The almost free birth of Forest (part 3)

How in Fuck’s holy name would I survive a twenty minute car ride???

 

Giordano may not have “lost it”… but nor did he have it together…. He asked me if Forest was moving anymore… I reflected on this, and then realized, no, he hasn’t moved for a while.  Still riding the swelling wave of fear that “going to the hospital had catalyzed, now I was paranoid that my baby was in distress.

 

I waddled into the hallway.  I braced myself on the small white desk that abides there (for lack of a better home).  Another vicious contraction and furious push.  Another.  And another.  OMFG.  Rapid fire.  “Good position or NOT, this baby was on his way out.  I took my police pants off again and somehow made it to the living room.

 

I climbed into the ugliest brown armchair you’ve ever seen (I’d been wanting to excommunicate it from our house since the moment it found its way in), braced myself with hands on the wall.  Gave a few more colossal pushes.   COLOSSAL.  I had no other choice.

 

THE RING OF FIRE.

 

The women on video chat had instructed me to “hang out here” for a bit… rather than pushing straight through it… so as not to tear.  Stretch open slowwwwly.

 

I had not met the ring of fire while birthing Serena.  Up until this moment, it was but a dramatic and terrible title.  Well… for those of you who, like me, haven’t a lucid intimacy with this fearsome BEAST…  It truly lives up to its name.  Irreconcilable BURN.  Like a dragon breathing fire on your genitals, burning them to oblivion.

 

I “hung out there” (haha, there was nothing casual or relaxed, as “hanging out” implies…) for maybe two contractions.  Three at most.  And then BAM!  Out popped…. SOMEthing.

 

Giordano was standing behind me, pouring with intensity and panic.

 

He announced it was Forest’s head.  He said Forest looked dead.  Like a damn fool (or maybe just a vulnerable, birthing woman in an altered state), I believed my doom and gloom husband!  Desperate to get his whole body out ASAFP, I pushed again.  And again.  The second time, part of his body slid out.  Third push, VOILA!!  Giordano and I clumsily caught him together.  Blood guuuussssshed out of me, drenching the ugliest chair in the world.  (A dried up, crimson splash still remains on the wall next to the radiator!  I want it to remain forever.)

 

The umbilical cord was wrapped around Forest’s neck one loose time.  I untwisted it.  (I want to “normalize” this occurrence.  Hospital culture would have you believe this is an “emergency situation”.  Rarely.  Many babies get benignly tangled in their cords.  I discovered this on the freebirth podcast, so I was not alarmed in the least.)

 

I held my jumbo, blood-bathed son!  He gasped for breath.  He sputtered, still full of amniotic fluid.  I sucked his nose and mouth.  This didn’t seem to help.  He cried.  (Giordano says he cried immediately… but as I had just pushed a nine pound human through my vagina, my chronology is not quite as crisp.)  Little Forest looked like a “fish out of water”… Alienated by this lickety-split miracle of moving from  spirit to form.  Breath, body, blood, otherness…  Ugh.  (We all must be NUTS to come here and subject our Selves to all this hoopla!)

 

I asked Giordano to hand me a towel.  Of course it was white! Speaking of white, my white tank top was now mostly RED.  The towel too.  I cradled my slimy baby in the rough, line-dried towel.   He was alive!  After he cried for a minute, he quieted and looked around.

 

Watching my newborn son register his arrival on planet earth was perhaps the most incredible moment of my entire life.  (With Serena, the nurse wiped her off with objectionable wet wipes from a package, which caused her to scream her head off for a few solid minutes before passing out on my chest.)  Forest was calm and wide awake.  His open gaze slowed time and silenced mind.  He abided in this sober, wakeful presence for at least an hour.

 

Meanwhile, I cradled him and waddled around the house in a wide-eyed stupor, his umbilical cord still plugged into the depths of my womb.  Blood gratuitously spilled from between my legs, leaving an artistically rendered trail of my haphazard course.

 

Giordano had called his Mama back in the “we are going to the hospital” chapter, asking her to accompany us.  (Apparently the Italian stereotype about men being super attached to their mamas is no joke.  I tease him that she is his first wife.)  Within minutes of Forest’s arrival, in came “Nona”.  This was a plot twist, but it felt right.  Forest called in Family.

 

Hubby-Dearest and his Mama tag-teamed with the mop, cleaning up endless puddles, streams, rivers, dribbles of blood.  (One “pro” of birthing in the hospital, is that the family can just chill and swoon while the “hired help” does the dirty work.  And trust me, it was a lot of dirty work…)  I remember standing at the bathroom sink, cradling Forest, and marveling at my two smeared, bloody footprints.

 

Blood continued to flow like wine rivers after I found my way to bed.  We had been so good about covering the bed with a shower curtain and a janky old duvet cover… I forgot to account for the messy aftermath.  Our *one* pair of summer sheets now shall sing the story of Forest’s birth forever more.

 

Oh.  And Forest’s HEAD.  Whoa, people.  When he first came out, he looked like an asymetrical UNICORN.  His head went on a magical mystery tour to pass through my vag.  Good gracious.  I think I texted or called Karen back and asked her if this was “normal”.  To my profound relief, she affirmed normalcy, and reassured me that it would quickly reshape.  It did.  But Lordy, I wish I had snapped a photo.  It was remarkable.  (I wish I had photos and video of the whole birth…. But there was no one I wanted to invite into my sacred space to play the roll of photographer.  This is a minor tragedy.)  I took a selfie when I got into bed.  Then I asked G to snap a couple more.  The rest must live in the mythic distortion of my and Giordano’s memory.

 

When got back in bed, my body shook violently.  This continued for at least half an hour.  Completely involuntary.

 

I offered Forest my breast and waited for the urge to birth the placenta.  Nearly two hours later, I was still waiting.  I consulted Karen, and she told me to get the thing OUT… so I lightly tugged on the cord, as I pushed.  My placenta was not so jazzed to part ways with my womb, but finally blubbered out into  the plastic, orange bowl.  What a fucking relief.  Now Forest was not attached to the inside of my body any longer, but to a bowl hosting a blob of bloody meat.

 

Next on the thrilling itinerary, Giordano and I burned the umbilical cord.  (This coterizes it, so a clamp is unnecessary.  I also preferred this means of release, for its ceremonial and elemental aspects).  I wanted  to give Forest plenty of time to reabsorb all the goodness the placenta had to offer… and yet, after two and a half hours, I was done with the large-scale production of cords and bowls and bloody organs.

 

The cord burning was the quintessential scene for a movie… though living through it was traumatizing.  Giordano, who by this time was crabby and way less than generous, was holding the candle.  I held the baby and the cord?  G kept scolding me for holding the cord too close to the flame.  He had the patience of a piranha.  Thanks dude.  I guess he forgot that I had just pushed a human out of my vagina, and was still in the process of losing gallons of blood.  I kept asking him to be nice.  But apparently he didn’t have access to this particular virtue at this particular moment.  It probably took eleven minutes.  The longest eleven minutes of my life….

 

Our bedroom now smelled like a barbecue.  The three inches of remaining cord protruded from Forest’s little belly like a white worm. I ate a ripe banana and went to sleep.  It was a little after 4am.

 

Advertisements

The nearly free birth of Forest (part 2)

The facet of freebirthing that was most compelling to me was not being “checked” to see how dilated I was, or being told when to push, or any other externalized reference points along the Journey of Laboring.  Instead, the birthing woman is totally undisturbed and able to experience from the INside-out.  (I’m imagining that some readers will find this perspective audacious.  Like “WHAT??? YOU CAN’T POSSIBLY KNOW HOW TO GIVE BIRTH WITHOUT A TRAINED PROFESSIONAL TELLING YOU WHAT TO DO AND WHEN.”)

Well guess what?  You CAN.

Except here’s where I lost connection with my inner authority:

Expectations…. I imagined that the second baby would be easier.  It was taking waaaay too long.  I was in waaaaaaay too much pain.  When would I feel the fucking urge to PUSH???

Night had swallowed day, candles danced wiggly, golden light about the dim ambiance of my pink bedroom.  I finally felt a mild urge to push.  I guess I texted my doula friend Karen in California… and asked her…. something.  She video called me on fb messenger.  As Grace would have it, she was about to give a chiropractic adjustment to three mamas (two of which I had known for over a decade).  Suddenly I was being supported by FOUR women from across the world.

Mostly this was soothing and helpful.  But in retrospect, the call lingered beyond its expiration date.  I lost touch with the inner authority that had been the coveted treasure of my freebirthing quest.  I was lost in the wilderness of pain… Vulnerable and reaching outside for salvation.

The call sprawled on for over an hour.  Contractions.  Pushing.  Lioness roars.

I asked Karen if breaking my own bag of waters (which was still intact) would accelarate the process (I had heard this in other birth stories…) She said go for it. When I reached inside, I could feel the bulging bag… At first I was tentative about breaking it with my nails. But after three or four tries, it burst. Gusssssssh….

Nothing changed, save the manky bedspread, which was now cold and wet.

I felt inside to see if Forest’s head was at the door yet. I felt SOMEthing…. But it was not very “head-ish”… It felt like two squishy peaks, with a valley in between. WHAAAAAT??? Not a foot. Not a head. Too small for a butt…. Was there REALLY a normal baby-shaped person inside me??? Or just some random, alien scraps, all smashed together….

When my waters broke, Karen said “He’ll be out in two pushes.”

My inner authority flew out the window and I placed the weight of my salvation in this statement. Time bled on…. My concern mounted as my endurance dwindled.

Now, please allow me to pause and comment.

My writing style is especially feminine. Rooted in and informed by feeeeeling. Decorated with poetic metaphors. Striking, abstract imagery. Frivolous, philosophical meanderings. Bursts of unapologetic raw-ness…

And then there is Athena Grace writing about BIRTH.  Exponentially feminine. I notice a voice inside who is critical of my “failure” to walk a straight line of “chronology”. Well, I am going to grab my ovaries and overtly affirm– FUCK THAT SHIT. I am a WOMAN.  I have a woman’s (heartful) mind, and I am sharing my Woman’s Voice. I never really identified as a “feminist”… because I’m not into raging against the machine. But it turns out that at heart, I AM. The world held hostage by our severely crippled systems NEEDS women’s’ voices to resound boldly through the Collective, heal the heart of ALL, and purify the waters.

This story is a wild, bucking spiral montage of images, mOMents, feelings… and of course a juicy climax (or three). By the Power Vested in Me, I declare that this is RIGHT and BEAUTIFUL and perfectly natural. Not to negate straight lines. I reserve the right to ride those tamed beasts as I please.

At the start of this account I forgot to mention that as during my labor with Serena, it was increasingly impossible to pee. I was hoping this condition would not recur with Forest. Frown.  I had to squat or sit on the toilet for a million years of discomfort before a pathetic trickle would dribble out. Not being able to release deterred me from drinking too much. I was hot and sweaty. I needed fluid. I drank sips and tangoed with the terror of bursting my bladder.

I also forgot to mention an essential, terrible (and retrospectively comical) thing about Giordano’s role during my labor. If I had a nickel for every time the man asked me “WHY”…. I’d be one rich bitch.  MEN— Listen. When a laboring woman makes a request, DO NOT ask her WHY.  Fucking never. Each time he did, I told him this. But obviously, it didn’t go IN. Because his WHYs fired off like a machine gun, driving holes in my peace and sanity.  WOMEN— if your man asks you WHY while you are laboring, send him to me and I will personally rip his over-active head off. And for anyone who finds themself asking “WHY not ask WHY?…”

I’ll tell you.

BECAUSE. It engages a part of the brain that should NOT be active while a woman is in such an intense, intuitive, altered state.

And NOW, back to our riveting story.

I didn’t feel that I was progressing. (I WAS… but not in an outwardly measurable way, like I WANTED to be…)  Karen said if Forest wasn’t out in another half an hour, I “should” go to the hospital.  Eeeeeeeeeek. This would be a major MESS. It was after eleven pm. Would they cut me open? Give me a hodge-podge of horrific interventions? Give my baby antibiotics and injections? Burn me at the stake for birthing outside The System? There was nothing bright about this proposed path.

Except the survival of my child and myself.

Giordano became anxious. Ugh. Just what I needed. He did NOT want to go to the hospital…. Which was actually a surprise to me. I thought he would be the first to subscribe to conventional protocols.  But at this point, he was scared of all the same shit as me. Only more so… because dude tends to expect the worst. But actually, I was impressed by his ability to stay grounded and “calm-ish”… given where the current was carrying us.  In the end, he didn’t lose it.

Through brutal contractions and involuntary baring down, I made a phone call to Manuela, who was holding energetic space for us… and told her that I thought we should go to the hospital. She said “Be wise.”

I forgot this part, but apparently I had also texted Benedetta– “HELP”, at some point.  (She reminded me of this a few days ago, and I had a good laugh about it.) She said she awoke to my text and freaked out. She had become a contact point for a slew of people who were eager to be updated about our progress and wellbeing. She said she called me. I vaguely recall trying to speak to her through excruciating contractions and pushing. Haha. It sure is funny now!

Then I pulled on my beloved, well-worn Berkeley Police sweatpants and a WHITE TANK TOP (what was I thinking???) and attempted to walk. I had to stop every couple steps and breathe and puuuuush.

I HAD TO.

How in Fuck’s holy name would I survive a twenty minute car ride???

 

The nearly free birth of Forest (Part 1)

Forest

The second one is sposta pop out like a ping pong ball… right?

 

That’s what I thought….

 

I was wrong.

 

It took about the same amount of time laboring to get Forest out, as Serena.  Twelve hours.  But this time, I did it at home.  Alone.

 

Well… alone with Giordano.  Was this intentional?  Yes and no.  I wanted to have a woman/women with me… who would just sit quietly in the corner and hold a streaming vigil of prayer and presence.  But apparently God did NOT want this… since both of the women I asked to be with me were cosmically thwarted from attending.

 

“Free Birth” is the term for birthing without a slew of “trained professionals” getting all up in a birthing mama’s grill.  I was intrigued by this idea while pregnant with Serena… but not nearly courageous enough to trust my deepest inner knowing in the boundlessly deep waters of the feminine mystery that is birth.  So I deferred my inner authority, and opted for the hospital route with her.  Which was perfect.  (Marin General is the creme de la creme of hospitals that truly support natural birth.)

 

But this time, I was familiar with the territory. (As familiar as one can be with the cryptic wilderness of the Divine Feminine! Ha!)  Well, lofty philosophy aside, it’s what I FELT TO DO.  So I spent the months of my maternity gathering information and validation, mostly via birth stories told on the “Free Birth Podcast”, and by the time my tiny man was ready to emerge, I felt ready, and even enthusiastic, to do The Thing!

 

Everyone knows that expectations are the devil.  Of course I tried not to have any.  But this was impossible.  I imagined that as with Serena, I would go into labor on my due date, July 14th.   Or at LEAST by the full moon (lunar eclipse), July 16th.  Nope.  Besides the painful fights with Giordano, those days passed without much fanfare. Only a few egoic efforts to get my labor juices “aflow”… long walks, sex, orgasm… the basics.  But as it turns out, all “magic feathers” and lore aside, birth has its own cosmically informed intelligence, which I boldly hypothesize has NOTHING to do with the overlay of “wizardry” many of us get off on professing.

 

For about five nights straight, I went to bed fondling the precious hope that I would awaken in the night to contractions, as I had with Serena.  At two am on July 18th, my hope materialized.  Elated, I opened my eyes to the juicy, round, beam-dripping moon, dancing beyond my bedroom window.  I savored every twinge of deep, delicious ache in my womb.  God those moments live legendary inside me now… I felt totally alone and yet sweetly intimate with ALL.  My heart steeped in transcendent joy.

 

As with Serena, the contractions stopped when I got out of bed.  My labor had a very keen intelligence, and when I was focused on caring for Serena, it would ebb… After I dropped her off at camp, the waves resumed.  When she returned from camp, another pause.  It wasn’t until my saintly friend Benedetta came and picked Serena up (with her own nearly-newborn and four year old sun in tow) at around 4pm, that labor REALLY went full throttle.

 

I had imagined laboring in the little wooden house, nestled in my garden (which I have adopted as a temple…) but by mid afternoon, it was way too hot in there, and the mattress felt like a granite boulder.  After turning a few too many dizzying circles of indecision, I realized there’s no place like bed.

 

Oh dear… This event occurred exactly two weeks ago, and by now, the whole epic event is a goopy smear in my mind’s eye.  I guess I had a butt-ton of contractions in said bed… It didn’t take long for them to start firing off fast… which made me certain that Forest would soon emerge.

 

I was inspired by the birth story of a woman named Jinti Fell… She had an idyllic, peaceful freebirth in water, with only her husband, three year old daughter and sister present.  She said she concentrated on affirmations of opening and surrender.  So with each contraction, I relaxed my yoni and imagined my cervix blossoming open… melting INto the pain, rather than contracting in reaction to it.  I felt powerful and courageous doing this.

 

Until I hit a point where the contractions were coming so strong and rapid, that I lost access to this enlightened response.  It became a matter of survival.  No holds barred.  I felt that if I gave myself over in melt, I would be eaten alive.  This continued for hours.  I focused on my breath… and alternated between chanting gutterally based AUMs and “blowing through an imaginary straw” with each exhale (Benedetta taught me that technique, touting that when the jaw is relaxed, so is the yoni.  She said her first baby slid right out of her as a result… ummm… I can’t say that was MY experience…)

 

What of my wild card husband?  As I imagined, he was not the Masculine Rock that I wished he could be.  When I looked to him in the heat of intensity, his eyes were perpetually a-wander in far-off lands.  This was no surprise.  A restless, wild mind is his M.O.  Still, I wouldn’t help wishing for his solid, unwavering presence.  But given his nature… he did well.

 

As I had requested, he didn’t impose himself in my space.  He made himself available… but hung back until I made a direct request for support.  I felt the wounded place inside me, where I was tentative to ask for help from him… fearing rejection or disconnect.  (By now, our “track record” is brimming with disappointments and blood-bathed conflict…)  But when one is in enough pain, one must transcend the fear of rejection.  I asked him to rub my sacrum, which by now was screaming with ache.

 

At this task, he succeeded beyond measure.  I felt… profoundly felt.  He touched me as if he were inside me.  And at this point, I didn’t care if he was thinking about all the money we owe, or his perpetual craving for pizza, or whatever runs through that man’s mind… I was journeying through a realm of unceasing pain, and he was minimizing my suffering.

 

Until he got hungry.  And then the salvation of his touch withdrew and wandered to the kitchen.  A while later, he returned to the bedroom with a plastic tupperware full of tuna salad.  The smell ruined my life.  He innocently offered me a bite.  DISGUSTING.  I shunned him from the bedroom.  But the smell saturated the warm, thick atmosphere of late July.

 

When he returned (I had no sense of time by now), I asked him to light an incense to mitigate the terrible stench.

 

Then what happened?  Contractions raced through my body like a freight train with never-ending cars.  The sun crept toward the horizon, and eventually sunk into darkness.

 

Broken into twisted Bliss

IMG_1755

I’m gonna write my guts out this morning.  Because it feels like I’ll explode if I don’t. Because this is what I am made for.

 

The pressure inside me is excruciating.  Like I’m in some kind of labor.  I woke up at four in the morning missing California so much, it felt like the prelude to a panic attack (which is a condition I’m not accustomed to).  I called out (audibly) to God to help me, because it was too much to bare.  But God seems to swoop in and help me when I least expect it, rather than when I directly beg.  So I just marinated in the ache… and tried to “coach myself” into a state of surrender and appreciation.

 

I want to go home so bad.  But if I was “home”, would I want to be somewhere else?  Is this an initiation into truly making peace deep down in my soul?  Where hOMe truly is….

 

Probably.

 

I love writing one word paragraphs.  I feel so all powerful.

 

I’ve been doing a weekly facebook live conversation on my Sourced Circles page for the past couple months.  It’s strange… barely anybody tunes in…. And yet I know I must do this.  The fire in my soul says so.  Life is so strange.  Anyway, my point is that each week, I am fortunate to speak with a deeep soul, who illuminates realms that are essential inside ME, if no one else. It’s sorta like taking a quenching swig of soul medicine inside a vacuum.

 

Last week, Tara Divina spoke of the nature of the deepest joy… being eternally entwined with the deepest pain… how in their purest essence, they are ONE.

 

Of course you’ve heard this a million times.  But have you truly introduced rubber and road on your insides?  Lemme take a feel right now.  Right now as my heart is smashed in a million pieces.  Is it ecstasy in paltry disguise?  Are all these unanswerable questions and quench-less longings my most treasured allies?

 

I breathe.

 

Writing it through me, I feel beautiful and right, blessed and heroic.  But when I’m trudging through the tangles of perpetual Relationship dissatisfaction, endless floor-sweeping and dishes to be washed, it doesn’t feel a fraction as sexy.  It feels like being wide awake in a meat grinder.

 

But the birds in spring sing the most exquisite songs….  And the scent of the blossoming lilacs is a secret portal to Heaven.

 

Even though my relationship with Giordano rarely “hits the Spot”, I have mostly surrendered to this.  I guess the current tides of my Life are not about getting my Spot hit.

 

My language *totally* makes sense to ME…. but just in case it doesn’t penetrate you straight to that place of implicit understanding, I will say it a different way.  As far as my marriage goes, I rarely (if ever) rest in a pervasive, peaceful sense of affinity and fulfillment.  I mostly feel lonely and unmet.

 

BUT.  In most mOMents, I have made peace with this.  Especially because I look over at Giordano, doing his Giordano dance…. And I see him doing his very, very best.  And I respect that.  I see him boldly flailing at his own Edge.  Being courageous and willing.  I see him breaking a sweat to love me (and Serena) as best he can.  He is rarely mean anymore.  And this allows my heart to bloom a bit.  Not like a summer rose, mind you.  But a shy, early spring bud, still wary of the threat of potential frosts. I honor this delicate space.  I do not need to force bloom.  After living on lock down all winter, a shy bud is euphoria.

 

WHY?…  This question still whips through the infinity within me like a bitter wind… but I let it.  I have no answers.  I have no fucking clue why Life is living me this way.

 

But I am brave.  And willing to feel the feelings that few others have the courage to embrace.  I don’t mean YOU, of course…. I mean the zombie-walking, TV watching, Costco-shopping, Pringles popping, cocktail slogging masses who ritualistically await their daily force-feedings of fabricated media reality.

 

Or maybe I DO mean you… I don’t know WHO feels this deeply.  We all have our role in the Cosmic Choir.  And feeling to the core of IT ALL (and then writing it down) is an essential dimension of mine.  Inhale.  Exhaaaaale.

 

I just wish I could overcome this poverty bullshit.  It’s really shitting on my parade.  I want to get my women’s circles going (not to mention become a famous writer already)… like LAST YEAR…. But becoming a savvy entrepreneur feels like learning chinese.  I have so much to offer.  But how do I get people to give a soaring fuck?

 

A lot of the work is on the INside.  Valuing myself.  TRUSTING myself.  Feeling worthy. Feeling safe enough to dish IT out with abandon.

 

And then, some of it is just straight up consistent, *inSpired* ACTION.  Forward motion.  This builds new muscles.  Creates unstoppable momentum.  But raising a three year old (while concurrently growing another) without much support makes this a fucking FEAT.  It feels like trying to canoe up a sky-scraping, gravel mountain.  I’m doing my best.  I sense that my day will come.  With galactically impeccable timing.  In the meantime, I am being artfully carved; God’s own reed flute.

 

I was gonna end it there, but all this talk of reed flutes naturally made me think of poetry.  Last night I had a sudden craving for David Whyte’s “House of Belonging”, and Mary Oliver’s “Wild Geese”.  I read them both to Serena at bedtime.  I don’t think she “got it”.  But my own heart broke so damn good.  The Ocean of uncried tears sloshed and churned inside me.

 

“…this is where I want to love all the things it has taken me so long to learn to love…

 

This is the temple of my adult aloneness and I belong to that aloneness as I belong to my life.”

 

“…whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting- over and over announcing your place in the family of things.”

 

Such perfectly arranged words.  Soul Carving Words.  I relish stroking myself with this shattering Mastery.

 

Abiding deeep within my own heart, I find you there and love you with all that I AM.

 

Xoxo,

Athena

 

Wounded Masculine: Making love to my Beautiful Crucible

I was elated that I finally had time and space to write… and now I am here, staring at the blank page like a newborn gazelle.  I’ve written like twelve blogs in my head since I last gushed my heart and life onto the page. Ooooh, but even the sheer experience of typing a single-file stream of letters is singing me back into realized wholeness.  A wounded soldier, sipping broth from a spoon. Am I a wounded soldier? Haha, maybe! I’m not willing to commit to that persona, but I will happily share my pot of mint tea with It, and let it take a load off in the friendly atmosphere of my psyche!

 

I know what I wanted to say!  I listened to Paul Simon’s album, “Graceland” this morning.  And like always, it was a profound experience. That album lives in my bones and my soul.  My dad had the cassette tape when I was a child… like maybe seven years old. And we played the crap out of it.  (Also the U2 album, “The Joshua Tree”.)

 

I’m awestruck by how deeply music can touch The Soul.

 

Anyway, I’ve been grappling with my “Father Wound” at an especially deep level lately.  Which implies to me that I am ready for the next level of healing and Self-integration.

 

My Daddy.  I’ve always had a searing longing to MATTER to him.  Like not just “matter”…. But MATTER. You know? Like in the most indispensable and essential sense of the word.  But that was not the imprint I was *blessed* to receive. I’ve had little crumb-esque moments of feeling that. And I guess that’s why I create relationships with men that are based in the “currency of crumbs”.

 

When I crashed “Penis Ray-Ray”, I asked my Pops for $alvation.  And maaaan, did he deliver. He was so fucking generous. (Between him and the golden net of friends in my life, we were able to resurrect our beloved Fiat, BTW!)  And I should predicate that I AM NOT a trust fund baby. And my Daddy In Shining Armor is not always there to ease the burden of Existing in this capitalist shit show otherwise known as “Modern Life”.  My soul chose the rugged, off-road adventure of being born to financially strapped parents! If I ever find the Emerald City that is Prosperity, I will be an entirely Self-Made Rich Bitch. Which will make it taste all the sweeter.

 

So he gave me money when I neeeeded it.  And that was his best stab at loving me. But concurrently, I was leaving him sincere, soul-bearing. love-filled audio messages… to which he never replied.  I guess this is a new-ish iteration of our relationship. One that has emerged with the advent of smart phones and WhatsApp. I have left him too many audio messages, to which he mostly doesn’t reply.  (To his credit, sometimes I beg him, and then he does.)

 

Intellectually, I know it’s not personal.  Maybe, being a dinosaur, he’s just not a fan of communicating through “modern technology”.  Maybe he’s too busy breaking a sweat in his unrelenting hamster wheel… supporting his wife and twenty year old twins who still live at home.  Et cetera, et cetera.

 

Emotionally… that’s another story.  If I let myself feel the raw truth of it, it’s crushing.  It totally blows. My inner child is cowering in a puddle of her own tears.

 

And then I look at the most relevant men in my life… The two fathers of my children.  

 

Oh wait, time out.  I just experienced a powerful in-the-mOMent wave of grief.  I looked up from this word stew and saw a neighbor woman wheeling a full shopping cart out of the adjacent grocery store.  Her mother is sitting at the table (in the cafe) next to me with the three year old granddaughter. I witnessed this simple play of Life, and was broadsided by sadness that my mom is gone, and will NEVER hang out with Serena, noshing on croissants (my Ma’s favorite), while I perform basic, requisite life tasks.  These emotions seem an indulgent river to swim in. She’s gone and that’s just the way it is. But I’m happy to announce this spontaneous burst of sadness. And to amplify the tragedy, Giordano’s parents, though close in physical proximity, have not proved to be much support in the way of “grandparents”… Maybe when “their own” grandson emerges from the water world of my womb, they will be more… “inspired”.  Or maybe they smoke too much weed to care.

 

And now back to our previously scheduled program.  Men. Serena’s dad. Remains a legend in my heart. Despite how half-assed his participation in our lives has been.  Fuck. What can I say? People are disappointing. AND. Love is love. Especially Soul Love. That’s the shit that’s invincible to circumstances.  Even from across the world, he makes and breaks my heart on a semi-regular basis. And yet…. All I can do is keep giving of my Self. The other day, I told him how much it sucked ass… to give him my heart, again and again, and get met with silence (deja vous).  He said something to the effect of, “Yeah, but it’s your Path to give love… and maybe someday I’ll show up in the fullness you crave.”

 

My gut response was FUCK YOU.

 

But.

 

He is right.  Giving love, without the guarantee of return IS my Path, and my Nature.  Unconditional. And meanwhile, to remember and embody the Truth, that I am one with Source.  I do not need to rely on external sources for love. This Path of Mastery might suck in moments from the view of my flailing ego… but for my deep, badass Soul, it is hella satisfying.  What I find inside is MINE forever. Divine forever. So BRING ON THE TRANSFORMATIONAL FIRE, Bitches.

 

Then there’s my husband*.  Who is laughably flawed. Searingly unsatisfying in his narrow capacity to meet me with any depth of presence, or emotional intelligence.  He is sooo perpetually enraptured by the incessant, swirling eddies of his own “hella compelling” thoughts, that it appears virtually IMPOSSIBLE for him to truly listen to me most of the time.  But… He’s a total wild card. Damn unpredictable. So one out of ten times, I am pleasantly surprised by the felt experience of being heard.

 

*And even if in so many moments, he occurs as emotionally retarded, HE IS SO FUCKING SINCERE IN HIS DESIRE TO GROW, TO IMPROVE, TO LEARN.  And to Love…

 

All that to say that I’m really making love to my own crucible these days.  My surface mind cannot grasp the full implication of the healing that is taking place, as I live through this emotionally stained material with an open, courageous heart.  The deeper me keeps saying “Athena, have FAITH. Faith in the profound Intelligence of Life. Faith that what is rising to the surface, is setting you free. Faith in the strength and power of the LOVE that flows through you from The Beyond.”

 

I believe that it is also mega noteworthy that I am on the precipice of becoming mother to a boy.  It seems that this profound soul is catalyzing deeeep healing of my wounds around The Masculine. I have no fucking idea what “Inner Marriage” actually feels like inside… or how to embrace and integrate my own “inner masculine”.  Or who the fuck “Heavenly Father” actually IS for me. Though I want to know all of this. But I DO know that love is always the Answer and the Way. And I know that I gotta “feel it to heal it.”

 

So I breathe humility into inner discomfort and confusion.  And affirm the Divine Perfection and Grace of all that is arising Inside.

 

While my Journey is deeeply personal… I acknowledge the collective nature of what I am experiencing.  The Patriarchy (God bless it) has really fucked us up, collectively speaking. I have not witnessed too many fabulously healthy fathers along my earthly walk-about.  Not to say they don’t exist. THEY DO!!!! They MUST!!! But most men are hurled into adulthood, uninitiated, blind and battered. Taught that it is shameful to feel.  Taught to be tough and do it alone. Taught to work HARD for their piece of the pie, and deny their own needs (except in acts of guilt-ridden secrecy.

 

And now, let’s bareback ride this spiraling story back to Graceland.  That album opens a world inside me where my Dad is Immortal and Perfect.  I realized that this morning as I danced ecstatically around the house. This was a huge victory.  To know that no matter how broken my heart may feel, in relation to my Dad, there lives a place inside of me where he abides in Innocence and Perfect Love.  And I have found the address and the map. Naturally, it is Graceland.

 

That’s enough for now.  Just know I’m over here “doin’ the Work.  Clearing Inner Space for true sovereignty and wholeness to live through me and heal and bless the World.  Invoking a thriving, balanced World, founded on a “happy marriage”. Hella holy matrimony of healthy, integrated Masculine and Feminine.  It’s not an easy job, but it satisfies my Soul.

 

I trust that YOU, too, are toiling gloriously in your own rite.  Bringing your uniquely flavored soul music to the current climate of transformation, death and rebirth rocking planet Earth.  THANK YOU. I appreciate your blood and sweat and salty, devoted love.

 

With Epic Love from Athena Graceland,

Athena Grace

Savoring my existential knots.

Fever-stricken girl

And dreaming cat beside me

As I ache and type

 

The blog I wrote on this day last year popped up as a facebook memory this morning.  Curious to recall my reality exactly one year ago, I read it. Ingeniously, it began with a “portrait of the moment” haiku.  It was fun to read, so I thought I’d give it another go.

 

Yeah, a shadow has swept across my inner scapes today.  Not unusual. I’ve been in a particularly bipolar experience these days.  One day, deep, dark despair, the next, a respite of inexplicable ecstasy, back to darkness, and then a few consecutive days of muted, lackluster peace.  I’m not bipolar, for the record. Just deeply sensitive. And in some sort of baffling growth period.

 

Serena is sleeping on the couch beside me.  She has a juicy fever. Her first in a long time.  The bug is rampant right now. My immune system is putting up a noble fight.  But I feel wiped out.

 

I didn’t come to the page with a burning agenda…. Other than to get naked and express myself.  Because it has been too long. It is a daily challenge to jam all my priorities and passions into a grain of rice and then thread it through the eye of a needle.  Lately, most mornings I give to toaist energy cultivation practices I am learning in an online course. Given the difficulty of my inner landscapes these days, I need to be reSourced.  Great medicine for me. I have also been meditating more.

 

I gave up meditation after a steady practice for about ten years… because I felt like I was approaching the practice from my spiritual ego, and not getting much out of it anymore.  I just felt hella cool to be a “meditator”. It was a relief to let go of that. Soon after, I got pregnant with Serena, and then I lost the luxury of lavish, lengthy sadhanas in the morning.  Meditation lurked in the shadows of exile. But lately, I can’t deny my need for frequent doses of stillness. Mini vacations from the riveting identification with the endless stream of personalities and circumstances and struggles otherwise known as Life.  Ahhhhh. Nutrient dense shit.

 

Speaking of personalities and circumstances and struggles (OH MY!), here is the current existential knot I am attempting to tease apart:  I have been living in an increasingly constricted state of closure, married to Giordano. I don’t feel emotionally safe to be open. He occurs for me as very inconsistent.  Emotionally unstable. He is living under an insurmountable pile of responsibilities and burdens, and struggles to manage his stress. (God bless him. Seriously.) I rarely feel heard or received by him when I share.  Being heard is a massive need for me and it feels terrible when, all too often, my thoughts and words, desires and feelings are sucked into a black hole. In order to not feel said terrible feeling over and over and over again, I just close up.  Blah.

 

Living in this state of closure sucks rotten ass.  It feels so foreign to me. I value openness and expansive, fluid self expression.  It’s so easy to justify my closure. It seems natural in the face of having a husband who struggles with Presence, listening and inner stability.  One who does not know how to interact such that another feels “gotten”, “received”, “heard”. (Poor guy… he was never given the grace of feeling gotten, received, heard as a child.  His parents were too busy fighting with one another. So it’s just not in his wiring. He’s trying. I admire that.)

 

I’m typing all this, and it sounds utterly ridiculous.  Like how in Fuck’s Holy Name did I wind up MARRIED to this dude???  Folks, now we are peering into the belly of the beast. The sheer and utter Mystery of Existence.  Giordano and I are strong magnets that have no choice but to smush together. I’ve never felt anything quite like it; so simultaneously essential and despicable. I can only imagine that this is the freshly sharpened knife of karma.  And I’m learning to stop trying to make “sense” of it… and just be humble and gracious as I live it out.

 

But I want to live OPEN.  I want to be unconditionally free in my heart.  And filled to overflowing with Heaven’s sumptuous love-light, so that I am a benevolent outpouring of it under any and all circumstances.  

 

I’m guessing that my wise and fearless soul set out to cultivate my own inner stability to such a degree, that NOTHING and no ONE on the outside could EVER threaten it.  So I found “Mister Right”- someone who cannot save me (though to his credit, he really WANTS to!), cannot hold me the way I yearn to be held. Someone perfectly flawed. And profusely devoted.  Someone who holds on so fucking tight, that it is impossible for me to pull my all-too-familiar knee-jerk bolt at the first sign of discomfort.

 

Anyway, part of this knot, it seems, is a fear in me of being so fully committed to.  Am I afraid of being deeply loved by a man? Because it’s foreign to my wiring?… Do I obsess over the small stuff as a protection mechanism?  A strategy to hold on to my small self?

 

Probably yes.

 

But it’s a knot, because the “small stuff” gets all smeared in with the “big stuff”, and the relationship becomes this imperceptible soupy blob.  I don’t know what is real, or when to give it the fuck up, and when to hold on as an act of self preservation. Probably better to err on the side of giving it the fuck up.  Like one of my life-long idols, the Landmark Wisdom Course leader, Joan Bordow once said, (when giving advice to a woman friend on the eve of her wedding) “The person who lets go of being right first, wins.”  Sounds so simple.

 

But it doesn’t feel like it from the inside.  Well… in certain, select moments it does… but overall… I feel to be in an unruly tangle.  I guess this is why people have therapists. We are all knotted up in our survival strategies, expectations, fears, projections, blah, blah, blah.  

 

I’m glad to be living inside this question.  And not in a rush to figure it out. Just looking deep within, making myself available to growth and revelation, and acknowledging my deep desire to live as Openness.

 

Ahhh, it feels so good to get this shit out on the page.  Blessed BE the sacred alchemy of the written word.

 

May you savor your tangles and twists like the finest wine….

 

Love,

Athena

Hella Holy Matrimony

0

On moonday morning, Giordano, Serena and I drove into the Italian-er-than-Thou little town down the hill from our home, to submit our paperwork, in hopes of being awarded a date for marriage.  Legions of butterflies messed about inside me for myriad reasons. Reading bureaucratically persuaded websites is *not* my forte, so I wondered if we had all the documents required. One thing they HAD clarified at the US Consulate in Rome, when we visited a couple weeks ago (to obtain my sworn statement of single status), was that we must marry before my visa expires.  Which happens at the end of this month. Zoiks!

 

Our pilgrimage to the Wizard of Holy Matrimony required Giordano to miss a morning of work.  These days he is in hot and heavy preparation for a massive olive harvest. His head is nowhere above water in the way of tasks he must accomplish.  Come to think of it, I’m not sure I’ve ever encountered someone with so many dangling, disperate obligations. My mom at the end of her life, perhaps…

 

But the point is, the unwieldy pile of my Husband-To-Be’s searing tasks sure brings out some brassy notes in the man.  He already tends toward the anxious shades of the rainbow. As I drove our little white Fiat, “Penis Ray-Ray” along the twisty, one way streets into the center of the village, he spit aggressive, critical directions at me.   I don’t have much tolerance for this facet of him. As an empath, I too quickly get inflamed and agitated, and perfectly awesome moments are spoiled by excessive heat and unkindness.

 

We parked down a hill from the “Common”, and I held Serena’s hand as she made her way up the steep, cobblestone road.  Apparently we were not fast enough for Giordano and in his broken five year old fashion, he let us know (nagging, crabby mumbling, slicing insults).  In my world, we had plenty of time, as it wasn’t even nine o’clock (when the office opened). I was jazzed that Serena wanted to walk alone, as she often prefers, like a lazy, cumbrous Pygmy Queen, to be carried.

 

I have a lot to say still, so I’m gonna pick up the pace.  But what you must know, is that by the time we arrived in the stale-cigarette-scented foyer outside the matrimonial office, Giordano and I were not on speaking terms.  When the disarmingly kind and casual italian lady opened her pearly gate for us, we were like two repelled magnets. I wouldn’t even look at him.

 

We shelled out our paperwork and I was half surprised, half relieved, half mortified to discover that we had all we needed, and would be able to secure a wedding day.  Whoa. We asked for October 28th. Two days before my visa expires. According to my astrologically savvy friend Anitra, that is the smoothest, most palatable day available to us, given our restricted timeline.  They were reticent to work on a Sunday. But a hundred euros and a relaxed sphincter later, they agreed.

 

We stepped back out onto the street transformed.  

 

That sentence gets to be its own paragraph, because it definitely stands alone.  I am not quite sure of the “behind the scenes” energetics of the matter…. But it was a palpable shift to have a wedding date and time.  Thankfully, we were both softened. We stepped into an adjacent bar, and Giordano ordered us cappuccinos. I can’t get right with the culture of drinking such heavenliness standing up, in less that three seconds.  I savored spoonfuls of thick, decadent foam, while Giordano teased me for taking my time.

 

And for my next splendid, death-defying act, ladies and gentlemen, I shall bare my messy insides for you all to gawk at and secretly relate to.  

 

I never imagined that getting married would be strewn with such a wild swizzle of unruly emotions.  Repulsion, excitement, love, powerlessness, curiosity, fear, turn-on…

 

From my insider’s view, I can clearly see how much collective meaning “We” place on marriage.  It means “forever”. It means “so in love”. “Happily ever after”. “The One”.

 

It means none of that for me.  It’s more like, I am just doing what needs to be done to move forward on my cryptic Path through the billowing fields of Enlightenment.  I have been groping to come to terms with it all.

 

Would I marry Giordano if I was financially free?  Probably not. I am marrying him as a single mom who needs help, and he is the flawed Angel that God sent me.  I feel a primal fear in telling it so straight. But as a writer, slicing straight into unflattering truths is the verdant river valley of good writing.  

 

And honestly, no matter how flawed my Angel is, my bottom line is that he supports me in showing up on the page and singing out the unfiltered mess of my Existence.  Which is what I live for. And I guess that’s the heart of the matter for me. My soon-to-be-Husband understands and supports my dharma. Even if it means that he occasionally gets chewed up and spit out on the page.  He may act like a wounded little boy too often. But holding space for me to be my fullest expression as a writer, even at his occasional “expense”, is a powerful stand to take.

 

The density of my Life Material these days often feels unbearable.  Okaaay, that was dramatic. I have it great, in so many ways. But as a woman who aspires to sovereignty and full-throttle empowerment, this is a very confronting life to be living.  I struggle to find a powerful place to stand. I feel small in so many ways these days. Living in a foreign country where I don’t speak the language… Having few friends to commune with.  Marrying a man who I am constantly having to teach and train and tolerate.

 

I can never say that last bit without following it up by how loving he is.  Giordano is so genuinely invested in my (and Serena’s) happiness, delight and wellbeing.  For example, he went way the fuck out of his way yesterday to ask his Baby Mama if we could stay in her rental apartment in Assisi next weekend, so that I could partake in a yoga festival happening right across the street.  While he sweats and bleeds and cries, picking thousands of olives to press into oil…

 

I guess the moral of this story is that on the INside, it occurs like all I can do is surrender to my Path.  I have written recently about my perceived lack of choice in the matter of my life. Like I’m just stepping into what splays open before me, with as much dignity, joy and willingness as I can muster.  Squeeze as much Trust out of my nearly-empty toothpaste tube as humanly possible.

 

Trusting that all this is right.  Trusting that this is all Grace. Trusting that this is exactly what I need to evolve.  Trusting that these are the perfect conditions for me to blossom open AS LOVE and embody the Master that I AM.  Living in said trust is a tall order, as my life is NOT unfolding as I imagined it would. Not that I ever fully imagined my unfolding… But life as I know it has bled way outside the lines of Collective Conditioning.  It’s not the stuff that “Happily Ever After” is made of.

 

Thankfully, I AM the stuff that Happily Ever After is made of… If only I allow myself to relax into this unassailable ISness.  I suppose this is the hidden cheese, wrapped in the bitter pill of my life. Haha!

0-1

Previous Older Entries