vulnerability

Marriage and Family are Real: Marriage and Family are Love
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Marriage and Family are Real: Marriage and Family are Love

Marriage and Family are Real: Marriage and Family are Love

(reprise of a Facebook Post I wrote)Marriage and Family are Real Sabin Howard Traci Slatton

 

Marriage

This is our family. We’ve gone to see the Tree at the Met for nearly 2 decades.
It’s love. Family is love, and it is everything. Family is real.
Family radiates from a marriage. Marriage is love, and it is everything. Marriage is real. Imperfect, unglamorous, full of laughter and tears: real.
Sabin and I have been married for 13 years, together for almost 18. We’ve stood beside each other, holding hands and enjoying holiday uplift, for nearly 2 decades.
Marriages are built on such things: trips to the Met and to Italy and to the pediatrician and to the kitchen to cook breakfast; shared jokes and shared Figurative Sculpture books and shared victories and shared burdens and, yes, shared challenges. Every life encounters conflict and obstacle, ache and loss. These are real, too. And they are so much easier to bear with your family, your mate, holding your hand–as Sabin and I have held hands for nearly two decades.
We’ve held hands through lean times and good times, through sickness and health, through the birth of our daughter, when I died twice and was narrowly revived by a doctor who had “never seen so much blood in her life.” We held hands and held each other in a spacious room in Venice while the rain pattered on the canal during our 10th anniversary.
Even though this year, 2017, has been so hard, forcing a lengthy and devastating separation, I affirm our marriage. Marriage is 1000 tiny threads that bind people together, and those threads are shared experiences. I affirm our threads. I affirm our marriage. Sabin Howard, I love you.

Marriage and Family are Real

Marriage and Family are Real

In the HuffPost, International Conference in Shared Parenting 2017
5 star review | errors | healing | hope | kindness | maturity | missing people | parental alienation | politics | vulnerability | wholeness

In the HuffPost, International Conference in Shared Parenting 2017

International Conference Shared Parenting 2017

This week I took the train to Boston to attend the International Conference in Shared Parenting. This conference gathered together specialists in post-divorce child development from all over the world. I sat down with a very lovely Dr. Holstein to discuss the Conference, and I wrote about my experience in the HuffPost.

From my article:

…Despite advances in recognizing fathers’ fundamental rights to be equally involved in their children’s lives, the problem of not implementing that right continues within the legal system. At the same time, there’s a growing awareness that relegating one parent, whether father or mother, to second-class citizen parent status is not in the best interests of the child, when neither parent is actually abusive. There is a growing understanding that, post-separation, children need both parents to be fully present in their lives for optimal wholeness.

I sat down with Dr. Ned Holstein, the founder and chairman of the board of the National Parents Organization, at the International Conference on Shared Parenting in Boston. The National Parents Organization has a mission to preserve the bond between parents and children. To that end, at this conference, the world’s most renowned child development experts in the area of post-divorce parenting have gathered to share their research results. How do children fare with and without shared parenting post-divorce?…

“Court practices haven’t kept up with the growing research evidence on the benefits of shared parenting, so our intention was to gather all the world experts in one place at one time to compile the evidence that needs to be recognized as a basis for changing what our current practices are in the courts,” Dr. Holstein told me. “Based on the work of world experts at our conference today, ‘Best Interests of the Child’ means shared parenting for most children.”

Read the whole post here.

International Conference on Shared Parenting 2017

International Conference Shared Parenting

 

Yoga Teacher Training
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Yoga Teacher Training

Yoga Teacher Training

A few months ago, a long time friend came for dinner. She’s an American living elsewhere. She’s brilliant and amazing and full of knowledge, an expert in her field.

But she has forgotten how to listen.

She talked over my husband and me and couldn’t hear any of our ideas or opinions. Now, this lovely lady is a wonderful person in a thousand ways. She’s a repository of information about the fascinating field of the esoteric, because she has studied metaphysics for decades. Her whole life, really. But there was this thing missing from the way she related to us and it was receptiveness. Her vast knowledge has become a bulwark through which no one else’s thoughts and experiences could penetrate.

That dinner made a big impression on me. I don’t want to be like that: ossified behind my own learning. I want to be open and flexible and receptive. I want to hear other modes of thought, other people, even when I have education and experience that contradicts what they think. Even when it’s hard to listen, which it can be, because I’m an opinionated person with a great deal of education.

I thought of this dinner when I signed up for Yoga Teacher Training at Three Sisters Yoga; as the body goes, so goes the mind. A flexible, open body will yield a flexible, open mind. I was also thinking of the next three decades of my life. I don’t want to teach yoga but I do want to invest in the training to nourish my body and to create flexibility, strength, and stamina for the next thirty years.

The program at Three Sisters Yoga is meticulously thought out and the teachers are terrific: warm, engaged, present. But already I have encountered opposition to my own internalized systems of thought. Because Yoga considers itself a Science, and I studied and used a different system that also considers itself a science. I studied Healing Science for 4 years at the Barbara Brennan School of Healing (BBSH). I had a practice as a healer and saw clients for a decade.

The BBSH was a pivotal, seminal experience for me. It is integral to who I am as a human being and to my writing. Most of my characters are healers in one way or another.

This thing about wholeness haunts me.

I seldom speak of the BBSH now. When I was at the school and for years after I graduated, I went around talking about it a lot. It was amazing: there existed other people like me who were attuned to the subtle worlds! Who perceived the subtle worlds! I was newly out of the closet as an energy sensitive and exulting in the liberation.

But I got tired of head-blind non-healers projecting weirdness onto me–as if it isn’t our birthright as souls taking on flesh to see, hear, feel those other, primary realms.

Also, there’s a lot of acting out at the school. The BBSH doesn’t always act in integrity. Graduates and teachers of the BBSH don’t always act in integrity. It was upsetting to me that when someone questioned the school, the school’s response was to squash that person and to decree, “You’re in resistance.” Translation: you’re bad.

There was a point at which almost all of the teachers with open hearts were either fired or chased out of the school. I did not respect that.

The founder of the school Barbara Brennan sued people over her healing techniques, an action which lacked integrity. In the field of science, scientists throughout history have built upon one another–that’s what leads to progress, to the slow and meticulous accumulation of scientific knowledge. Newton didn’t try to own gravity. But Barbara wanted to own her healing techniques, some of which had been developed by other people. She had a paranoid streak which she never owned but which was clearly visible to anyone not submerged in the cult of her personality.

Nor has the BBSH been open and honest about what’s going on now with Barbara: she’s institutionalized with Alzheimer’s. Students and graduates deserve to know this. Barbara Brennan isn’t just a private figure; she’s also a public figure. She put herself on the world stage with schools in Europe and Japan. She has forfeited some of her right to secrecy.

I had a lot of problems with the conduct of Barbara and the BBSH. Nonetheless, I remain grateful to both. Barbara’s vision was extraordinary, both her high sense perception and her larger sense of the possibilities for healing techniques in the world. The BBSH was a left brain mystery school. It was a gift and a blessing for someone like me, who has a good working intellect as well as access to the subtle realms.

Barbara herself was extraordinary as a human being. Before enrolling in the school, I attended a lecture she gave. I walked up to her to have her sign my program, and as I approached her, my energy bumped up. She had that affect on me. She smiled at me and her eyes got dreamy as she gazed at me. She wrote, “Traci, Keep letting out your love, beauty, and sweetness.”

In my sophomore year at her school, Barbara read my field in front of the class. She said, “One day everyone will know that you have a secret, private inner world full of butterflies.”

As someone who has spent a lifetime with a secret, private inner world full of butterflies, I was shaken, startled, and freed to have her see me and validate me.

I owe Barbara a debt of gratitude. Also, I used BBSH healing techniques effectively in my practice.

This circles back to Yoga Teacher Training and my desire to remain open and flexible because already some of the Yoga precepts that are taken as “true science” butt up against my training and experience as a healer.

Can I stay open and flexible and allow divergent schools of thought to live in me simultaneously? It will be a challenge. Of course, it’s only fun if it’s a challenge–and I love to have fun.

Yoga Teacher Training

 

Glowing Reviews of THE YEAR OF LOVING
5 star review | authors | book promotion | book reviews | excellence | happiness | independent publishing | literature | love | marriage | romantic fiction | vulnerability | wholeness | writing

Glowing Reviews of THE YEAR OF LOVING

Glowing reviews of The Year of Loving

Two great review sites recently put up excellent reviews of my latest novel THE YEAR OF LOVING.

The first site is Mrs. Mommy Booknerd’s Book Reviews. What a cool title for a book enthusiast’s site, and what a terrific model for her children! She’s publicly proud to be a Booknerd. Kudos to Mrs. Mommy.

Mrs. Mommy Booknerd wrote,

This book is a realistic romance that will have you guessing and touches on many areas…love, motherhood, life, struggle, romance, friendship, betrayal and so much more.  The main character is raw and harsh, but also funny and smart.  This book is one that romance readers will certainly enjoy.
The other review was posted by reviewer HCharju on a big review site called Night Owl Reviews. I like Night Owl Reviews, a lively, appealing site with great integrity and great reviewers.
 
HCharju selected THE YEAR OF LOVING as a Top Pick and wrote a beautiful review, saying,

The rawness of this story pulls at your heart and fills you with so many conflicting emotions. Her first ex-husband, and the father of her children is such a hateful and petty man. The way he turns the children against her and lets them do whatever harmful thing they want makes me want to strangle him. I would think his current wife would get tired of all the court cases and BS but she seems to be of the same ilk as he is. The second husband doesn’t seem too bad, just a little narcissistic and immature–Pretty much a perfect rebound guy, but not great husband material. It does sound like he has an awesome talent which leads me to believe that he will be going places.

The struggle with the daughters is heartbreaking. I’m not sure how things will end there but, I felt bad when Sarah tried so hard with no positive response.

Whenever I finish a novel, I email HCharju and ask respectfully for her to review my new book. She’s a thoughtful reader and a reviewer who sees to the heart of a story. I’m lucky to have discovered her.

Night Owl Reviews

Chris Strickland’s Story: My Article in Parent Survival Magazine
anarchy | errors | interview | love | parental alienation | vulnerability

Chris Strickland’s Story: My Article in Parent Survival Magazine

Chris Strickland’s Story

Chris Strickland is a lesbian mom in Mississippi who was a target parent for parental alienation. Her story was complicated by the fact that she wasn’t listed on the adoption papers for her older son nor on the birth certificate for her younger son. She and her partner married in Massachusetts, and their marriage wasn’t legal in Mississippi.

Chris got caught in the lag between marriage in one state and her marriage’s recognition in her home state, where she and her wife were raising their kids. Then her wife left her for a man.

In a few months, her wife moved with the kids and the new man, and Chris didn’t see her sons for almost fourteen months. The former wife told the kids to stop calling Chris “mom.”

Parental alienation is the severing of a child’s bonds with a parent by the other parent, and it is unutterably cruel. Dr. Amy Baker has done a lot of work in the subject and she says, “It’s when one parent gives the child permission to break the other parent’s heart.”

What results is a child who refuses, without good reason, to see a parent, called the target parent. If the child grudgingly sees the target parent, the target parent is, in the child’s mind, the lesser parent. The target parent’s feelings do not matter: the child has been trained to believe that. The child often is coldly cruel to the target parent.

Often the alienating parent is personality disordered: a narcissist, a borderline. Anyone who has worked with or studied these disorders knows how difficult they are to deal with.

Parental alienation isn’t an accident. The alienating parent uses a number of strategies to accomplish the divide between a parent and her beloved child. Amy Baker identifies 17 of them. It’s not just about badmouthing the target parent, and often an alienating parent can claim that they don’t do so. There are other, subtler forces at work, such as when the target parent is from a different ethnic, educational, or socio-economic group. To whit: “You dad isn’t Catholic like us,” or “Your mother didn’t go to college and isn’t French like us.” Alienating parents use identity against the target parents.

Alienating parents do whatever they can to destroy the target parent’s moral authority with their children. “Your mother’s rules don’t apply at my house,” is a classic line that an alienating father uses.

Parental alienation devastates the target parent. It does the same to the child, though the child probably won’t recognize it until he or she is much older–maybe not until his or her 30’s. Children who have been alienated this way often suffer from self esteem issues and terrible anxiety. The parentectomy she pursues to please the alienating parent leaves her scourged with anxiety, and the child doesn’t know that coming back into rightful relationship with the target parent is a crucial step in healing the anxiety.

I also wonder about a child’s relationships when they have been taught by the alienating parent that the target parent’s feelings don’t matter. This is a setup to create broader heartlessness and even narcissism in the child: other people exist only to serve the child, and other people’s needs don’t matter; when someone asks for their needs to be honored, the child sees them as a bad person.

I wrote about Chris Strickland because she was a target parent, and her complicated case took her all the way to the Mississippi Supreme Court.

Chris Strickland's story

Lost Parents: When High Conflict Divorce Leads to Parental Alienation
criminal behavior | errors | healing | Huffington Post | parental alienation | redemption | vulnerability

Lost Parents: When High Conflict Divorce Leads to Parental Alienation

This is my latest article on the Huffington Post. It’s about Parental Alienation. I interviewed Dr. Bill Bernet on Independent Artists & Thinkers a few weeks ago.

The space of time sandwiched between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day can bring unique anguish for people whose children have become alienated from them through a high conflict divorce.

Parental alienation happens when a child becomes enmeshed with one parent, strongly allying himself or herself with that parent, and rejects the other parent without legitimate justification. These children are encouraged by one parent, the favored parent or alienating parent, to unjustly reject the other parent, the targeted parent. The children can fall prey to the alienating parent’s tactics as a means of escaping the conflict.

According to psychiatrist Dr. William Bernet, professor emeritus of Vanderbilt University and a researcher into the phenomenon, “Almost every mental health professional who works with children of divorced parents acknowledges that PA—as we define it—affects thousands of families and causes enormous pain and hardship.” (Parental Alienation, AACAP News, Sept 2013, pp. 255-256.)

Bernet and other researchers refer to eight criteria for diagnosing parental alienation, including a campaign of denigration against the targeted parent, the child’s lack of ambivalence, frivolous rationalizations for the child’s criticisms against the target parent, reflexive support of the alienating parent against the target parent, the child’s lack of guilt over exploitation and mistreatment of the target parent, borrowed scenarios, and the spread of the child’s animosity toward the target parent’s extended family or friends.

These criteria sound academic but their effect is exquisitely awful in the most human and primal way. The child basically constructs an alternate reality where the parent is some kind of monster. There’s no longer any sense of the parent as a human being with the ordinary nuances of the gray scale, or as a good-enough parent; the parent’s actions and statements are twisted, distorted, and massaged to “prove” that the parent is unworthy of contact.

Children will adamantly maintain that they themselves have compiled their list of rationalizations for the parentectomy in progress. This is called the independent thinker phenomenon.

For a parent who would willingly give his or her heart or liver to a beloved child who needs it, it’s a nightmarish turn of events. The pain is surreal, and it’s frequently heightened both by outright viciousness on the child’s part and by the child’s complete lack of remorse about the way he or she has treated the targeted parent. The child feels entitled to demonize the targeted parent and justified in doing so, and therefore entitled to behave with extreme nastiness toward the parent.

Amy J. L. Baker, PhD, one of Bernet’s research colleagues, writes about seventeen primary strategies used by the alienating parent to foster conflict and psychological distance between the child and the targeted parent.

Parental Alienation

These include poisonous messages to the child about the targeted parent in which he or she is portrayed as unloving, unsafe, and unavailable, such as, “your mother is a rage monster who shames you”; erasing and replacing the targeted parent in the heart and mind of the child, “you can trust mommy, she doesn’t judge and malign you like daddy does”; encouraging the child to betray the targeted parent’s trust, “how bad was daddy this weekend?”; and undermining the authority of the targeted parent, “your mom’s rules don’t apply, you don’t have to listen to your mother, do whatever you want.”

See the whole article here.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/traci-l-slatton/lost-parents-when-high-co_b_7400462.html

huffington-post