Growing Pains

I don certain perspectives with ease. They’re like sunglasses in the sense that they block out certain spectrums of light. Like that one pair of sunglasses that you hate that makes everything look brown.

It’s easy to see life as shit-colored.

Sometimes I wear my sunglasses at night.

That makes it even more difficult.

I was driving home from work one day about 2 weeks ago. Frustrated with myself, upset for feeling so constantly negative. A song came on that reminds me of my sisters, from The Holiday’s movie soundtrack. With tears in my eyes I wished my sisters were here, that things weren’t so hard for me all the time. I was talking to Rachel in my head as I usually do; she was my confidante sister who heard my inner life.

And suddenly I had an image of her, smilingly showing me a picture of myself. I was freaking out, WITH MY OWN HAND OVER MY EYES.

I was covering the light myself.

And I felt like she gently said, “Happiness is not as far away as you think.”

I’m still absorbing that message. Because as Brene Brown talks about, I hustle for worthiness. I hustle for love. I hustle for happiness, and I think that doing things just perfectly will get me there. In fact, one of my favorite perspectives is that IF I JUST DO THINGS PERFECTLY I won’t lose.

I won’t lose the things I desire. I won’t lose happiness. I won’t lose someone I love.

I begged Rachel, in the Critical Care Unit at Penrose Hospital, to stay with me. To be here. I repeated almost word for word the scene from Sense and Sensibility where Elinor begs Marianne not to leave her here alone. I did everything that I could possibly think of. I quoted all her favorite movies, from Harry Potter to Lord of the Rings to the aforementioned Sense and Sensibility. I sang to her. And in the end, she still left. I couldn’t make her stay for me even though I tried so hard. Even though she was the only person in my family who truly understood me, the only one in my family that I actually felt deeply connected to.

Before that, I begged my dad not to leave. I was 10 years old or so, my dad was very angry one night and threatened to go live on his own, without us. He had threatened this in the past while we had all silently frozen in the face of his rage. I changed my mind that night. I was tired of staying silent. Maybe my feelings would change something. So I hurled myself into his arms crying. “Don’t go Daddy. I love you.”

He put me away from him, moved me away… “Stop all that nonsense.”

I shrouded my heart to keep it safe. Maybe if I had held on tighter. Maybe if I had said the right words instead of “nonsense”.

I have tried ever since to hold on tighter and to do all the right things. I lost my grandpa when I was 15, and that shattered me. 6 months after that, I lost my first love, which I blamed my dad for. I lost my sisters. I got divorced. All these things, I tried so hard to hold them all together and they fell apart. About 6 months after I got divorced, I stopped drinking alcohol. A lot of my drinking had been to release myself from the vice of perfection I was holding myself in.

When I took away that crutch, my perfectionism transferred to school and to alcohol/love addiction recovery. I tried to be the perfect person in recovery. I tried to be perfect with my grades at school. This escalated and escalated until last May when I started to see what I was doing to myself. I stopped running. The instant I did, I was overcome by the deepest depression I’ve ever experienced. I’m still not clear on why… maybe because I finally stopped running from falling apart.

I’ve been unraveling it all ever since. I see it as a huge ball. I pull all sorts of strands in, but I have this huge overarching narrative that I like to believe about myself and my life.

“If I can just be perfect I will not lose.” But I can’t be perfect, so I will inevitably lose all I love.

I wish that just seeing that this is going on would eliminate it totally, but that’s not how it works. It’s helpful to be aware that this story is ruling my life, but, then I get to take action.

Which I have been, but change is slow. Especially when there are so many intertwining stories that are connected to this overarching one. And courage is hard to come by sometimes. When I don my usual perspectacles (as dear Glennon Melton calls them) and see only loss in my future, everything gets really black. I lose so much motivation to even go forward.

And so some days it takes all I have to just have the courage to believe what Source/the Universe/my Higher Power (you know, whatever I call that thing these days) seems to be telling me. To just let go and know that It has good things in store for me. Truly good things. And seriously that does take a lot of courage some days to believe. I fight myself, trying to be perfect, until I’m tuckered out and I finally give in. Then I have a cry about my losses because I need to purge the grief, and usually after that purging the world looks a little brighter again. I can see the light again just enough to find strength move forward.

I’m grateful right now for the support I have – a wonderful boyfriend who has persisted in staying by my side, my RootEd satsang who are more precious to me than I could ever put in words, and my new therapist who has valiantly gotten down in the muck with me.

After our immersion weekend for my teacher training last week, something really cool happened. I had brought a plant for the altar as an offering. As I was leaving on Sunday, my teacher asked, “Do you like plants?” and handed me an amaryllis flower, explaining that it needed some TLC. I was thrilled to take it home and put it in my sunroom/altar area. “I’m good at resurrecting things,” I said. Like I was reminding myself.

Then I walked out to my car. Tucked under my wiper blades was a bright, beautiful, colorful bouquet from my boyfriend. I offered a flower. I went home with 3.

These words sprang to mind:

“You are so full of rain,
there is so much that is growing,
hallelujah to your weathervanes,
hallelujah to the ache
hallelujah to your full, to the fall,
hallelujah to the grace,
and every body
and every cell
of us all.”
-Andrea Gibson, I Sing the Body Electric (Even When the Power’s Out)

 

Seeds grow in the dark. Even in the dark where it’s my own hand over my eyes, when it’s my own old stories that hold me back. But that also presumes they are dirt. Which presumes they provide what is needed for that seed to grow.

“You make beautiful things out of dust…” – Gungor, Beautiful Things.

There is so much that is growing. Hallelujah to the ache. To my own precious growing pains. To the sunglasses over my eyes that reveal my need to unveil myself to the world. Hallelujah to it all.

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The Year in Review – A Positive Reflection on 2014

My bestie Carly and I decided to do a little “round up” of our own on all the positive things that have happened or benefitted us this past year. We have a renewed interest in positivity heading forward into the New Year, so we decided we should end our last year on a good note. You can find Carly’s post here.

2014 has been one of the most challenging and transformational of my life. Mindsets and ways of being have shifted and continue to shift. Beginning with my quarter life crisis in March, and lasting all the way until December, my life has been in utter upheaval this year. It’s as if the Universe decided I needed an overhaul.

Or perhaps I decided it… I was the one to take one small step to be more powerful in my life, to embrace it with an open heart. Considering that my word for the year was audacity… Yeah.

There were a few things that kept me going this year that I want to share here, as an offering of gratitude to them and how they moved me through.

Andrea Gibson – The Nutritionist
This poem saved my LIFE in April/May/June. There was a period of time where I literally listened to it daily just to have the strength to go to work. I would put it on in the morning before work, shed a few tears, buck up, and leave. I have no idea what I would have done without it.

Sayulita Trip
This trip that I took alone was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. If I could afford it, I’d take a trip alone every year. This one was a massive reset button on my life. It was also gloriously beautiful and I had the chance to just take it all in and enjoy. That, despite getting sunburned so bad on my chest that I blistered. Yikes! Haha. The little things just didn’t seem to matter anymore; I was the most myself I’ve ever been on this trip, and it was glorious. It’s been a hallmark of my year.

RootEd Yoga Teacher Training
I have no idea what I would have done this year without this amazing, vibrant, vulnerable community around me. I have learned so much about what it means to be rooted in myself, and what it means to relate to others. I have never plugged into a community so much in my life, in a true way, in a consistent way. It’s weird, but good. Plus, I am finding that I truly love Yoga in all aspects. It’s always drawn me, but there’s a greater draw now.

My first date with Kevin.
We ran around town looking for hammocks. We ordered the same meal at Ivywild. We ended the night with The Fountain and some kissing and stuff. 😉 It was one of the most glorious, synchronous nights of my year.

Kevin, in general
To be truthful, Kevin has been far more gracious to me than I feel like I deserve (he disagrees). He has been an absolute rock to me. I have been a stormy ocean of a girl at times and he has been the levy that I come up against but it holds me in, in the sweetest of ways. I’m so grateful for who he has been in my life thus far.

Visiting my bestie, Carly.
It wasn’t for the greatest reasons, but getting to see my best friend FO LYFE Carly (the one I linked up with on this post!) in July was a huge highlight of my year. Much singing of Chandelier, conversations until all hours of the morning… it was fantastic.

Spoken Word Poetry
This was the year I’ve really gotten into spoken word. And holy mother of pearl guys. That stuff has changed my life. I walked into an event and immediately felt at home, like these were my people. Their vulnerability encouraged me to become a more vulnerable person.

 

These are just a few things that have influenced me this year. I know there are many, many others that I am forgetting. But in the wake of all the transformation I have experienced, these things have kept me going. These have been the core things that have provided the inspiration I’ve needed to keep going this year, and I’m so grateful that they appeared in my life as they did.

Here’s to you, 2014! I can’t say I’m sad to leave you, but I do leave with a deep bow to all you have brought me.

As for 2015… I have a new word for this coming year.

I don’t make resolutions, I think that’s silly. I have some ideals. But this word is one I want to be a guiding light.

Savor.

I want to take in all the moments. I want to see the holiness. I want to never, ever forget the purity of the present. And I want to CHOOSE to enjoy it. Enjoy it all. This word for me is about truly enjoying. I feel that up to this point in my life I have enjoy, full body enjoyed, very little. So for this year, that’s what I’m setting as my intention.

To full-body savor the experience.

Welcome, 2015.