THERE IS ALWAYS A GIFT OF LOVE

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This summer has been extremely busy for me. I have been working and selling and packing up my bits to move to a smaller – and more importantly cheaper place to live. But mostly, I have had the task of helping my son set up his new life following his graduation from college where he achieved an NVQ in Hospitality as well as a number of other qualifications and certificates. He has worked hard for three years at the most progressive college in the UK, as far as I can see: Foxes Academy.

I drove round hundreds of miles to check out different colleges, but nothing stood out like Foxes and when we visited I got that feeling right in my gut that lets me know: this is it! This is the place! (Or the person or the thing to do) When it comes to my gut feelings about Ben it has always worked out.  I have fought many a professional, found my voice on behalf of him many, many times and followed my gut, listened to my heart, had faith and quietened the fears created by professional opinion and “realism.”

I have spoken up on his behalf much better than I have for myself. I have discovered a strong assertiveness and determination with regards to helping him create a meaningful and happy life more than I have for myself.  On reflection, this is an error, as in God’s eyes I am no less important than Ben; in God’s eye’s I am equally loved and equally have the right to a happy and meaningful life. Intellectually I get that; emotionally I have yet to. But that will come – when the error is released.

In the meantime, Ben has not had the ability to speak up as he would have needed to or access to the right information or understanding to fight for his own needs because Ben has Down’s syndrome.  He has had to grow and learn and experience in a body and brain messed up by an extra chromosome – well that is the physical cause.  The emotional and soul based cause is multi-generational, including myself and his father: error based emotions eventually impacting the physical world so much as to “disable” a potential healthy human body, which in turn impacts the soul. Of course we have the potential to help our children to heal by correcting the emotional error and false beliefs in ourselves.

However, I did want to talk too much about Ben’s dis-ability, but rather his capability. I am not trying to brush over the struggles and pains of having a disability or of being a parent, but this summer, I have just felt the beauty in Ben, the silver lining, the way God uses every situation to Love –  and I wanted to share it. I may have been Ben’s voice many times; I may have drudged my way through a ton of paperwork, phone calls and meetings to get basic rights for him whilst ignoring the doctor’s so-called predictions of what he wouldn’t be able to do, but in the end it has been Ben who has done it.

The truth is Ben has proven them wrong many times: crashing through their thinly disguised pessimism. The truth is Ben has a soul based knowing at times uninhibited by fears of looking silly or sounding ridiculous. The truth is he like many people with learning disabilities, smash through our complicated thinking with a simple, heart-felt answer to the big questions about life and love. The truth is I may have helped Ben at times, but he has helped me and others in deeper, more meaningful ways ten-fold over.

What I find amazing is that even though it is human error and arrogance that has caused these problems, a gift has been created for us and in this gift is another demonstration of Love – the love of God: pure, simple and powerful.  This is what I want to demonstrate today.

For my son it is not an easy at times: he is frustrated he cannot speak clearly and be understood easily. He has limits on his intelligence that mean he cannot just go out in the world independently – he has to rely on the help of others. His dreams are restricted compared to others of the same age.  For instant, he cannot just hop on a plane to Japan if he wishes; he cannot go to the bank and sort out a mortgage.

In our materialistic, economy-based Western world he is unlikely to be seen as a success because he is unable to earn lots of money to plough back into the money market, or become a celebrity, or get a degree in Astro-physics and design a rocket to Mars. We have encountered people who ask what a person like Ben can contribute to society. Are they just not a drain on the economy? (This included a cardiologist we once met in a famous London hospital!).

There are two reasons this is both arrogant and ignorant. Firstly, Ben did not choose this. He did not choose to be born in this body; he did not choose to have a learning disability or a heart defect or poor eyesight or poor speech.  It is not his fault. Ben has to try to survive against the odds in many ways and has no choice, but to need help. He is part of the most vulnerable in society – not by choice, not by harming himself or others, but just by being born as he is.

Secondly, not realising what Ben and people like contribute is to really lose touch with what being human is or created to be.  To value only the material, the physical, the monetary is empty: a house built on sand.  Ben demonstrates every day his humanity, his love, his openness, his free spirit. He is as capable of being inhibited by external forces; including me of course as any person is, but mostly, I have tried to allow him to just be him: loving, cheeky, fun, kind and brave.

Ben demonstrates to me how to let love flow through you, he reminded me how to be silly again. He taught me spontaneity, living in the moment, how to be free in that moment. I let go a bit with him. I happily would sing out loud on my way down and around the shops with him in his buggy. We would make up songs and rhymes to teach him colours, numbers, shapes, animals. I sang “Chitty, chitty, bang, bang” for hours and hours.

He gave me a chance to love freely. My heart skipped a beat to watch him sleep, to wonder at this miracle of life that lay before me. When he was born, it was traumatic – discovering he had Down’s syndrome. It was traumatic that first year before the holes in his heart were repaired.  But I always loved him from the womb all the way through. My heart ached, not knowing what he or we were going to go through, but I knew he was innocent and he needed care. I was a single parent, for most of the first ten years. It was tough at times: I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t know how to love myself, so loving someone else wasn’t always possible.

I would struggle, but then the magic would happen. A trip to the supermarket became a dance down the aisles or me running about picking up clothes he was trying to remove. Nothing was “normal” and yet it felt more alive than normal. He walked three years earlier than they predicted: he was out of nappies three years earlier than they predicted. He loved to dance and sing. We had our own secret sign for music. He walked further than they said he would. He was incredibly fit following his surgery; he never got fat and he never had mucus and the hearing loss they predicted.

He was and is a near- fearless climber, loves to free-run, break dance and can drum for hours.  He learns the drums by listening to music over and over, repeating it many times until he knows it. He can recognise a song from the first two notes. He is a romantic and loves feeling “in love.”  He wants to marry one day. He is a stronger and braver swimmer than I and a good athlete.  He is incredibly perceptive about people and his reaction to someone says a lot.

Music, sports and food are his loves. When he eats he does not talk and will not talk with you. Instead, he sits and tastes passionately every mouthful. If he goes out for the day, the first thing he will tell you is what he had to eat.

At college he was challenged to go beyond any previous pre-conceptions of what an adult with a learning disability can do.  For years, post 16/18 education has been much the same old thing: life skills, gardening, craft and animal care, possibly a bit of catering. There was no particular goal except to teach some life skills and give them something to do for 3-5 years. Foxes have a different view: they are getting them ready to have a life – to live as independently as possible, to find meaningful work and interests and relationships, including love and sex relationships. Foxes are all about outcomes.

Since he left for college 3 years ago, I went on quite a journey within myself: a grieving and a lot of facing some harsh truths about my parenting.  I tried to be the parent I didn’t receive myself, but not having a clue I have made many mistakes.   When he left for college I spent a day sorting through the 5 boxes of paperwork from his years in education and the health system. It took over 3 hours to burn it and I cried over most of the papers I read through. I told myself I was letting go, but it took a bit longer than that and in truth, is ongoing.

The first two terms Ben did well, settled in, enjoyed his work and social life, but he also had some problems with a girlfriend who was controlling and bossy and was easily influenced by others. He came home for the holidays and we had some sticky moments. It took a while for the penny to drop, but I started to see that I was micro-managing too much – in fact trying to control his choices, as well as project demands at him.  At times he was aggressive with me and/or himself.  I was doing too much for him and expecting him to fulfil emotional “holes” I needed to fill myself. I started to see I was harming him and what I was calling love wasn’t.

Over the next few months I focused on “un-hooking”, watching out for my addictions with him and try to own the feelings and fears. It wasn’t all perfect, but goodness a change happened in him. At college, the penny dropped that he was there for himself, for his own aspirations and dreams. He started to do much better and cope much better with the challenges that came. Last year he was second outstanding learner and he has come out more mature, more confident and capable. He is bold and decisive and chose a new life, living with a friend, away from me, with support workers to help him. He was fully involved in interviewing and choosing his support workers and we are currently settling him into his new life.

I still have to watch myself, to step back. I encourage Ben to tell me when I am being to bossy or interfering, when he wants me to not be around or not to help. We are really working on a more honest relationship and he is speaking up more clearly and assertively. His courage is incredible and I am honoured to see this young man grow. He has such character, such a sense of fun and incredible love in him. He also shows a perception about life and talks about wanting to teach others how to have an open heart.

I feel stiff next to him. I can feel the walls around my heart built up from my injuries – from my childhood and what has happened since.  Yet I have this son – well God’s son, this soul in my guardianship demonstrating to me that opening is the way forward. He is lighter and freer than I and I long to feel that.

As parents of children with disabilities, the trauma of discovering your child is not quite what you thought, what you may have been through with them – through illness, or schools or other care needs creates a strong protectiveness.  We can feel them so vulnerable that our fears and unshed tears drive our actions, which we may think of as love, but isn’t always, especially as emerging adults. We can feel an internal pressure to make them feel okay, to feel better because we don’t want to feel vulnerable about them ourselves – somewhere inside we may know unconsciously we have some responsibility for what has happened. Whatever our feelings, and for their sakes, we need to own our emotions – our fears, our grief, our anger, feeling overwhelmed, exhausted –  we need to be brave and honest and unselfish.  Like any adult, they need room to breathe, to explore and to experiment. They need room to make mistakes and learn how to cope with that and to learn to live in a world they probably don’t really get, but one they can benefit from given the right help balanced with the right freedom to choose and live.

We must not patronise them, they are great teachers:

Ben’s bravery shows me I need to be braver.

Ben’s openness shows me the freedom in breaking down those walls around my heart.

Ben’s spontaneity and joy is there for my inner child to awaken again.

Ben’s pleasure in simple, everyday things demonstrates an unspoken gratitude and acceptance.

Ben is happy in his own skin, happy to say he is handsome, he is a dude, and he is a good dancer. He is not obsessed in judging his body as I have mine. He is just “this is me and this is okay.”

For Ben, life is now, in this moment – whether it is eating something delicious, doing a cartwheel, drumming to Muse, or singing along to Lazy Town. He is not wasting energy mentally fretting over yesterday or tomorrow. The only real time for him is now and therefore he gains more from the moment than I do.

Ben has compassion. He is not happy to see a man sleeping in a doorway, or a child screaming or a dog yelping. He “feels it in his heart” that something is not okay and he wants to change it – with Love and kindness.

Because of all this, Ben is closer to God than I at the moment. These qualities he demonstrates are qualities and attributes of God.  There is the gift: God appears in many ways, through many people and the way they live their lives. Even in what can seem a tragedy to many, God finds ways to express and demonstrate Love, to help us see where we can improve, where we can be more honest and reflective, to create change.

I don’t believe we have to have a world with people with Down’s syndrome or other disabilities to demonstrate all these qualities or to bring out these qualities in ourselves. This is unloving as having a disability is not easy and I have seen grief and confusion in Ben at being “different,” but until we learn we have a choice in all these things, until we turn to God more and our own spirituality and soul, we can be good guardians to these brothers and sisters, whose worth is equal to our own. They often help us open our heart, have more compassion and understanding.

They can give us a taste of our Father, a doorway to heaven, by their own demonstration of love, fun and kindness, but also by what they bring out in us: patience, tolerance, humour, love, compassion and kindness.

In many ways, Ben is a man and in many ways he is Peter Pan – never growing up.  But I sense none of us really understand what being grown up is. We live in a world of injured souls, whose need to control their environment and “manage” life is seen as being an adult.  So in this way, Ben helps me question my own “adulthood”, my addiction to control, to avoid fear, what true responsibility is.

Maybe the Peter Pan’s of this world remind us of what Jesus said,   “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.”

(Matthew 19:14)

So thank you Ben, and all the “Ben’s” out there. In adversity, you shine, with no self-pity. In a controlled world obsessed with what others think, you dance and sing, no matter what; you are freer. In a world full of competitiveness and hierarchy you only see equality; no man lesser than yourself. And most importantly, in a harsh world – you love.

love Maxine “mum”

mj-ben

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THE PRESENT MOMENT’S TRUTH

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“Traumatic events, by definition, overwhelm our ability to cope. When the mind becomes flooded with emotion, a circuit breaker is thrown that allows us to survive the experience fairly intact, that is, without becoming psychotic or frying out one of the brain centers. The cost of this blown circuit is emotion frozen within the body. In other words, we often unconsciously stop feeling our trauma partway into it, like a movie that is still going after the sound has been turned off. We cannot heal until we move fully through that trauma, including all the feelings of the event.”
Susan Pease Banitt, The Trauma Tool Kit: Healing PTSD from the Inside Out

The trauma stuff is difficult… very difficult.

Lately, I have been examining all areas of my life. God’s Law of Attraction has been powerfully indicating to me how very out of harmony with love and truth I have been living. My old habit and still only fading habit is to look at myself judgementally in this – but I am gradually encouraging myself in more compassion for myself. It is very gradual, but I want to alter the harshness and pointless judgement of everything I say and do: that old, old voice that whatever I do isn’t good enough. This voice goes way back to a very young age and runs very deep, but it does not mean it is the truth. It is only what I was led to believe and I constantly have to remind myself that God does not believe this of me, in fact she believes I am able to do so much and waits patiently while I re-educate myself in her truth that I am ” the most wondrous of her creations.” *  Besides, self-judgement and self blame is actually a way to avoid how powerless we feel, it cons us into thinking it is just a matter of control, of getting it “right”, then we won’t feel so bad. I notice that if I don’t judge myself, blame or shame myself I am left with a  gap of “What do I do now?”

I have a long way to go before I know this in my heart, God’s truth about myself, but I feel lately I resist this truth a bit less, letting it creep very slowly into my soul. I have made mistakes, I have completely misunderstood love and what is right or wrong. Lately, I find myself without a home, little money and a body that is suffering. When are bodies are sick, we have to know that we have been missing all the other signs that our lives, our souls are misaligned and lacking in love: love for ourselves and for others. We are disconnected from our real selves, living in darkness to a certain extent, denial of our own denial, suppressed, suffering, lacking in joy, identity and love. Maybe, this is too frank for some of you, but getting frank and honest with myself, I realise is the only way forward and some of it ain’t pretty and some of it is incredibly sad.

I feel I have nothing and yet I have everything. It is strange, surreal place to be and yet a place of some fear,but also wonder. When are arms are empty, they are ready to be filled. Yet to say my cup is empty is wrong, actually as lately, I have been blessed with incredible kindness from friends and strangers. I realised a few weeks ago that I keep everyone at a very long arm’s length. I walk around with a warning sign flashing “don’t come to too close, keep back, stop!” At the same time I get angry when other’s don’t seem to care, I project my frustrations out in a unspoken demand of ” make me feel better, come on, make me feel better – NOW!” This projected anger helps me avoid the fears and terror and grief that no-one, not one soul, not even God loves me: that I am totally alone, abandoned, hung out to dry, irredeemable and unloved. It helps me avoid that feeling of powerlessness again: I can’t control people or how they feel and I want to on some level so I feel safe. Over the years, I have done so many things to avoid feeling unloved and unsafe, created many physical and emotional addictions. I have been seething with anger, frozen with fear and all hidden ( or I would like to think so) behind my “nice girl” mask. This mask is about control, not letting rip, not expressing my anger – even when alone, not feeling my fear, not breaking into a the million pieces of grief that I sometimes feel rising in my throat.

So I have created a panic button which freezes me when I feel someone is getting too close. I don’t know how to receive love because my beliefs about love are that it is conditional and that if someone “loves” me they will want something from me, take from me, use or abuse me. But, not allowing myself to express my anger, means I just fire it out silently to those who get in the firing line: damaging myself and them. It’s yukky stuff. I have tried to rant or shout or scream when alone, but it doesn’t last long so I always gave up. Now I realise, I am just going to have to practice it, same with the other emotions, practice, desire, desire, desire. And don’t live in the fear! So I have been letting people in a little and received kindness and unexpected love. Instead of ducking out of that tea with a friend, I just go and try to deal with whatever comes up for me and have a desire to be more loving, less demanding.

With all this observing of myself and my habits, my constant freezing in certain situations and sometimes flight/fright reactions I realise what a state of stress and struggle I am constantly in: no wonder my body is sick right now. So now I have to admit, that I have a lot of trauma to release from myself and I need help. I pray to God, I talk to him, I try to talk more and more to him, but still have blocks. I am looking for a trauma therapist too and a dear friend has sent me a little online trauma course. I can feel my resistance. My intellect knows I need this, a bit of my heart is crying out for it, but my fear and resistance in going there still exists. Just writing about it causes my throat to constrict a little and some desire to run a million miles away.

However, I have been doing that for far too long. I am currently blessed to be staying with new friends in a cosy home, where I have a little room and shower room. I gave some of my furniture to a charity and the rest of my stuff is in storage. But I am in a new location, in a beautiful Devon town, surrounded by green hills, currently changing into the golds and reds  of autumn. I can walk out my door and be in the countryside within minutes, I can buy wonderful organic food and enjoy this friendly town, which is softer and gentler than where I was living only 2 weeks ago. To me this is a sign of my desire to be softer and gentler, to find God in this “green and pleasant land.”  For a while, I will nestle here and learn more about love: loving myself, loving others and loving God…trying to get to know the truth. I pray I can truly start to heal, to stop resisting, to stop being strong and trying to control everything.

I hope I can start to peel the layers of the onion to get to that trauma place. I can feel there are dark places I don’t want to go, memories I am afraid of, truth about my family that is difficult to bear, and truth about how in my own denial, my own survival techniques, I myself have been much more unloving that I have ever liked to admit. I may have been damaged as a child, but I have continued to damage myself dreadfully over the years in every area. I currently have a huge wake up call, God is knocking loudly on my door and for that I am grateful.

The root meaning of crisis is opportunity so for me my current crisis is an opportunity: a great act of love calling me to love more in every area. I can’t say I am aware of the purity/impurity of what I write: I just write, in the hope that we all stop denying what our lives are reflecting back at us. If we are in struggle, we are not facing the truth about something, we are not allowing our feelings to be present: it means we are resistant and fearful, not trusting what God is trying to show us.

How we get so afraid to feel? It is what makes us human, our ability to feel all range of emotions, to dance in the fire and swim in the waters of our feelings. We were meant to be a river and we became rocks. The rock may be long lasting, strong, tough, solid, but it can not create water. Whereas,  water can shape and alter the rock in shape and form. A rock is static, rarely moving from one place, restricted. Yet water, can move over any place, it can permeate and move through tiny places, or gush through huge ravines. It connects everything and so much life exists in it. Indeed, the human body is 70-80 percent water. Water is free, ever-changing, sparkling. I love water, whether it’s a hot shower, a wild river or the vast ocean, so it seems mad that I have chosen to be a rock for so long! A stubborn, self reliant rock! I thought it was the only way to be, the only way to survive, but all I chose was an existence, not a life, not living. So can I join the gushing river? I hope so, though my fears make me step into a gentle brook first, dipping my toes in.

God knows I could dive in, I just have to believe it myself.

I do believe that being more compassionate with myself will help me soften to the emotions I need to feel, including those layers of trauma. One of the first things in the online course I am asked to do is to sit everyday for a short period and feel my body. That is become of aware of the feelings and sensations in my body. When we have had trauma we disassociate from ourselves so much. I have lived with various physical pains for years and just become used to it, almost numb. When I did the body exercise yesterday, I became aware of hip pain, knew pain, discomfort in my lower back, thoracic spine and an awful pain in my shoulders and neck: a feeling of someone pulling down my shoulders, but it being so rigid in my neck it was very uncomfortable and stiff, then from that pains in my head. Also, I realised I wasn’t breathing  a lot of the time. So I am doing a lot of holding on and the pain in my body represents suppressed emotional pain. Reconnecting with my physical body and it’s pain may be the first step and I can see the logic in it so I shall persevere.

But what I realised too it is easy to be distracted by trying to solve things externally. Yes, I can eat healthily, I can go for walks, I can receive other treatments, but it is my willingness to “dive in” that will produce results. And in fact, I do want to do this with God, not on my own. My self reliance is like a cancer in my soul and it needs a lot of work: it needs humility, a whole ton of it. In biology, cancer cells are very good at tricking the bodies inflammatory responses so that the normal immune responses don’t attack the cancer cells. Well my self reliance is the same – it is very good at tricking me and telling me there is no other way, but to help yourself: it is arrogant and rigid and I need to remind myself that it is a very good trickest and I must desire to know the real damage that is being done and to want to change it, by becoming more God reliant and more self responsible. Self responsibility is not self reliance, by the way, it is more humble and willing to face truth. Self reliance will accept anything, including lies, in order to maintain being “right.”

When I was younger, this self reliance, this toughness, probably helped me survive, and so well that I have a belief that I can not do without it. At the moment, this feels like one of my biggest battles, my biggest belief system to break down, the biggest shell to crack. But if I do, then I feel I will allow myself to feel those terrors and traumas and stop putting on the “strong” facade. May the ice queen melt! May she find a space and scream and shout and shiver and cry! Self reliance is nothing more than a big, ugly rock that needs smashing into a thousand pieces!

I know I have jumped around a bit today – trauma to tantrums, rocks to water, self reliance to surrender. It kind of symbolises my own unravelling, and that’s ok.

The quote from above about being the “most wondrous of your creations” is from the prayer that Jesus wrote. It was changed into the biblical from of the Lord’s prayer, but this is the full, unedited version ( As on the divinetruth.com website). I love it. Some of the words challenged me when I first read it, but now I love it , even when my emotions struggle with it, it reveals much and it has the power to express everything I can’t always find the words for:

My Father, Who is in Heaven , I recognise that You are All Holy and Loving and Merciful, and that I am Your child, and not the subservient, sinful, and depraved creature that false teachers would have me believe.

I know that I am the greatest of Your creations, and the most wonderful of all Your Handiworks, and the object of Your Great Soul’s Love and Tenderest Care.

I know that Your Will is that I become at-one with You and partake of Your Great Love which You have bestowed upon me through Your Mercy and Desire that I become, in truth, Your child through Love, and not through the sacrifice and death of any of Your Creatures.

I pray that You will open up my soul to the inflowing of Your Love, and that then will come to me Your Holy Spirit to bring into my soul this, Your Divine Love, in great abundance, until my soul is transformed into the very essence of Yourself; and that there will come to me faith – such faith as will cause me to realize that I truly am your child and one with You in very substance, and not in image only.

Let me have such faith, as will cause me to know that You are my Father, and the bestower of every good and perfect gift, and that, only I myself, can prevent Your Love from changing me from the mortal to the immortal.

Let me never cease to realise that Your Love is waiting for each and all of us, and, that when I come to You, in faith and earnest aspiration, Your Love will never be withheld from me.

Keep me in the shadow of Your Love every hour and moment of my life, and help me to overcome all the temptations of the flesh, and the influence of the powers of the evil ones who so constantly surround me and endeavour to turn my thoughts away from You to the pleasures and allurements of this world.

I thank you for Your Love and the privilege of receiving it, and I believe that You are my Father – the Loving Father who smiles upon me in my weakness, and is always ready to help me and take me into Your Arms of Love.

I pray this with all the earnestness and sincere longings of my soul, and, trusting in Your Love, give You all the glory and honour and love that my finite soul can give.

AMEN

AMEN!

with love

Maxine