By Lynda Drake, Author of The Power of Imperfect Parents

Motions and Emotions: Do you keep your body in motion to keep your emotions from catching up?

Motions and emotions do interact. Especially when emotions unexpectedly happen so fast. What was supposed to be a routine appointment with my obstetrician, suddenly changed when he said to my husband and me, “Looks like you’re going to have some babies today. Meet me at the hospital in an hour!”

That’s when the fear hit me. I was going to give birth to twins by the end of the day! Could I be the mother that I thought I needed to be for two babies at one time!? I stuffed that fear down into my body as I went into motion, getting my other daughter where she needed to be, my bags packed and anything else I could think of that needed done before being gone from home for a couple days.

Within two hours of our arrival at the hospital Katy had been born. Alex, on the other hand, was a bit more complicated and in no hurry to come out. Because he was breech, and not getting the oxygen he needed an emergency c-section was required. The anesthesia mask came on and I was quickly out.

When I awoke there was a woman standing beside my bed, she was a geneticist. She told me that my son had Down syndrome. She kept talking but I didn’t really hear it. I felt like I had just been slapped in the face by reality. I knew very little about Down syndrome, what I did know was that it was something I wasn’t expecting. I was sad and scared. Would he be okay? Would I be able to parent him? What would our lives look like?

What I showed on the outside was the positive face mask that I always wore. The mask that has faith in God, that says God never gives you anything you can’t handle. Any feelings of sadness, fear or doubt were hidden behind the mask. Stuffed out of sight.

Being strong and having faith in God was what I had been taught my whole life. The women in my family epitomized strength and faith. Many were missionaries in foreign countries, being courageous, daily showing their devotion to God. My mother was a district manager in charge of hundreds of people who ran large corporate cafeterias. We don’t cry or show emotions. We kept our bodies in motion, believing our emotions wouldn’t catch up to us.

The day my dad died my mom cleaned out his closet that afternoon. You know when my husband died, I did the same thing. We kept our bodies in motion to outrun our emotions.

The thing is emotions don’t run away. They are there, stuffed down until we deal with them. If we just leave them stuck hidden away, they can turn into illness, anger, resentment. I had to slow down enough for them to show themselves again. For me, that happened when I was writing this piece for you. I took the time to relive and allow myself to truly feel what giving birth to my twins was like. My emotions captured me and made me feel as I sat and thought about that day, June 25, 1993. Heartbreaking tears began to flow. I finally was honest enough with myself to give me permission to feel the sadness, the fear, the disappointment that Alex wasn’t born the way I expected him to be. I finally allowed myself to grieve the son I was expecting who was never born.

What I learned was in allowing myself to really feel all those emotions, I didn’t become weak. I was able to connect with the real me. A real human being with all kinds of emotions. Feeling those emotions doesn’t take away my faith in God. I was able to see how it has been my faith that showed me that my life with Alex could be a time of tremendous growth, full of love. I have learned how to let go of what no longer serves me, like my thought that I could be a perfect person, a perfect parent. I have learned to surrender to myself and to the Divine to find the true gift in each moment.

Grieving the fact that Alex was not born as I expected has let me surrender what I thought he would be like creating space for me to love and accept him exactly as he is. To recognize him as my most profound teacher.

I can now slow down the motions of my body and allow myself to feel all the emotions that show me who I am. This allows me to be my authentic, imperfect, lovable self. May you slow down your motions and accept the emotions you feel with compassion for yourself.

Sending you love and blessings.

Lynda Drake

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