The rescue we all need sometimes

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This scene is the aftermath of deep emotional work. Where all the lights… and eyes, were on me. An experience unparalleled except for in ceremonies where all my people showed up just for me – like our wedding or my beautiful blessingways.
I have shared a fair bit on Facebook about how I have recently been going through an intensely emotional time. I have had to face several really hard things this year, culminating in an excruciating situation which triggered two core hurts from childhood. This pain I had spent my whole life avoiding finally found a way out in the shape of a breakdown where I spent four months unable to do much beyond feeling, shaking, crying, raging. I was deeply distressed most of the time, waking each night for several hours distraught, frozen in angst and horror. I was exhausted and out of my mind. My capacity to think has been very much inhibited, as well as my ability to parent or hold space. I have leaned on my community a lot. My listening partners have held me through this with such presence, patience, love and dedication. And somehow through the shame of being so needy, broken and unable to give back and feeling that this was all my own fault and I deserved it, I knew I needed to ask for even more.
So I rallied my listening partners and asked if they would be willing to perform what Patty Wipfler has developed as a ‘Parent Rescue Squad’. This is where a parent in crisis summons support through one way extensive listening time. An intervention that indigenous people have long used when a member of the tribe gets off track. I love this return to a shamanic way of being that is now underpinned by current neuroscience. It felt uncomfortable to ask. I already felt a burden, that I had been trying all of their patience and I questioned if I were just making a ‘drama’, if I should save this measure for when something really goes wrong. Yet here they all were delighted to help, so we set a date. I knew that the truth underneath these feelings was that I deserved this attention and support and that through receiving help I would be able to serve my children and community far more profoundly than if I were to keep pushing on.
I also knew that it would be helpful to counter the feelings of inadequacy and isolation that were being triggered by this upset. I was finding it hard to remember that I was loved and a good person and I wanted to make use of the ‘sweet spot’ for emotional release; that a greater sense of love and safety allows us to bring up deeper pain to be healed. So I messaged 25 close friends and asked them if they would send me affirmations of my goodness. Again it felt hard to ask but as I pressed send I felt I was treading a radical and essential path. Asking for this level of support and receiving it in a clean way felt like something I had never done or even seen modelled by anyone else.
When I shared the same request for affirmation publicly, I wanted to model this new found method of self care in case it helped others. I wasn’t prepared for the onslaught of love-bombing through text, calls, voice messages, cards, gifts. Many people, some I don’t even know, sent messages about how profoundly I had touched their lives. Those close to me, who had already been giving so much, found yet more to give. People sent sweet memories or funny in-jokes. I received beautiful meals, massage, cuddles. I remembered how well loved I am.
I felt nervous about the rescue squad. What if I didn’t make good enough use of their time? What if I was really just making a big fuss and had got them all here under false pretenses? I had five people with me. One friend came to my house and the others joined on Zoom from three different countries. Just seeing the shining faces of my cherished listeners in front of me was such a counter to the hurt. I must be OK if these beautiful folk loved me enough to show up. We started with half an hour of the whole group listening to me and then different pairs broke off to exchange listening in rotation but generally there were at least two people with me throughout. I got to rant and ramble and weep for 2.5 hours. My biggest man friend was with me so I could push against him and rage and scream. The house was empty so I could pace around it, sitting in different places with imaginary ghosts which brought up feelings. As advised by Patty I kept coming back to a fundamental, unhurt statement, which for me was “I am worthy of your full attention and deepest respect.” I repeated this over and over and cried as the hurt bubbled up.
As the time drew to a close, my eyes were swollen, my throat raw from shouting, my head pounding. I ended up in a heap on the floor with my big friend. That night for the first time in three months, I was able to sleep through the night and I have done so ever since. A cloud had lifted. People close to me remarked how different I looked and asked what I had done.
I’m not completely free of this hurt yet. When it hits me the devastation stings raw as ever, but I am not consumed by it anymore. My thinking capacity is coming back online. When we don’t move the feelings, they make us sick or mentally off track. This primal wounding being activated could easily have sunk me for a year or ten and that would have affected my children’s lives profoundly. I believe reaching out to this extent has fast tracked the process. It feels powerful to explore a new level of self care and responsibility. Yes, it required leaning on others, but how much more leaning would have been required if I had let my mental or physical health deteriorate instead? I am grateful every day to Patty Wipfler for this new paradigm of inter-relational support, emotional hygiene, resilience and leadership. Our ancestors knew this level of community, emotional release and intimacy is fundamental to our wellbeing. It is the way to a healthy humanity and a sustainable, peaceful world.

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Thank you to my rescuers and the dear friends and listeners who have been there for me through all this.

12 Comments

  1. dearest Roma,

    It was an honour to be there for you. And it was healing for me too to be part of the rescue squad: to be part of a community that is as dedicated to love, connection and healing as I am. Giving my full love and support to you is, at the same time, connecting myself to that love. A love that doesn’t really care about who is giving and who is receiving. We were all experiencing this deep love and connection through the process of supporting you. xx

    Reply
    • It IS a wonderful community, I really am grateful to have found you all. Thank you dear Marieke for diving in with your big heart. I love your enthusiasm for it and feel so safe with you x

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  2. You shine for us beautiful soul.. You show us all we are loved for our unhurt places and even more for our hurt ones, our faulty strategies we lean on to hide and run from the pain.. Surely it’s not safe to be truly witnessed by another in these awful hurts I carry?
    Love to you,
    Thank you
    X X X

    Reply
    • Thank you beautiful friend for accompanying me on this journey x

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  3. Dear Roma, you really do look lighter in the photo at the bottom. I feel the difference in your posts, over the year, I have witnessed you become able to come into authentic ownership of your process, and negotiate new ways of relating, and now to this place, which feels incredibly powerful. I find peace in myself, reading your words, seeing and knowing this journey moving into a new world in another, and what it takes, creating it from within. We have different ways of navigating this journey, but it is the same journey, each of us bringing our own unique gifts. I honour yours sister xxxxx

    Reply
    • Thank you beautiful. Yes a lot has shifted this last year, thank you for noticing. So glad to know you are navigating through to the new world also. Loads of love and trusting we’ll get some time to journey together xxxx

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  4. What a powerful experience. I feel so happy to be a part of this community where this support is given but at the same time am feeing isolated to be at another end of the world where there are not enough of you to lean on. Hoping for a time when there will be! Keep up the amazing work.

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    • Aw Megha, I reallly wanted to get up to you in Mumbai to share the love but I don’t think it’s going to happen this time. I may well be back next year though. And I can phone you easily while i’m in india if you fancy a LP? xx

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  5. What an amazing and powerfull story, Roma! Congratulations for trusting and taking advantage of this fantastic community around Hand in Hand Parenting. I feel the transforming power of LP every day, but a Rescue Squad sounds just perfect. 🙂 I look forward to reading more of your stories about the journey to self discovery.

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    • Yes it is such profound stuff. I’d love to see us all calling in a rescue squad. x

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  6. Such a moving experience. We all find ourselves in abysmal pit somewhere in our life. The courage and zeal that you’ve shown to come out of it is commendable. Moreover, this concept of “Rescue Squad” seems very helpful. Now that I’ve read your story, I can help anyone around me, taking your experience as an inspiration.

    Reply
    • So glad you found it helpful Sophie x

      Reply

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