, camping to do, and a family cabin to visit.  

Well, that was my self-centered post of the day.  We’re in Gemini right now, and this Gemini always has a lot to say during this time of year.

I am a doula!

Today at 4 pm, I officially became a doula!

There is still work to do until I will be DONA-certified, including to attend 3 births.  At this time, I have no births lined up. So, I am putting it out there that my doula services are available at a low/negotiable cost, including birth photography.

My plan is to become certified in placenta encapsulation at the end of May, as well, and offer this service to those who are interested.

This will be a one-step-at-a-time adventure.  I don’t know where it will take me or what it will bring. It is exciting.

The Red Cloak

This is artwork I did today with my family. We’ve been making art together, and it feels so good. We each made our own piece today, but sometimes we make one piece together. I love making art. I has been a while since I’ve made space for really making art, and now I remember how therapeutic it is.  When art is therapy, it is about the process and not the product.

This painting is about what is processing inside of me now–there are themes of the shadow of a child, the red protective cloak, facing the strength of the tree which gives life and is firmly rooted, the winds of change, cycle of life, release of the old, room for the new, room to grow, birds, leaves, and feathers. There might be more that I am not seeing and will see as time goes on.

Little Red Riding Hood has significance here, and I am not sure yet what it is.  She was a significant character in my childhood and is still significant in my Early Recollections. Some people see her as a metaphor for sexual awakening and temptation, or on the other hand, for learning about deceit.  It can be a symbol for maturity and coming of age.  The woods are exciting and dangerous at the same time, and can allude to temptation, courage, sexuality, and maturity again. Maybe there is possibility and potential, there is courage to face the unknown. Maybe there is a need to be virtuous and fighting the temptation to go astray.

What do you see?

 

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