Monday, August 25, 2014

Ain't No Mountain High Enough


Monday, August 25th. Today marks the one year anniversary of my life changing.

I went from living a life of "me"- my choices and my decisions, to living a life of 'we'.

And everything shifted.
And my heart cracked open.
And all the colors of the world became brighter.

I can not say it has made my life easier. That wouldn't be honest - only having to attend to my own needs was much easier.  But when I look at my life, I can no longer imagine my life as my own. My life may not be easier, but it is fuller, richer and better. No matter what happens in the future, having her here has forever changed my 'now'.

I was told when I was in my 20s that I couldn't have children. My mom took DES when she was pregnant with me and having a child wasn't really in my cards. And that was okay. I taught school. I had kids around me ALL THE TIME.

But life has a way of moving and flowing - and anyone who knows me knows my life is seldom quiet and simple.

So much has changed in a year. I have gained friends, strengthened friendships I treasured already, and lost loves. I have learned more about myself in these past 12 months than I have in the past 12 years. I have grown in so many ways: as a partner, as a mother, as a human being. It has even reminded me to take better care of myself - I have a strong reason to be healthier now.

I have been angry. I have been hurt. I have cried. I have laughed harder than ever before in my life. I have felt helpless and empowered. And I wouldn't change one moment of it. Not one. Having a daughter has changed my life - and those changes have helped me grow and become more compassionate, more open and more honest. Even when I wasn't gentle with my honesty, I still believe being honest has been an important part of the two of us turning into a family.

Because my life ebbs and flows, I can't say what will happen tomorrow. I can't fully predict where we will be or what life will be showing us... what I can predict is that no matter where she is, she will have a part of my heart no one else has - maybe because I didn't even know it was there until she showed it to me.



cue music:
(released the year I was born - 1967)
Ain't No Mountain High Enough

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Finding peace with uncomfortable

I spent two hours last night, after my daughter went to sleep, sitting outside. I bundled up in my favorite robe, in my favorite lawn chair, with my toes tucked under me, and looked at the stars. I found myself pondering something uncomfortable - being 46 and single again. I had no self-recriminations or anger. Just sat with my thoughts. For much of the time, I honored my past and the relationships I have had. I thought about kissing my first love in the rain by a river in Ohio, and wishing the moment would never end. I thought about the person that offered me an intense love I knew I could never return. I remembered the handsome,  6'7" Cowboy that bundled up with me in a blue velour blanket on the roof when I lived in that crazy shack on the Puget Sound. How, on a night in August all those years ago, he held my hand under the stars, taught me the difference between satellites and airplanes and listened when I said shooting stars were magical. I thought about the one I married and how pretty I felt on my wedding day and how wonderful it felt to have the people I loved smiling and happy around me. I thought about the one I slow danced with in my living room as I sang a Celine Dion song to handsome, healing eyes. I thought about that time in Mexico when I laughed over winning at cribbage, drank Dirty Monkeys, and felt such joy in another's smile while listening to ocean waves crash onto the beach.  I didn't hold tightly onto any of the people or memories, just let them pass through and followed them as each led to the next and warmed my heart.

It was nice to look at the more pleasant moments of those relationships. I also looked at the not-so-wonderful moments in those relationships. The uncomfortable moments of anger, betrayal, unmet expectations, rejection, dismissal, and abandonment. I thought about belongings left in boxes and bags and loose ends that will never be tied nicely into bows. It was difficult, but I welcomed those painful feelings and acknowledged them, then let them move through me. While those feelings and experiences are honest reflections of my heart and my path, holding on to them would keep me stuck in the past.

This time of reflection in my life has been important. Ending relationships can be messy and complicated and uncomfortable. The untangling of hopes and dreams and re-establishing identity takes time and patience. Especially now that it isn't just my heart I am concerned with - having a child adds a whole new dimension to who I am as a person and my responsibilities as a role model and parent. It's changed how I see the world and my place in it.

Right now, my world certainly feels uncomfortable. Taking the time to sit in my uncomfortableness is part of growing up. Too often, I have rushed through events that are uncomfortable because... well... they're uncomfortable damn it! Things feel unresolved and unstable. I don't like sitting in the unknowing and I really want to understand it all right now! Learning to sit in the space of unsettled is hard, but I am determined not to push it away.

In the past, I have eaten to escape feeling uncomfortable. I have had a drink to avoid feeling uncomfortable. I have rushed to find someone new to bypass feeling uncomfortable. I have tried to fill the space of uncomfortable with distraction - be it in whatever form that may have taken. Not this time. This time, as much as it is possible, I am staying present with this anxious, edgy space. In the past, I have struggled with discomfort, and it is nice to see that I am making progress in how I manage it for myself.

I am using this time to explore the beautiful and the not so beautiful parts of me. I am embracing my strength, power, beauty, joy, sorrow, selfishness, curiosity, compassion and grace to move to the next step on my journey. Not eating to find an escape for my anxiety is hard, but moving through this process forges a deeper and truer connection with my Self - it is affirming and empowering. Being centered in uncomfortable is sacred.

I grew up in a family of enablers and I learned that role exceptionally well. I learned early how to give myself up in a relationship. What I am learning now, is how to honor myself no matter my relationship status. It means finding some peace with people and events from my past that I can't change. Richard Bach, in his book Illusions, says:

You are led through your lifetime by the inner learning creature, the playful spiritual being that is your real self. Don't turn away from possible futures before you're certain you don't have anything to learn from them. You're always free to change your mind and choose a different future, or a different past.

I'm not sure I can choose a different past, but I do believe I can change how I perceive my past and heal the parts that have left me seeking someone else to fill some imagined lacking in my life.

Knowing who I am and working on filling my own emotional needs means I can walk away from co-dependent, enabling relationships where I seek someone else to make me feel good enough, smart enough, and worthwhile enough to finally earn love and approval - I'll already have my own! I read recently that you enter relationships with someone who likes you just a little more than you like yourself. And while it isn't that I don't like myself, I'm taking the time to truly feel this space of being uncomfortable in order to reacquaint myself with the parts of me I have avoided. And it isn't just the parts of myself I don't like that I have avoided, I have avoided the parts of myself I do like. No one forced me do that - to give up the parts of me I liked. It is a pattern of behavior I learned. And it worked for me - until it didn't. It is time for me to learn a new way of being in relationship with myself and making choices that honor the relationship I am building with who I am, just as I am. I am not perfect, nor do I want to be, but the more I like who I am, the more I will attract people into my life that like who they are as well.

I learned the term radical acceptance last week. From the article:
Radical acceptance is about accepting of life on life’s terms and not resisting what you cannot or choose not to change. Radical Acceptance is about saying yes to life, just as it is.
I appreciate those of you that have listened to me, talked with me, read my words, walked with me, learned with me, shared with me, laughed and cried with me recently. I also appreciate those who have left my life to walk their own path in a different direction - I am grateful for the time shared and the experiences that have brought me to where I am today.

Right now, learning to be in the space of uncomfortable isn't easy. But by staying present with the struggle and not running to food or some other distraction means I am honoring my goals of living a healthier, more present life. It means instead of pursuing the false 'comfort' I once found in food, I am free to pursue things in my life that bring me true happiness.

And that is worth the struggle.