The Gestation Period + Hail to the Black Sheep
Gestation period: Fetal development period from the time of conception until birth. For humans, the full gestation period is normally 9 months. The word "gestation" comes from the Latin "gestare" meaning "to carry or to bear."
Every living thing has a gestation period.
One of the shortest gestation periods (for animals) that I found was the pigeon, with a gestation period of 11-19 days (!) That means a pigeon can have a baby in, like, two weeks. Craziness.
The elephant on the other hand has a gestation period of 510-730 days! That's up to two years of being pregnant. Also craziness. (If elephants ate ice cream, that would be an awful lot of Ben & Jerry's to go through.)
The mistake that we make is in thinking that once we are out of the womb, that we don't continue going through any gestation periods.
So while it's true that once out of the womb, we don't go back in (although that would be interesting "Mom, listen, frankly the world sucks and this whole growing up thing is a scam, can I get back in there?") we do gestate in other ways.
Because everything has a process. Growth is a process and it has a process, and there's nothing we can do to change that.
No matter what, the gestation period must be respected.
1 baby = 1 woman x 9 months
You cannot do:
1 baby = 9 women x 1 month
That's just not how the process works.
We must respect that process. We cannot hurry it along, try though we might.
And we do try. We constantly "should" all over ourselves "I should have achieved this by now, I should be doing this, I shouldn't be doing that."
We have to remember that our timelines are arbitrary, and that we can impose them all we like, but that life has it's own plan.
I'm currently in a gestation period - a long elephant-like gestation period - and I'm grateful that I can recognize that from within the process. The beauty of seeing and understanding the unfolding while it's happening, is that instead of fighting it, we can honour it and allow it.
My current gestation period is about self-worth, about setting boundaries, and about deciding what I want and deserve. All of these things are new to me.
For those of us who have grown up in an environment of abuse, these are all foreign concepts. Abuse (especially of the physical kind like I went through) means that boundaries don't exist. The right to say no does not exist, and in fact saying no will actually result in more boundaries being violated.
I learned not to speak up, because it wasn't safe.
I learned not to need, learned not to ask, learned not to want, because it wasn't safe.
I learned to be everything other than myself so that I wouldn't anger the one who deliberately and regularly violated my boundaries: my father.
But there were times when I couldn't help myself, when I was literally choking on my words to the point that I had to speak up, that I had to say the thing.
He would lash out. I would curl up in a ball with my hands over my head, shaking in fear, crying, waiting for his anger to be spent through the blows he directed at me. I was 23 the last time he hit me. That time, and many others, I had an out of body experience. (Or maybe it was an experience of dissociation, I don't know.)
I was inside myself in pain, but also outside myself, watching myself getting beaten like a helpless animal.
My brother and mother were there. They sat and watched. They didn't move. They didn't say anything. They had been as conditioned as I was not to fight our oppressor. It wasn't until it looked as though he wasn't going to stop, that my mother finally got up from the table and pulled him off me.
(Just because something is widely accepted, doesn't make it right. A profoundly SICK paradigm doesn't suddenly become right because many people believe it and are willing to accept it. #WorldWarII #Holocaust #NeverShouldHaveHappened #ThoseWhoStaySilent)
He would scream. He would tell me I that knew nothing, use all the words that made me feel utterly worthless, all while hitting my body (never my face, my mother was the only one who ever slapped me across the face.)
I lived in a state of learned helplessness until recently. As an adult, I still didn't understand boundaries, what they meant, or how to apply them. I didn't know how to say no. I didn't know that I deserved to be loved, considered, respected, and valued. I let people, and especially men, treat me as badly as my father had, which left a set of fresh wounds to accompany the old ones that my father had left.
After my father would hit me, my mother would come into my room to console me, and she would say "He does love you, he does love you, you know."
For a long time, I thought that love was pain. I allowed people to say they loved me with their words, but to hurt me with their actions.
Now I know that love is not pain. I know that love doesn't hurt. Ever. Love supports, love understands, love respects, love cares, love listens, love nurtures, love heals, love moves mountains.
So this is where I'm at - like the baby bird I talked about on my birthday - my feathers are still drying. I've just cracked out of the shell and I'm still blinking, trying to adjust to the light in this new place.
If people love you, they will want you to grow. If somebody doesn't want you to grow, you can call their feelings about you by many names...but you cannot call it love. You can call it fear, you can call it anger, you can call it control issues, you can call it resentment...but nobody has ever held anyone back because of love.
- Rob Bell
I'm trying to find my footing in what it means to be a healthy, well-adjusted human being. To be kind and loving despite the fact that I was so incredibly hurt. To forgive those who will never take responsibility, never say "I'm so sorry Jasmin, please forgive me." To stand up for myself, and to stand up against injustice and blatant unfairness, for myself and for others.
(You want to see me angry? Say or do something unfair in front of me and watch me unleash the dragon. I will make you wish you were never born. I realize that this is not an entirely healthy response - I'm working on it. My brother and I were always treated completely differently; he always got more and got away with more than I did. He got brand new Nike clothes when all I got were Salvation Army castoffs. I wasn't allowed to learn how to drive, but my brother was given a car. I wasn't allowed to date, my brother was given money to go out on dates. I could go on and on because the discrepancies are endless. And I'm the only person in the family who got physically abused the way I did.)
These were my lessons, this was my Real-Life Zen Training.
Generosity by a parent is a sign of love and of safety. Therefore, the lack of generosity sends a loud message to the child that they are not loved and they are not safe in the world.
(I've never told anyone that the reason I cannot go to zoos is because for so long, I felt like an abused animal in a cage. Seeing animals locked up makes me relive those feelings of helpless vulnerability I felt for the first quarter century of my life and since I cannot free them anymore than I could have freed myself back then, I cannot bear to see it.)
I regret nothing. I would never want to live through this again, and I would not wish that kind of experience on anyone.
But I regret nothing.
In life, if one wants seriously to understand how the world works, he must die at least once. And, since this is the rule, better to die young, when you still have so much time ahead of you to pull yourself together and resuscitate.
- Giorgio Bassani,The Garden of the Finzi-Continis
I have died many deaths in this life.
I have resuscitated myself.
Because of what I went through, I am who I am.
I am an incredible person. I am a beautiful soul.
This year, I finally did what I've been waiting for someone else to do: I fell in love with myself.
When we fall in love with ourselves, the world falls in love with us too.
I know that I am worthy.
We are ALL worthy because we are here and because we all came from the SOUL OF THE WORLD and we will one day return there.
That is why we deserve love and respect. We don't have to do anything to earn love and respect.
Those of us who have been abused were made to feel as though we did and I'm here to tell you: We don't. I don't. You don't.
One of my friends has repeatedly told me that she's astounded that I'm so well adjusted considering what I've been through. (The physical abuse is only the tip of the giant iceberg that is the dysfunction which my family is built around. Two years ago my brother told me that I am everything that is wrong with our family. If by that he meant that I'm troublesome because I won't tow the family line, then he's right. All hail to the #blacksheep.)
I credit my current state of Zen to a lifetime of reading self-help books (I started when I was twelve - yeah I was super popular at recess), to travel, to writing, to personal development workshops, to challenging the false beliefs about myself that the world had imposed one me, and most recently, to therapy, all of which have helped me tremendously.
I've also been blessed with a fighting spirit, and the guiding hand of the Divine.
My faith is what gets me through most days. I am not religious, but I believe in a benevolent energy that I am comfortable calling God.
This space I'm in now, it's all new to me. The space of warmth, acceptance, positivity, and love which I HAVE CREATED. I like it here, because no matter what, the sun is always shining in a heart that's filled with love. And I have a big beautiful heart spilling over with so much love that I'm not sure how it fits into my chest. (It's like the Grinch only in reverse, because instead of being two sizes too small, I'm pretty sure it's two sizes too big, at the very least.)
There are things I must do with my life.
To whomever much is given, of him will much be required.
I have been give so much.
Yes I can still say that despite everything that I've been through. Or maybe I say it because of everything that I've been through. I'm grateful for who I am. I'm grateful for my spirit. God gave me difficult trials, but He gave me the spirit to get through them, and He gave me His guidance along the way.
I have a strong voice and I was put here on earth to use it.
But I'm aware that the person I currently am isn't quite yet the one I need to be in order to achieve the purpose I was meant to. And it's not about my skills or abilities - those are there now, I know this.
It's about my belief in myself and my ability to be able to do what I need to do. I'm almost there, I'm getting warmer, but I know I'm not quite there yet.
What I feel in my heart is that far more than a career, more than a purpose, I have a calling. I was put here to do something.
We all were. We all have a spark within us, we only need to ignite it. We make the mistake of thinking that we have to find it, but the secret is that it's already there and our work lies in removing the things which are covering it up.
I think it's kind of a beautiful thing to observe oneself in one's own process. I see myself growing, and becoming all of myself, and it makes me happy to see that a lifetime's worth of work and trying, and failing, and trying again has suddenly resulted in the exponential growth I've gone through in the last year.
Where will I be in six months? In a year? How long will this gestation period of self-worth take so that I am strong enough to fulfill the calling which I was born knowing I had pursue?
I don't know. And that's ok. Not my plan, God's plan.
What is the gestation period that you are going through? Where are you at right now? Be honest.
In the process of self-examination, we need to know the difference between being in a gestation period, and making excuses for not moving our asses. Growth - true growth - requires that we get tired of our own bullshit.There are things I'm meant to do - and I will do them.
The little girl in this picture didn't doubt her self-worth. When I look at this picture of myself, I feel as though I can see the light of the world in those eyes. What a deep soulful gaze in that tiny being. That little girl was who she was because the world hadn't yet cast shadows into her heart and thrown mud onto her wings. She needs to come back.
It is through her that the voice of the world will speak. From her heart, from her fearless joy in being herself. That light is still there inside me. I will find it. I will find it and I will use it to light up my life, and then to light up the world.
Look at pictures of your younger sef. Find one where you can see the light in your own eyes. Is that light still there today? If not, why? And what can you do right now to begin changing that?
Come back to yourself. You aren't lost. You're just buried.
I hated him for a long time. A very long time. And then I realized that holding onto anger is punishing myself for someone else's mistakes. Like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.
I sat with my anger long enough until she told me her real name was grief.My anger was only ever about the grief I felt for my lost childhood, my lost joy, and for the regret that I would never have the parents I would have liked to have had.
What I feel now for my father, for my mother, is indifference. The opposite of love isn't hate, it's indifference. I wish them well. I feel sad for them because they're so trapped in their stories, in their oppressive negative beliefs, that they live in a cage of fear, doubt, and unhappiness of their own making. Their complete refusal to take any responsibility for how their lives have turned out has inspired me to take complete autonomy over mine. For this I am grateful. Sometimes our parents inspire us because of who they aren't.
Ultimately, my parents are people who are afraid of life, and they've based all of their decisions around this fear.
They made a choice to allow their pasts to dictate their entire lives. They could not escape the ghosts of the people who oppressed them so they went on and oppressed others. (Hurt people HURT PEOPLE.)
I cannot save them.
But I can save myself.
I am saving myself.
I have saved myself.
We must each save ourselves. No one is coming to save us. We must save ourselves. Heal ourselves, love ourselves. We can then put that energy out into the world with the hope that it will inspire others to do the same.
Ships are safe in harbour but that's not what ships were built for.
We humans, we were meant to live, and love, and experience the full expression of our souls through this human experience we have chosen to partake in.
I don't know what happens after this gestation period, once my legs have grown strong and steady. I don't know what will happen because I haven't met that Jasmin yet. Who will she be, what will she want to do with her life, how will she want to change the world?
Who will you be once you're done gestating through whatever you're currently in the process of becoming? More importantly, are you willing to find out?
What I do know is that big gestation periods have big results. Baby elephants weigh 260 pounds at birth (Ow mama...)
My past will not define who I am, or what I have the potential to become. We each have the power at any point to say "this is not how the story ends."
I am re-writing my story.
Cuz yeah, I have that power.
And so do you.
Hail to the Black Sheep
The so-called black sheep of the family are, in fact, hunters born of paths of liberation into the family tree.
The members of a tree who do not conform to the norms or traditions of the family system, those who since childhood have constantly sought to revolutionize beliefs, going against the paths marked by family traditions, those criticized, judged and even rejected, these are usually called to free the tree of repetitive stories that frustrate entire generations.
The black sheep, those who do not adapt, those who cry rebelliously, play a basic role within each family system, they repair, pick up and create new and unfold branches in the family tree.
Thanks to these members, our trees renew their roots. Its rebellion is fertile soil, its madness is water that nourishes, its stubbornness is new air, its passion is fire that re-ignites the light of the heart of the ancestors.
Uncountable repressed desires, unfulfilled dreams, the frustrated talents of our ancestors are manifested in the rebelliousness of these black sheep seeking fulfillment. The genealogical tree, by inertia will want to continue to maintain the castrating and toxic course of its trunk, which makes the task of our sheep a difficult and conflicting work.
However, who would bring new flowers to our tree if it were not for them? Who would create new branches? Without them, the unfulfilled dreams of those who support the tree generations ago would die buried beneath their own roots.
Let no one cause you to doubt, take care of your rarity as the most precious flower of your tree.
You are the dream of all your ancestors.