All posts by Deborah Chelette-Wilson

Distracted Connection


Do you find your mind frequently jumping from one disconnected thought to another?  Are complete sentences lost in the interruptions of your day?  Does your mind ruminate until overthinking takes you down a foggy path?

The new normal?  Thoughts in bullet points, emotions in symbols, conversations in texts, physical bodies seen but not felt.

So many connections yet only surface relating.  You are together on devices yet not physically.

Awareness is sucked into multiple dimensions of distractions on screens.  Our devices have become another appendage and we go into an identity crisis when we don’t know where they are.  Like a frantic overprotective parent, we desperately seek their return.

Human beings are hard-wired with a drive for the “felt sense” of social and emotional connection.  In other words, human beings need physical touch for our health.

The family psychotherapist Virginia Satir affirmed,  “We need 4 hugs a day to survive, 8 hugs to maintain ourselves, and 12 hugs to grow.”

Research has found people feel better on days when they get one hug and worse on days when they had a conflict with other people.

Surpriseingly, on days people receive a hug the same day they had a conflict with someone their mood was still better.

We are born to live in the context of human relationships.  We especially need the “felt sense” of another’s loving, kind energy, partly for survival and partly for human connection. Our brains and bodies are built to help us move away from fear and toward love.

The tone of another’s email, social media, and texts are often our inner projections resulting in hurt feelings and verbal reactions.

Standing in the presence of that person and feeling their field of energy, we might have a different experience.  Face-to-face we stand in each other’s humanity.

Our technology is a tool that like any tool can be used to hurt or help.  Tools need to be used responsibly or they become weapons of destruction.  In this case our loss of emotional and physical connection.

Our humanity must not be sacrificed in the service of technology.  Technology needs to help us save our humanity.

How many hugs have you had today?





Don’t Forget The Children

Divorcing parents need to recognize that their innocent children do not need to be tools to get back at each other when their marriage has failed. Failed marriage does not have to mean failed parenting. I have been deeply saddened recently with several cases where children have been caught in the crossfire between parents and at times extended family members as they takes sides against each other in the heat of a pending divorce. Children become possessions to be fought over and used against the other parent.
Allegations of abuse are now becoming common place in these situations. Sometimes it is true. Other times it is used to discredit a parent or disrupt their ability to visit their children.

When parents divorce they need to remember it is the end of their marriage, not the end of the family.

They are still and will always be a ‘family’ because of the children they share. They are still the parents of their children. They are still mom and dad. Children need an opportunity to have a relationship with both their parents.

Parents need to remember that a divorce means the loss of their hopes and dreams of how they thought things would be in their marriage relationship.

This means there is grief. Part of the grieving process is anger. I wonder how many divorcing couples consider how their emotional dysregulation and revenge seeking behavior affect their children. I have seen the expression through words of concern about how the divorce is affecting the children but not in the actions of the parents.

The adversarial paradigm of who is going to get what of the carcass of the marriage including the children who are treated as possessions rather than living, breathing humanity, does not consider the psychological toll on all concerned. It becomes a game of who can win and who can pay for the winning team.

While parents are caught up in the emotions of fighting where are the children?

Children are watching. Children are feeling. Children are also grieving the loss of the life they believed they would always have. Somehow between the parents fighting, extended family side-taking and the legal system they are in a vortex of stress, fear, and confusion. Because they don’t have the words to express their feelings or they are too afraid or to confused to say anything, they suffer silently. Often their behaviors change for the worse and each parent uses that as a claim against the other. No one is looking at the impact this has on children. No one seems to see that the world as they know it has split open and they are falling into the pit of confusion, fear, and an overwhelmed nervous system.

No one really listens to them because the belief is that either or both parents have coached whatever they have to say. No one seems to understand that they have eyes to see, ears to hear, a mind to think, a heart that loves and breaks, and a mouth to express.

The adults justify what they are doing ‘for the best interest of their children’.

After almost 30 years of counseling children, many of divorce I have yet to hear a child tell me they feel their interests have been considered. Nor their questions and confusion answered. They do not feel heard. They do not feel considered. They do not feel honored.

The system of divorce is set up for the benefits and property exchange between adults.

Out of their hurt and pain parents are using the situation to pit their children against each other. That is not okay with me. The system needs more ‘heart’ for children, especially an awareness of their developmental emotional needs. They are not property. They are living parts of each parent combined in a unique way that is a separate self, a living breathing feeling being. It is time we integrate all of what we know about stress, trauma, relationships and child developmental needs into the fabric of divorce court. Unless we do, we will continue to discount children’s needs and not deliver on the promise of “the best interest of the child.” Then years later I will see them in my office wondering why they are having problems in their relationships.

Emotional absence!

I was going to say it is misunderstood. But to misunderstand something you need to know something about it. I don’t believe that we have a clue what emotional absence is or the consequences; even though many of us have experienced it.

In Nancy Newton Verrier’s book The Primal Wound Understanding the Adopted Child, published in 1993 she shares her heartfelt story as an adopted mother and those of adoptees, birthmothers and adoptive parents whom she spent many hours interviewing. Through their willingness to open their hearts and souls to her she is able to give us a window into the ‘primal wound’ which like, emotional absence, has been absent from our awareness as parents and professionals.

So much about what I know and talk about is unseen.

You can’t see a primal wound or emotional absence. You can’t see the wind either but you can see what it does. This year has been particularly windy in Northeast Texas. You are aware of the constant wind as you can see the trees swaying and feel the wind on your face. It makes for a very bad hair day. But you don’t see the gusts coming that almost blow you off the porch.

Though her book is speaking to adoptees I think it also speaks to others who through birth traumas either their own or their mothers or both end up with the same feelings of disconnection, distrust, rage and fear. We are more technologically advanced than we are with our own fragile side of our humanness. Though woman of long ago made the birth process a sacred experience to be entered into with care and emotion our present medical system has forgotten that. Now babies come when it’s convenient for the doctor or mother or both. The first choice of a human, when to be born, has been snatched away from them. Then we wonder why we increasingly have more children that are hyperactive and aggressive. They are fighting for their lives.

Oh, I See

I don’t mean to be needy but I’m so small and can’t do much for myself. I look in your eye and it scares me. I don’t think you want to care for me. Oh, I see I’m more than you bargained for. I can’t help that you have to do so much for me. I’ll try not to need so much so you won’t be so stressed.

I don’t mean to cry so much. When I do, your face is all red and scrunched up, like my bottom when it has diaper rash. Your face must really hurt. Oh, I see my crying hurts you. I can’t help it, something inside of me makes me cry. I’m sorry my crying hurts you, I’ll try not to do that so much.

I don’t mean to think so much. When I ask you about why the sky is blue and where the sun goes at night. You say I think too much. I can’t help it. I want to know about the world and everything about it. I want to fit in and do good. I’m sorry that makes your face look mean and you yell at me. I’m really not trying to bother you. Oh, I see, my questions bother you. I’ll try not to ask them, so I won’t bother you.

I don’t mean to need you so much. When I want to hug you and have you hug me, you push me away. You say I’m smothering you. I’m not trying to; I just need love and affection. Oh, I see, my hugs are too much for you. They make you want to run and hide. I’ll try not to need a hug, because I want you to stay here with me and not run away.

I don’t mean to run after you so much. I just need to know I’m loved and cared for. I’m not sure with you. Can’t we talk about our feelings and what it’s like to fall in love? Your eyes narrow and you say that’s silly stuff. Now go away. Oh, I see, my emotions aren’t worth your time. I’ll try not to feel anything, I wouldn’t want to waste your time.

I’m grown and now I understand. My needs, my thoughts, my emotions, and my feelings are something bad about me. I must not need what I need, think what I think, ask questions, have emotions, or feel what I feel. You have taught me well. Now, I’m ready to join the world and be like you.

What I Really Want

I am an ordinary woman with an extraordinary hunger, an ache to discover and consciously live the meaning of my life and a conviction that that hunger can only be satisfied by cultivating a deeply spiritual life.
-Oriah Mountain Dreamer

It doesn’t really interest me who is right and who is wrong. What I really want is for people to get along. Somewhere between the right and the wrong is what could work if we had the will to make it so.

It doesn’t really interest me why people do what they do that is harmful to themselves and others. What I really want is for people to get along. To harm one’s self is to harm the All we come from. To harm others is to harm ourselves.

It doesn’t interest me the reasons other people did what they did. What I really want is to not have to suffer for the consequences of their behaviors while they don’t.

The coals of self-criticism sizzle and steam as I struggle to walk without injury to the other side. There I find that I’ve been caught up in the vortex of unreason appearing as reason; punishment appearing as teaching; control appearing as salvation; fearful ness appearing as calm.

Something inside me died on August 19, 2010. I recognize the feelings well as they have surfaced before. Flashes of relationship bob to the front of my awareness. The intensity that has run my life begins to become clearer. That energy was one of judgment that I lived in a world that needed me to fix it. If I didn’t fix things I would die. I faced the reality that I can’t fix this world. Sadly, it never should have occurred to me that was even an option.

In the world of my childhood I was the oldest and I was the responsible one for making sure I did what I was told; whether I liked it or not; whether it was difficult or not; whether I had to sacrifice my voice in silence; whether I had to make the best of a bad difficult situation; whether I attempted the unattainable; whether I had no power or control over others; whether my heart and body ached for comfort, kindness and love and found none; whether I had to be last or not at all; I had to make sure others needs were met whether mine were or not.

I hope this is the core issue that has sabotaged me as I am ready to create and maintain a life of freedom, joy, creative expression, health, wealth, interesting and loving and supportive relationships. I am ready to live from a core of peace, calm, harmony, joy, fun, loving life and willing to give to life. I choose to live my life from my inner wise voice that embraces all of life and calmly, eloquently, and softly speaks her truth. I stay connected to the sacred presence of my soul and that of universal soul which we all come from. I have the power to make the choices to stay connected to this sacred life, rejuvenate my mind, body, and spirit, have plenty of energy and clarity of mind to express this spirit in all of my endeavors in a calm quiet powerfully clear and courageous way.

Woman on the edge is about consciously stopping so you can find the deep stillness that lies beneath the surface of everyday activities and busyness. It is about slowing down and if necessary, stopping the doing to connect with being. In that slowing down you find the way out of the gerbil cage repeating what you don’t want to create a new pathway of your own.

This ache to know more, to grow, to evolve has been with me for as long as I remember. I feel it in my body-mind, emotions, and soul as I write this. My self criticism beats me up for not staying on a straight path. I feel its chains weigh heavy on me, but I let them drop off. I know that the multiple paths I have taken are all part of my spiritual quest to know my self and others. I look back with clearer eyes and see that all my experiences are part of the process of growing me.

I no longer need to feel shame, grief and guilt for my old critical voices berating me about things I couldn’t know, things I didn’t know and not voicing what I did know.

My cultural, family, and human conditioning for good or ill has influenced me in many ways. Some of it has nurtured and supported me and some of it has hurt and disappointed me. My mission has and is to awaken and embrace both. By doing that I am free to create. The heaviness of that critical voice is quieted by the release of its weight and my body feels light and free.

May you open yourself to growth and freedom.