Frustratingly frustrating

A month ago, I posted The Love Challenge, and challenging it has been. In retrospect, I should have named it differently… *wink* For these past weeks, I have been a holy mess. I’ve been sad, angry, sad again, even angrier, raging, frustrated, overwhelmed, fuming, wanting to punch everyone that was around, even more sad, and then there was cranky. I can handle sadness, I don’t like it and personally think that I have had my fair share of it already, but I am quite good at processing sadness. Anger feels more uncomfortable, yet I am slowly getting the hang of that too. Frustration, however, feels extremely off: so many things annoying me, and getting irritated over nothing really; it just sucks. Or better, I suck at it. Like a dog with a bone, I have trouble letting go, to the point that it is hilarious, and at some point, even I start laughing at myself. As much as I want to be my happy self again, I understand that this is part of the process. That I am birthing a new version of myself.

Have you ever seen a baby do something for the first time and then seemingly forget all about it for weeks when they try and try and try, getting more and more frustrated, until suddenly they do it perfectly and effortlessly? In the weeks before the ‘magical leap’, they go through a regression period in which they are cranky, clingy and crying. All of a sudden the baby’s world has changed and it leaves them bewildered and overwhelmed. They need time to adjust and be reassured that everything is al right. In his worldwide bestseller The Wonder Weeks (original title: Oei, Ik Groei), Frans Plooij describes the mental development of babies, which is a really great book for any (expecting) parent. Even though the book only speaks of 10 magical periods (7 when I was expecting my daughter), I have learned that it doesn’t stop there.
The other day, my happy-go-lucky daughter of 9 was getting more and more frustrated, she had been feeling off for two whole weeks and had had it. She said, I don’t know what is going on, but I cannot seem to find my happy self. So I told her not to worry, that her brain was going through a massive reorganization and that all would be fine again, soon. I told her that there will always be periods like these, that I am going through one myself too, that we need to be kind with ourselves and realize that we are doing our best, and that it will pass automatically. In The Wonder Weeks, Frans Plooij talks about helping the baby by doing specific games that help the baby understand the new world it perceives. For my daughter, at this stage, that means that I am open to new behavior and new perceptions, to her questions and unfolding desires. It doesn’t mean that anything goes, but it does mean that I will create more space for her and will do my utmost best to make her feel safe and heard. And that is what I give myself as well. I am open to anything that feels differently than before, I try even more than I normally do not to judge it, but question it with curiosity. At this point, it also means that I am allowing myself to feel frustrated, to love myself when I feel frustrated, to allow myself to feel a level of peace with myself even when I am venting that frustration, which is more often than I would like to admit. And that I allow myself to be compassionate with myself when I get frustrated over venting my frustration or being cranky in general.
I know where I am heading, and this step, although it being highly uncomfortable, makes perfect sense. I’ve seen glimpses of where I am heading already, had moments of clarity that were in completely alignment with it, but there is no arguing with nature: before the magical leap there is the regression. The regression or constriction, because it feels like regressing to a previous state and having a constricted awareness, is the brain and body catching up with our expanded awareness, so far as I can see. First, there is a new level of awareness, and next the body and brain need to align with that awareness in order for everything to function fluently and feel normal again. One could compare it with labor and birth: it’s messy and once the process is in motion, there is nothing you can do to stop it. You will have to move with it until the birth is complete, and so does the baby you’re birthing. You’re at the same time the mother birthing and the baby going through the birth channel. There is no telling how long it will take, or how it will play out, but the great news is that it will pass.

I am really curious what The Love Challenge has brought you? Has it allowed your awareness to shift, opened up new ways of being and doing, or perhaps if, like me, did you hit a regression period and were you wondering what the f%#* was going on. I would really love to hear from you. I know that for a lot of you, my stories feel highly personal and as such you feel a threshold to comment, but I want to invite you to do so anyway, as it might help others who are experiencing the same thing you are. After all these years of sharing my stories, I have learned that people feel massive relief when they read their own thoughts or experience reflected in the words of someone else. Your words have the power to heal.

photo by Asa Rodger

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