Tag Archives: perspective

The Pain of Separation

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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

Limitless

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*This writing is one that is written without thought.  The way it works is that I do an entrance meditation and then just let the words flow, not trying to direct them, to correct them, to coerce them, or manipulate them in any way.  If they make no sense that’s perfectly fine.  If they make all the sense in the world, that’s perfectly fine too.  I really enjoyed where this practice took me with this piece.  I encourage you to try it sometime.  See where your quiet mind and full heart take you.

There are times when I feel endlessly bound.  Handcuffed and chained, a swallowed key.  I feel bound by limitations placed upon me by others, by me, by society, by financial insufficiencies, by insecurities, by my own mind, by physical incapabilities, by expectations, borders, class systems, government regulations, gender biases…an infinite list of limitations that imprison me.

There’s an easy way to put this feeling of imprisonment in to persepctive.  My path to truth and enlightenment is always nature.  Nature never fails to reset my finite thinking.  To set my feet on a path where the possibilities are limitless and always have been limitless.  Bound before by my inability (or unwillingness) to see the infinite.  Believe the infinite.

Today, I believe.  I look out over a vast ocean.  So vast, I cannot even vaguely comprehend the depths it reaches, the miles it stretches, the gallons of water swallowed in it, the quantity and size of the species living within it, the miles of it untouched and unexplored, the power and reality that this ocean is one of many.  Its vastness multiplied by five.  What I can grasp is the smallness of me.  Little ‘ole insignificant me.  Rather than binding me further, this truth sets me free.

It frees me as I look more intimately upon the sand on which I lie.  Delivered here by time and wind and tides.  We speak of sand as a singular unit but is that because a single sand grain is so insignificant that it no longer has value?  One tiny speck. One granule of something that once was.  Broken down by nature in to individual specks of insignificance.  Thrust together they become one long expansive beach of beauty.  Alone, it is small and insignificant.  Together, majestic.

The ocean tide powered by the moon still visible and hung in full view just above the horizon.  This moon so familiar to me.  A presence in my daily existence.  Always present, yet only vaguely known.  All alone, no community, relatively unexplored. Powerful yet unable to create or emit its own light.  It merely reflects the light of a star.  And there it hangs, suspended in the infinite enormity of stars and plants and space.  Small and insignificant.

Oh, the stars!  Light years away and bright enough to reach my eyes.  Awe inspiring.  Yet, on nights when only one is visible, the others suffocated by the artificial lights of my city or outshone by the reflected sun, that lone star becomes small and insignificant.  Nothing more than a pin prick in the fabric of the night sky.  Hardly noticed.

Nature is my teacher just as it’s the sand’s teacher.  There to break me down, guide me, and hold me.

Teacher, why am I so plagued with suffering?  Why are my problems so unique?  How will I fix them and end my suffering?

Teacher (Nature) tells me,

Step on to that beach.  Notice the immeasurable bits of sand.  Notice that together they are beyond understanding, beyond measurement, beyond a finite limitation.  If they were to rise up they would be a powerful force capable of overtaking any obstacle.  Instead they comfort, cradle, mold, play, house, and simply accept the winds of change.  They will move.  They will be stepped on.  They will be thrown around and kicked about.  Some will be washed away never to be seen again.  They will be underappreciated, cursed, and, at times, even shat upon.  All of this will go unnoticed because in the realm of all that is universal they are small and insignificant too.  Close your eyes.  Listen to the ocean.  It speaks.  What do you hear?

I close my eyes and listen.

I hear waves.  They’re angry and motivated.  Systematic in their approach to reach the shore. They’re reaching.  Grasping.  Unsuccessful, they retreat back.   Regroup.  Attack.  Retreat.

Teacher Responds,

They too are small and insignificant.  You hear only a small voice of the vast ocean.  If you were to venture out further, you’d hear silence.  Peaceful silence.  Even your own voice too small to break that silence.  The waves feel much like you, bound to obey forces bigger than them.  There are rules and they must follow.  They have slipped away from peace and discovered suffering. What you hear is the rumblings of dissent.  Their resistance of what is.  Their suffering.  They are you.  Small and insignificant but making deposits.  Not recognizing their collective value and therefore coming in kicking and screaming.

Now look up.  Do you see the moon?  The stars?  What do you notice?

I look up studying the sky.

They seem so far away.  I’m amazed I can see them at all.  I wonder if they see me.  And if they do, what do they see?  How would my energy reach them?  Do I have an energy that can pierce through the gaps that both divide us and bridge us?  I look up and feel the greatness of all that is out there.  The universe reminds me that each being is relatively small and insignificant in the perspective of all that exists.  It’s true that even the moon, the waves the sand, the stars, other human beings, all feel insignificant from time to time.  I am no different.  My problems feel lighter.  They are as insignificant as I am.

Teacher says,

Your problems are not insignificant but neither are they unique.  In this universe, the one in which you stand upon sand, the sands carried by waters and winds to other lands, those lands inhabited by others, all of you existing under the same night sky, winked at by the same moon, casting light from the same sun, surrounded by the same stars, made up from the same particles, your problems are in no way unique.  Your aloneness, imagined.  Your insignificance a gift in which you are free to make mistakes.  A gift to live fully without fear.  Your significance in community.  As part of a whole, your insignificance becomes as powerful as each community.  As powerful as the community of heavenly bodies.  As powerful as the oceans.  As significant as the sands.  Use your insignificance as a collaboration for peace and silence.  May your depths become immeasurable.  Your vastness, awe inspiring.  Your motivation, pure.  Your community infinitely good and powerful.  And, one day, when your insignificant, finite life ends, may you and I join forces.  May I be your new community and my you teach the new, seeking insignificants their limitless possibilities.

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Starting Overs

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I read about this wonderful project in Oregon,promoted by Oregon Humanities,called “Dear Stranger.”  Participating had a pull on me and I immediately knew I wanted in.  The very thought of exchanging a letter with a stranger fluttered my heart.  I was excited to find my own truth in this project and I am equally excited to hear my stranger’s story or remembrance, his/her  interpretation of what ‘start’ means.

Below is the letter I wrote to my stranger:

We were told to write about starts.  First starts, second starts, good starts, bad starts.  Naturally I began to think about my starts.  It caused me to pause and examine the “starts” I remember.  What was significant about them?  What emotions were present?  How did I grow and what was gained?  Lost?  I’m not yet 40 and, yet, my short life has seen its fair share of starts.  An abundance of starting overs.  Some by choice.  Some be the choices of others.  Some in which I felt empowered.  A trailblazer.  An adventure seeker.  Others in which I felt powerless, helpless, and bound by fear.

As I write this, I’m recognizing that I was never powerless.  I was never without choice.  I have always had choices in how I responded to forces beyond my control.  Forces sometimes so mighty, so loud that the only choice was to start over.  But I got to choose how that starting over would look.  What path it would take and whether I would choose to hate it, resist it, allow the power to jade me.

I have certainly resisted at times.   I have suffered deeply for not accepting what is.  I have suffered for trying to protect and cocoon all I owned and what I believe I owned.  In these starting overs I have seen that ownership, control, safety…these are illusions.  We never truly own, control, or create safety.  We simply believe we do.  I don’t say this out of bitterness but quite the opposite.  I say this because I have seen freedom in the letting go of all I wanted to possess physically and emotionally.  I’m free to acknowledge life circumstances for what they are.  Mostly outside of my control. Oh!  The freedom in that knowledge.

I have found that ‘starting overs’ are gifts.  If we welcome them, move with them, invite the lessons that lie within.  Stop wrestling with them. Surrender.

Truly each and every day is a starting over.  Each day we can choose how to flow with new beginnings.  Right now, if I fully invite my starting overs into my life, I believe I’ll continue to grow in empathy, love, and kindness.  And, so, I do just that.  I invite starting over in my career.  In my husband’s career.  I accept the challenges with my children and choose to love them deeper tomorrow.  I accept the financial struggle and uncertainty that comes with two years of unemployment.  I acknowledge my feelings and emotions and I appreciate the opportunity to know them more intimately.  I cherish the starting over with my husband.

Daily starting overs.  Each day new opportunities.  New growth.  I guess I’m truly grateful for this life, for the ability to choose, for the endless days of beginning again.  This breath always new, therefore each breath is, in essence, starting over.

*Deep Sigh*

These Present Moments

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IMG_2354Time is elusive.  Moments fleeting.  I know that this is true because I sit here listening to water falling from the mountains in a force so powerful it carves its own path to the stream below.  The water is proof of time.  Proof of forward movement.  I recognize this moment as a moment of awareness.  Awareness of time and of life in motion.

Glacier National Park has provided me a moment that has become moments that have become space that have become experience.  A string of single moments strung together to ignite a sensory explosion so breathtaking that its existence is hardly fathomable.  Hence the need for awareness of time.  The proof that these moments have existed.

There was the moment when I stumbled across an older woman wading in the icy waters of IMG_2166Lake McDonald.  That moment inspired by this female pathfinder became a moment turned moments turned experience.  I took a chance and joined her.  I stripped down to my skivvies, climbed to the front of my kayak, became encouraged by my boys standing on the shore chanting, “Do it! Do it! Do it!”, and leaped.  Jumped right in to the ice cold waters.  Fully immersed in the icy waters and vowing to last more than just a few seconds, I had to remain focused on each individual breath.   Each spacious moment.  I swam to the woman who had inspired this jump and I learned that she was a spry 72 years old!  Her spirit and energy filled me and we swam together for a span of nearly 20 minutes or more.  Her moments inspiring my moments.  My moments inspiring moments within each member of my family who all joined in the experience for a few seconds or a few minutes.  If we allow ourselves, we find we are all pathfinders.  We are all both inspiring and inspired.

I was fully empowered and alive, simply because of a moment turned moments turned experience.  A bunch of tiny moments strung together to become part of me and my story.  Time both present and moving.

There were many other pinch-worthy moments reminding me of life and progress and the enormity of time and space.  Moments that I grasped and followed in to experience.  When standing in awareness, fully awake, only then does one become fully immersed in this journey called life.  I’m thankful that I’m finally seeing the moments presented to me and no longer sleeping through them.  May you too, reader, become more present in your moments and find in those moments a variety of experiences.

Just for my recollection, when many other moments want to take the space that these moments occupy, I want to jog my memory with these bullet point reminders:

* The most serene campsite in which daily deer would pass through and even the occasional black bear.
* Observing Marmots in play.
* 9 Blissful Days of family unity and zero electronics.
* Watching a mosquito feed on Adam and instead of finding annoyance in its need for blood, appreciating the awesomeness of sharing life and observing a belly fill with nutrients. Appreciating all life.
* Listening to each of my boys lead their first family meditations.  The perspective of  a child is something we can all learn from.
* Hearing what words the campfire and trees spoke to my boys.  The boys are still open enough to hear nature and that encourages me to keep listening and practicing mindfulness.
* The day G cried because he had hugged a tree and felt a connection so deep he grieved leaving the tree behind.
* Hiking for 3 miles with the boys and at the end stumbling across a landscape of waterfalls and vegetation that cause you to believe you could really leave your life behind and live in the wild.  The forest somehow feels more natural than returning to city life.
* Nights under the stars with your best friend and lover snuggled in a hammock made for one. Knowing that all is right with the world as long as you are together.
*MARSHMA……..LLOW!!!!
* A bike ride up the Going to the Sun Road when the road is closed to vehicles.  Just you, your boys, countless waterfalls, a river, and the occasional deer.
* Laughing hysterically when it rains so hard on that bike ride that you are not even able to see straight ahead.  Knowing that you are alive and you are teaching your boys to laugh when crying would be easier!
* Introducing the No Trouble Bubble.  Looking at the father of your children and laughing because what is being said in the bubble is both hilarious and frightening and the bubble confirms that as parents we are succeeding.
*  Meditation in a place isolated enough to believe that you are no longer human…in fact you are water.  Transitioning, fluid, and unbreakable.

 

Time may be elusive but I am determined to be present for every moment possible.  May you be present as well.  Journey On.

 

Connection Remembrances

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One of the most uplifting entries we posted in our spiritual journals this weekend was something called connections.  This is where we journal about our spiritual lives.  The stepping stones that brought us to the point we are now and the connections that we’ve had in which we felt that life was as it should be.  Those moments when we felt truly truly connected to something beyond ourselves. For ten minutes we logged moments in our lives when we felt connected to something or someone.  Here is my ten minute list (which is by no means every connection I’ve experienced).  On a lonely night like tonight it’s hard to feel anything less than thankful after reading this.

1.  K-Care with P and S

2.  Chloe snuggled up with me during pregnancy

3.  Ritz C drooling on me in contentment

4.  “Hello” sex with Adam

5.  The sunrise on Haleakala in Maui as the woman sang to the sun god

6.  Awakening all my senses in the Costa Rican rainforest

7.  Skinny dipping in Kauai waterfall

8.  Adam holding my face two weeks ago and truly seeing me

9.  My mom listening to stories I wrote when I was a kid

10.  E crying because of my gift of vulnerability

11.  The first time G asked me to kiss him

12.  My dad sharing his life stories with me

13.  Adam commenting on my blogs

14.  Sunday morning runs with Jody

15.  Sunday morning runs with Alexis

16.  One of the first times I smoked weed and I was in touch with every part of my body

17.  Jason Mraz concert with Brenna

18.  Dr Nissen healing me

19.  My dad caring for me when I recovered from my pancreatic surgery

20.  Singing lullabies to J in the orphanage as he slept in my arms

21.  Common Grounds…being naked with strangers

22.  Kerby in Haiti

23.  Lying on my back at Soldier Trail and watching shooting stars

24.  Nursing a baby javelina back to health by teaching it to suckle milk off my chin

25.  Holding Shadow as he passed

26.  A friend sharing secrets she had never told anyone because she trusted me

27.   My son, P,  sharing a secret with me that freed him

28.  J sitting on the front of my SUP while we navigated the river

29.  San Diego to Tucson bike trip to raise money for Tucson group homes

30.  Watching the Swifts as a family

31.  Watching whales

32.  Setting a spider free instead of killing it

33.  When my sons brush my hair

34.  Snuggled in bed with Adam when our lives were turned upside down after CFA and we stayed up all night planning a new adventure

35.  Masturbation without shame for the first time (a deep connection to myself)

36.  Being with any animal that I was putting to sleep

37.  Double Rainbow right off my porch

38.  Running across the finish line of Raluca’s first marathon

39.  Lying on a picnic table watching the stars at Crater Lake

40.  Handing a homeless man my coffee and putting my hand on his shoulder

41.  Listening to the “crazy” woman as she told me her life story and then said, “nobody has ever sat and listened to me” and then she started to cry

42.  Sending my MIL a letter telling her what a beautiful son she has and how thankful I am for him

43.  The moment I realized there was an entire community of atheists coming out of religion

44.  When my brother told me he is gay

45.  When I danced in the rain in Haiti

46.  When I ate the first tomato I’ve ever grown

47.  Every time I was sick and my sister would care for me….she’d even put an IV in me when needed

48.  Team Ba Donka Donk

These are just the moments that were at the forefront of my memory.  I’m sure I have hundreds if not thousands more connected moments.  If you’re ever feeling blue I suggest taking ten minutes to do this exercise.  You’ll hopefully recognize just how rich your life is and how important it is to keep on connecting.