Staying Home to Come Home: Women in the Pandemic

I heard that from many women during quarantine – the realization that what modern life expected of them no longer felt sustainable. 

What happened when you stayed home during quarantine? I’ll hear whatever story of change you want to tell, but what I really want to know is what happened on the inside of you? 

As I write this, we got the “stay home” order in North Carolina almost exactly three months ago. And, now, even though the cases of Coronavirus are greater than they were three months ago, the “stay home” orders are now increasingly lifted for economic reasons. There is a push for things to go back to normal, and yet, I hope we don’t miss the available lessons. 

How did this quarantine and all that it exposed change you? And is it still? 

For a little context, I’m the mother of an 11 year old son who lives between two houses, and I’ve worked from home via the internet as a life coach, distance healer, and women’s & relationship coach for over two years. So the format of my work was not affected when this hit, and actually, I was prepared for it because I’d already been through the highs and lows of such deep transition and could now assist others. And, I was able to actually spend more time with my child, which exposed quite a bit.

While I won’t bore you with the small accounts of what happened during quarantine, I will say that all of the things that were not working in our busy day to day life immediately became apparent when we stayed home. Discrepancies in parenting between households and the way our child had grown emotionally avoidant in fifth grade came to the surface to be revealed. We looked at it, and within two weeks, we had a new schedule and a new family therapist. I’m so grateful for that, because it’s made a huge positive impact on our child, and we otherwise would have missed it, had life just kept on. 

Then, in April, a baby goat was born on the farm we lived on, and I thought, “Good grief I’m so glad he’s not in school right now.” Because when we heard the mama goat yell out in labor, he was able to run and get to the pen in enough time to watch the baby goat land in the hay. He got to help name it Pixie. 

In case I need to spell it out, this was incredibly special. We’d moved out of the city a few months prior, and now, the choice to have done so grew even sweeter. My boy was watching the birth and early rearing of a mammal, learning about the placenta and birth, watching the milk come in and holding Pixie in his arms at 10pm in front of the mama goat’s nose while the farmer worked to prevent mastitis from setting in. My son had a place in things that was different as a result of staying home.

So I became “that mom” when I emailed the school – the school where I was formerly the middle grades principal – and I said, “Now that we know North Carolina isn’t counting grades this year, and my son is building forts while learning about measurement & cooperation, planting gardens, and is deeply engaged in the life of a new baby goat, I’m going to advocate that we all relax with the piles of computer work.” On Earth Day, when there was homework to research something online, I intervened and simply submitted a picture of him and Pixie the goat instead of evidence of a closer relationship with the Earth.

Real life again mattered more than assignments or schedules. And I was witnessing that my child was touching childhood in a way that he would not have if not for this pause. And as I looked around at the women’s groups that I was hosting, each woman was touching life in a new way as well. 

We were touching life. Eventually. Because each life went through an adjustment period in quarantine, as you know. Uncomfortable at first, and then, there was more life.

I was facilitating two women’s groups online – one a six-month Mastermind that had begun mid January 2020, and another a group called Choosing Nourishment that came together right at the beginning of quarantine when I noticed that women, even though they were already tired and juggling quite a bit in their lives, jobs, and households, and you may have thought that quarantine would provide reprieve, were actually quite frazzled in their nervous systems as a result of the changes. 

“You want me to stay home, work from my computer, and homeschool my kids?” 

“You want me to stay in the house with this husband of mine that is unwilling to actively help us figure out our finances?” 

“You want me to stay in the house with the man who doesn’t care at all what my opinion is and makes me feel invisible?” 

The panic was up. The nervous systems alert. This did not feel like a good idea to stay home. In fact, to some, I noticed that it felt really scary. Like modern life had been some sort of very busy distraction, and even though it wasn’t necessarily working or feeling good, nor particularly fun, it was the norm, and they’d learned how to manage it. This was the same reason I’d left working in schools to start my own business two years ago – modern life just wasn’t sustainable any more.

I heard that from many women during quarantine – the realization that what modern life expected of them no longer felt sustainable. 

As time passed, and as we held the space in confidence and safe space in these women’s groups to talk about how to choose the nourishment, how to be in communion with this opportunity to push pause, I noticed that all of the women began to care less about whether or not things like the homeschooling got done, and cared more about feeling good, re-connecting with their families, and listening to their authentic inner voices. 

Feeling good matters. Knowing oneself matters. Being able to sit and breathe in a body with a settled nervous system matters. And modern life makes these things “self-care” periphery practices instead of, well, the norm. But in quarantine, more women began to prioritize a rebalancing that they’d previously only dreamed of. 

Priorities shifted. Preferences stated more clearly. Boundaries realized. 

And then, about six weeks into quarantine, in the Mastermind that is all about the quest for the Sacred Truth within each woman, after months of clearing old stories and identities, a “Coming Home” theme emerged. 

And I chuckled as I said, “Hmm, staying home to come home.” 

And everywhere I looked to see what women were doing, in these groups and in the collective of women, I kept hearing women say: 

“Maybe it doesn’t have to go back to the way it was.” 

“That was never sustainable and we knew it all along.” 

“I don’t even want to go back to work. I never want to feel like that again.”

“Maybe I won’t send my child back to school next year.” “Maybe it’s time to finally own my skills as a healer.” 

“Maybe it’s time to start the business I really want to start.” 

It was mandated that we all stay home. Yet, it was rather unsuspected how we discovered that so many women, would, also, come home to themselves. And I love witnessing it. It feels like only a beginning to what has been such a long time coming. 

Women remembering who they are. 

Women coming home to the truth of who they are. 

Women, refusing to live unsustainable lives. 

Women, planting gardens and knowing rest for the first time in years. 

Women, making plans for what they might create next. 

I truly hope that we don’t go back to life as usual, that this actually changed us in the way it had the potential to change us. Because through a wider lens, this is how the feminine rebalances with the masculine, a story I told of my own life in my TEDx from last year. So much happens when women come home to themselves. 

Worlds open.

The feminine principle, the archetype – which involves rest and bodies and satisfaction and families first – was touched through this quarantine experience. I’d say it was awakened, in many women. 

How did this change you? What are you willing to go back to and unwilling to go back to? What will you do differently? 

I chose to integrate family and home life with my partner, moving in together during quarantine. I chose to begin to walk in nature daily, even though I’d lived in nature before and yet failed to prioritize it. I chose to begin organizing a potential home-school cooperative for the fall with the same children that my child was able to play and bond with during the spring. 

I’m beginning to dream of new systems of education and women’s entrepreneurial collaboration that before seemed so far off, and now, it feels like the time to choose based on deeper preference and intuitive knowing. 

I found myself choosing to relax and read fiction, to sleep in, to start a new yoga practice. 

I chose to come further home, and I choose it still. 

And I’ll ask you, women, did you come home? And I’ll encourage you. Come home to the truth of who you are. Don’t go back to an unsustainable status quo. If you allowed yourself to dream, what would you create? 

If this article speaks to you, let’s work together.

How Is Trauma-Informed Couples Coaching Different Than Couples Therapy?

Trauma blocks a relationship from true connection. Trauma-informed couples coaching gets below the story to heal the pattern and allow for true intimacy.

While I can’t answer this question broadly or speak for everyone, I can speak to some ways that my couples coaching, which is trauma-informed, is different than couples therapy that I’ve experienced and as I’ve researched. Of course, those who wish to will find exceptions to what I’m saying. Those who wish to look for solutions will read this information as innovation and ask questions. 

It is important to understand that talking about problems, as in conventional therapy, doesn’t necessarily heal problems. People go to therapy to heal problems, but talk alone won’t do that. 

With every relationship problem, there is an underlying trauma. This traumatic event could be conscious or unconscious, it could have to do with the previous partner or parent and therefore not get talked about in couples therapy between two partners. And what we know about trauma is that it is very frequently trapped in the body memory but not in the cognitive memory. Therefore, couples can have and express behaviors that are rooted in traumatic memory, but couples therapy that only involves mental processes might not ever reach the true issue and will certainly be less likely to heal the actual trauma. 

Often in troubled relationships, couples wait until there is a serious problem before engaging with a therapist. By this time, the couple has often erected a wall between their connection, and while talking through a problem or developing communication skills might help to increase understanding, will not fix a true pattern of disruption, because you need to heal the disruption in the brain in order to connect. 

Patterns in the relationship that are dysfunctional result in breaches in connection. What every individual wants, unless they are sociopathic, is connection. Even neurodiverse individuals want connection, despite common social myths. 

Connection can not be healed unless we heal the trauma in the brain. As Dr. Stephen Porges, author of the Polyvagal Theory says, “Trauma compromises our ability to engage with others by replacing patterns of connection with patterns of protection.” 

In trauma-informed couples coaching, I guide couples to involve aspects of trauma healing modalities in how I coach their connection. Rather than attempting to pick apart with conversation what happened in the past and who may be at fault, we look at the present moment, using mindful attunement and noticing, and I teach couples to develop practices that heal breeches in connection. 

The walls naturally begin to crumble. The blame unnecessary. Couples orient toward solution-finding. 

Did you ever hear couples say that one or the other of them “won” therapy? It is common, I found in my research, that couples often feel that there is more blame and sidedness after therapy sessions than there is connection. 

Many couples who go to therapy looking for true healing do not understand the role of relational trauma, epigenetic trauma (trauma passed through the DNA), and how trauma is actually creating their disconnection. Many couples would also prefer to work in a present moment / forward facing modality rather than a conversational modality that focuses on the past. 

Couples Coaching removes the sigma that “something is wrong” with the relationship by inviting both partners into a growth-focused program, where both partners are learning the same skills, both partners are evolving in compassion and understanding, and both are getting their needs met. 

Statistically, about 40% of couples who go to traditional therapy end up divorcing within four years. The results of my coaching are most often greater connection, greater empathy and understanding (despite we talk less about understanding the past), greater intimacy and bonding, and a rekindled enthusiasm for the direction of their union. As one recent couple said, “Honestly, before this, we were going down the road of divorce. Our communication didn’t exist and we fought daily. Now, we are mindful of one another. We have a whole new way to communicate and connect with one another.” This couple is planning to spend the rest of their lives together. 

I will not tell you that Couples Coaching is better for you than therapy – that is for you to decide. I am saying that there is a conscious, progressive, effective alternative out there that is growth-based and available to you. I am seeing this methodology heal relationships, and I want that for you if you are in a relationship that needs a serious boost. In twelve weeks, you can change the trajectory of your relationship. 

Visit www.sarahpoet.com/consciousrelating for more information.