Thursday, September 29, 2016

Loneliness

I recently read a post on Facebook about the loneliness of healing, this short little post touched on so many of the lessons I have been learning not just about healing about about life in general.  Adam and I have been together for over half our lives, in that time we have grown in the same directions.  There have been plenty of moments where we have sat down to have an honest conversation about our dreams and visions and make sure what we want is the same thing.  In our time together was have faced grieving family members, friends and dreams.  We have learned that both of us go through the process differently and often times when one of us reaches for the other that is the moment the other person needs some space.  

Unsurprisingly this has lead to some arguments and even worse long periods of time where someone withholds and is passive aggressive (usually me).  Because those moments of reaching out, asking for help are moments of vulnerability, moments where the heart is open and ready to receive.  The trap is that one of us wants something specific, receiving love needs to look a certain way.

For example, if Adam comes home from work and sees me crying.  His immediate reaction is to hold me, to hug me, however if I am crying because of nerve pain, being held can sometimes intensify the sensations.  But in that moment if I turn away from him without explanation, his heart breaks and he launches into a story.  My guess is that he launches into a story about how he is not doing enough, that he can't fix it.  At the same time I am sitting in my own story of pain and not being enough myself. These two stories can snowball and feed off each other.  We have done that dance and that fight so many times we could do it in our sleep.  

Right now Adam and I are dealing with some major life changes and grief.  Sterling meant something to us together and he also meant something unique to us an individuals.  Our house feels vacant and both of us dread being home alone, at the same time being alone gives us time to face that grief the other person can't quite grasp.  When Adam and I came home from the vet, we saw the last toy that Sterling had played with.  He had dragged his monkey out and left it in the middle of the room.  Neither one of us could manage to move it.  Each one of us felt something different when we looked at it and we also felt the same thing.  

Adam is one of the strongest, smartest and most capable people I know.  He amazes me all the time, if he only knew how many times I just stare at him in awe and gratitude.  He also loves me unconditionally, and patiently reminds me of this all the time.  However he can't fix my health, he can't bring Sterling back and he can't make the process of grief go any faster.  (Though maybe there is an equation for that.  Lol).  I might be one of the most caring and compassionate people that Adam knows, but right now I am pretty tapped out.  I can't fix his grief and I am struggling to take care of myself.  

What can we do?  How do we make space for both of us to heal together and separately?  Adam helps drive me to appointments, and I need to make sure I tell him how much that means to me.  That he is doing so much to help support me.  I need to tell him that I really want a hug from him but it might hurt, I need to remind him that playing with my hair is super comforting, that him being next to me helps center me and soothe me.  We both need to find ways to allow that heartbreak and receptivity be filled with loved without making it have to look like something.  

I do my best to keep Adam's favorite foods in the house, to make sure he has things he enjoys eating. I even brought home eggs as a surprise comfort food for him.  (Eggs are a huge trigger for my bladder and so they are not around much.).   I make sure he knows it is okay to tell me he needs space and needs to get out of the house.  That it makes sense to me and I don't think he is running away from me because I believe I am a burden.  He trusts that if I interrupt his time out it is for a good reason.  

Adam and I both understand love differently, and we express and receive love differently.  In times of change, we offer what we understand love to be, and hope it is enough.  Both of our hearts are hurting right now and each time we go through something we learn more about what the other person needs. We learn to talk and communicate, we learn to give each person space and be patient even though we know they are hurting.  Healing is lonely because no one can do it for you.  No one can eat, drink, exercise for you, no one can identify what will help except yourself.   

I have been struggling a lot.  I have hit the ground really hard and have some pretty impressive bruises, which finally got me to the point where I not only asked for help but was willing to accept it.  That is the beauty of heartbreak, we allow more into our lives.  That moment of loneliness, that vacant feeling when I feel abandoned and alone creates space for me to receive.  It is still up to me to say "yes," and I am learning to accept my vulnerability and allow the process to continue.  

Question of the day: How hard is it for you to ask for help?  When someone asks you for help, think about the courage it takes and how vulnerable they are.  Take the time to hear them and yourself, we all want to be heard.  

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

I can be stubborn

I was having a conversation with a friend yesterday and he point blank asked me what I have been doing for fun.  I racked my brain, I could have spun what I am have been doing and working on as "fun."  I keep doing it all and so I am getting levels of enjoyment out of it, but in terms of doing something purely for fun, something where time flies and where I feel relaxed and at ease.  I am not doing those things at all, in fact I have been finding excuses to not do them.  Putting them off until I feel better, prioritizing other things because energy and resources feel so limited.  

This weekend Adam wanted to schedule a date morning, and I felt so overwhelmed I was not able to even think of a time that would work.  Adam and I have gotten hit with some major life changes in a short amount of time and we are scrambling a little bit right now, because those changes will trigger more changes.  It is no surprise that this has caused a little bit of a setback in my health and my self care.  

I have let some people down but mostly myself.  I took on more then I could handle and continued to take on more then I could handle.  I was completely overwhelmed with must do, should do and want to do.  It got to the point where I do not have enough perspective to know the difference between must and should. My perspective has shifted and it is time to clean the filters.  

It is time to give myself some time and space to recover, to be selfish.  Those want to do, those things that feed my soul and help me thrive need to enter my life a little bit more right now.  I am in a place where I don't believe my short-term goals are possible, and they aren't if I continue to neglect myself, to push myself over and over.  

There are so many sayings out there about reaching for your goals, to take leaps, and to keep going.  It is time to rest so that I am clear on where to go as Adam and I handle these major life changes.  Which means I get to be honest and really look at my actions lately and see what really builds me up.  I need some help, and frankly I am not even sure what I need.  Everything is okay, and I am excited about these upcoming journeys, however I need to find my ground and get my symptoms under control.  

Focusing on myself is one of the hardest things for me, and it takes me falling down a lot and looking at all my bruises and hurt to bring me back to that.  Whatever works I guess?   

Question of the day:  What are some of your favorite self-care rituals and routines?  As you prepare to stand back up what do you enjoy doing for rest and relaxation?   Everyone goes through so much in their life, what really comforts you and prepares you keep going?

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Sunshine Sunday

My original intent with this blog and my continued intent is to honor both the good and bad in life.  To realize and accept that it the sun can be shining even when it is raining.  My tendancy is to focus on what is wrong, it is the first thing I tend to see.  I decided the best way to work with that is to learn to look for what I don't easily see and notice, to change my focus.  Sometimes context requires us to zoom in and sometimes it requires us to zoom out, and a lucky few of practiced enough that they are able to grasp the entire scope all at once.  

Grieving Sterling is going to take time, it is a process.  For over a decade he has been a presence through all of my processes, he has been a source of love, joy, comfort and patience as I went through life.  Now there is the opportunity to notice other sources, sources that were not seen because I focused on him.  Nothing will replace his presence, he was unique and significant to me in ways that word will never capture.  But that doesn't mean love, joy, comfort and patience are not all around me.  

Sunday was a day that I looked forward to, I got to go through my photos of Sterling and pick one.  I got to share a moment of my time with him and express my love and gratitude for him in a way that meant something to me.  Last night as I climbed into bed and my eyes snapped awake I wondered what in the world will I focus my Sunday photo on?  Was it disloyal to Sterling to start a different theme on Sunday?  I decided that Sunday would still be a day to look forward to, and just go back to sharing a photo, maybe a story about a moment in the week that made me smile, and "Sunshine Sunday" popped into my head.  

Nothing like remembering the light is there even in dark times to remind me that I can always change my focus.  Both light and dark exist, both have their beauty and purpose, both have their time and place.  Changing the focus is about accepting that I can chose to shift, to move or even stay still; it is not easy, it is not a quick fix, it is a commitment to doing the best I can in the moment.  It is a commitment to not staying lost in the dark just because that is the first place my focus goes.  

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Sterling Sunday



Last night, Adam and I said good bye to our little pup.  Words fail me pretty often, but here I am up in the middle of the night working to put something down.  Letting the tears fall because he will be missed.  

I might have mentioned it before but just in case, Sterling saved my life.  He kept me moving for over a decade, and it was time for him to rest and give me the opportunity to learn I will keep going without him.  

Adam and I held him with gratitude, peace, relief and grief.  He will always be in our hearts.  Rest in Peace Sterling Q.  


Thursday, September 15, 2016

Training "begins"



There was a time that I decided to sign up for my first half-marathon.  Ashley gave me plenty of reasons of why I could do it and she inspired me to give it a shot.  Despite having surgery in the middle of training, I still went and ran the race with her.  I had to modify my training because of the surgery, and being relatively new to running I managed to get to the finish line.  The race and the weekend was so much fun, I would not trade those hours of running with Ashley for anything.  It was the most quality time we had gotten together in a while, and even though my tendons were protesting I kept telling her that I would run another race with her.   Less then a month later we signed up for not just a half-marathon but a challenge, a 10K and half-marathon back to back.  We started to plan Star Wars themed costumes and encouraged each other as the training dates approached.  

Then life happened, eventually I chose to defer the race.  I could barely walk without severe pain and running seemed unreasonable as my lifestyle changed.  Not only did I defer the race but I didn't think it made sense to travel to Disneyland and cheer on Ashley as she completed the race.  Last January as Ashley sent me videos and dedicated her run to me I felt heartbroken and a bit angry with my situation.  I remember crying for a long time, as I watched those videos, as I cheered for her from far away.  That is another memory I would never trade, because I was so touched and proud of her.  She has her own battles and it took a lot for her to get there.  

When June came around again, I was used my deferment and signed up for the Rebel Challenge coming up in January.  I was still not able to run and did not know what the future would bring.  I wanted a challenge, something to shoot for and if I am honest something that I could achieve that would help silence that voice that continues to tell me that it is hopeless to plan for the future.  That voice that tells me my life is over and that I am tired of arguing with.  I am tired of saying my life looks different now.  

Enough with the past...this week is when the training program starts.  Instead of buying new shoes to break in, I bought Ashley and I shirts as a talisman.  When I showed Adam the shirt his response was "I am not sure that is the best inspiration for you."   

I started to think about that.  He was correct, and he got me to look at some of my beliefs about my worth.  I grew up with Star Wars and I had given this statement a meaning that I wasn't aware of when until Adam pointed it out.  It was directly tied into how I view my worth, because if I put effort into something and it didn't live up to my expectations I devalued myself and my efforts.  

Monday when I started my training program, I used the time to really decide what that statement means to me now.  What is a useful way to use that statement instead of a way that correlates my worth with results?   

The statement is about results, it is not about action.  There is no judgement in the statement, even though I tend to hear one.  It boils down to doing the work, and letting the results happen.  There is so many different variables involved in results, and many are not something I have control of.  That statement is about committing to the work, trusting the universe to provide the best outcome and not using the results as a way to critique my worth.  

As I work with my body, I will focus on trusting it and believing that we will communicate.  That if running is not something that makes sense then I will do my best to show up and not concentrate on the finish.  In the end my desire is to enjoy time with Ashley, play and reconnect.  The race is simply the vehicle and something we both enjoy and connect over.  It is not about the finish.  





Monday, September 12, 2016

Embracing fear

Fear is a story.  I feel afraid that I won't be seen or heard, that I am not enough, that I won't be loved.  I feel afraid that I have never been loved for who I am, afraid that I will never even grasp who I am.  However, those fears have been with me for a very long time and mostly it is just a tape of the mind.  The "what if" game can provide a lot of entertainment and emotion to keep fueling the downward spiral of "what if."  

Unfortunately I have yet to discover some magic cure for the "what if" game.  Mostly I pay attention to foundations and ask myself a lot of questions about eating, drinking, sleeping, resting, relaxing, playing ect...  I am continuously reminded that competence and skill overcome fear.  I tend to forget the impact of getting through something.  That is where we gain skill, getting knocked down and getting back up. It isn't so important how long it feels like we are down, it is the getting back up.  I am starting to accept that it is chosing to get back up and then fighting through all the obstacles is where we get our skill and how we learn what we are passionate about.  

I feel two different types of "fear". One is the fear that is created by the mind, the stories, the imagination put into the "what if" game.  This is where something triggers a downward spiral of imaginative events that could not match reality.  This is where the "shoulds" live.  Honestly this is the fear I spend a lot of my time with, this is where I fall down and continue to get back up.  These are the hardest falls for me, because when I am down, I don't remember that I know things to help me get back up.  Which is when my mind will deliver the final blow and tell me that means I don't want to get back up.  Because I don't remember how to get back up, I am ashamed to ask for help and am completely disconnected from reality, the mind has pretty good control of me. 

The second type of "fear" is more like caution, it is based on my experience.  It is actually useful, when it is used as information.  (I am cautious when climbing ladders, because I fell once.  I have a rule in the house that if someone is going up on a ladder that someone else needs to be in ear shot, because when I was little my Dad fell and luckily my brother was running late for work and was home to help him.)  This fear informs me and reminds me to be gentle, to pay attention but it is rarely paralyzing.  This caution serves to remind me that I have gotten back up, or some one else has gotten back up and asks me where my skill is.  

Right now I am dealing with both types of fear.  I am weaning myself off some medication, and this is a second attempt.  Last time I did this, things did not go smoothly, and I stayed in pain for long enough.  However, I also learned from that experience.  I had a long talk with my doctor about how to proceed in the future.  So I do have some skill, I have plenty of people I can ask to help me and it is a reminder to be gentle with myself as I start to wean myself off bladder medication that has helped enormously.

I am not a neuroscientist and it has been a while since I looked at my notes.  However I wonder if both types of fear activate the same centers in the brain, if they release the same neurotransmitters.  Because a lot of times when I am dealing with caution, fear also shows up.  

What is the story?  Is the mind riding that wave of neurotransmitters?  Because I also spin the story, that if weaning myself off the medication goes poorly again that is means I am not enough, that I haven't done enough to help, that I did something wrong.  The reality is my bladder lining may not be healed yet, for who knows what reason, there is only one way to find out.  The first step is to find out how I am doing, and then make a decision after that.  

Since I received my diagnosis and the doctor told me her map for how to treat this illness.  I have gotten to accept the map is not the terrain, that the doctors cannot predict what will help, what will make it worse, and how fast things will change.  Everyone that I have seen has reminded me to listen to my body, that the knowledge is there.  One of the biggest challenges of this illness has been for me to communicate that information to my doctors.  To ask for help and challenging myself to trust the terrain instead of the map.  

Question of the day: What is one of your hard won skills?  Take a moment to think about how many times you got back up to win that skill and appreciate yourself for continuing to rise.  

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Sterling Sunday

Poor little pup, I accidentally trapped him while sorting laundry.  

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Secrets of the heart

Aww, the allure of perfection.  Why is it so alluring to me, what is its magic spell?  It is this illusionary world where criticism doesn't exist, it is a place of complete certainty and acceptance.  It is this rose garden of lies that the mind wants you to believe in.  My mind wants to me to believe there is always a right choice and a wrong choice, that at any given time life is black and white and I should've figured it out by now.  This is the voice that tells me other people wouldn't understand.
 
Because of this fear, I tend to keep things close to my heart.  I tend to keep experiences as burdens to carry, things that become unspeakable, and because I struggle with confidence in my language eventually something that will never be able to be communicated.  All of this creates boundaries and flow charts in what I need to do to get love.  

Because I am so focused on the flow chart, I tend to miss playful moments.  For example, I asked Adam to take a photo of me doing a yoga pose on this bridge.  I was having a difficult time with my balance and kept toppling out of the pose.  In some instances that would have been a playful and enjoyable moment, in other instances I could've really critized myself and made the rest of the evening miserable.  What is the difference?   

If I could slow down time, then watch frame by frame as the neurotransmitters flow through my body, I still don't think I would be able to understand.  Because I am starting to observe that sometimes the initial reaction is just a reflex, however at some point the knee jerk reflex has passed and that is the moment the decision can be made.  Does this become another secret in the heart?  Something that is used to create shame and use up energy or can I close the door on the burden, put it down and leave my heart clear and open?

Question of the day: I believe our biggest secrets of the heart, the biggest things that we are carrying right now are not what makes us unique. I believe sharing these secrets can help someone feel like they are not alone in their struggles.  One of mine, something that always tends to make me feel like I will have love taken away is how much I doubt myself.  How many times in a day I believe I am not enough, and want to be reminded it is always okay.  

What is one of your secrets in your heart? 

Friday, September 2, 2016

Debridement

It is uncomfortable not knowing, not understanding or having no way to communicate my discomfort. Yesterday I messaged Adam and told him it felt like I had been through a bit of a debridement.  That some very old wounds had been uncovered, irritated and finally cleaned.  These wounds that had been making me uncomfortable for who knows how long, wounds so old that I couldn't pin point a source and now I felt them again.  Now that they had been cleaned and all the debris removed, I wasn't sure what to do with the discomfort and the space that had been revealed.

When I was in college I was learning to rollerblade and made a mistake and had a choice to enter a busy intersection or to throw myself in the dirt.   I didn't see another way to stop and because entering a busy intersection out of control seemed like a horrible idea I dove into a gravel driveway.  The result was not pretty, luckily my wrist guards protected my hands and arms but my legs were a bit bloody.  I took off the rollerblades and began to slowly and tenderly walk home.  The fall was not too bad, cleaning out the scrapes and cuts was terrible.  I remember sitting in the shower and taking breath after breath to help me get ready for more cleaning.  I remember wishing for my mom or dad who had cleaned my scrapped knees so many times, I remember wishing for anyone to help and hold my hand.  

After the cuts were cleaned, I left them alone.  I didn't go picking at the wounds, I didn't check every few seconds to see how the healing was going.  My body had that healing process under control, I needed to stay out of the way and let the wound heal.  

So what does that look like with old emotional wounds?  I tend to keep picking, to keep checking in, to continue to poke and rub salt in emotional wounds.  I have this feeling that it is important to do something, because I feel uncomfortable.  It is that desire to be comfortable, to not make space for the discomfort that continues to irritate the wounds, that resets the emotions in me.   It is continuing to ask questions to figure out the lesson.  

This morning for a brief instant things clicked, the idea of leaving emotional wounds alone to heal is a necessity.  It is not necessary to fill that space with doing something or being something other then what I am.  Discomfort is a gift, it is a huge fucking gift.  If you miss someone it means they mean a lot to you, if you feel grief over not being able to do something it is because it is important to you.  

I am unsettled about not being able to go to China.  My mind has been racing and making up all kinds of stories about it, it is searching to fill that gap with entertainment, with distractions, with anything it can.  Maybe I can just relax into the discomfort of all the feelings and meanings I have about this trip and maybe I when I relax I will start to let go, to loosen the grip and create space in that dscomfort and be grateful.  

I have the gift of feeling how important that trip was to me for so many reasons, and even though I don't get the gift of going on the trip, I get something different.  I get the drive and determination to continue my discipline, the motivation to keep going, because being a Daoist Priest is something I am, and something that I rejoice in being able to do.  My teacher continued to tell me it was not about a piece of paper, it comes down to the work.  Maybe I am starting to accept his point, little by little the discomfort and void is being filled by what I want and who I am.

Question of the day: What discomfort are you feeling right now?