Not until my older son was diagnosed at 18 months with sensory integration disorder(SPD), did I learn why I had been uncomfortable, tense, overly-stressed my entire life, particularly for family occasions where food smells and volume alone, felt cruel. The word overwhelming does not begin to describe those experiences. I came to believe I was the “pain in the ass” I was reported to be, unworthy of comfort and connection. I learned to hate who I was-at a cellular level, my existence was all wrong. I was angry and as my family likes to remind me, very difficult. Who wouldn’t have been difficult in the circumstances? Totally owning that!!!
Not knowing how to seek shelter from sensory stimulus had a devastating impact; In my family, those
unwilling unable to mask signs of stress and discomfort are not be tolerated or indulged. I believe much of the wreckage of my life has its origins here, leading my fruitless pursuit for connection with emotionally remote others.
My sensitivity, was treated as a defect, an unreasonable preference. God Bless sweet Greg- knowing and choosing to love me as I am. When I feel overstimulated or peopled out, he offers comfort and space without threat of disappearing, emotionally or physically.
Raising my SPD son to be mindful of his unique wiring, to seek serenity in times of overwhelm, taught me to acknowledge and respect my own needs. Self care for SPDs: High protein diet, avoiding dairy and gluten, enough sleep & quiet time, and regular sustained physical activity. I am more effective at promoting this for him than for myself. Part of my practice of self-love is seeking serenity without defense or apology. This is upsetting to some. Fortunately, it is not my job to please others. Nor is it the job of my children.
Nine years of intentional learning and nurturing my boy has taught me about healthy boundaries. Inexperienced with love(the promise-not the feeling), I did not recognize what love is not. Love is kind, not punitive or withholding. Love is curious to understand and to nurture. My children, Greg, and each of my Trusted Others teach me, one day at a time, that it is not wrong to be uncomfortable and it is highly acceptable to minimize contact with those who disregard my limits.
Owning my discomfort and openly and honestly communicating boundaries is for BadAsses. It is too much for those who believe that feeling pain and stress is for weaklings and losers. For them, it is necessary to assume a position of being impervious or indifferent- as proof of strength and resilience.
I love who I am in my relationships with Trusted Others in which we expand-unrequired to contract/pretend. I am grateful for the freedom to feel what I feel and never pretend to feel what I do not. Pretending is a soul-killer.
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