The Boundaried Branch
Photography and Text by Jules Hovee Steffen
When we maximize our efforts to ensure our own self-care, our health and wellbeing are likely to improve, and we may discover the rest and relaxation that we may desperately seek. It’s when we look back to what happened during our pre- and perinatal life, when as a prenate and newborn baby we were so vulnerable and undefended, that we gain perspective about our life threads.
I experience these giant moss-filled trees when journeying up to Twin Falls, near North Bend, Washington. Their lush, spongy existence calls my name and captivates me with their invitation to focus my gaze upward. I will share more photos of that walk in future blog posts. The contrasting browns and greens, so deeply vibrant in color, pull me in as if I am entering a whispering wonderland for my wandering soul. The enfolding organisms that wrap themselves tightly, and at the same time, ever so loosely, around the dispersing arms of these sageful souls of the forest, offer a covering of sorts, likened to that which shields us and offers respite to our vulnerable and fragile existence, sheltering us from those who may unknowingly/knowingly hem us in or harm us in both observable or more cloaked ways. The wounds we carry greatly impact us and are revealed in the ways we relate to our self and to each other. Delving deeper into the wounds can prompt incredible healing for how we treat our self and those around us.
As a prenate, on our way toward being born, we were unable to defend ourselves from what was happening to us, or create a barrier or boundary from the experiences that may have seemed ominous and overwhelming. What may have felt wonderful for one prenate, may have been very shocking and horrific for another. As I’ve noted before, each prenate’s experience is unique and not to be compared to another. Permeation (Emerson) is what occurs prenatally when the energy and messages of our mother’s and father’s thoughts, feelings, reactions, beliefs, perceptions, and/or actions enter into the prenate. While inutero, prenates are not equipped to defend themselves in the face of any negativity which can be potentially very shocking and wounding. The prenate makes the negativity mean everything about the self, about me, i.e. the prenate.
At the time of Discovery (Emerson), the mother discovers that she is pregnant, and for the first time, the prenate is seen. The prenate’s parents now know of the prenate’s existence, and have thoughts, feelings, and actions based on knowing the prenate’s presence. There can be many layers of experiences for expecting parents, ranging from welcoming excitement to overwhelming dismay (and more), or a combination thereof, and the prenate receives all of it. Many varied dynamics can potentially occur within the mother’s life and/or the life of the father during the time of Discovery that can literally collide in that moment of consciously knowing of the pregnancy, and in the subsequent days and months ahead. The prenate absorbs the energy and specific messages coming from the parents upon Discovery, making it mean everything about the prenate, (i.e. me), unable to differentiate between them (parents) and me (prenate).
Because the prenate has no boundaries for defense, everything is about self (i.e. me) to the prenate. Thus, the boundaries of the prenate are crossed when permeation occurs because no barrier can be created to keep the prenate separate or safe. If the prenate receives the message of “you shouldn’t be here”, the prenate takes it all on and perceives that “I shouldn’t be here”, and attracts experiences in life that reinforce that belief. The prenate’s experiences at Discovery may likely have a huge impact on the ways in which the individual shows up in life after birth, given that the imprint of being seen occurred at the time of Discovery.
We tend to repeat what happened to us. If our boundaries were crossed pre- and perinatally, we tend to repeat those wounds in our lives, where we allow others to cross our boundaries, and where we cross the boundaries of others. The dynamic becomes quite complex and convoluted as more individuals interconnect with their woundings, crossing each other’s boundaries and clearly unable to keep themselves safe on multiple levels, whether it be physically, emotionally, spiritually, energetically, or a combination thereof.
Once we become aware of what may have occurred for us early-on in our existence, we become more empowered. No one knew what was going on for us inutero, but we are shifting that reality as we become more aware, and begin to know what we know. If we struggle to show up in life, we can begin to shift that way of living by having compassion for the part of us (i.e. our prenate self) that may have struggled to show up inutero. Thanks for the pioneering efforts of William Emerson, Ph.D and Arrow DeGroot, Certified Counselor, there is incredible awareness and healing for the many who experience the impacts of Permeation and Discovery wounding: Emerson Seminars
This is not about laying blame on parents. This is all about taking responsibility for one’s life and one’s part as a prenate, child, adolescent, and adult. The first step toward healing is to become aware of what happened to us and name it. As we learn how to boundary ourselves in life, we increase our self-care and foster healing for ourselves, something we weren’t able to do for ourselves inutero. The thickly moss-covered branches depicted above, reflect what I believe are boundaried branches, and guide us in remembering what may have happened to us such that we could not boundary ourselves prenatally. I believe these sageful branches represent for us the ways in which we can now offer safety to ourselves. One example may be by saying NO to something we know is not in our highest good. These boundaried branches may serve us well by being the Middle Ground: Where Sages Dwell. Our health, wellbeing, and healing may likely parallel each other as we increase the ways in which we keep ourselves safe and practice self-care.