It’s elementary my dear Watson…

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Recently Courtney introduced me to the BBC series of Sherlock Holmes with Benedict Cumberbach et. al. It isn’t very often that I will watch a show and it will captivate my attention more than wanting to be full throttle ahead in the pursuit of my dreams. But I could tell right away that there was something more to watching this show. It was another way for her to show me she sees me. It’s literally my life.

Sherlock goes through the world being primarily misunderstood by most people and putting most of them off as well. Until not very much by accident at all really he and Watson are introduced and they seem to fit together. Sherlock begins to become ever slightly more human, and Watson provides him nearly endless mercy. And in exchange Watson is most certainly never at risk of being bored.

Do you know what this means? That long before there was ever a me, there were people who think like I do. It means I am not alone. So as a gift I bought Courtney (me) the entire set of original Sherlock Holmes books and I am reading through them, and noticing things I never would have before. Things such as in the book the way they meet is because each asks a same random acquaintance about a roommate situation. This time when I hear this I think destiny. I think a miracle a plan. More and more as I go about my life I think we are exactly where we need to be, and even the tiniest event may actually have been orchestrated way before us. I’m not sure what you call it, and my inner skeptic who is a much more comfortable personal has had a hay day being in charge most of my life. But when I look at how things are for me now, it just isn’t possible any of this is accidental.

I was given Courtney because I needed her, and she needs me, and we are each exactly necessary to the other’s well being and dare I say growth, in ways that we won’t even know until probably much later. I can see myself changing, so much of the dissatisfaction parts of me are melting into a deep surrender.

I mean don’t get me wrong, I still get into these mood fits of restless: wander/wonder/creative/disaster/glory/magnificent/confusion/supercalafra-just kidding. And I get into them frequently, but now I am starting to see a rhyme to my reason. If I am not stimulated by some new experience constantly I go nearly crazy. For Sherlock if he wasn’t solving a case that was challenging his brains (stimulating him), he was a nightmare to behold. I am a similar character.

If someone can write this and make it take shape, then there is no reason with this brain that I can’t write anything that I so desire. Believing in myself, (you had the power all along Dorothy), has been the battle… and that is becoming less and less of a problem.

I get so caught up in the details of it all, in how I spend my time, rather than lost in the experiecing of whatever it is I am trying to embark upon. Thankfully it doesn’t take murder or solving a case to get my juices flowing. My child like wonder and naivete that never before had the kind of space they do now, make even delivering a pizza via Uber Eats, an adventure for me. Who will order food? What will it be? Where will it be from? How much will it cost? How much will they tip me? Something about when that little app lights up and sends me on a mission I am filled with wonder.

Who can be filled with wonder about delivering a pizza?

And yet somehow I can. Because someone ordered, and there was some reason they ordered it, and perhaps we will get to talking and something magical will take place. Can you think of anything better than realizing your mind makes magic out of the mundane, if you will just sit still long enough to realize that.

If I could just stop trying to find fault in myself long enough to realize how wildly creative I have been all along. I am WILDLY creative. I have spun straw into gold with my life. I have made amazing connections, and they are all the product of risks I have taken that the average person just never would. I am much more likely on a daily basis to find the wrong in all the things that I do, but aren’t we all fighting that battle, until we realize we don’t have to anymore.

Something is going to unravel out of this madness. I just know it.

You know what’s funny? I actually began this post from a place of self-deprecation, and as the words came out they aren’t even habituated to that behavior anymore and I found something totally different as the story. You see there I go again… MAGIC.

I want to tell you about the silliest argument my wife and I had this evening. Because it’s so Sherlock and Watson of us. My wife tells me today that she purchased a second unlimited car wash package for our other car. My mind immediate thinks, “why”? So I say as much with very little sensitivity or thought. “Well I just don’t understand why anyone would care about such a thing.” I mean isn’t it futile really the washing of a car? Kind of like cleaning up leaves in a yard. I’ve never really done it and nothing has ever happened to me. I haven’t suffered in some intense way as a result. In fact I can see no difference in my quality of life whatsoever due to the fact I’ve rarely had a clean yard or much of a clean vehicle. And yet I have been taught to teach my children these things are important. So I have. But I guess I haven’t really modeled it much. This for a different blog post I should think.

So then poor Courtney begins to see things from the angle I am painting them and thinking she has been had by marketing and advertising, and feels less than smart. And then I feel badly for looking at things in this way, and nervous that I am not upholding something important simply for the fact if it is important to her then it will be important to me. My logical mind just blurted out my thoughts on the matter. And then I grappled to understand how in the world when we rarely argue at all, that we are feeling each misunderstood by the other over two packages of unlimited car washes. LMAO. It all feels so hysterical now. My thoughts were over the course of my 38 years of existence rarely has it occurred to me that the car needs washing. Perhaps 10 times in total, perhaps not even that many. And she was just being her Watson-y self and being considerate, practical, and studious in ways that make sense to her from her own story and upbringing. A conclusion is that neither of us should feel badly for our way of thinking, and the most important part of all is that we are never rude to one another, or condescending, or unkind. I think if either of us comes close to this, it is me because of my analytical, pragmatic, and intensely driven to the core of meaning in all things mind.

When you look for depth in everything, many things seem superficial in ways that seem to not make sense or are hard to be understood by others. She understands this in me and let’s me be myself, and because of that I always want to let her be herself. ALWAYS. Because of my wiring I think it may take something extra spectacular to teach me how to be gentle enough to make sure I create space for this. Sigh.

The point is that IF it is important to her, it doesn’t matter whether I deem it important or not, this is the way I CHOOSE to show up for love. It doesn’t matter if I see it as futile, illogical, meaningless, and by pointing out all the ways I did I only ended up making her feel like shit. Which both of us know logically neither of us can make the other feel anything without our consent, it’s why we work so well, we know this. But we still are not immune to the emotional ups and downs of human existence. Such a silly thing to become so sensitive over.

Is the conclusion that there are two types of people: those who care about washing their car, and those who feel nature will do it for them? Or perhaps there are infinite types of people: such as a type that will never own a car because of a value system or geographical location, or different priorities, and yet another subset that will own several hundred cars as a collector, or to showcase their status? As I could go on and on, much to the reader’s distress we shall call this case solved.

We are on a journey that so many others are on currently, that is to each be ok with ourselves in the light of so much comparison, and so many seemingly good reasons to find fault within ourselves. I am so grateful for this health relationship, where we can have a silly disagreement and my labrador of a mind can try to analyze every crevice of it, until a much needed distraction comes along. My son wanted to talk to us about some of his feelings, as soon as we became engaged as parents, we forgot the silly old discussion anyway, and it ended with Courtney saying, “Honey we parented together”, like we don’t do that all the time. But her enthusiasm about the whole damn thing is what is most healing. She’s enthusiastic about all of us, with all our imperfections, now she will just have to include herself in that generosity and the sky will be the limit 😉

With Heart,

Christina

Dear John ….. a birth and death… full circle at the Grand Canyon.

Wow so because I am going to post this letter I went back and revisited it. First of all this letter was written February 22nd 2016. It feels like lifetimes ago this happened. We reconnected on June 12, 2010, had a relationship via e-mail, never saw one another in person, until around January of 2014, and around that time I was at the height of discomfort with my disease and seeking understanding and lashing out at the things I couldn’t make sense of. It was around this time he cited that I was exhibiting frightening mental states on a public platform, and reminding him of my mother. And that was it for us. I didn’t have it in me anymore to be abandoned again. I chose not to abandon myself and my needs in the name of reducing anyone else’s discomfort.

I lost a relationship that I had always dreamt of with a father, I called off a wedding to a person who was the safest place I had, her and her family. I risked harming my children, and miles and miles of criticism from others. I was more alone than I have ever been in my life.

One of the things I didn’t realize until re-reading this today is that it was something in the book Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert that helped me write my way to my own closure. This morning as I am reading some of the things that felt so amazing to hear from him, and then some of the things I wrote, and some as we fought, it tears the wound right open.

John Rexford Wilson (my father) died on December 28th at 11 am. He died from tuberculosis at 70 years old. He did not believe in the healthcare system. My brother stated they would be scattering his ashes at the Grand Canyon, and that he would keep me updated. He didn’t. I was not included. Once again the illegitimate. But in the end I chose to let go of him or my ideas about him, and any relationship we did form, because it was the healthiest thing for me.

My mind is trying to tell me now as I read the few nice things he said to me (the things I would try and gather the crumbs of to make something whole that didn’t exist), that maybe if I wasn’t so difficult I could have maintained a relationship with him until he died. We could have left on good terms. Time and time again I see people as this their biggest fear when it comes to not abandoning themselves. But what if we have a negative interaction and then the person dies. Well that is exactly what happened here. But only if you focus on the time we were in contact. What about when we weren’t? Wasn’t that his responsibility? Wasn’t he the parent? He just spoke so pragmatically about it all, about how men are and in those days. Like no big deal. Like it wasn’t a big deal to me. He didn’t allow any space for my feelings, and this is why I’ve dedicated my life to trying to allow space for people’s feelings, and to have enough room by doing my own work to be able to do this. It has taken lifetimes of healing.

It is so interesting that all of this comes up for me at the Grand Canyon. I never even thought of this. It all just came together right now. And about how I just met Elizabeth Gilbert and thanked her and why I cried so hard when I did.

Here I am at the Grand Canyon, where my father’s ashes are possibly spread, and feeling all of these things, that I didn’t know where they were coming from.

Here it is, full circle.

Dear John,

 

I was reading the end of Elizabeth Gilberts book Big Magic this evening. The section on Trust. Where she speaks of the difference between martyrdom and the trickster and how to find lightness in the pursuit of your passion versus a commitment to being the tortured artist. I for very many years had been committed to my suffering. It is the only way I knew how to be until I didnt. I have contemplated greatly over the subject of too much introspection and your words on the matter, and your feelings. I have gleaned a lot from that in terms of finding balance in my own life. I wanted to thank you for that. I even use it with my clients in private practice. It is true you can overthink. However I happen to appreciate the way that I think things through and it has served me in my pursuits. 

 Today I completed the first day (my orientation) at Wheeler clinic. I was recently hired as a senior clinician, heading a team of people in efforts to ease the transition of foster children who have struggled exceptionally into their new homes with their families. This is my first big girl job with a real salary and benefits and all of that good stuff. At 35 this is my first time knowing what it feels like to not struggle financially and to feel secure. In addition to this over the past couple of years I have done some amazing self work in leaving old wounds behind and finding a lightness of being, one that I never even imagined could exist. I feel as if I will finally write the way that I have always known is in me, I just have never trusted myself enough. Trust has not come easily for me. One of the most glorious parts of getting to talk to you was recognizing the writer in me that I believe came from you. I believe I have lots of parts genetically that came from you, and I am grateful for them. 

 In addition to the new position I have my own private practice that is thriving and for being a clinician fresh out of school I have a lot of people referring to me, and the consistent feedback is that I am helping people move further in their journey toward growth than they previously have been able to do. It is rewarding and I never would have gotten to this space without the entire process of self-doubt, fear, and a  degree of introspection (not to be confused with rumination). Without that whole journey I would not be at the space I am in now. I was thinking about this tonight, and my heart got heavy. It got heavy because youre missing out on all of it. This is not even the most important part of the greatness that I have created in my life. My children. I have 3 intelligent and phenomenal human beings that I helped create and they are beyond wonderful. Everyone feels their children are wonderful, as well they should, but these kids are so special. They bring so much to the world with their kind hearts and very bright minds, and that is just barely scratching the surface on them, and again youre missing out on it. Then I thought to myself this is probably mostly a projection and not a reality because its all subjective to each persons own human experience and I doubt that you feel or realize that you are missing out. Not because you dont have the capacity, you most certainly do, but more because of your commitment to the choice you have made and as you told me at the time you were not interested in rehashing any of the past but only to move forward. I desperately thought I could be willing to take any amount of being allowed to know you no matter what the cost to me. But the process by which all of my feelings existed is natural, wondering about a great many things that I never understood is natural. It is not only natural but also warranted without it causing shame to me or that my process is invalid. 

 Of course I hurt. Of course I wondered why we were not in touch, or how you didnt wonder about me and how I was doing. Of course I wondered if it was that necessary to never have contact with my mother again, to pay the ultimate price of not also being able to know me. Especially since those things never needed to be connected, they could always have been independent of one another, thought maybe that at one point felt impossible, or maybe that never mattered anyway and it really is more of just a choice of yours. Of course I wonder all of these things without it being shameful or wrong. 

 I could sit and tell you all the wonderful realizations I have had and sell you this idea of everything you are missing out on, but ultimately that process is about me and nothing to do with you and how you feel. The fact remains that I would try to be impressive to you in some ridiculous effort to feel loved. Its what Ive done with everyone I have ever come across to try and earn their affection with my merits and my effort. An exhausting pursuit to be sure, and also that has nothing to do with real love. Real love allows space for all of the parts of someone to come fully into their being in whatever process is needed. That is the kind of love I needed to find to become comfortable in my own skin. I had to stop searching for it from a million different resources that looked like a well in the middle of a desert, only to be dry at the bottom when I lowered the bucket. Ive been doing that process my whole life when all the while just over the next hill was an entire ocean. I am sailing right now and smiling and my heart is still heavy that youll never be on this boat with me. For whatever reason that is. I wont tell myself its because I was too sensitive or I was out of line by expressing pain in any way shape and form. I wont deny myself those feelings they are mine, and they are valid. But what I do take back is any amount of making you wrong or hanging onto any anger. I release myself from that prison. I dont need to understand. I wanted to see or know or be a part of your process or feelings or anything with you. A romantic notion to be sure that is again more about me and my heart and the way that I work, than it is about anything I have missed out on. I am not missing anything and I do not need anything. I want to share my thoughts and my mind because it is the truth of my feelings and for no other reason than that. 

 As with most things in my life I moved very quickly through being terrified having Crohns Disease would turn me into my mother, or that it would ruin the rest of my life. At the time it felt like a death sentence, at the time I felt afraid and alone. I see that person now and only have compassion for her, a compassion that it appeared at the time you were not able to find. I would like to say i would just move forward and embrace your pragmatic probably well-meaning advice and renounce taking what happened so personally, but again that would deny myself the natural process I was having, and it would allow me to accept a relationship that was also unhealthy, one that was based on the convenience of you experiencing an aspect of me without knowing much about the real story, like reading only a chapter in a book and making a decision about its value. In real love we dont get to weed out the undesirable aspects or parts of the story and keep the ones only that we want. If you need to chalk me up to emotionally unstable by association of your experience with my mother, if that is the process which you need who am I to stop you. 

 Amidst the wreckage of all of the old versions of me and many dysfunctional relationships has emerged a person who is powerfully influential to the world. A person who refuses not to feel every inch of everything even when it burns. I am a writer and I choose to only be grateful for getting some of that from you, but the credit for getting to the place where it can begin to come to life is all mine, and at least I get to know that. I get to know that. I will always wonder about a great many things with regard to you, but everything that truly matters is within me and I am ecstatic for this existence that I would not have without you. I can thank you for that regardless of what feelings may come and go. 

 

Thank you,

 

Christina 

 

Shame, Disease, and Dad: Grand Canyon Ponderings

I’m a little homesick this morning, so it makes sense that I am going to turn to my constant companion that is with me everywhere: my safe haven of the written word. Somehow I always feel better after I have bled my experience on the page, and someone hears it. I think we are all like that. I am sitting in a cute little coffee shop called Brewed Awakenings on Route 66 in Arizona, just a few minutes shy of the Grand Canyon. We are supposed to have a Pink Jeep Tour at 2:30 today, but on the Groupon it says “pending” and I am not sure what kind of weather these guys operate in. I am also not sure if we have the appropriate gear. We somehow assumed that Arizona would be warm. We rented a convertible car LOL! It just so happens that it is snowing this morning, and rainy and wet, and is supposed to be this way all day. “You can plan a pretty picnic, but you can’t predict the weather.

It is however a great day for the permission to write. I have several things on my mind this morning, it’s exciting to see what I will untangle from them. The most prominent thing, much to my frustration is my Crohn’s Disease, and it’s close companions are shame, a certain level of confusion about validating my own experience with it (and in general of course), and this brought up feelings of my Dad, and about how I “lost” him again. Though you can’t lose something you never had, and that isn’t the correct narrative. I chose to eliminate any source that would shame me without looking or investing in me.

So Courtney and I went to a little restaurant last night, it was an interesting experience. There was one cook, and one waitress and they became slammed. The Yelp information made it look like an established and popular establishment. Overall it wasn’t a bad experience, though I would not get food there again. The beer was delicious and probably because we didn’t eat much with it, I ended up squared up with my disease again.

Over the years I have really tailored any drinking because I can tell my body has a very hard time processing it. I essentially got to the point where if I have even a few drinks I get a very bad experience with heart palpitations and tachycardia, and sometimes even atrial fibrillation. However I have been rolling pretty smooth in the land of disease, until I got bronchitis over a month ago now, and had to skip an injection. I’ve been struggling since then, in ways that I haven’t in 6 years. I dread the possibility of another difficult round with this disease or having to change my medication and play that “game.” And at the same time what did I think was going to happen. That I would just take Humira and never have an issue again.

I struggle particularly after being at the International Women’s Summit, where there is lots of talk of sickness in our bodies being a symptom of repressed feelings, un-lived potential, etc. I have always struggled with feeling I’m injecting myself with poison, that is experimental, and doesn’t my body know what to do to heal itself. And on the other hand my GI tells me that this thinking is unrealistic, and that staying on top of this disease in a top down fashion can give me a much better quality of life. Confusion.

How do you know what is intuition and what is superstition?

This is a very important question. We human beings have very superstitious ways of thinking, the way we connect the dots in our experiences. And this isn’t limited to “unhealthy” things, most people think in these ways.

So anyway I woke up last night shortly after falling asleep with my heart beating so hard it felt like it was going to shake me out of the bed. My beats per minute on my Fitbit were over 100. TERROR. I could hear and feel my heart beating in my ears. Seven years ago when this would happen I would go to the emergency room, only to be told I had anxiety. So I gave up doing that long ago, though now I have to be nervous I won’t get help if I need it. I’ve worked that one through with a therapist as well. I’ve tried to cultivate a sense of faith in myself that if it continued to get worse in a variety of ways I would seek help. Except who knows what kind of medical care is available here. I mean people live here right, there must be something. But I’ve been spoiled living only 20 minutes from Yale Hospital. Where bad doctors can exist as well, arrogance can be as dangerous as anything. But that discussion will lead us off topic, as if I ever stay on topic, HA.

So my episode. I take .25 of Xanax to head off any panic attack this can cause, and because I am superstitious of course I believe it will lower my heart rate. I mean relaxing a little can’t hurt in that department right? And then the bathroom things happen, sweating, erratic heart rate bad bad things is what we will leave it at. When that is over I am left shaking and sweaty and cold and aching. Pain radiating up my back. So many symptoms that they tell you to watch out for in a heart attack, because that isn’t stressful. I sit up vigilant lest I pass away in my sleep. I don’t wake up my wife, because that makes it more real, if she gets afraid I’ll read her fear and then really get anxious. So I work my way through it. Eventually I get it down to 90 ish, and I’m doing deep breathing, and making my trips back and forth to the bathroom.

EXHAUSTED.

I wake up this morning feeling like I was hit by a truck, pain radiating up through my kidneys, bags under my eyes. Here I am at the Grand Canyon, and I want to BE fun. Notice what we do? I’m not worried about how I am feeling, and that I deserve to feel better. I am worried I will ruin someone else’s time. Because I know she will be disappointed if we stay in. I know the disease deserves our anger here, hers and mine. Not me. And I never know if I really have to or not. I never know when to push myself to just keep going, or when to validate this thing I don’t want in the first place. My dark passenger, Crohn’s Disease. When I put it like that I am grateful it is not the urge to murder anyone. This was a Dexter reference if you didn’t know.

So when I am grappling with shame and doubting my own experience, this time I am looking to the origin of it. When I got diagnosed with my disease I was so unseen in so many ways. It wasn’t anyone’s fault. After all I didn’t know what to do either. A dear friend of mine had rekindled a relationship with her father and I was wondering if that couldn’t be the same for me. My father stopped talking to me around the age of 12. There was no explanation he just disappeared. I suspect a complicated relationship with my mother and my grandparents, and a lot of confusion to blame, but it was never my fault, and yet I am the one who paid the ultimate price. He made a choice. There is still so much I’ll never know about that choice, so many unanswered questions.

So when I found my 1/2 brother on facebook and was able to look him up and we began corresponding via e-mail I was overjoyed. It felt like falling in love. He of course became romanticized even more so than the average parent in such a situation would because anything was better than the situation I grew up in. He always got the hero role by default almost. Because his energy felt more sane from what I remembered, it felt more normal than what I was going through at home. But as it turns out he was intellectual, and quite pragmatic to a fault. At first I appreciated these things, but as we moved further and further there was no empathy for my experience there. He stated he did not want to re-hash anything of the past only to move forward in relationship, this clearly had nothing to do with my needs, but then again it never did, did it? That was the first flag. But then I thought ok well I can work with that as long as I get to know him. I would do anything you know to have a relationship with a parent. Plus he was so smart and so worldly and doing such neat things. He was living in Xico Mexico at the time and writing a blog about life there.

We struck up a writing relationship. I was smitten. I couldn’t wait for an e-mail from him, and what was even better his take on me being gay was that evolutionarily this was the more intelligent thing to do. He said men were assholes mainly, so he was glad that I was with women. Another interesting perspective. Not one I expected, but I was so hungry for acceptance at this time. He even posted a picture of my daughters on his blog. We belonged! He was willing to own us as family is how it felt at that moment. I felt a taste of acceptance and belonging, one I had yearned my whole life for. He didn’t post a picture of my son, or of me, or anything else. I recall hearing about him that he was a womanizer etc, he appreciated beautiful things, cars, women etc. But I don’t know how much deeper his integrity or his heart went than that. He did stay with his wife (my step-mom when I was little) Anita, for the whole rest of his life. So that’s a sign of health one would think, but then again, people stay together all the time and are not necessarily healthy.

Here is what I do know. When I was lost and scared, riddled with physical symptoms and diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, and in a relationship that didn’t feel particularly loving in the ways I was needing at the time (due to my behaviors as well)…. he said to me “daughter your posts as of late tend to exhibit some frightening mental states not unlike your mother”, and our relationship was over at that point. I cut it clean. I felt no warmth or empathy from him. I just thought I might find it there. It was like a mirage of an oasis in the middle of the desert, and to realize I was sucking in dry sand rather than water. My heart had to break again. The loss of him, or perhaps only the idea of him, to have a father, and then to lose him again. I then vented at him all the things that were hurting me. All the unanswered questions that burned at me my whole life, that I had to carry around. His responses were scathing and only burned more.

Then I got an e-mail from the brother I told you about that he died (this is 2 Decembers ago now). He was 72. I was only vaguely regarded with any information of his passing, even when I asked if perhaps I could attend the services for my own closure. I think his parents didn’t even know about me, and much of the rest of his family. I know I wasn’t given any empathy. There was only shame. SHAME SHAME SHAME.

This morning I saw a post from a friend reaching out on Facebook, and it made me think of people’s statements about whether people should or should not post about their lives on there. What an arrogant statement. Who is someone to know what another person needs. Perhaps in that moment facebook is all they have in terms of nurturance, and one person saying they are there for them may make the difference between life and death. How do you know? Is it really so shameful for someone to vent their sufferings in a public space? I think we need more of this, not less. We need less of the shaming.

Anyway I am going to add an additional post with my final letter to my father that he never read because I knew I was writing it for me, and I knew it wouldn’t be appreciated or received by him, and would only give another opportunity for me to be harmed. So I wrote it for me. It was a huge part in my growth. The decision, MY DECISION that I didn’t choose a relationship with him, rather than feeling abandoned or not chosen.

My letter on the next post….

Meeting my Spirit Animal: Liz Gilbert

Good Morning from the International Women’s Summit in Phoenix Arizona! Just hanging around with Laverne Cox (no big deal), Elizabeth Gilbert, Cheryl Strayed, and Glennon Doyle. NO BIG DEAL! You know what I realized this time around however, is that I am not as star struck as I used to be. I realize that due to their bad ass ness I have these power house women available to me all the time anywhere I want. Elizabeth Gilbert for instance has been downloaded into me (this is actually something she spoke about here, about her beloved Rayya). Her words are literally a part of me now, and so too I am realizing is her spirit. So when I was able to have the courage to show her some words I wrote about my experience in 2015 and receive an amazing nurturing hug from her, I absorbed it into me and it just gave me more encouragement for my own journey as a bad ass.

I’m just sitting here trying to wrap my mind around this experience. I was going to write that even words fail to capture it, but that simply isn’t true. Words haven’t failed me before and I am willing to bet they won’t now either. I just don’t know which ones will come forth at this time. Isn’t that exciting?!

Isn’t that the very definition of magic, that we don’t know what is going to happen next?

It can be magical. And for people with anxiety it can be terrifying. I am both. It depends on how grounded I can find myself in any given moment and what I am facing down in the mirror that day. These events have a way of doing that to you. Bringing you face to face squared off with any existing feelings of unworthiness. Four years ago at one of these I could barely make eye contact with anyone. I was so afraid they would see straight through to all the hurting parts of me and decide I wasn’t meant to be there. At the same time I was desperately wanting to be seen. We can be both, ALL, all at once.

Elizabeth Gilbert ended up telling us a very intimate story (that she stated she hadn’t planned on) about her beloved Rayya, that she lost two January’s ago. By the way if you haven’t read Rayya’s Memoir, “Harley Loco”, I highly recommend it. Harley Loco !!! She describes the process she needed to go through to come to terms with losing the person she always went to for everything. How could she exist in a world without her, and she ended up saying at the end of the story that this process made the download complete. She talked of radical mercy, the kind that defines who we are as people, not the person we are being merciful with. She keeps Rayya inside of her now, and can access her voice at any time, because she knows her so intimately, that she knows exactly what she would say in any given situation.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this. This idea that we can keep people well beyond their expiration in a variety of ways, not just through the written word.

Also at the panel lunch (that only gold tickets have access to, something I can hardly believe I am able to do, never would have been able to before), they talked about this idea of leaving a legacy and how much pressure we women feel to do that AND all of the other things on our plate. One of the bad ass women said something along the lines of rather than thinking of some large scale way to do this, the end result our biggest dream come to life. We leave our legacy anytime we touch another human life with connection, mercy, kindness, integrity, anytime that we see someone that needs to be seen. This idea was so comforting to me. It gave me the sense I am exactly where I should be RIGHT NOW. Not that I am somehow desperately missing some imaginary mark that was set for me. A way I have always felt restless and disturbed about.

I am experiencing more peace, even amongst all of these very big emotions, and so many different energies, here this time. In my personal journey peace is probably the thing most would describe could seem the most unattainable for me. I do not have a peaceful mind, often I have a vicious one, but I am learning to love it/her right into submission. She is melting into a puddle of positive thoughts, and solidifying into a beautiful deeply rooted willow tree. Strong and grounded, and capable to allow her branches to be lifted and moved by life’s experiences, without fearing total annihilation at every turn.

I barely even recognize myself on this trip.

So for this morning I will share one defining moment from it, there have been many. At the top of this post I shared a passage I wrote in September of 2015. At that event I wandered around, not knowing whether I was doing peace or being spiritual correct or not, feeling very insecure about my place in the world.

This time I took my shot and I asked Elizabeth Gilbert to read these words in the front of my very worn copy of Big Magic. She READ MY WORDS! And she gave me the best hug, she didn’t let go first she just held me. My hero held me for a few moments and read my words. I can do anything now! She saw me. And that was enough. It didn’t need to be more. And so perhaps maybe I too can entertain the idea that I am enough, and nothing needs to be more, and then hopefully I can model that for all of the women who look to me. My daughters, my wife, my friends, my clients, my found family, and anyone I come into contact with: WE ARE ENOUGH! We are exactly where we are supposed to be, and life can be full of magic if we are willing to face off with our fears enough and to keep going when it burns enough to see the horizon over the next difficult spot.

Keep going my friends. Dreams do come true. Here is what it looked like when one of mine did…

What ever happened to Lisa?

grief2

I’ve fashioned myself into the therapist, and left behind the survivor. I wanted to move past, beyond, ever away from my own trauma. It is only recently that I realize how much it is still with me today. I am reading the article “Touched by Trauma” in the most recent publication of Counseling Today.

I tend to move so quickly through life that I see the magazines on the desk, but rarely read them. Why wouldn’t I read what others are saying in my field? I wonder if I avoid it because of realizations like the one I have had just now? It can’t be that though, because I read many many books and articles on such topics, but I tend to ignore magazines, perhaps I regard them as more a waste of time like tabloids, People Magazine, and Entertainment Weekly.

Perhaps I am so hyper aroused all the time that I can’t focus for hardly a second. Perhaps this is not your garden variety ADHD, and something a lot more sinister. That requires a lot more attention that I have ever given it, because then it would become more real. And the fear is always that suddenly you will fall apart, or become swallowed by the associated feelings. They are too big, and there is no way to properly control how much of it you feel, when you are recalling. 

I never connected how much my Crohn’s Disease is probably an effect of my trauma. Instinctually I know, have read and seen how much cortisol, the stress hormone is bad for you. The article says, “Counselors also need to be mindful of the accumulative physical toll of long-term trauma. Research has shown that experiencing trauma- especially when it is prolonged and repetitive- rewires the nervous system in ways that cause hyperarousal and persistent anxiety. This continuous stress causes the body to release cortisol, which can cause chronic inflammation. Over time the inflammation leads to negative health effects. To help counteract this cascade of neurological and physical damage, practitioners can teach clients skills for calming their nervous systems. The treatment should be tailored to the individual client.” 

I’m still peeling back layers of my own abuse. 

When I read this I made an immediate connection. I have been inundated with physical health issues for the last 10 years of my life. I had problems as a child, asthma, and I’ve always identified as a hypochondriac. I was in and out of the hospital often. For awhile youth and enthusiasm to get away from my painful past kept me busy and disassociated from physical symptoms, but as soon as I realized I was not in the right marriage for how I was made and who I am I began to have a lot of problems.

It all began with heart palpitations. These sent me to the Emergency room several times, it actually took me years to realize, or have suggested to me that I could have anxiety, and it was not done kindly ever. It was more like I was too sensitive, making a big deal out of nothing. Anxiety was suggested to me as a personal flaw, not something that required further inquiry and comfort. 

Right now my family is out in the living room playing Trivial Pursuit. I can hear them and they are having fun, and to be fair so was I until my stomach began to bother me and I had to excuse myself. Once I read that and made a connection I went away to the place I so often reside, somewhere in my head trying to figure it all out. I’ve made the mistake of trying to figure it all out at once, because then the idea is perhaps I could be free of it. What it? I didn’t know what to call it. When we don’t know a language for something we tend to automatically internalize some fatal flaw within us. 

I just had a severe ringing in my ear, it happens sometimes, it came on suddenly. I have read more on symptoms and health than the average person probably ever will. My first thought as it happened was that my blood pressure is at some bad level and something is going to happen to me. I probably think about myself or someone I care about dying or suffering some terrible fate no less than 100 times a day. I can’t ride in a vehicle without jumping at any unforeseen occurrence. I am only now at 38 years old connecting so many of these dots.

I am able to do so because of this career as a counselor. 

I can still help people, in fact I am very good at helping people, AND it distracts me from my many anxious thoughts. This dispels the myth that you have to be fully healed in some capacity to be a healer. You just need to be healed enough to not unintentionally harm others. You have to be aware, and a good deal of the way towards acceptance of self and others, otherwise you can use someone else for your own needs. 

It has never occurred to me before this article and this point to be upset I have this disease, and a weakened immune system due to the trauma I have endured. I have worked so hard to keep myself separate from my beginning. I moved across the United States to get away. Another life and another me. I disconnected myself from it so much, that when I had a difficult time maintaining relationships all I experienced as a result was shame. There was no one to help me connect my triggers, behaviors, and anxiety related impulsivity, attachment fractured impulsivity. There was no one. Mostly I have lived marinating in shame and self-abuse as a means to shame myself into a new way of being. it never worked. 

I have so many thoughts to untangle about this. But the one this evening most prevalent is what in the hell happened to my mother and to her sisters to cause the type of toxic sibling rivalry that permeated my childhood. Who was the evil villain and how evil were they? Who is at the root of this, and how much damage has spread through the family tree? They worked so hard to look different than whatever hurt must have occurred, but my childhood felt terrifying in a variety of ways.

I have tried to minimize. I have tried to make myself responsible. I have tried to convince myself that it’s me who made all of this up. It’s unbelievable even to myself. I want to say I dramatized it. How can I trust any of those memories after all. But some of the memories I do know for sure. I know the gist. I know how I felt. And I know what I struggle with today…. and most importantly that this is not my fault. 

I can’t even say that and feel connected to it. It feels dramatic. My intense feelings have always been shamed. ALWAYS. By family, friends, and loved ones alike…. validation is not something I’ve had much of. I’ve often wondered why nobody saw me, why they didn’t notice a good heart, with behaviors that didn’t make any sense. So many people rarely look beneath the surface for answers. 

Where was that one person to come forward and help everyone make sense of it? 

People suffering from complex PTSD without being noticed are wounded warriors with no decoration. They have no percentage of disability, no purple hearts, and in fact are mostly invisible until they find their way into a Counselor’s office. Probably they will spend most of their life plagued by terrible thoughts that something bad will happen either to someone they love or to themselves. Running horrific scenarios through their heads. It will be difficult for them to travel or live any kind of a normal life unless they are disassociated enough to appear functional, but inside is a whole other story. 

My daughter came in to be snuggly and I was intense and in my head as usual. I want to erase this out of frustration. It will be seen as deep and dark, and no one wants to be seen like that. The kind view is no one should have had the experiences that cause them to feel this way on such a regular basis. With your kids you are supposed to be the parent, and present, and none of this is really something they can understand. So I only appear like I don’t care, or I am not present, then I feel guilty for being this way. Then I am shamed by my ex-husband, society, parents of the partners I dated before I connected any of these dots. Seen only for my behavior and my flaws. 

I want answers. I want to know what happened? I want to know if it’s fair to be estranged from my mother to protect my mental health, or if she too was a victim of some trauma I don’t know about and something could be done to heal it. The hope is always there that something could be done. With me healing was possible. What is the difference? Is it in the wiring? Could she have been wired from birth for narcissism, or was she so damaged a health self could never emerge, and if that is the case how can I make sense of any fairness behind all of my feelings towards her.

Where can I place this accountability if not always in myself? What if she never stood a chance? I never did either, but somehow I thrived and turned things around. Is the difference between us the severity of experience or the wiring?

I need to know. 

I don’t want to know.

I need to know.

I don’t want to know.

I distract by staying in the present, but we are never free from trauma that forged our entire nervous system.

I am a prisoner inside my own body is the dark side.

And I am a warrior of light and a protector.

If that isn’t confusing I don’t know what is.

A Sunday Untangling….

The yarn is multi-colored and vivid….this above is a live capture of my brain. When I can get one thread undone and use it properly, the feeling is pure bliss.

Blog from the bath on a Sunday afternoon. I decided to attempt to restart my day as I have been cranky. A combination of my period, waking up with a migraine, and existential questioning is contributing to this.

Days never seem to go as planned have you noticed this? I once told a client the song lyric, “you can plan a pretty picnic but you can’t predict the weather” (an OutKast lyric) though I am sure the phrase has been around long before they have, and they tattooed it on themselves. Not a bad choice considering how relevant a phrase. This happens in my life all the time.

My health is what most often derails my plans, and rather than accept and nurture myself for this, I am usually hard on myself. Today is no exception. If I could just push through and create one account (for Vivint). The biggest problem with this job, while there is many good aspects, is the constant self imposed pressure. There are group chats, and a leaderboard, and it activates every competitive drive in me, which is obviously the point.

The challenge? I suppose is to trust myself more, give myself more permission and space, to not determine my worth by that scoreboard, and to find balance within, versus seeking external acceptance.

This is all well and good except…. that I can’t keep thoughts like, “if I just worked a little harder that’s 5,000 more to help my kids with college with”, and “I need to be less selfish and self indulgent.” But I just can’t drive as hard as I used to in any aspect. I can’t because I won’t allow myself to not rest, to not validate my disease.

I think I’d appear more successful to others if I could just keep up this grind and pace I have my whole life.

There it is, there is the epiphany I was writing towards….. the truth is I’ve had “grit” my whole life: it’s what has made me so successful, and also so deeply bone soul searingly tired. I am both of these things.

The truth is my spiritual self is already at retirement age. There is our chronological age, and then there is our life experience age. No one sees or recognizes the latter. In God years, Dog years, and warrior years I am 137. I just guessed at that number. I think it’s really like Methuselah (can’t believe I still remember this Bible crap), who was rumored to have died at 969 years of age. Yeah like him. Also small disclaimer I’m not actually anti anything to do with anyone’s faith or belief system. I have some deep wounds that were inflicted by the devout Christians in my life, and that’s my cross to bear. No pun intended :p Wah wah

With sales and money it only gets more seductive, all of it. The competitions, the numbers. The more money you have, the more you need to keep up. I will have to beat this system, but I catch myself already doing what all the humans do which is strive for the nicer things to validate their existence of course, as soon as they begin to get a taste of success.

I was perusing a commonality among these Vivint DMs this am, that’s district manager. Most are men, and most are tall, handsome, tattooed, and have a bombshell on their arms, and or a gorgeous family. I caught myself being envious of their trips to Fiji and fancy cars, and how their life looks.

And then I’m wise enough to know that pictures may tell a thousand words, but so often they can also tell a thousand lies. You just don’t know. Maybe yes, maybe no.

Money may not buy happiness, but it for sure can buy a certain amount of peace of mind, which is what I crave most lately, if you know you can pay your bills, you’re much more sound emotionally than when you can’t. I know that from my vast life experiences. But it is hard to notice when in the midst if you’ve crossed over to the dark side of this equation: seduction, greed, production at the cost of your health, etc.

I’m so grateful I can usually head off most destructive processes at the pass now, by doing just this. Reflecting, thinking, using an open mind and heart. Not getting too conclusive, and also not getting too careless with my emotions or behaviors. At least their is some silver lining to just a torturously analytical mind 😉

Guys I’m almost there. I’m on the brink, of teaching, talking, training hopefully. I don’t know whether this will be the product of an article I submit to Psychology Today or Counseling Today, or whether it will be down the road during or after getting a PhD, if that’s what I do.

I’m craving a change I know that. I’m always craving a change, because there’s more opportunities for learning and growth. I just don’t know yet what that change looks like. If it will be brought on by us having a baby (embarking on that journey again), or by moving to a different home, or a different state which I’m really craving. I’ve been thinking of Oregon lots lately. It’s calling me. But that would require so many logistics. So it is likely long down the ride, though I’m not sure if it has to be….?!

With only one life (perhaps I should get more into the idea of multiple ones so I can cultivate a sense of peace that everything will happen that needs to). One lifetime hardly seems enough to fulfill all one’s dreams, not this one’s anyway 😉 they are too big.

And then I’m right at gratitude again. Thank goodness for this enthusiasm for living. Even when I’m afraid my gigantic feelings could swallow me, or grief will end me, I’m so much more resilient than my feelings would lend me to believe. We all are I think.

Sometimes our resilience works against us for along while after it has protected us from great trauma. The same mechanisms that are meant to protect, also harm in ways the subconscious won’t even let us be aware of without that magical observant impartial party: the therapist.

I want to write so much more about trauma, what I have learned about my own and others. I want to trust that I have something to contribute that hasn’t been said or done in the way I will say and do it.

This is where life finds me today. In my 38th year, often wondering how long I have left, because this is how my mind is wired. Because I am desperate to share my gifts with the world. It finds me in love with myself, my children, my partner, my work. It finds me being someone others seek for solace and wisdom, a position I’m so honored with. It finds me the parent of children who are wise beyond their years, and driven, and brave, and intelligent, and determined.

My son is in love for his first time. And it’s interesting to see how much like me he is in his thinking, and depth of feeling. I’m both elated and terrified by this realization. He faces many difficult decisions, young love is not for the faint of heart, and does not favor the weak of constitution.

My daughters continue to learn and grow and navigate this world as a second sex, their birthright affording them no mercy with regard to how fiercely they will need to love themselves to suit up in this society. They will need all the strength I have bestowed them with, and all the resilience life with me has required them to develop.

My wife is grieving more gracefully than any human I’ve ever encountered. So many changes she has had since we have fallen in love. What a bad ass!

And me… I am here just learning to play and to be gentle with myself and others. How does one ask a freight train or a tornado to be gentle, after they have had such a need to develop into those things?

I’ll be here trying to figure this out…

Travel

cravetravelblog

Why do we travel? What makes it so interesting? I am sitting in Crave restaurant, it is a local hangout in Ansonia Connecticut, the most upscale and only choice in my mind. Not because of the upscale part, but because the food is consistently good no matter what, and it just feels good. Not sure what about it accomplishes this, but it does. 

Anyway I am sitting in a new and different perspective. I am by myself facing the street. I can see the antique shop across the street, some very interesting looking industrial buildings (see picture), and a sign that says Bennet & Walsh Attorney’s at law. There is a 103 on the door, the numbers are horizontal, large black font laid on gold or silver background. The doorway is rounded and the building is of stone. So cool. 

Have I ever seen this before? The answer is yes and no. I have seen it many times I am sure, but if I never attended to it then it won’t be encoded and won’t really mean anything. 

When we travel because we have added this expectation, parameters are set for experiencing the new then our brains are more likely to acquiesce. People are going outside to smoke. Interesting enough this no longer creates a craving in me. That is a realization in and of itself. I remember years where I had a single track mind of obtaining a cigarette and being afforded the reprieve of avoiding whatever social interaction was making me anxious, but escaping into the cool air and polluting my lungs. It wasn’t even the cigarette it was belonging to a group that made me less intimidated, and the escape of it all, and it gave me something to focus intently on, that was not tearing at myself. Hmmm. 

I am just thinking of how we don’t need to travel ever to see new things. We can see new things, or through new eyes anywhere and at anytime. Be exploring with our curiosity versus drowning in conclusion and despair. This is a choice we have at our fingertips at anytime, but it never feels that way. This is a lie. I think anyway. 

Magic is the fact that I used to not know where my next bill was going to get paid from, to being able to indulge myself in simple pleasures that I give myself permission for. To enjoy the moment, a moment. 3 years ago I would have felt guilty for anything I spent on myself, that it should have been going for this or that, or to savings. And now I have created the ability to both take care of my responsibilities and also to be able o experience joy in a cup of a coffee and a flan in a restaurant. Small sips, Savor. 

I have created so many of my dreams already, and yet my human brain rarely registers this. It tells me “Christina we are dissatisfied with your performance, we know you could be doing more.” Maybe I could, but do I want to be? Isn’t that as important a question as any?

Soon (in March) my wife and I will be traveling to the International Women’s Summit in Arizona. I have never been to Arizona, and within the US there aren’t too many places I can say I haven’t been, so this will be cool. It’s going to be warmer, we will need to adjust for this. I am tempted to pack nothing, and to make part of our adventure buying some new things while we are there, but then we will need to bring back luggage, hmmm. 

What does one see in Arizona anyway? What are the famous things to do or visit? I guess we will have to do some research. 

I think I have spent most of my life thinking something has to be grand to experience it to the fullest. It must be a grand gesture or trip of a lifetime, but the possibility for magic moments are held within the everyday also. We can go to an area we never have been before even where we already live, and look around, be alert. 

Anyway back to my notes about writing my memoirs. My beautiful wife got me this pencil set for Christmas, and it IS marvelous. She has infused them with her belief in my capability to do the things I set out to do, and if that isn’t magic I don’t know what is. 

Hamilton: What will our play be called ?!

Thank you for seeing me in this way, for delighting in me and in us. It has literally saved our emotional lives. We had our physical lives before you, but our emotional ones are taking such beautiful shape now. And I want to write about it. I want the world to know your bright love. And I what we have created here. 

The image suggests perhaps a playful post about our experience in the city. Wouldn’t that be a more pleasant read ? Perhaps it would, but it wouldn’t be written by me then, at least not tonight. 😉

This blog post is a letter I wrote to my wife tonight. Whether or not all things are meant to be shared I think there is always a power in it for someone. This letter bled straight from my fingertips, it fell onto the page in waves of truth that couldn’t make their way out fast enough. A catharsis. Isn’t it always. If someone else has a different experience with those words who am I to stop them.

Clicking publish has always been an act of bravery…. one I never gave myself much credit for. Warning it begins with graphic Crohn’s Disease material exactly as I experienced it.

I had a stomach episode tonight unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. I thought I was going to have you have to call 911. I almost screamed for you. Literally. I had visions of me passing out and dying on the toilet. I woke up doubled over completely, and I mean completely. I hobbled to the toilet. I didn’t know if I would vomit or faint. I felt like all 3. I felt like I was going to have to poop but didn’t know what thing would come first. It felt like I was being ripped in half. My shirt was completely soaked, completely, and contrary to the scary fast heart rate I will have usually during an attack my heart felt like it couldn’t even beat, it was low 50’s. 

I just held on and tried to breathe deep as I could through the waves of pain and head swimming until finally I pooped literally probably 3 toilet bowls full. It wasn’t all at once. First was getting the hard part out, and then a ton came. 

By the time I was done I was left shaking and freezing and now I’m more wiped out than you can ever imagine. I just can’t even quite describe the pain.

A couple of things happened. One, I felt a tremendous wave of compassion for V and guilt at not feeling more present. It’s like I can’t weather watching her suffer and I must because I’m mom. What a confusing thing. And two, intense fear that having not taken my injection even for a week has thrown things into some terrible state with my health. What if?! And what if V is in for a lifetime of chronic suffering with her tummy that impedes so much of her adventurous self. My god that will break my heart. And then that I really do love my kids moment. Well of course I fucking do?! How could I ever be so unkind to myself, ?’ To not give myself this benefit of the doubt. 

And then I think of the good thing that I’ll make sure she is safe and supported forever. Never scared she won’t be able to support herself. And then the realization that I’m a steadfast supporter and provider and that I’m creating / have created that from scratch. 

And this is literally what a profound RE frame in thinking looks like. I’m strong and proud and safe and I’ll keep my family safe, not some impulsive person hanging by a thread.

I’m creating something beautiful in myself and for others and it’s my story. My legacy. What I want people to say about me, when they tell my story like Eliza did for Hamilton. What will they say?! We all wonder what people will say.

This makes me think of you: do you know all anybody says is nice things about you?! I always wanted to be that person, but I make too many waves, take too many risks, and don’t think enough about how I’ll make someone feel. You think too much, and I not enough. If you take us both you have the perfect person 😉 boastful? Perhaps. 

I make people uncomfortable, but do it with good intentions lol. Don’t they say the road to hell is paved with good intentions;) I make people uncomfortable by pointing out what is so readily visible to me, that for others it takes them a lifetime if at all to notice. A gift and a curse. 

I wonder if V felt a fraction of how I felt just now. If she did I feel terrible for her. I’m gonna root around in your magic bag of goodies, the bag leftover from our dead dreams (to be dramatic and truthful) and see if I can find some life giving electrolytes in the form of Gatorade to settle this tummy. It’s feeling like knives are raking it currently and I can’t be out of commission this long. 

If anything happens to me babe please tell my story. I need my story told. The need is getting fiercer now. I need people to know how hard I fought just to be ok on a daily basis and my kids to know how strong their love makes me. They are the fuel to my fire, and everything that makes me the person that I am.

Every person I’ve ever helped has them to thank. 

And I have you to thank. You’re such a source of comfort to me. Speaking of…. I’ll need to restock our sick supplies. We were so fortunate to have all these. Though the reason we do and they are unused is still excruciating. 

Babe I know your process is different but please know that if this didn’t happen I might not in some really profound way have truly known how much I want it. How I want to enjoy the tiny new life that we create rather than ever viewing him or her as a burden. And my life has already been so heavy so long, any small thing sometimes does feel this way. But in part due to experiencing this loss with you, I know even more profoundly how much each second even is worth. 

I do in a fucked up way feel it is meant to be this way. This sense that everything does happen for a reason, and not that that’s just something we say to make sense of things when they are too fucked up. It makes me believe in destiny and magic. 

Does that mean we couldn’t have done without this toll to our hearts, this wound, and these scars… of course not. 

But life would not hold as much meaning without the whole picture, the whole journey, and my life now is beyond filled with meaning. 

While I don’t plan on going anywhere soon, I am satisfied with my life right now. I need you to know that. I don’t regret for me or be sad for the rest of my unloved life ever, because I have lived it to my fullest already. I do want more of course, immense amounts more. But if it wasn’t in my cards I didn’t miss a thing. I knew exactly what I was doing. 

I want you to find the same feeling, but in whatever way Or path that’s meant for you. That’s my dream for you, never give in to self defeating thoughts, ones that lack compassion for your full journey. 

If you did ever lose me I want you to live on for me in the way I would have. Carry my legacy and be for my kids what I would have been for them. You are up to that task. No one is as well as you or I wouldn’t have picked you. They will need you forever. 

I don’t plan on going anywhere, but we never plan for that so I want these words down. I don’t care what laws or rules or fears or whatever. We have something very special here and blood relation has nothing to do with it. We must trust that. You are an irreplaceable part of the kids healing now. You’re already written into the story. And I would never want to let you be snuffed out in the event of my demise. And anyone who would try would do so out of ego or pride etc, finally able to have their kids back from my evil clutches you know 😉 but you know better. 

You’re the best thing that’s ever happened to us. Yes little ol you, it’s true. That’s a truth. And it couldn’t be without you being so much more than you see when you look in the mirror. That distorted perception is your only enemy, it kills more dreams than a semi-automatic with unlimited rounds. 

I hope my kids will delight in my letters someday when they are old enough to read how my mind worked. Find, keep, and appreciate them all, because they are who I always really was inside and kids know so little about that.

I’ll never know much about who my parents really were inside, so much is a mystery, especially my dads side, and my mother’s, a tragedy. So for them to have this insight. To know my mind intimately. Incredible.

Wow so all this feels like a product of a near death experience. Listen honestly. It may sound dramatic, but this episode was no joke. And all this sweating and gross (being on prednisone and scared) the past couple of weeks has been really humbling.

There is a level of acceptance I am at, that wasn’t there before. 

My disease has carried a large piece of denial for the longest. I wasn’t willing. I’ve been in as much denial of it as I have how damaging my childhood was to me. I am reaching a stage of acceptance now, and it’s making me so much stronger. So much more at peace and strong. Someone that you will feel proud and safe to have a baby with. Someone stable that will enjoy that adventure with, not resent it, or fear it, or feel guilty about it because I already have kids.

That is at least the take home I’m recognizing from this tragedy. 

I will get to move forward without a doubt in my mind, and for me, that’s like having rebuilt an entire nation after its downfall. I’ve been a shaky entity bordering on panic for as long as I can remember, to be emerging this strong, still, solid force of love and compassion is unbelievable even to myself. 

I am surprising myself a lot lately. The strong I always identified as prior was a sort of forced kind of strong, a necessary one. This strong now is the accumulation of weathering storms with a sense of grace rather than a frenzy or a panic. 

It’s a strong I am satisfied and proud of, not one thrust upon me without my consent. It’s a soft kind of strong, and I can’t wait to hold our baby in these new arms made of this.

Every time you grace me with your vision of seeing the loving child inside of me. I can see when you see her, I can see her too, and it brings powerful healing. You bring that to me. 

Thank you for seeing me in this way, for delighting in me and in us. It has literally saved our emotional lives. We had our physical lives before you, but our emotional ones are taking such beautiful shape now. And I want to write about it. I want the world to know your bright love. And I what we have created here. 

What if someone else could find this place (when they couldn’t before) because of our story? Or was able to believe in their dreams?! 

Bliss. 

My tummy has burning remnants of the suffering I just went through and I can’t even be bothered to focus on that. I’ve too much shit to do with my one life. Thank goodness because otherwise I’d crumble into a little ball of stress and worry and take days to recover. 

I don’t have days anymore to spend in that way, there’s too much work to be done.

Every word on every page for every day of my life…. are for you….

Now I am going to curl up as close to you as I can and let your breath lull me into a deep relaxation, and help the pain melt away. 

All the love in my heart 

A birthday tribute to my wife …

It’s my fourth favorite person in the worlds extra special born day tomorrow. Who’s keeping count right?! But I’ve learned over the years I need to be my number one, closely followed by my children, and have now been blessed enough that now we are 5. Still soon to be 6…. that dream floats evermore back into the picture daily. Thank god for our natural innate resilience.

Just 5 humans trying to navigate a painful and divisive world with the biggest of hearts and fullest of enthusiasms.

So I just want to take some time to honor this new addition to our family. She’s new old. We have a new love everyday, that feels like it could/should have been there my whole life. The depth goes that far.

My dearest Courtney you walked softly into our lives, as if on a bed of Snow White powder, silently, and yet the foundation we are laying together is molten lava stream of concrete that has hardened into the kind of solid ground healthy families thrive on. We created this out of a place of deep love for love itself, and for the creation of the family we always dreamed of.

I’m so proud of us. You’re a mighty, quiet, thoughtful, kind, soul, who lights up a room with her smile. People just love to be around you, and I consider it a constant gift that I get to be the benefactor of a large amount of these moments.

Whether you are generously rubbing my back at the end of the day because you know how heavy my walk in the world has been, or cooking a meal that risks you great criticism for my ever changing teenage children’s tastes….. you do it with loving kindness.

You see yourself so often as less than what you are, and I’ll spend the rest of my life trying to show you your powers. Great healing powers, they are immense.

No matter what else you do with your life from here on out, please know you have saved us. This is not dramatic, rather it is true. You’re gentle with our hearts, when much of life for the kids and I has felt intense.

Your gentle love is an intense space of healing, and I’ll love you like the grateful stray dog I have always felt like, that’s found her forever home.

And finally now this is all ok. It was never supposed to be different. I was never supposed to be more than what I was when I was, and neither are you. We just are.

And this life with you in it is bliss to me.

So I hope your 35th year lends to you feeling as special as you make us feel everyday.

It is fitting we get to experience Hamilton in Broadway together to celebrate. I remember watching you see Wicked and it was one of the most ground moving moments of my life. I knew you felt with your whole self, and I knew that’s what I wanted and deserved.

Thank you in a million little ways….

Bronchitis and Snowy Reflections

There’s a certain permission that comes with being sick that it seems you (I) can find no other way. The permission to sit even slightly more still, even for a second. Which has allowed me to reflect a lot.

I’m recovering from bronchitis and had no idea it could lay me up so much. But here I am.

The snow is finally cascading down today, it is almost a relief existentially; climate change as it is and all. The flakes are ice coated and making a tiny crunch sound as they topple and flit here and there.

I’m just sitting here marveling at how much has changed around me, and it really does seem like all I did was blink.

I’m sitting in the kitchen part of our finished in-law portion of the home. This has been a dear friend and roommates kitchen, when her and her son lived down here, and her second son was born in this home, about 4 years ago. It’s how I paid my mortgage, and also how we both stayed sane. I was less anxious living alone, and we have become a sort of family to one another. Seeing the other through bests and worsts.

It’s brisk down here, but I’m wrapped in a warm red blanket, and sitting in and oversized brown lazy boy recliner. It’s interesting to get this kind of perspective on the home. Not a space I would normally sit. I could pick apart its imperfections: the low ceiling, white tiled floor, the basement like feel of it all. But what I’ve been doing most today is marveling at how far I’ve come and how blessed we all are.

I don’t think I ever even set my sights high enough to home ownership. I think I had planned on a retail job (management if I was lucky), and a small clean apartment, the kind I sometimes saw my friends in when I lived in Oregon.

I’ve been moving through life so frantically, so panicked that simplicities are now what I long for. What comes when you enjoy what you have like it’s the best thing on earth. My ability to hear for example or to taste, to appreciate the finer details in any mundane thing.

My wife and I recently were deciding if perhaps we might move to Milford or Fairfield Ct, out of the valley, up into a different class (and tax bracket). Funny how the important things to me about this move are still in the small details.

I would like taller ceilings, the feeling of room and space, a wood burning fireplace for smell and ambience, and a very nice bathtub. I’d like to see some woods or nature out my window. Bookshelves, many many bookshelves. Mahogany and teakwood smells and feels. An office so my papers and documents are not constantly strewn about. And we have the means to get into this nicer home now, but only to be stressed or house poor again seems not the right way this time. So we may just refinance and fall in love with all we already have! For a couple more years at least anyway.

Perhaps poor the love into this home and choose to see it in a way that serves us, rather than trumping up dissatisfaction as a means to motivate us into an action that may not even end up with us any happier in the end.

Tomorrow we are all as a family going to see Hamilton on Broadway and stay overnight in the city. Another extravagance I never would have dreamed of before. Some of us are not feeling so hot, hopefully that can be mild so there’s nothing taken from our experience.

I have found myself ahead rather than behind, perhaps not as much as my dreams could imagine, but then my dreams always were very expansive anyway.

It’s interesting the creaks and sounds down here. Now a part of other’s memories who have occupied this space. It’s housed a woman post recovery and pre-discovery. Another who was fleeing a bad roommate situation and stayed over here. Our home is a space of comfort, warmth, shared meals and affection. How could I not have seen this before?!

It’s everything I ever set out to create, and so am I. Not a single thing lacking. What a delicious discovery to stumble upon as I am sitting here listening to a different angle of the home I’ve occupied for 7 years.

This chair is very comfy, yes it would look nice next to a roaring fire, but I can imagine one just as easily……