Tag Archives: Pain

The Pain of Separation

Standard

When Adam and I first separated, I heard over and over again, “Kids are resilient.  They’ll get over this.  It’s really not a big deal.”  This is a “truth” that doesn’t feel fully true to me.  One day in the beginning months of the separation, I wrote this letter to Adam.  This is the raw pain of separation.  The parts most of us hide when we are suffering.  The parts that are uncomfortable to share.  This was the truth of what I was witnessing within myself and within my children.
*Please note that although the separation was mutual, the mutuality of it did not negate the pain and suffering, the anger and blame, and the heavy darkness that accompanied it.

Dear, Adam,

Mornings are the hardest.  I wake up before I should, always with a deep emptiness that something so vital is gone and missing.  Every morning I’m hit with the reality that I have to suffer again.  Each night I realize I survived another day and I have the love of my boys surrounding me.  But mornings are different.  Mornings are the moments when I dream of drowning.  When I will my eyes not to open.  And beg my heart to stop its bleeding.  Mornings are filled with anger, resentment, hopelessness, tears, and the deepest of heartaches.  Mornings are when I wake up to the realization that part of me has died and continues to die.  Mornings are pain.  This morning I woke up at 430 and dove in to my new best friend, Journal, after a bit of meditation and I just felt that I needed to share this moment.

As much as I desire to shut off my mind, the deep pit of my stomach that is tied in a million little knots, seems to believe that it has a mind of its own.  And I feel as though I have no control over my body.  13 pounds lighter because I literally cannot swallow without gagging.  This pain is all consuming.  Leaving me sleepless, starving and walking through life as though my soul no longer exists.  The only time I’m alive is when my boys are with me.  And I’m with them.  When I am with them, we are what’s left of a family.  We are here reassembling our shattered world.  Together we are violently sweeping the pieces of our hearts back in to a less fractured mess.  We are each other’s healers.  
IMG_2047Last night I cradled our youngest who has suffered at the hands of adults too many times in his life.  Who is feeling this abandonment as deep as his soul.  After speaking with you the second time, he was a limp puddle of wailing tears (recall the sounds of the boys when we buried Shadow and you will know the depth of pain that filled this house [no longer home] curled up in the lap of his mom.  I sat there soothing him with empty words because words cannot bring his daddy back.  Words cannot keep his mom from leaving him in a few days.  Words and hugs cannot make this better.  And he knows that.  He knows that he is in pain and that he doesn’t like the choice that is once again being made for him.  It is NOT the best choice for his life and there is no convincing him of that.  I sat there truly wishing that I could take it all away.  That I could carry his sadness for him but the only power I have is to share it with him.  To hold him in his despair.  To keep telling him that he is safe and he is loved.  I felt helpless and his pain was so visceral and haunting.  
Followed by that I sat with one boy who is completely avoiding and covering his feelings, as the only way he’s ever dealt with any heartache.  The only way to bridge the gap with him is to mostly focus on surface things and really spend time trying to dig just a little deeper.  When you dig a little deeper you realize he’s scared to death.  I slept with him in my bed last night and he thrashed all night with nightmares.  Yelling, punching, and screaming.  His brain processes his pain at night.  His subconscious cannot hide.  I finally pulled him toward me and he latched on as though his entire world was falling away from him.  
Another boy who drew on the feelings board that he would like the two of us to tell a few more people that he’s gay.  AIMG_2045 few people in his class.  When I tell him that his teacher already knows he starts wailing too.  And he wants to become angry with me as though I had something to do with all of this.  He wants to hit me and then I hug him and he too melts in to my body begging for me to heal him.  I pull him close to my breasts because that’s all I know to do.  And I can feel the pain radiating between the two of us.  Like hot coals burning through our chests.  We are so broken.  And we want answers.  He falls asleep beside me and I break because I know that you cannot comfort him the way that I can because your bond is not the same.  It’s different with him.  He has always favored me.  And I become scornful that I would be required to be away from him at all.  That I will be walking away from him in his darkest hours.  How can this be okay?!?
IMG_2048Finally, I sit with the oldest who is doing just what us oldests do.  He’s trying to keep his shit together and pretend it doesn’t hurt but then when you ask him to draw out what he’s feeling it’s so clear that he’s lost and in just as much pain as the next person.  He’s holding on to the wish that mom and dad are actually on a timeout and this is temporary and I can’t answer that for him because nothing makes sense to me.  And I see him pulling away because to be here is too painful, too confusing, too disappointing.  He, too, has been left behind before and this place feels scary. His parents are letting him down and trying to cover the pain with happiness and lies that this is all okay.  He knows that these are lies.  He no longer trusts but he holds on to the hope that they are going to figure it out and his life will return to normal.  Until then he seeks and seeks ways to make it better.  And every day, many times a day, he asks me when I’m leaving again.  And I have to answer as though leaving is a choice I’m making and the truth is I am as voiceless as he.  
Here we are, this partial family, sitting at the dinner table talking about when daddy will be here for dinner.   And the boys want to make it something super special.  They talk about dressing up and serving dinner.  They vote on a baked potato bar.  They are excited that all 6 of us will be together.  And I understand why they want this.  Because I, too, find myself fighting back this need to impress.  To make myself worthy of their daddy’s love.  I, too, find myself wanting the house to be perfect, the dinner to be perfect, me to be smashing and in my best form.  I, too, want to believe that this family can be restored and deserves nothing short of restoration.  And so I sit there listening to all their wants and letting them take control of Thursday night because I don’t have it in me to do anything but watch them dream.  It doesn’t matter what I say or how much I laugh and smile with them….they carry a level of fear.  They carry a level of burden.  They, too, blame themselves and don’t know how to express this.  They don’t know what to do with their pain.  They don’t know who they can trust to tell.  They don’t know who they can trust.  Period.  Their lives have been disrupted and that’s that.  I know this because I have been them.  And I see in them what I know to be true in me.  
So for now, I keep telling them all the beautiful things about their daddy. I swallow my pain in their awake hours but I also share with them that I’m sad too.  I do all I know to do to help them transition.  I play.  I listen.  I nurse the pain.  I hug.  I soothe. But on Tuesday morning I will have to hug them goodbye again and I will have to walk away from their lives and I will break all over again.  They will break all over again.  I will walk away still believing this is not right.  This is not okay.  This is shit!  I feel that this is an injustice to a really beautiful family.  We were a beautiful family, Adam, and so I cannot understand this moment in which we find ourselves.  
Love and Peace,

Amy

Embrace the Suck

Standard

We have to face the pain we have been running from.  In fact, we need to learn to rest in it and let its searing power transform us. ~Charlotte Joko Beck~

SUCK-METER-PATCHYears ago one of my husband’s cycling buddies turned him on to the mantra, “Embrace the Suck”.  While never having served in the military, the power of this mantra played out in the many miles we challenged ourselves to suffer through while training for century races and marathons.  When I thought I could no longer put one foot in front of the other, I would repeat

Embrace the Suck
Embrace the Suck
Embrace the Suck

and I would find my strength amidst the immense amount of suffering my mind and body were enduring.  These are powerful words of acceptance.

Fast forward a few years and I have to admit that I have been suffering again but this time on an emotional level.  I have suffered heartbreak and challenges that have seemed larger than my finite capabilities.  There have been moments that I literally thought I would not survive the wounds.  That my chest would simply explode from the intensity of pain if my heart did not simply shatter before the explosion.  I had forgotten about embracing the suck and my mind spent too much time fighting against the truth of what was.  Fighting to avoid the suffering.  Fighting against the suffering was only causing me more suffering.

At some point, I made a conscious decision to plunge in to the suffering.  My mind eventually recognized that there was no changing the course of what was happening externally so our only choice for survival was to accept the suffering.  I made a commitment with myself to avoid distractions as a way to cope because distractions would mask for a time or possibly even make my suffering worse.  I refused to use alcohol, weed, television, relationships, anxiety drugs, painkillers, shopping as ways to numb.  I vowed to feel.  To find healthy ways of dealing.  I started meditating, took an MBSR course, journaled, deepened friendships, invested in my boys, read books about healing, vented to a therapist, and started sitting in silence discovering who I am.  Who I am in my darkest moments.  Every time I was tempted to medicate and drown (which I wasn’t perfect…sometimes I chose the unhealthy), I would ask myself, “who do I want to be?  Is this in line with my highest self?”  Most of the time, I was able to choose suffering…hoping there was something to be learned at the end of it.  In those crushing moments, I would simply name out my  experience.

Pain
Pain
Pain
Lonely
Lonely
Lonely
Afraid
Afraid
Afraid

The simple task of identifying what was happening within allowed space for acceptance.  Pain, loneliness, and fear were no longer overwhelmingly powerful.  They were a small portion of a whole experience.  This moment pain.  This moment loneliness.  This moment an abundance of fear.  This sucks…I want out.  I want to numb.  No, Amy, Embrace the Suck just for this moment.  It was a constant battle to outwit my mind.  My mind was in survival mode.  My spirit wanted more than survival.  My spirit wanted growth even in the midst of suffering.  When one chooses to Embrace the Suck, they choose growth over fear based survival.

I practiced sitting in pain for 6 months.  Some periods were extremely challenging.  At times I failed my goal of acceptance.  I was too uncomfortable or too weak to accept the challenge.  I distracted.  Other times, I came out the other side of pain feeling more whole, stronger, super proud of the person I was becoming. comfort-zone-300x206

Two months ago I attended a one day silent, meditation retreat and I was in immense psychological pain.   A pain that manifested itself both emotionally and physically.  I cannot remember another time in life when I felt so low.  So beat up.  The entire day I was plagued by the incessant processing of my mind.  A rerun of hurtful events played over and over again.  A running stream of stories about my future.  It refused to be quieted. My body reacted with chest pains and vomiting.  I could not find any enjoyment or purpose in this practice of acknowledging my truths and accepting suffering.  I even suffered through my lunch, resenting every forced bite of food that my stomach wanted to reject.  I was finished with nourishing myself.  My mind was going to win.  How’s that for truth?!?   I was a pissed off woman, filled to the brim with pain, suffering through a zen retreat.  At the end of the retreat we did a loving kindness meditation and I could not even offer loving kindness to myself.  I was too broken.  A shell of nothingness.

In spite of what felt like a complete failure of my first attempt at a retreat, I continued my mediation practice.  I was determined to see this suffering through to the end.  I wanted to see who I would be when the blanched layers of my former self were peeled away.

IMG_2415Last weekend, I was able to see that woman in full form.  I understood the importance of suffering for the very first time in my life.  I received this gift at the same retreat I had reluctantly attended two months prior.  My external circumstances are still painful and challenging but I’ve come to accept them.  To find my voice and declare my needs in spite of them.  In the past few months, I have started growing stronger, deeper, more certain of my convictions.  I am understanding what it means to be me rather than a form of me that has been painted by others.  I’ve learned to be my own mirror.  To name my experiences both positive and negative.  I’ve sat deeper and deeper in suffering and, at times, have even welcomed it to sit with me.  I’ve been able to identify my Mara, shake her hand and rather than chase her out, I’ve welcomed her as my teacher.

During my meditation retreat, each meditation offered me a fullness and spaciousness that I hadn’t had room for 2 months ago.  I began to realize that I had been budding, growing in the wisdom of all that I was being taught.  Still a sapling but beginning to grow leaves and even a bit of fruit.

I had an awakening during my silent lunch.  I found a little bench hidden within a wall of flowering bushes and I allowed myself to be fully present and open to whatever would arise.  I had no expectation beyond mindfully eating my colorful peppers and tofu (which was a sensory experience in and of itself).

The first awakening I had was noticing the overwhelming, sweet scent of a new bloom near my bench.  I inhaled with my eyes open.  I inhaled withpavonia-emperor-moth--thomas-marent my eyes closed.  Its seductive fragrance was a smile upon my being.  A gift given to me and I was receiving.  I later tried to breathe in that sweet fragrance again and no matter how hard I tried, I could not find the scent again.  I began to connect this experience to studies I’ve read about our brains.  My brain processed this scent when I first sat down and at some point it decided that the scent was no longer necessary to process.  It was no longer useful.  I then began to wonder how many things my eyes had seen when I first walked in to this garden that my mind decided were no longer useful.  How many things exist (sounds, smells, sights) that my mind identifies and deems unnecessary and then blocks them from registering?  It is then possible for two people to sit in the same space and have two very different experiences.  Both of them equally true.  Neither one right or wrong.  This opened me up to the possibility that I could be more empathetic in my relationships.  I can accept that my reality and another’s reality may be concurrently factual and different at the same time.  Wow!

87791820_XSMy second awakening arrived as I became an observer of nature.  I felt as though I was privileged to be among nature’s world not as a participant but as a quiet spectator.  I noticed a tall weed that had pushed up through the crack of a cement driveway and I thought, “That weed was not provided ideal conditions for nourishment and growth.  I bet it was an immense struggle to reach toward the sun.  I bet that weed suffered.  But maybe, just maybe, through its suffering it has a better life than the weed that was without struggle.  The weeds that grew in the grass (ideal conditions) are likely mowed over or eradicated with weed killer.  This driveway weed suffered and because of that struggle has life.”  This is, of course, the story I have applied to the weed but it began the process of bringing full circle my understanding of suffering.  IMG_2364

Next I saw a fly become entangled in a spiderweb.  There was a part of me that desperately wanted to free it but I remembered a parable told to me in my meditation course.  It’s the parable of the Emperor Moth.  In this story a man comes across a moth trying to free itself from its cocoon.  He feels sorry for the moth and its struggle so he opens the cocoon to free it.  The moth dies soon after because it required the struggle of breaking open its cocoon to strengthen its wings for flying.  In the attempt to free the moth, the man instead stole it of its opportunity to gain strength.  The removal of the moth’s suffering caused its death.  In suffering there is opportunity.

With this reminder of the need for suffering, I began to understand that the fly needs to suffer.  If the fly does not suffer, the spider will not be able to spin another web.  I began to weep.  An abundance of tears came flowing freely because I could see.  Suffering is necessary.  Without it, we are robbed of the opportunities to grow.  We are stagnant and dead.  In this moment of being an observer, my understanding of suffering had come full circle.  I recognized that I had painfully stumbled through suffering and made it to the other side.  The side of freedom.  I saw who I am.  I am a woman who has arisen from the ashes.  A woman who walked through the flames of suffering and allowed them to lick away the layers and layers of unnecessary fear.  I am the beautiful emperor moth with robust wings that fly.  I am the weed that found a way to reach for the sun.  I am the fly that needed to suffer to feed the spider.

I am life.
I am life.
I am life.

I embraced the suck.  I accepted suffering.  I held hands with my Mara.  I answered the call of darkness with a conscious and deliberate choice of light.  I am learning the form of my highest self.  Suffering has been my greatest gift.  May you, too, find the gift in your suffering.    I’l leave you with the words of Christina Rasmussen.  This quote gave me the nudge to surrender to suffering.
1800199_793868310644862_4558610166444009157_n

 

Death of Ego

Standard

I am in the process of dying.  It’s a slow, agonizing death.  One in which ego dies first but ego is fighting to remain.  It is not weak and it battles. Each moment I have to consciously slay the beast that has defined me.  It arrives challenging me to lose this moment.  It threatens me with stories of the future.  It weighs me down with a past that I cannot change.  Ego belittles me with destructive thoughts about me.  About the one I love.  It taunts me with the lies that I’ll never be good enough.  It whispers to me in its seductive voice, “you’ll never be good enough.  Be better.  Be more.”  It steals The Now.  At times, I give it freedom and I allow Ego to distract me from The Now because my present is too painful to sit in.  Fantasies of future and memories of past are more comfortable than present.  But even those distractions do not remain for long because Ego destroys any peace.  It does not like to co-exist.

What Ego does not realize is that I am in control.  I am dying and Ego is dying with me.  I have taken a mirror as my weapon.  A breath.  An inhale.
I breathe in.  I see Ego reflecting back at me.  I am aware.  Ego slithers away from awareness, retracting back in to the shadows.
I breathe out.
Death
Peace
I am me.  Present.  Pain.  Capable.  Empowered.  Aware.  Goddess.

empowered-woman-2

Breakdowns for Breakthroughs

Standard

In 2014 I’m continuing the trend of living out loud.  This is by far the most difficult topic I have ever written about and, yet, I feel it is of vital importance to continue down the road of being vulnerable and human.  This first month of January, I’m sharing with you a little slice of me.

I’m at a stage in life where marriages are separating all around me.  Failing due to infidelities, addictions, lack of connections, too much stress, unkindness, and simple growing aparts.

I’ve learned to never judge a person’s marriage.  To never judge why some stay in relationships that seem toxic and never judging why some leave.  I don’t judge people who choose to have open marriages, monogamish marriages, polyamorous marriages, sexless marriages, intimate marriages, surface marriages, or any other form of committed coupledom.  I think it takes great strength to travel any road of commitment no matter how that commitment is defined.

I’ve always prided myself on my marriage.  It’s one of the things I have done best in life.  It’s the relationship that I have put above all others.  I have believed that if I could keep my marriage happy then my boys would have a stable and happy life.  Something I always longed for as a child.  I have known that the odds were stacked against us.  We married too young, we have special needs children, we have multiples, we have lost our financial stability, we’ve experienced a large amount of moves this past year, we left our religion, etc etc.  Yes, the odds are not in our favor and never have been.  No matter, I’m cut out for challenges.  Adam is too.  I didn’t worry about my marriage because I knew we were made for each other.  I knew that we have always been passionate about one another and that we could laugh, even in the face of adversity.  We had always been there for the other and there would not be a trial large enough to tear down the bond we so solidly built.

And then…

New Year’s Eve 2013 I heard the words I never truly imagined would leave the lips of my husband.

I want a separation or divorce.  This relationship is not working for me.

As horrible as it is to admit, my entire world crumbled.  The immediate realization that I had done everything I could to love this man and keep my family together and still I was not enough.  The gut punch knowledge that I will at best see my boys part-time.  The fear of how I will support myself.  I have invested everything in to his career.  He can make money.  I cannot.  The raging jealousy that he will move on and I will have to deal with new women.  New lovers.  Eventually another mom to my boys.  The loneliness in knowing that my support system is thousands of miles away.  I will suffer alone.  The earth literally began to crumble and swallow me up.  A pain like no pain I’ve ever experienced took an instant hold.  Anger set in.   How could he do this to me?  To us?  It was almost worse that he was not leaving for another woman.  No, I simply was just not right for him anymore.  Pain.

But in all honesty, I had been working up the courage to talk with him about divorcing as well.  I had just texted a friend a few hours prior to this and told her that all I could think about was divorce and that I was tired of suffering.  A few weeks prior to that I had chatted with another friend about my fear of leaving but the desire to get out of this toxicity.  Adam had only said the words that I was too scared to say myself.  He was brave enough to take the steps to end his suffering.  I was not.

I don’t know where we took a misstep.  Where we lost our way.  Or if we even did. I know that once we left religion, our marriage was in the midst of being redefined and that negotiation was often tragic, volatile, and drenched in fear.  I know that life was brutal this past year and so much change and suffering occurred.   I know that I was fighting to keep my family together and kept hoping that Adam would come back to me once he surfaced from his pain.  Sadly, he didn’t.  He tried.  But Adam was a new person.  And I didn’t fit in his new identity.  Pain.

I didn’t come back the same either.  And Adam didn’t fit in my new identity either.  Pain.

I don’t want my marriage to end.  I can’t even begin to imagine sitting my boys down and telling them that mom and dad are no longer going to be living in the same house.  It will break their hearts and play a role in defining who they become and what baggage they will carry into adulthood. They will cry and blame themselves.  They will experience deep heartache and they too have suffered enough this year.  Now, once more, they will suffer at the hands of me and Adam.  Pain.

So much pain that my body can no longer tolerate it.  My stomach begins to empty itself and will continue to do so for the next 24 hours.  I cannot digest the words separation, divorce, boys part-time, our marriage is not working. I cannot digest the idea of losing 20 years of a beautiful love.  I cannot digest this future.  Pain.

We spent most of NYE and in to New Year’s Day discussing strategies for best moving forward.  What’s best for the boys?  What’s best for us?  Where are we going to live?  How is this going to work?  What’s missing in our marriage?  What’s not working?  What is working?  Why are we giving up when there’s far more positive than negative?

Surprisingly, we land where neither of us expect to land.  We land on this idea that we can just start over with each other.  Begin again as new people.  People without history.  Clean slates.  I don’t know if this is possible but I’m willing to give just about anything a solid try.  Because I love Adam.  Because I love my family.  I am IN love with Adam.  I love my family of 6 and our nights all snuggled up watching a movie, dinners around the dining table, or the 6 of us crammed in our RV experiencing life.  I enjoy being here togetherAll of us.

So we agree.  Starting over makes the most sense for now.  There’s too much good.  The truth is, I don’t know Adam anymore.  And he does not know me.  I want to know him.  I want him to know me.  I have a feeling we’d really like each other.  Sadly, our judgements of each other have clouded our vision and amplified our triggered reactions.  We have lost sight of ourselves and our partner.

We are starting at square one (as much as that is possible).  Hi, my name is Amy and I’m a mom to four beautiful boys.  I love the outdoors.  I want to own a farm.  I love big and give my all.  I’m a vet tech and freelance writer.  I’m a skeptic.  I am an amateur marathon runner.  I love to travel.  I am a professional nap taker.  I like to receive gifts, love notes, and romance.  I love clothes, tattoos, and body jewelry.  I’m an iced tea junkie.  But most of all, I’m a mom and I want a partner.
You know, all that first date kind of getting to know each other.  That’s where we are starting.  No assumptions.  Instead an unlearning.  An awareness.  An awakening to what has been standing right beside us this entire time and we have missed because our box of relational negativity was maxed out.

Here we are a little over two weeks in to this experiment of starting over and I have to admit that I have a bit of hope.

Losing Adam was my worst fear and I did everything in my control to keep him from ever wanting to leave and all that controlling only drove him away.  Smothered him.  I learned that I cannot control anything other than myself.  Sometimes even that is beyond my capability.  I’ve learned that nothing can be promised for eternity.  I’ve learned that change is inevitable.  I can control nothing. Nothing.  I’ve been humbled and seen the errors of my ways.  I have not been the perfect wife I imagined myself to be.  I do have areas to work on.  One of those is letting go of control.  Control has gained me nothing and it’s time to let it go.  I’ve lost Adam once now and so it’s easier to free him.  I may not agree with all his choices or opinions and that’s completely okay.  I am now in the midst of drawing up my boundaries and deal breakers for this new relationship.  Something I was too scared to do before.  I’ve turned my focus from Adam to me.  He’s not here to meet my needs and it’s unfair to expect him to.  And vice versa.  I am not enough for him and that’s okay.
We are redefining our roles.  Resetting expectations.  Voicing our opinions instead of burying them.  Living with complete integrity.  We are building a home that is full of love and acceptance.  It’s a process.  A process that requires extensive amounts of grace and patience.  Both of which I’m willing to give.  To myself.  To Adam.  To the relationship.

Adam has been a gift to me and to my boys.  He has loved me and remained faithful to me for 20 years.  He has encouraged me to grow and to question.  He has challenged me in areas that I would have preferred to remain stagnant.  He has been my friend.  My confidant.  My lover.

He has been the best father my boys could ever ask for.  He is a dad above all other dads.  Truly.

Is he flawed?  Absolutely.  But not in a way that requires me to move on.

Things are not perfect.  They are at times overwhelmingly challenging but I believe this marriage and this family is worth the effort.

In this moment, I feel hopeful.  I don’t know if we’ll have a fairy tale ending.  But for the first time, I’m not worried about tomorrow.  I’ve let go of the past.  I’m living this moment.  And this moment is my happily ever after.

Aside

Be the change that you wish to see in the world ~Gandhi~

Gandhi said it best in this quote and it’s always spoken to me more on a global scale. By global, I mean that I’ve always sought to serve others, be respectful, be kind, be genuine, be honest, raise responsible, aware young boys and trust that the world would return those same qualities. A what we give or put out is what our world will aspire to be kind of thing.

Well the last six months I’ve sort of sat myself knee deep (okay waist deep) in a self pity that I didn’t even recognize. While my goodness and good intents have not changed, my energy has. I used to trust. I don’t trust many any more. I used to be open and vulnerable and I’ve become scared and closed-off. I had gotten a good grasp on acceptance, happiness, enjoyment of the now. I’ve backtracked and I let the past and the uncertain future cloud the current beauty that surrounds me. Before I smiled freely. Now the smile is hard earned. Before I cared for my body with healthy choices and long runs. Today my body is a representation of the stress I have allowed to take hold.

February marks the 6 month anniversary of the event that changed our lives. And how fitting it would be that I would pick up the February issue of O magazine (something I never do!) and sit down to read an article that would positively impact my life. It was as though the woman (Martha Beck, Life Coach) behind the article reached out of the pages, slapped me across the face (in a good intended, best friend kind-of-way) and said, Amy, now is the time. Now is the time to step away from your funk, pull up your big girl pants, kiss the past goodbye, change your course, accept a new destiny, stop fighting the universe, and take charge. Be the change. A positive change. Yes, she really did say all of those things! At least I heard all of those things 🙂

I can’t control the past. I can’t control people’s opinions of the past. But I CAN control me and my representation of the past. The one thing I have not done is let go of the shame and hurt. The shame has dragged me down.

IMG_1584

The hurt has jaded me. They’ve aged me. Changed me. Converted me in to a burdened shell of who I am. After reading this article, shame had left. Gone. Pain felt strangely cleansing. They’ve had their time. Now is time for my true self to re-emerge. And I realized that what Gandhi says applies to my every day energy. I have to be the energy that I want to see in my own life. The energy I put out is the energy I will receive back. It’s not necessarily always applicable to a global change. By changing my energy I can change what I see in the world. And that is enlightening.

For six months, roughly 180 days, I have relived that first week of August. Every. Single. Day. When a few short minutes in the lifetime of minutes you’ve lived, change everything, it’s hard not to get swallowed by those minutes. To live in them over and over and over again. So much gone. So much vanished in to that everlasting black hole of time and space.

Black Hole in the universe

Reality is this, those were a really shitty 10,000 minutes (If I count that entire first week of August when things were literally changing by the minute). Reality is also this, I have lived roughly 18.5 million good minutes (give or take a few thousand)! 18 million!!!! Time to send those 10,000 minutes to the land of lessons learned. They’re nothing but a bit of chump change.

Because I would love all of us to appreciate the good minutes and learn how to ride out the not-so-good minutes I want to share a few key points from this article and how it so simply canceled my pity party and booked my Life-is-Pretty-Damn-Good-Party. No more looking back. Only forward.

If you’ve had a run of horrible luck, you can tell yourself you’re being tortured or punished. Or you can decide you’re being steered.

Mark and I have discussed this a number of times. We almost feel that we are fighting against what the universe wants from us or for us. We’ve always wanted and planned to do bigger and better things with our lives. Give back to our communities in substantial and meaningful ways but we’ve consistently allowed life and the pursuit of things get in our way. Now the universe almost won’t allow us the pursuit and we are deciding to be steered. Letting go is way easier than being tortured!

She-Ra, He-Man, and Teela

She-Ra, He-Man, and Teela…Masters of the Universe!(Photo credit: Han Shot First) 

Suddenly, everything’s shaking, jolting, falling apart. We have no idea what’s happening or why, only that all hell has broken loose. It gets worse and worse – until we wake up, see through our false assumptions to the deeper truth of our situation, and revise our life maps. This isn’t punishment. It’s enlightenment dressed as chaos.

Best line ever! “It’s enlightenment dressed as chaos.”

So the three steps Martha Beck suggests for finding your true self when you’ve hit a “rumble strip” on life’s highway is to 1) Hit the Brakes, 2) Put your mind in reverse, and 3) Find and follow smooth terrain. All straightforward and fairly simple.

When you feel so beaten down that you can’t sustain normal activities, it’s time to stop trying.

Stop sign

Stop Everything!

Except what’s necessary to survive. Eat. Sleep. Go to the bathroom. Make sure your children, pets, and sick parents eat, sleep, and go to the bathroom. If that’s beyond you, ask for help. Not forever. Just for now.

We both have had stretches of time that looked a lot like this over the last few months. Luckily we make a pretty good tag team. When I’ve been up and cheery, Mark’s been in barely surviving mode. When Mark’s high on life, I’m sometimes too beaten down to sustain beyond eat, sleep, pee. Tag. You’re it. Our teamwork has helped us during those really dark moments when the only thing there is to do is survive that singular moment. Ride the wave of despair and nothing more. Fortunately, in the last few months we’ve had way more up days than down days. More sun than gloom.

Reversing off the rumble strip:

…key assumptions are clearly marked with intense negative emotions: fear, anger, sadness. Such feelings are big red WRONG WAY signs. Back away from them. Try throwing your mind into reverse right now. Think of the worst, most hurtful thing that’s happening in your life. Now, think of a way this horrible thing might be good.

Phew, that was a heavy step. But there is good. I’ve discovered who has my back, no matter what.

Rumble Strip Sign

I’ve been able to move forward with really positive support around me. We moved to the PNW! We have wanted to do that for awhile but were too chicken to take such a big leap. We bought an RV and have been out enjoying grand adventures as a family. Our core unit (the 6 of us) has become super close and there is an abundance of love in this home. I’m getting paid to write! That never would’ve happened if I had the luxury of staying complacent. There’s a lot of really positive to be seen even with those few bad minutes as part of the equation. The good in those minutes is that they forced change.

Finding the Smooth Road:

At the point when someone sees through a false assumption, the road of life suddenly turns smooth. Instead of crazy bad luck, bits of strangely good luck start showing up. They’re small at first, inconspicuous. Never mind – slather them with attention.

I love this! There’s so much good. Some of it super small, but when you slap some gooey positive attention all over that teeny bit of goodness it starts to seem like some crazy golden universe nuggets.

If you stop everything you think you should be doing, surrender to what’s actually happening, reverse your assumptions, and steer toward the glimmers of light that appear as your old beliefs shatter, the small miracles will turn in to big ones. Eventually, your good luck will seem as incredible and mysterious as your bad. Once more you’ll be asking, Did I do something to deserve this? Only this time, the question will arise from a sense of overwhelming gratitude, not overwhelming pain.

Good Luck Bad Luck

Good Luck Bad Luck (Photo credit: Stewart Ho)

After I read this article, I spent one more day fighting against the universe and then I surrendered it all. Not one more day like this. Not one more day. And you know what, since that release I feel whole again. I feel like Amy is here. She’s found her way back and I’m ready to shine on during the next 50 years of my life…or 26 million plus minutes. I’m enlightened and am the change. My change.

I’ve Been Life Coached!