One of my two cats will choose love and touch over food. She was feral as a kitten and she’s learned to trust my hands. As I dish out the high quality cat food and sit it in front of her, she’ll follow my hands if I walk away. She’ll opt for touch over food. So I stand beside her so she can eat without alarm.
A fetus or gestating mammal in utero can sense the mood of the mother, and reacts to it from the time it’s just a few-celled zygote. If the mother has any kind of barrier – like stress, or fear about there being enough resources, or doubts about wanting an unplanned pregnancy – the fetus feels it and this creates what’s called a “nourishment barrier” that the living thing will likely take with them throughout their lives.
It’s like that strange feeling that you weren’t wanted as much as your siblings, or you somehow caused your mother’s stress but you can’t find any earthly reason for it.
Recently, I left an appointment and found a voicemail from my best friend in college, who I hadn’t talked to in a few years. I realized how deeply I missed her, and a few other relationships that I hadn’t nurtured, and then that in perfect combination with the effects of the appointment, I went home and had a three hour psycho-somatic integration period, like I was remembering something profound.
That “something” seemed to be nurturance.
I reached out to these friends and said things like, “I’m sorry, when my life became difficult, I self-isolated. I miss you. I love you. Let’s connect.”
My therapist calls this “reaching.” People with nourishment barriers have a hard time “reaching” for what we want or need. We act like we’ve got it all under control. We go without. We ignore the alarms as they sound.
There’s an end of the road to that, I imagine, whether forced or chosen.
I sort of cracked open two days later at a fire circle, speaking about this inherited tendency that my mother had modeled for me to always appear strong and independent, to resist asking for help. As I spoke this, my body started to leak tears, my voice caught, and I began to quiver a bit – sure signs of loss of control – and I let it happen as I said I was opting now for nourishment and connection. Again, I reached.
In response, the elder Grandmother of the circle asked me if I’d lay down on my back beside the fire. Always up for a soul experience, I said of course I’d do this.
She asked one man to drum and a woman to sing and she began putting her hands on my face. The way she moved her hands let me know she could feel the tension that I hold on the left side of my face and body.
She invited other women to touch and nourish me, and soon everyone in the circle was signing and I was crying, aware that it was one of the most beautiful things to have ever happened to me, yet I couldn’t fully integrate it in that moment. I tried to take in the touch, especially, as it was so generous and I didn’t realize how much I needed it. She asked me to flip from my back to my stomach, and I was aware of the closeness of my belly to the Earth.
Recently I did a “regression” journey back to the womb of my mother, as I wondered what it felt like to be in her womb, given the magnitude of nourishment barrier I have carried. As a child, I wasn’t nurtured very much at all – I don’t remember being held or comforted when I was upset. I wasn’t allowed to ask for things I wanted. I got the sense I annoyed her very much. As a little one, I stopped “reaching” early on. When I regressed into the womb in meditation, it felt like something akin to fire in the cells and neurons. Something like chemical poisoning and I couldn’t escape the heat.
Lately I’ve been closely tracking what my body wants as nourishment – for food, for rest, for comfort. It wants to play with clay, to eat warm squash soup and fall foods, to dance to my “eros” playlist, to journal much more than usual, to find no problem in anything.
When I try to come up, to find reason, to reengage and make something new happen, she pulls me back down and in.
I’m aware that if I don’t do this now, there is no other time.
About a week after the fire circle, I woke at dawn deeply tucked into the layers of my bed on a chilly fall morning.
The Inner Earth Grandmothers of the Heartland reached out to me. I said in connection and gratitude, as I always do, “I Am Here.”
They invited me into their council chamber. They invited me to lay down, with my head in a lap, similar to what happened beside the fire.
First they told me to lay on my back. They asked me to pair with the frequency of the inside of their Earthly chamber. My breathing slowed as I matched what they were offering.
They encouraged me to roll over onto my stomach and press my belly onto the Earth, again the same thing that had happened next to the fire.
That’s when I saw a large replica of my womb and stomach like a chamber, and it was stuffed with hardened sticks, logs, pieces of furniture, tables and chairs. It was like an uncomfortable nest that had been swallowed and undigested into this space. Who knows how long it had been sitting there – these things I’d taken in that had never nourished me at all. How could they?
Things to fill a space that I couldn’t absorb for nourishment.
The Grandmothers and I removed each piece, one by one, until my internal chamber was just Earth again. And then the biome properly reestablished itself as Earth and dirt into this space once again.
After that I could breathe more deeply.
As I began to stir, the cats knew that meant it was time for their breakfast. And so I went and stood beside the cat, so she could eat in peace, and know that she is not alone.
**You are also not alone. We need one another on our journeys of reclamation and soul. Reach out for 1:1 support and multidimensional healing today.