Soul Limber

Dear Mom –

Soul Limber is a phrase from Danielle LaPorte’s The Desire Map – a book that changed things up for me in a big, big way almost 2 years ago.

After finishing a video call with a client tonight – and singing the book and its author’s praises to said client (this was her first time hearing of it) – I pulled my tabbed up, highlighted copy off of the shelf. Tonight is a quote night. I knew I’d find the right quote for where I am in this place in time. And I did. It’s just right.

Take a journey into the things which you are carrying, the known –

Not into the unknown – into what you already know:

Your pleasures, your delights, your despairs, your sorrows.

Take a journey into that, that is all you have.

-Jiddu Krishnamurti

That’s where I am at. I feel I am exploring where I’ve already been – and where I am right now – without judgment or anger. There are lessons every day – but honestly – right here – with you – I just get to write a letter. It’s what you and Grandma craved from me – and what I was able to give you at certain times – not at others. I’d like to think that what I write to you about is all the stuff we would have talked about had you lived longer. We had started walking that path – we got few good years there – but not enough. Not enough to rehash all our stuff and try to lay it to rest. Evidently – that was to be my job in this life. I’m doing a good job.

So, yes, letters, you and Grandma loved to have me write letters. Difference is – this time it’s just as much for me as it is for you. It’s for us. I feel really good about it. I’m telling my story – and in some ways rewriting OUR story. That’s already been happening for quite a few years – in my head and heart. There were things that needed to be rewritten in order for me to feel worthy of many things that I hadn’t felt worthy of for so long – well, no, make that EVER. Yeah. And honestly – I still struggle – but at least now I know where it comes from – and I don’t think of myself as a whiney baby for having had hurt feelings and buried pain over things. I have come to a place of deep self-compassion and self-love. I can be very hard on myself – but not the way I used to be. These days – deep down – I have an admiration for myself that I never would have thought possible – I never would have contemplated. This – in a messy house. This – without a full time job. I admire myself for who I am – not what I do. It’s been a long time coming.

I have learned and changed so much in the last 18 years – and yet – there is much of me that is exactly the same – this includes where I came from. The difference is – now I’ve explored it. I’ve explored that known. I’ve explored it fearlessly. I’ve gone deeper than some people wanted me to. I’ve surfaced with answers and feelings that at times I thought might kill me – or at least pieces of me. Setting those answers down after a time of exploration – and moving beyond them – well – those are some of my greatest accomplishments in this life.

Doing that work – taking that scary journey into the known? That’s made my soul shine that much brighter.

I answered one of DLP’s writing prompts a couple years back. I think it may actually have been, “What do you trust?” Or “I trust______.” The answer came fast and furious. I flipped a piece of scratch paper over – and scrawled:

I trust my story.   Past.

I trust my path. Present.

I trust my journey.   Future.

What was awesome to me in that moment of scrawling was that I truly meant it.

I still do.

I will continue to.

All things for a reason.

Nothing is random.

I love you, Mom.

I must sleep now.

Hugging you. As I typed it – I felt it.

So glad you started hugging me in the few years before you died.

So glad you kissed me cheek – because now I remember what it feels like.

I can’t imagine not.

I know you’re here – but I’d dig a visit.

Meet me in my dreams?

xo

Suz

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Like a River

Dear Mom –

Kahlil Gibran, Mary Frye and Carly Simon accompanied me to your Memorial. I read on death – and not death. The Carly Simon CD was one of the CDs still in your 5 disc changer. Ron was helping me with the house and turned it on and hit random. Like a River came on and he knew he needed to put it on a tape for me – which he did – and he gave me the tape and told me not to listen to it alone. Kat rode with me, and we listened on the way. Neither of us had heard it before, and it took us… So much of it rang true. Your brother was the messenger – pressing the button – knowing what to do – and bringing the song to me. That was 18 years ago today. The service was beautiful. It was a gorgeous sunny day – much like today. No. Just like today.

I need to tell you more – to get it out – to tell of the day of – and the month that followed. I will. My head is swimming with all of it right now. The timing, the necklace, Circle of Stones, the dragonfly and heart rock – the sweat lodge with Jakie, my drive and tattoo. There is so much story there. I know you know much of it already. Still. I want to tell you about it. I want you to hear it from me. I want to own my story.

But for now I’ll leave you with what I read at your service and listened to that day. I am again – just so tired. I will sleep tonight. I can’t pull up all my stories tonight. Sleep is the key. Tomorrow.

 

From Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet:

Then Almitra spoke, saying, “We would ask now of Death.”       And he said:

You would know the secret of death.       But how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life?       The owl whose night-bound eyes are blind unto the day cannot unveil the mystery of light.       If you would indeed behold the spirit of death, open your heart wide unto the body of life.       For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.

***

In the depth of your hopes and desires lies your silent knowledge of the beyond;       And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow your heart dreams of spring.       Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.

***

Your fear of death is but the trembling of the shepherd when he stands before the king whose hand is to be laid upon him in honour.       Is the shepherd not joyful beneath his trembling, that he shall wear the mark of the king?       Yet is he not more mindful of his trembling?

***

For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?       And what is to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?

***

Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.       And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.       And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.

 

Do Not Stand at my Grave and Weep  ~Mary Frye

Do not stand at my grave and weep I am not there; I do not sleep. I am a thousand winds that blow, I am the diamond glints on snow, I am the sun on ripened grain, I am the gentle autumn rain. When you awaken in the morning’s hush I am the swift uplifting rush Of quiet birds in circled flight. I am the soft stars that shine at night. Do not stand at my grave and cry, I am not there; I did not die.

“Like A River”  ~Carly Simon

Dear mother the struggle is over now And your house is up for sale We divided your railway watches Amongst the four of us I fought over the pearls With the other girls But it was all a metaphor For what was wrong with us As the room is emptying out Your face so young comes into view And on the back porch is a well-worn step And a pool of light you can walk into I’ll wait no more for you like a daughter, That part of our life together is over But I will wait for you, forever Like a river… Can you clear up the mystery of the Sphinx? Do you know any more about God? Are you dancing with Benjamin Franklin On the face of the moon? Have you reconciled with Dad? Does the rain still make you sad? Last night I swear I could feel you Moving through my room And I thought you touched my feet I so wanted it to be true In my theater there is a stage And a footlight you can always step into… I’ll wait no more for you like a daughter, That part of our life together is over But I will wait for you, forever Like a river… In the river I know I will find the key And your voice will rise like the spray In the moment of knowing The tide will wash away my doubt ‘Cause you’re already home Making it nice for when I come home Like the way I find my bed turned down Coming in from a late night out. Please keep reminding me Of what in my soul I know is true Come in my boat, there’s a seat beside me And two or three stars we can gaze into… I’ll wait no more for you like a daughter, That part of our life together is over But I will wait for you forever Like a river… I’ll never leave, always just a dream away A star that’s always watching Never turn away We’ll never leave, always just a thought away A candle always burning Never turn away The moon will hide, the tree will bend I’m right beside you I’ll never turn away

I know that song by heart. It ALWAYS brings tears.

I don’t feel your presence the way I used to – for the most part.

But Mom, lately, I do.

I think your soul is here with me in this.

With each letter – I feel stronger. I’m not really sure what that means – not even sure that I could describe it. It’s just a feeling.

“Come in my boat, there’s a seat beside me And two or three stars we can gaze into…”

All love.

Always.

xo

Suz

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Dear Mom –

I’ve got to keep it short tonight.  I’ve been up until 1 AM the last two nights, and it doesn’t suit me.  Especially not these days.  The 5:30 rise is killing me.  I couldn’t do it this morning,  Slept ’til 6:15 and rushed around doing first day of school activities and soccer and a coalition meeting unshowered with one of those funky pulled back hairdos with the glasses on top of my head to hide (yeah right) my nappy hair.  Thank god for blush and mascara but, man, I need some beauty rest and a shower something fierce.  I’m sure you understand.

The boys both had amazing days.  Amazing.  Loved their classes, their teachers.  So flippin’ happy.  That makes me happy, too.  Do wish I’d had more downtime with them this afternoon and evening.  I am setting the intention to be fully present with each boy as they arrive home tomorrow.  I will be rested – and clean – and welcome them with yummy snacks.  Oh – I shouldn’t get ahead of myself.  All they need is me.  Well – I like yummy snacks, too.  That settles it.  Yummy snacks there will be.

For now I’m just going to type up some Mark Nepo quotes from The Book of Awakening.  You would have loved Mark Nepo.  He’s friends with Oprah.  Yep.  Do you remember how she was going to retire the show the year you died?  Well – she gave it another 10 years.  Now she has her own network and has awesome guests for a show called Super Soul Sunday.  People dis her, but she is still the bomb in my book.  Always seeking.  Always serving.  The Book of Awakening is one of her all time favorites.  I’ve owned it for 5 years now.  It’s a daily reader, but since I’ve read everything in it – I just jump around sometimes.  Tonight I flipped back to near my birthday and found some of the text I underlined.  I feel change is in the air.  I feel myself being carried in the right direction.  I’m following my heart, but I touch down and use serious footwork once the path is before me.  I trust, regardless.  It becomes easier all the time.  There’s no need to freak and search and push.  No need.  All is as it should be – and it’s working out the best for all concerned.  Yep.

“Of magic doors there is this, you do not see them even as you are passing through.” ~Anonymous

“Often as we are being transformed, we cannot tell what is happening.  For while in the midst of staying afloat, it is next to impossible to see the ocean we are being carried into.”  ~ Mark Nepo

Letting go and drifting off.

Just heard your voice in my head, “Hey, Suz.”

Good night, Mom.

More tomorrow.

Love,

Suz

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My Aspie Boy Hits High School ~ Be Still my Beating Heart

Dear Mom –

So – today is challenging. It’s 10:20 at night, and I just got B down for bed. Thank goodness elementary doesn’t start until 9:05. We squeezed the last little bit of daylight out of back-to-school-eve. Yep. Oh. It’s fine. It is what it is. Tomorrow is the first day of school. I’m sure this letter won’t be long. My brain is a jumble. Feeling tired and emotional. My baby is going into 1st grade. My oldest hits high school.

What?!?! I know! E is starting high school. When did that happen? I swear he was just snuggling me in bed yesterday – 2 ½ years old – talking about the school bus stop (his phrase for school bus) and minding his manners (channeling you), curling up in a mesh laundry bag on the kitchen floor while I was making dinner – and pressing his face up against that bag ‘til that face was good and flat – then calmly explaining to me (through the bag and pressed lips) that “this is what it was like in your belly – it felt just like this.” Yeah. Freaked me out, he did. Wasn’t the first time or the last. There is something about that one.

On another subject, E informed me today that he has not spoken to nor texted with his Dad in months. E was initiating for a while. He stopped. I think he is giving up. It breaks my heart to watch him do this. I know that pain all too well. You know – I pushed their relationship for years. E was in therapy once a week for 2 ½ years – for transition issues related to his anxiety and sleep issues. He’s an aspie and the transitions were just stacking up for him. He was overwhelmed with change – J & my marriage, a move, new school and baby. He was happy but not. We did parent sessions once a month with his therapist. His Dad showed up on the front end, but pretty soon it was just me and J showing up. His therapist helped us understand that there may come a time where we might just have to help E grieve the loss rather than try to hold the relationship together for them. That was hard on me. I had a hard time letting go. They had done so many years of every other weekend and longer visits in the winter and summer. I was determined that their relationship would not go down the tubes. I brought my own past into it. It wasn’t mine to carry, though. I had to learn to separate them out. All these years, I have never uttered one mean word to E about his Dad. These days, though, the conversation is opening up. My piece is reassuring E that what is going on with his Dad has NOTHING to do with him – not his issues – not anything he did wrong. He was so quick to turn it on himself on the front end – as kids do. I will continue to support him in knowing that parents are supposed to act like parents. Kids shouldn’t have to remind their parents to parent. Nope.

So, yeah. Aspergers, dyslexia and severe dysgraphia are already on E’s plate. Add in a dose of absent blood father… Ugh. E is amazing – a trooper. He has his moments – but damn, don’t we all? And who wouldn’t? We just keep on keepin’ on.

I wish you and Grandma had known about Aspergers and dyslexia with your boys. It’s in the genes, Mom. I know you both knew something was going on with your boys but couldn’t figure it out. Well, I have. There is a lot more information out there these days. The internet and books are a wealth of information. Being an advocate for E takes up a good chunk of my life. It’s exhausting at times, but I am so glad I know. Getting that diagnosis when he was 6 was HUGE, because for a good year and a half (I had been a single Mom for 5 years at that point) before that – things were getting crazy, and I had NO idea what I was dealing with – only that it was getting worse all the time. The behaviors were over-the-top. I was getting pushed into furniture – things were being thrown at my face (like hot wheels). Time outs and taking his trains (currency) didn’t work for shit. I tried spanking once and knew it wasn’t right at all for our situation. Anytime we tried to leave the park it was a HUGE scene that left everyone staring – and me mortified. I was working hard days as a nurse, rushing home to get E from the bus and spending my evening dealing with behavior that was beyond me. I didn’t know where to turn. I was depressed beyond belief. I don’t remember feeling that my recovery was threatened, but I do remember wanting so badly to make the anxiety stop. What was going on with me at that point is a whole other story. One important fact is huge, though. I was lifted from the nursing job from hell – LIFTED – and had more time time at home so was able to pay more attention. Once I was rested I could tell something bigger was going on. Late summer was when the fecal smearing started. That’s when I knew I was in WAY over my head. I had just gotten a laptop – and started googling what I was seeing. Two things came up at that point – sexual abuse and autism. Well – I was in therapy and spoke to my therapist about this. He suggested I get Eli to a therapist – which I did. The rest is history. History that I will go more into detail about sometime in the near future – maybe even tomorrow. Didn’t I say this was going to be a short post. Ha!

Helping my Aspie boy is one of my passions. Being his Mom is one of my superpowers. Minecraft is one of E’s passions. Being an amazing human is one of his superpowers.

We have had some amazing synchronicities occur through the years that have helped us move Eli forward in life in a positive way. Synchronicities that I know do not occur for every family in this situation. Different ones show up each year – but they KEEP showing up year after year. I have come to believe I am a gatherer of information and a messenger – that I can serve the greater good through our experience. I have to maintain a balance (to the best of my ability) between fierce Mama Bear advocacy and letting go. That’s not easy. It’s so hard when you see the potential and are afraid others aren’t looking for the good. It’s painful when you feel others are dismissing your child’s gifts and therefor shutting down possibilities for his future. It’s hard (infuriating at times) when you can see the barriers to education as clear as day – and nobody else can see them – and if they do they are telling you the barriers don’t exist. Yeah. That’s the real challenge – getting others to see that on the flipside of these kids’ “disabilities” lies a gift – or many – that can propel them in life if recognized and honed.

Well – more on this later. I could go on forever. You know I could. But no – I’ve got to post this before midnight to make it 3 letters in 3 days. I’ve got an early morning ahead.

I do love you.

Getting all of this out feels good.

Haven’t seen you for a while. My dreams not good enough for you?

Are you dancing with Thomas Jefferson on the face of the moon? In a good scrabble match with John or Doug? Having a Jack and Coke with Grandma? Walking hand in hand with Grandpa?

God – I miss you all.

Goodnight.

Love you much.

xo

Suz

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On Community ~ Connection ~ The Common Thread

Dear Mom –

Today I find myself thinking of your involvement in chatrooms in the late 90’s – especially the Adenocarcinoma rooms you frequented in the last few months of your life – pages and pages of communication I found printed out after you were gone. I saw it as information you were gathering from people who were in your position – information on your illness.  Reading them was painful. I threw a bunch away at your brother’s prompting. Now I am hoping I held onto a few. Mmm. Actually – no – I don’t need to have them in hand to remember them. They were. You were. I realize now that you were not just gathering information. That was true community for you. I see that online community can be just that. TRUE community. And for some – that’s all the community they’ve got. It started out that way for me.

You’d be AMAZED with the direction things have gone with online community, Mom.  Yep.  That’s what we call it.  Online.  It’s no longer just “the web” – the web you were so intrigued by – the web that you pushed on me.  Laughing. I remember the day my first computer showed up at the door.  You having my brother hook it up –  your forcing me to get an AOL account.  All so foreign.  All YOUR language.  That thing was an unwelcome guest in my studio apartment.  I know you’re having a good laugh over this.  Yeah.  You were a front runner.  You owned one of the first Macs.  Did you know there is one in the Smithsonian now? Yes – all of this online stuff would be SO up your alley.  You would have been a blogger if you’d stuck around a little longer.  No doubt in my mind. There is Facebook.  Friend and foe – more friend these days – to me anyway – because I am finding my Tribe through it. Six years ago I hated the idea of it. You couldn’t even find me if you Googled me (Google – that’s right – you don’t know – it was registered as a domain 10 days after your death – just looked that up). Anyway – 6 years ago I was pretty darned hidden, and I liked it that way (or so I thought).  Now I just don’t care. I AM HERE. I don’t know that you’d be all over Facebook, but you WOULD love checking in on your children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews – pulling up pics at the touch of a screen.  There is some good stuff going on out there in the cyber world (some not-so-good stuff, too) Thing is – being a part of an online community helped bring the strength that enabled me to reach out for community in non-virtual ways. My community is growing all around me – On-and-off-line.

Community saves me from myself.

I am not sure I’ve ever felt my connection and impact within various groups as strongly as I did yesterday. Yeah. It was a new experience. The realization began coming to me while sitting with a dear friend in a café here on the island. I began to realize we’d been building this connection for years. I was completely unaware that we would ever be this close for the first few years we knew one another. We were discussing children with learning differences and how we plan to make a difference for them. We were laying groundwork, and I felt overwhelmed with gratitude for how far I’ve come – how far we have each come – in our journey – and this particular path we both find ourselves on. Over the course of the last few months, we have realized we have far more in common than we ever knew. She’s amazing and I’m amazing and we are AMAZING together. HUGE HEART EMOTICON. After 2 ½ hours of coffee and chatting and strategizing and belly/snort laughing – my husband called with a “gentle” nudge to get my arse home. As the two of us were running out – we saw another woman – who we both know – who is part of another amazing community that I am just getting involved with. That community supports kids in staying clean and (I am hoping) will support kids who find themselves in muddy water. I found myself immediately drawn to them once I figured out what & who they are. I’m jumping in with both feet there. As I looked at her yesterday – and waved and said, “I have GOT to go NOW. No chat. NO chat!” – I laughed. We had just had a short deluge and there were puddles all around. The sun was coming out and we were all smiling, and I could not help but think, “Holy shit. I’m finding my people.” True connection. True community. True tribe. And my heart (((SWELLED))) again.

I went running off to grab my car and get to the grocery. Once there, I zipped around – grabbing the dish soap and produce and grillables – running into some people and stopping long enough to smile big – say “HI – I’m rushing,” and hug them tight. I realized I have had this experience numerous times over the past week. I know and care for people right here, right now.  Again – heart (((((SWELLING))))). Feeling LOVE. Giving LOVE. Yes. That’s where it’s at.

I reach checkout. The line is long. The baskets are all full. Crap. Call the hubs. “I’m in line. It’s long. Turn the oven on to 425. I’ll be there soon.” I check my email. WHAT? All kinds of notifications were coming in. People were reaching out to me over the letter I wrote to you yesterday, Mom. Dawn at She Recovers shared it – and people read it – and it touched them. A bit of my story – our story – touched them. I read Dawn’s comment, and another woman’s who said it brought healing tears – and that was it. My heart popped WIDE OPEN. Wide open. Tears welled up. I got my stuff to the car and sat there and cried.

The words came in repeated waves in my head and heart. I AM NOT ALONE.

The connection, community and common thread of recovery (in all its different forms) is SO strong. The pain, authenticity and vulnerability that is there for each of us is what binds us together. Each of our stories strengthens the bond.

This encourages me to keep sharing. My sharing encourages others to share.   That became so crystal clear yesterday.

So – here I go.

I miss you, but yesterday helped that lump of pain shrink.

I still love you with all of my heart.

Please meet me in my dreams.

xo

Suz

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Owning my Words

Dear Mom –

Hi. I miss you. It’s been awhile – 18 years ago today – in fact. I still remember that morning as clear as day. It seems this time of year I can feel it in my bones. There is no shaking it. It’s the same every September. It starts just after my birthday and ramps up over the next two weeks as I approach September 5th. Every year. Same thing. I smell it in the air. I see it in the shortening days and in the shift of the positioning of the sunsets. It’s particularly hard because it is back to school time. I’m supposed to be all organized – and instead I am scattered – in a fog – more so this year than in the past few. Maybe that’s not true – maybe it’s always like this. I can’t even remember right now.

You were 18 years old when you had me – and now you’ve been gone 18. Yep. I’m 48, Mom. Can you believe it? Forty-eight. The age you were when you left this earth and the age I have been fighting not to be afraid of all these years.  Now – here I am – feeling like this is something of a rebirth.  Hi.  It’s me – becoming “the woman of my own.”

Your death rocked my world. It crumbled around me for awhile there, Mom. Then I started to rebuild. Bit by bit. I have rebuilt on a much more solid foundation. I am fairly certain you are proud.

Oh – and please – don’t think I am blaming my scatteredness on you for something you could not help. There are many things going on right now – and honestly – I just want to talk to you. So I am – in a way – talking to you.

Why here? I have a feeling you know. Did the title of this blog spark anything for you? Last night I realized that this would be the perfect place for us to meet.

Do you remember that book you gave me at some point in the last couple of years before you died? You gave it to me for Valentine’s Day. It had the pretty shiny maroon cover and the little lock and key. It had the words “Passion Journal” written in cursive on it? Do you remember?

Do you remember how you told me that the journal was not to write about “passion” in – in the way I might think of passion in my late 20’s – that I wasn’t to write about my boyfriends. You told me I should write about what I felt passionate about in life. It was pretty, and I kept it on my shelf. I am fairly certain I never wrote a word in that book. My memory of it is one of fear. It brought up such a blank in me. I’m pretty sure it is in a box in the garage that I haven’t opened yet. I didn’t think about it much. I remember seeing it during my moves – that’s about it. I didn’t feel I had worthy passions to write about, Mom. If only I knew, then, what I know now.

Back in 2010 – I was in therapy – and I had started exploring my passions (or what seemed like a lack of them). I was moving through a horrible depression. It was the culmination of many things. Come 2011, I was starting my own business and really wanting to write – so I thought. I decided I wanted a blog so I took one on Blogspot and named it Her Passion Journal. I had decided on the name in the year before and bought the domain – as well as A Passion Journal and My Passion Journal. It took a long while to settle on “Her.”  To me – it brought the two of us together somehow. I wanted it to be mine, but I also wanted anyone who might read it to know the blog’s owner was a woman. I was unable to commit to the website domain.  Blogspot wasn’t workin’ for me either. I took this space. One day I’ll get up the balls to write at herpassionjournal.com. One day. Not today.

Super long story only sorta long? I’ve written 2 entries in 4 years here.  I sometimes think about how I think I may have lost the key to that Passion Journal you gave me, and feel like now I keep losing the key to this.  Uh. Yeah. I write everywhere but here.  I write on Facebook – on my own wall – in long comments on others’ walls. I write in FB womens’ groups. I write thoughtful responses to Blog posts. I oftentimes write big ol’ long things on a “public figure” wall and then cut the whole thing out and paste it in a Word document and file it away – because I have actually come to realize what I am doing is blogging, and I should put it here. But I don’t. I don’t put it here. I’ve been scared to – or something. There is a big ol’ block that I have got to crush. You know why? Because I am a writer. Grandma was a writer. You were a writer. I AM A WRITER.

You would force me to write when I was young. Letters and journals. I’ve always written good papers. Way back when – my teachers told me I was a writer. Mrs. Burns told me I was in 7th grade. I went on to AP English classes and loved writing in college. You know who doubted me? You. There was the time you helped me retype a research paper I wrote in nursing school. You told me it was really good THEN you asked me if it was really mine. That was a slap in the face. It may have seemed like a small thing to you – but I’m sure you can see now – knowing our history as you do – that that was all it took. I had worked my ass off on that paper. I was so proud of it and -just like that- I was off and running with the self-doubt again – because Mom – it was that easy.   For most of my life I have not felt good enough. For most of my life I have doubted every little thing I’ve done.  I have second-guessed. I have felt someone might point their finger and laugh. I have been afraid that someone might call me out. I now know that you were just like me. It’s hard, huh? Chasing and hiding. I digress.

So – yeah – who would of thunk it – I am now calling myself a writer. My confidence comes from outside sources saying they want to hear my voice. This has been a common theme.   SO – for the next month – I am going to post something to this blog every day. It might be a long rambling thing like this – or it might be a poem – or it might be a picture. I probably won’t be showing my skill as a writer. The purpose is not to show skill. The purpose is to crush the block while excavating and collecting some of my many passions. The purpose is to crush the fear – the fear that steals my creative expression – the fear that silences me so that I feel some need to skulk off and hide my words in the comments of others’ posts rather than claim them as my own.

The purpose is also to help quiet the sadness of September.

I miss you Mom.

I still love you so much.

See you in my dreams.

xo

Suz

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Driving and Crying

So – this is my first time back in over a year. Time for some process through storytelling.  Time for blasting the writer’s block.  I am fairly certain this is going to be a jumbled mess, but I don’t care.  I have to get back in the saddle. I need to be in the saddle more than once a year.  I’m not guilting myself. I do that sometimes – the guilting – not as often as I once did – but it does happen.  This isn’t one of those times.

I just had one of my “sitting with it ” moments.  My “going with the flow” moments.  My “letting it all out” moments. They still scare me when they come – because it never really is about one particular thing.  I can never just put my finger on IT – the cause.  It’s just a feeling, and it takes me.  I’ve learned to let it.  I immediately have that, “Oh God – what if somebody sees me” feeling.  I don’t stop it, though.  Today I felt it coming while at a stand-still in the barista drive-thru line.  Leak, leak, leak…  I held it back long enough to get through the line – so I could order (it was a male barista – women baristas have watched me cry).  As I drove away – I let it all go – because I know – when I let it go – the IT comes – eventually.  Sitting with it – not burying it – brings clarity of one sort or another.  Always.

So – yeah – that just happened.  The Driving and Crying.  The people in other cars looking at me with pity or looking away.  I’ve learned – over the last many years – that the glances and aversion don’t matter.  My car – my process.  As I said – not the first time.  It is the first time for something else, though.  In that moment – as I headed home to get going on my “study day,” a voice in my head said I needed to write about what was happening – about the “driving and crying” – about the not holding back – about the way it comes out of nowhere – about the letting go.  About the “sitting with it.”

I read an article on “awe” this morning.  I read of the benefits awe brings physically and emotionally.  I only had to read a few sentences and my mind was reeling because – honestly – I am in AWE much of the time, and I have never really thought of it that way.  Okay – it’s not the gape-mouthed-oh-this-or-that-is-amazing awe (although that has been known to happen on occasion – okay – regularly).  For the most part, though, it is different than that.  I’m searching for the word.  Maybe it’s like a dumbfoundedness.  I think this will make more sense as I piece this all together.

Swirling thoughts.  Stick with me.

In my recovery coaching studies – the marijuana unit spoke of novelty – how pot brings a sense of novelty – without having to go out and find it.  I remembered how that was true – for me anyway.  ANY and EVERYthing seemed a little more special when I was high, you know? Kind of like when you are buzzed on alcohol – but not.  Can’t explain it – but I do know that you know – if you’ve been there.  It makes life rosy.  Thing is – for me anyway –  when I’d stop – I had a really hard time finding the rosy without it.  I could find it (the rosy), but it took something pretty astounding to make it happen.

There would be a period of flatness – gray – for me – when the rosy faded away.  Then every once in a long while I’d hook up with a friend and smoke a little.  I’d remember just how rosy the rosy could be in those moments.  Then the moment would pass, and I’d be tossed back into the gray – the flatness.  For me – smoking actually caused a period of depression to follow. I figured it out fast.  That’s just me.  I have addictive tendencies.  I had to leave it behind.  And I missed it sometimes – when life took the turns that life takes.  I got worried when pot was legalized, because I thought I might get lured in by one of those green signs.  I thought my occasional longing for rosiness wouldn’t be so easy to hold at bay.  Then that worry just went away. I can’t say the thought of a little rosiness doesn’t cross my mind.  I can say it doesn’t stick around.  Not anymore.

Today I realized this has something to do with me getting my natural awe back.  I think it’s because the simplest things bring it, and I really didn’t even realize it until just now.  When I studied about “novelty,” I actually got down on myself – yes – that aforementioned guilting.  I was thinking, “Girl, you’ve gotta get out there and hike and climb and see the world.  You need to bring in some novelty you lazy-ass.  Go!Go!Go!”  I didn’t go.  And that’s okay.  I didn’t need to GO anywhere.

Enter the article on awe.  This morning.  I was getting the kids ready for school.  I had read a little bit of the article and voiced a little blurb about it to my husband as he headed upstairs to shower.   I didn’t think much of it – except for making the Awe/Novelty connection.  I chatted with my husband a bit and watched him walk our youngest and our dog down to the busstop. I gave him a ride to the ferry.

After dropping him off – that feeling started coming.  That oh-I’m-gonna-cry-any-moment-here feeling.  So I let it go and things started clicking.  Things like:  I posted a photo of myself in the ocean last night.  It’s my head poking out of turquoise water.  I have very few “bucket list” items, but swimming in turquoise water was one of them, and I got to cross it off after a particularly challenging fall/winter.  In the post, I gave some info about what the cold months had brought for me and my husband and how grateful I was for the trip we had spontaneously taken with the kids a month back – and how much I love him and our little family.  The likes and comments brought me great joy.  I realized I have really formed a community – virtual or no.  This is something that never would have happened when I was drinking or even in my earlier days of sobriety.  I would have never brought attention to my past. I am in AWE of that connection – the authenticity – a connection with people who have known me all throughout my life, many who have seen my struggle and my growth and they are happy for me.

That thought collided with: I LOVE my life more than I ever thought I could, and it is pretty darned ordinary.  Thing is.  I am a recovering alcoholic.  Things could have gone the other way.  I could have a not-so-ordinary life.  I could be alone.  I am not.  I am a good Mom in a healthy marriage.  Sometimes I get bombarded with images of this life all at once.  It’s like a fast-moving slide show – one image fades into the next.  I realize I and my life are – indeed – miracles.  Gratitude completely takes me.  There is a drawn-out-awe-induced moment of “How the hell did I get here?  How did I accomplish so much change in a ten year time frame?”

Those thoughts collided with, “Oh my God, 10 years have passed – almost 11.  I am going to turn 48 soon.  My Mom died at 48.  What if I die at 48?  No – I LOVE this life.  I am experiencing awe and novelty every single day all on my own.  No foreign substances needed – and I didn’t even realize it.  I need more time here appreciating it.  Everything will be fine if I make it to 49.  No parallels.  NO more parallels.  My life.  Not hers.  I’m here now.  Stay present.  Yeah, but, I don’t want to go anywhere.

And then I see it clear as day.  I’m vulnerable.  I’m happy, grateful and soul-filled.  When my heart is wide open, I am at my most vulnerable.  In the past, I would have never gotten to this conclusion because I would have drank it away or smoked it away or sexed it away.  As a matter-of-fact – my first impulse today – when I walked in from the car – was to hop on Facebook – not write – even though the voice in my head told me to come home and write – to give it a voice.

Seems like anytime true vulnerability presents itself, a desire to numb it soon follows.  Hop online.  Turn on an episode.  Grab something to eat.  Eat something while watching something.

A-Ha!  That’s why letting it go in the car works.  No distractions – unless you grab your phone…  Don’t grab your phone.  I’ve been guilty of that as well.  Put your purse in the back seat.  Allow your  thoughts to flow.

If you made it to here – thank you for sharing my process.  Writing like this has that V word written all over it for me – for so many reasons – reasons scanning decades.  And yet, I feel drawn.  I feel like I can’t let my old stuff silence me.  I feel like it’s time to listen to those who tell me I am a writer – and especially my inner voice – the one that consistently encourages me to share.

Open.  Own.  Embrace.  Explore.  And for those like me – Share.

And so I will close with this from Brené Brown (one of my all-time favorites).  “Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”

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