Magic beginnings; products of 1000 Endings…

*seemingly random events are so often connected in ways that are only revealed in hindsight and reflection. If we don’t take time to reflect, if we don’t honor our whole journey we do ourselves and one could argue the Universe a great disservice.

I had a unique experience with my morning pages this am. I want to try and find the words to describe it and capture moments that will otherwise become lost. Isn’t that what writing is anyway? Capturing a feeling or moment and preserving it as you remember it with a clarity only being close up can provide.

The problem is always I don’t know where to begin to capture the whole backstory. I say that out loud so I can work through the problem. Much like a mathematical equation. If I just thought about the equation and tried to envision a successful solution without the help of brainstorming and visually seeing the whole picture, the result I fear would just be pure overwhelm. I wonder if that’s what is happening with my writing now. I just don’t get enough of it on paper, and this blog is my stage to do that. But it’s an odd show because instead of being dazzled by a fully formed finished product in my blog you are literally watching the process unfold. You are seeing the rehearsals and auditions, and we aren’t even there yet. Right now you’re seeing a thousand unformed things laid to paper. And I worry… why would anyone want to watch that?! Do they want to watch the making of the movie before they have even been impressed? I guess that can’t matter here. There is no place for it here, because this is mine and it’s ok as it is. Yes that is my choice of where to land from all these thoughts.

So this mornings magic. Perhaps it was a result of the Pure bath bomb labeled “Repair”, or perhaps the fact my phone was needing to be charged and therefore less multi-tasking. Perhaps it was the jets, ah yes the jets did help. I learned something this am. So often quiet seems the answer to collecting my thoughts, but quiet also haunts, and leaves lots of rooms for each tiny noise to be a distraction. I used my bath jets more than I usually do. Usually they irritate my senses, but this am without music on my phone they were comforting. Like the waves in the Ocean. I remembered something about my young self this morning. I remembered how I would always want to write whenever I was near the water. It called to me. Every ocean trip…. I felt the magnificent calling power of this larger than life body of water that contained so many unseen things beneath the surface. In that way we are all like Oceans. What an incredibly powerful thing.

So this morning my morning pages were different. Most often lately I’ll get 1/2 a page to 1 full one versus the 3 that is intended. I am multi-tasking like crazy. But after all writing feels in its beginning as a self-serving pursuit. If I get a wall painted and can show my person and family immediately my hard work, or cook an amazing meal we can all enjoy together, the gratification is much more accessible. And then I can feel like I’m doing the right things, and being a good person. Being lost in the recesses of my mind has never yielded positive feedback from my self or others. A denial of my very existence as usual. The deepest pain that has ever existed for anyone. The anti-thesis: living your life in your own way as you were meant to be. Permission to live in this way, but then why in God’s name is the the absolute hardest thing to do.

So this morning I started to think about who the cast and characters of my memoir will be and just start listing them. This process took me on quite the journey. It took me through my history and I was actually surprised at how many aspects I have blocked out, or never looked back upon to seek understanding. One could argue the only way to more fully understand our selves in the present is to occasionally peek (reflect) on our journey as a whole. Holy shit mine looks crazy. Do you know I have lived 1,000 different kinds of lives in this one?! I forgot how many houses I tried to live in, create …. how many jobs I tried on. How desperate my seeking was. And I didn’t even know what I was trying to find, but I knew I would fiercely try. If one thing didn’t yield an immediate desired result at that time, I would try another and another. In this way I have amassed so many stories I don’t know which to breathe life into. Do I write my current love story, or do I write how that one even became possible ? What has the most entertainment value? You see that is my last concern, I write for me, and yet I know that if people are to read it needs to have something that grabs them. You know what grabs me? True words in any form. And complex mysteries that slowly unfold. What grabs me is any person telling any piece of their story, and I’ve become intimately involved with 100’s. Please do not misunderstand this statement haha. By intimacy I mean knowing at a deeper level each persons story. I’ve been blessed in my life to know probably thousands. It could be the lady at the nail salon that notices the Brene Brown book in my lap. The lady that allows her curiosity to breach the unspoken contract of social etiquette. And we each take something away from that encounter. If nothing else that we are meant to connect, and allowed, and our lives are in fact enhanced by the answering of that attraction.

This writing I am doing now is the product of the wings of inspiration. It just flows, it is not labored and painstaking. It is joy in its purest form. That is the why of writing. To enjoy the craft. To do that though, for me anyway, some unlocking, and lots of unthawing, and undoing programming is in progress. What has felt like a labor becomes passion. They meet and intertwine, sharing a secret dance. A tango becomes a slow dance, and then the magic happens.

This morning I may have begun to craft my memoir. To at least lay to paper the swirling and merging characters of my personal story. As I thought of some more clearly, others swam into focus. It was 9 pages of honoring my journey, rather than omitting it due to shame, or not even being able to access it because I move to quickly onto the next.

Last night Victoria (twin B) and I watched No Reservations together. An adorable movie about a chef who lives to cook, and needs control over her environment at all times. Until life throws her circumstances that catalyze a change that runs much deeper than the original action. The change spreads and suddenly she is unfolding into the person she could never give herself permission to be….

This will have to be placed on hold, and hopefully returned to. I need to see my person before she heads off to work. Tomorrow is our day, the day I had the courage to follow an intuition, only a tiny inkling at the time. And our destinies have now forever changed. As we know that we want to spend the rest of our stories exploring together. Certainly more complex, and yet also greater reward. If extra complexity and challenge equals greater reward, if that equation is real and true. I am moving ever in the right direction. What a nice feeling to land on for the day.

Happy New Year’s Eve to my beautiful readers, my supporters, my friends, my loves…. the cast in my story. Thank you for your part!

The Calm after the Storm .. Clarity

Every time that I have a really intense bout of “feeling feelings” I come out as if I am staring over a totally still lake at sunrise. I can see straight to the bottom. It’s as if my most profound truths are completely revealed to me, and I rush to capture every second, because as quickly as I can see them all, life amps up and demands my attention and then they are clouded again. The lake has boats and people water skiing and playing, and living their lives, and watching those moments captures the primary part of my attention. So I try and soak up these moments of clarity. I feel sometimes like an entirely different breed of human. These days however it is much less lonely… people are beginning to see and understand me, because I am allowing myself to be seen. This is because I am living much less in fear, and much more growing into my confident capable self. It’s a great feeling.

I had the hardest of days yesterday, with the sweetest of endings. I was scared going in, but I faced my fears and didn’t avoid the situation (as tempting as that was), and I SHOWED UP. I showed up with my whole heart present and didn’t stay consumed in my pain, especially old pain. Even if it makes an appearance to show back up you just gotta let that shit move on. Please for the love of your lives, don’t hold onto your pain as if it does anything for you. It doesn’t protect you from it happening more or again. That is an illusion. Let pain go as quickly as you forget all you have to be grateful for. If only we could do that. The waters of my life have become so much more calm lately. I used to live from one wave of something to the next. Constantly drained. It took so much of me. It took so much of me from my kids, and I am just thawing out and realizing how my fears of myself kept me from having the relationships I want with them. I held myself back. I felt unworthy I think of gifts so special and fragile. But we human beings are anything but fragile. We are tough as nails, but so few know that. Because something happening to someone we love is unthinkable. It still is for me. I have never truly been touched by a tragedy of such a nature, and I cannot imagine how it might change my life if I were. I am in awe of the strength of those that have.

Anyway I had a couple of epiphanies that I want to capture in this blog. My person and I are just at the point where I am coming to family events and getting to know her people better. I’ve done this dance so many times, and lost so many families after the difficult work of learning one another and becoming close. This is a loaded area for me. Having 0 family for my partner to get to know besides my children makes me feel on a totally different playing field, and also increases my longing to belong to the pack. Loving my kids and I has historically ended up being a bridge gap in terms of acceptance. In the past in my relationships, partner’s parents who were struggling with their children being gay, would meet my kids and I, and love us so much that it seemed to change their hearts. And I of course loved to be that piece of healing. As it turns out, I think that was my primary purpose in their lives, rather than it being that the person and I would share a lifetime. I have often had this role in a person’s life confused. When I finally became a helper as a career, I could stop confusing my romantic love life with helping others grow (and I recognize I grew too, you can’t help someone else without helping yourself). So now I’ve chosen a partner for me for the right reasons for me, and we help one another grow naturally by loving each other so well. It has a balance.

So the tricky aspect here is that her father is having a very difficult time with a conflict in his religious beliefs and our love. I’ve never had this experience before (surprisingly), where I may not be accepted because of how I am made. It is harder than I thought. It triggers deep places of rejection sensitivity, unworthiness, and a lack of belonging. It takes me back to an old place, one I worked very hard to leave. So as I am trying to navigate those waters and know how and when to be bold with my truths (which is how I am my most happy), and when to be patient and calm and wait. How to gently educate and to be understanding in the face of great pain. I can’t think of much that is more painful than having your existence invalidated. A big fear here is me being any kind of wedge between my person and her family. It is my life’s purpose to bring families closer, not to create conflict. I know that is way too much responsibility for me to bear alone. I know that, but the feelings cannot always be helped. Only processed through and then can make a choice about where to “land”.

So add to this equation that it is my natural thing to do to put any family that is in tact on a pedestal and me as the outsider who doesn’t belong. This is me attempting as we all do to continue my family dynamic because it is where I am most comfortable, whether it is healthy or not. It is what I know. So this is a tricky combination.

The epiphany is that I came out of it last night keeping a lesson that I often share with my clients as they build their self-esteem. Often times I have young women/men, who have not found their way, come to me in the face of accepting relationships that do not value them, but they have not yet learned their own value. I often have women/men coming in wanting to be accepted and when they go into a situation they come at it from a place of “will they want me, will they choose me, will I be enough x, y, or z?” What I tell these women/men is, have you thought about if YOU want this person, have you considered the aspects of who they are and if that is a good fit for YOU, will they be enough to hold your heart with great respect and dignity. To turn the tables and if you are looking at something from one angle, be sure to consider the other one. So I realized last night that I am not just on audition here to see if I will be accepted into the pack. I also need to consider if I want to belong there, if it will be healthy for me or not. This is a balance I haven’t ever had before, folks. A learning and a growth. There is a confidence I found in myself through this experience yesterday. I was raw and flayed open, but I didn’t keep a story about my worth based on where I came from and what I didn’t receive.

We accept the love we think we deserve. I am getting so much better at this, but it’s still a work in progress.

These epiphanies/realizations/clarities… they opened me up to truths about my relationship with my kids that I am sitting in this morning. My trouble with worthiness I realize has kept me at a certain distance from my own children. It is an emotional distance, not a physical proximity, and I know it is one they can feel, but how could they understand it if I didn’t…. I am often in my head trying to fix these sufferings so I can be worthy of a love like theirs. It is given so freely and I didn’t understand that kind of love. The only kind of love I understand is the kind that felt like it must be earned, and even then the supply seemed so sparse. So I’ve been working hard on myself to be good enough to be their mother….. and I recognize the error in this. The hard work makes me tired and less available to their open and warm hearts. I needed to create an open an warm heart so it could meet up with theirs. This means I have needed to bypass a million defense mechanisms that life helped me put into place so I could get to the next phase. The bomb squad has been with me the past year and I think that we are all clear. And can stop living like the bottom will drop out, and that I won’t love my kids like they deserve. I will and I do, mine just looks a little different and a little more complicated than most. But if anyone will find a way to communicate through this to understanding… I will.

These realizations and what will follow them are the greatest gift I could ever receive this year. Capability being the key word of some of my most profound discoveries. I am capable of being a good mother, partner and, hopefully this next year, author. All of my arguments to my own greatness are slipping away and it is the best feeling…




This is for the ones who have a hard time during the holidays…

Or who are having a hard time this year. This is for you.

This is for those that the thought of family doesn’t leave them so warm and fuzzy. For those who try to put their smile on so no one is brought down on their holiday. I am here with you. You are not alone.

I thought I had it beat this year. Having an amazing and healthy love. Having a career I am constantly in love with. Having wonderful intelligent children who are loving, kind, and get good grades. I have a home, and heat, and Lord knows more food than I need 😉 But I can’t shake this. So I am going to write about it so perhaps even one person will feel less alone in this. Another human sitting in their kitchen by themselves this morning feeling sad may come across my words and find a warm embrace.

This is what the Holiday feels like for me when I am alone with my thoughts, and don’t keep myself distracted. My Dad died a few days ago at this time last year. We were not close since I was little, which actually makes it a lot worse. Because I don’t know how I am allowed to feel or not. Complicated grief is no picnic. This means that I haven’t even really thought about it, not on the anniversary day did I even, because if we weren’t close in life why would it matter in death? But for some reason it does. That there is hardly anything of “me”, where I came from left. My grandparents who raised me have both passed away, and I wasn’t close with them either, those are complicated relationships as well, but they did “raise” me. My mother is out there who knows where. I don’t know whether she is healthy or well, happy and safe on this holiday or in a really bad way. Most likely the latter. I wouldn’t be able to ascertain that anyway since you can never tell what is real or what isn’t with her anyway. Which is why we are not in touch, but I still can’t help but wonder today. I wonder where she is and how she is doing, and this is what the Holidays mean for me.

My 1/2 brother who I grew up in the same house with. He appears from a distance to be struggling with addiction. We have never been able to be close, because I was more of a mother to him always than a friend or a sister. I held him down when he threw a fit to help out my grandparents. At that time I laughed about it, because I was a child and didn’t know any better, it just seemed weird and troubling, but I was physically strong and I wanted to please my grandparents. He would spit on people and bang his head on things, and I woudl come to the rescue and basically restrain him. That doesn’t make for much of a relationship when you are older. He lost his grandparents (parents who raised him), and I was over here on another Coast protecting myself from that life that was poisonous to my soul. I left it all behind, and it’s probably been the healthiest thing for me. But sometimes I look through the “window” at that life and wonder if I could have helped. Why I can help other people now but I couldn’t help then/them. He will most likely kill himself one way or another, and I won’t know how to feel then either. Probably guilty, but in a far removed sense. If I removed myself because it was healthy, why does it feel like such a weight on  my shoulders?

I received a package from my Aunt the other day. She is the only one I even have somewhat of a relationship with. Several years back I went out to California and helped them with my dying grandfather. I went to say goodbye. That is the last time I saw her. I spent most of the visit trying to prove myself, that I wasn’t bad. Because that is the last impression she had of Lisa’s daughter. She tried to help her parents with a difficult teenager and I was seen only ever for my behavior and poor choices, and never for what I was feeling. So I have committed my life to sitting with people in their feelings and staying, not turning away from them, or judging them on a supposed to or should scale.  In the package was this picture of this boy who I don’t even  know or remember, the note says hope this isn’t a sad memory. Am I supposed to know this boy. Do you know what it feels like to receive a package from a sort of family member with a picture of someone you are supposed to know? It made me uncomfortable, and then I feel bad for feeling uncomfortable because at least this family member is trying. And I feel bad because I don’t reciprocate because something feels strange and foreign and obligatory about it, the receiving. I can’t seem to feel a connection there, and to try and make one feels like I am trying to earn a love or something. Which is what I spent a good portion of my life doing, and I refuse to do it anymore. I reached a place where I realized that those who will see me, will SEE ME, not because I do anything to make them see. If love isn’t free then I don’t want it. So I worked to earn the love and respect of my self, to align my childhood self in the warmth I can now provide her that she couldn’t have before. So we aren’t separate anymore, and experiencing great conflict from it. We are together now. I have pieced myself into a whole person, and I love supporting others in their work to do the same. This is why I am a counselor.

I can’t just estrange myself from these thoughts and feelings. And Christmas gives them the perfect opportunity to surface. Christmas is about family right?! And I love that sentiment and I also hate it. I have a complicated relationship with family. I love the one I created, and I am terrified of the one I came from, and that I could be anything like that ever, and yet I am supposed to have some kind of attachment towards them aren’t I? It wasn’t all bad was it? But maybe it was? You see its just pure confusion. And Christmas, it creates the space to think about these things. Perhaps in this case distraction is best. Which is why my bestfriend invited me to her family’s home this morning. So I am trying to get all of the sad off of me before I go so I don’t infect their family with this. And the truth is I don’t know if I can go without being depressed while I am there. I am afraid it will backfire on me. I am going to be surrounded by warmth and love, and I know I am loved and seen as special there, but I am still a stranger to so many of the extended family. I stranger among family and friends. But then I think that no one would be a stranger in my home. I would never feel that way about them. But not everyone is like me. It’s confusing all these feelings, so I write my way through them.

When my defenses are secure… the ones life has helped me to have to protect myself, then I think things like “why are the Holidays any harder for anyone”. I mean there are Christmas cookies and lights and trees, and everything feels magical. And then this morning I was hit with a dose of a reality that will only deepen my connection to others who are feeling this way. I can only help more from all of my hurt, and this is why I am good at what I do. Because I allow myself to experience the full spectrum of human emotion, even when it is hard. Especially when it is hard, that is when it is the most valuable. So I am here today to tell you to feel all of your feelings. They are not wrong. You won’t infect anyone else. Ask for the help and the love that you need. There are people who will love you with open arms. They may not be the people you were originally provided, and that is OK. You’re not wrong or bad or defective or any less worth loving. And even if you don’t ask for it, can’t find how to do that, allow yourself to receive the love you deserve, it is out there. In fact in my opinion the Universe conspires to protect and love extra those that need it. I have always been given those gifts. I have many people who love me, across the United States. People who would love to have me present at their holiday and who would enjoy me. So I hang onto those feelings and moments, and they warm me.

So while I began the day crying in my kitchen and feeling torn and ripped apart. Writing through these feelings and putting them out somewhere where they don’t have to be alone or unacknowledged is my medicine. After I write it feels like a huge storm has passed, and on the other side the sunshine is always there to warm me, and maybe even a rainbow with a pot of gold at the end of it. Please be a pot of gold 😉

Love to all those warriors who are working through their shit this holiday season. You are my people. You are not alone and I am not either.

An article to help….


A “Me Too” moment from last night I wish I never had….

It’s Sunday and what I would really like to do right now is gush about the dinner/birthday present I received this year and what it means to me. I’d like to talk about the show I saw last night (Lez Zeppelin who were actually phenomenal). But unfortunately what stands out the most is what happened when we left. My person grabbed my hand to lead me out through through the crowd, she was leading, I was behind. As I went by this man he put his hand on my shoulder which seemed a little odd, but it was crowded and we were squeezing through the crowd, so I might have chalked it up to him balancing himself. He was still facing the concert (forward) and I had walked just past him. He slid his hand all the way down my back to my ass and proceeded to pat it several times. His hand feverishly flat palmed and trying to make it’s way to as much of my body it could possibly touch. Time actually stood still and I had to ask myself if I believed it was even happening. Did my imagination run awry? The behavior so out of place I couldn’t make my consciousness grasp on to what was happening. I am so naive sometimes. I think I’d like to stay that way, but situations like this make it noticeable. This was one long slithery grope and it made the hairs on my neck prickle that a complete stranger would use this opportunity to touch me, and that he most likely had been watching my Partner and I canoodling the entire show and thought somehow he had the permission to do that? Did he think we desired that attention because our love was a novelty to him?

What makes it even worse is the thousand scenarios I ran through in my mind about how I wish I had handled it. The entire ride home I fantasized that I had immediately turned like Lara Croft or Alice (Resident Evil) and punched him square in the face. Or perhaps a throat punch with all the flare of Melissa McCarthy. The other fantasy was grabbing his hand and bending his fingers back, telling him never to touch a woman without her permission. I did not consent to this. And yet I am not made that way. Physical violence makes me extremely uncomfortable. If we are being honest I don’t want to hurt anything or anyone, I think it would break my heart to do so. I was never a fighter. I wanted to be tough in the ways someone might be, I think I have that in me. But I never actually want to go through with hurting someone or something, even if the moment did call for it. When I told my person what had happend she was disgusted and had wanted to do the same thing. Someone afterall should not think they have permission to just turn my body into their plaything. Even writing this now is making me furious again.

It happened so fast and unexpectedly and the shame I experience at myself for not saying anything. I just wanted to leave quickly. I told myself maybe I was exaggerating (I’m not). I second guessed. I didn’t want to cause a stir. I didn’t want to create a drama for everyone else. I felt like no one would take me seriously if I did say or do something, and it would somehow backfire on me. This is the land of money, this guy probably would have tried to sue me for slander or something. It was so covert and quick and it sickens me to think of him enjoying that moment, as my skin crawls with the invisible snakes of violation still this morning.

This man took something from me, from us last night. He took our ability to just reminisce on the drive home about our much needed date night. He took a little piece of me believing in my security and safety in a public place. He broke off a piece of my sacred belief that people are generally good. And it hurts this morning. It hurts to my core. Can I just forget this behavior? Should I? Is that fair to my daughters or any other woman out there something like this could happen to? I feel guilty I didn’t do something. But what does one do in a situation like that. Tell the security guard and then what? It was crowded I barely saw the guy. Except somewhere in my mind I can see him vividly and know exactly what he looks like. His long sleeved grey shirt and pot belly protruding forward, the glazed look in his eyes. It should be ok because he was drunk right? This is a situation you hear about and read about, but not something that has happened to me. Frankly it was entirely unexpected. I am not in my 20’s grinding at a club. I was out seeing a show with my partner.

I didn’t ask for that contact subconciously. Would this person have done that if I was there with a man? The questions are endless and there is no good way to end this post. It will end the way my night did last night… in a concoction of confusion, anger, and sadness. If I let it ruin my Sunday with my family, my day of refresh and relax then he wins. I won’t let that happen. There will be another post reflecting on the amazing parts of my day yesterday and on the beautiful moments we will have a family today. But I will not suffer with what happened in silence. I will share my story.


Hog Heaven and a pit bull named Iceman

So we (Courtney, Rian (twin A), and myself) are sitting here waiting for Tyler to have a therapy session. We are trying out the fit on a new family therapist. She has some big shoes to fill, Fran was one of a kind. We were all reading, but then I had a moment of inspiration.

Recently we had to have our furnace replaced and last night Courtney and I walked up to the home of the neighbor who did the job. We were taking him the second half of a very large payment, ouch. Anyway I often think how lucky one is to be able to be in a profession that they can benefit by cutting the costs in their own lives. So for example: a plumber’s family never has to worry about that aspect of home ownership. And then there are those real handy people (typically in my experience men) who seem to be able to fix anything in the home. Those are the ones I admire the most. I am in fact so interested in trying to be more efficient financially I would almost trade in my true sexuality for such a man. Just kidding sweetie. But seriously it seems so unfair that I can’t fix all of the hurts and issues that currently plague our home. Why can’t we take advantage of low cost, free really… in home therapy?

I mean I am sure we benefit from all the “family meetings” that my kids adore so much. They probably wish they had those normal parents that do what they are supposed to, but are careful not to venture into unknown territory. Afraid to shake up the system by having difficult conversations. Folks difficult conversations are the cornerstones of growth.

Things have been hard in our home lately. Resentments have been built between my children and currently they are holding onto anger in their hearts, and forgetting the true value in one another. And all the family meetings in the world don’t seem to be fixing it, because since I am Mom (and when I’m a therapist it’s annoying;)) I am rendered useless except when it comes to rides and money. Oh and cooking and cleaning.

I worry a little extra when this happens. This is because my Mom and my Aunt never grew up. They never evolved and I have watched their lives unfold; it appears quite unhappy from the great distance of safety I keep between us. Across that great divide I see lonely and sad women who spent their life hating one another. They never gave in. Never relented in holding the other in the absolute worst regard possible. My Mom was “the welfare bitch” who got everything handed to her, for what… having a child out of wedlock and tarnishing the family? And my Aunt was “a lonely cat lady who nobody wanted”. Every Christmas was the worst affair you can imagine. It has taken me a long time to create my own magic to holidays and leave the past behind.

I remember my grandparents having to carefully select just the right amount of gifts at the same value for each so no trouble occurred and they would still find something to fight about. My Aunt actually stayed living with my grandparents until her late 30’s at least I believe as a statement that if my Mom was going to get support she deserved it too. Would a person really stunt their own life’s growth as a means to stick it to “whomever”, their parents I guess or each other? She stayed and fought for her equal right to a place in the support of her parents.

These two used to take me off the shelf like a porcelain doll, except nobody was gentle with me. Random memory: My grandma collected porcelain dolls, they were creepy. Anyway if my Mom wanted to play Mom for a day she would entice me with some event making it sound fun, but it was always in her interest, it was not about spending time with me. If my aunt wanted to take me out, she was lonely and looking for companionship. She seemed to mean well and did try to take me to do nice things, but usually not without a few comments about my Mother along the way. And also without considering anything about what’s appropriate for a child. On one particular outing she took to see Silence of the Lambs, I was eleven. I also was highly sensitive (way before I knew what that was), and slept on my grandmas floor for months. Still to this day would probably never be able to help someone broken down on the side of the road.

This doesn’t mean I don’t have good memories of them, and this is the most confusing part. But for any nice or fun thing they did, their behavior along the way was so uncomfortable, and the way they treated each other so frustrating, the costs outweighed the benefits by far. I was a puppy begging to be loved, rambunctious and wild. I was outspoken and as soon as I found my own voice and stood up for myself, they didn’t like spending time with me much anymore. But not before my childhood was filled with uncertainty and chaos.

I lived above a bar called Hog Heaven once. The owner’s name was Paul, and he had a white pit bull named ice man. As a side note: I believe that relationship ended by her kicking him in the balls and throwing his engagement ring out into the grass (I’ve heard tell he’s still looking for it). They brought me Shirley temples and beef jerky for dinner. I thought it was great for a day or two, then I begged to be back in the safety of my grandparents arms. I was a novelty item, that nobody could quite figure out. But everyone was willing to lean on if I was willing to bare the brunt, and I usually am. I have always been strong. Sometimes I think it’s the best thing I know how to do, and some of the other important things like being soft and gentle, they don’t come as easily. Thankfully my partner now compliments me quite well in that way. And also I have learned we are not meant to be everything to everyone. We are a piece to fit together with other pieces to make the whole. Or at least with regard to taking on a gigantic task like parenting.

So here I sit in humble waiting in the therapist office as a woman we have just met replaces some of the nurturing parts for him that I couldn’t yet find in my youth, perhaps I never will. But the good news is I have found a way for that to be ok. As this woman helps my son know he no longer needs to be worried about his mother because I have travelled worlds away from whence I came. And because I heal daily alongside the other wounded and searching, and that is the best decision I ever made. My career constantly grows me and holds me accountable.

Journey on warriors, you never know what is around the next bend. There are always moments to appreciate, even when there is also much struggle. I still remember those delicious virgin drinks from “Hog Heaven” and Paul and iceman, and the way it felt to ride in my mom’s 84 Pontiac Firebird listening to loud rock music, the wind in our hair. A far cry from the grandparents church hymns. My mother was a mad woman, but to that little girl at that time she looked exciting and full of life. My childhood was eclectic and it carried lots and lots of lessons. I’m hoping to turn them into stories and to re-experience it in a new way as I do. I can write about it now because it no longer haunts me how it used to.

Anyway the hour is up, his therapy, and mine (writing) as well. Our reward is Bella Napoli Pizza and some much needed family relax time. Minus twin B who is studiously working on a project this evening and will be greatly missed.

Enjoy the little things…. every little thing…

P.s believe it or not these are not the twins! They look more like twins though 😉

Don’t turn away….PTSD hurts, and finding what heals….

I had a difficult night last night. My son is having a hard time as a highly sensitive person in an overstimulating world. As a family system when this is hard on one, because we love each other so much, it’s hard on all. And the most readily accessible emotion is anger. It’s the most seductive, the most comforting. We had expectations about the way our day would go. After all we were cutting down our first Christmas tree together as this whole family. I myself have never cut down a tree for Christmas before. This event went differently than planned in every sense of the word. I always say “you can plan a pretty picnic but you can’t predict the weather”…. that isn’t original in fact I am pretty sure a Ludacris song lyric gets the original credit, but I’ve made it an important lesson in counseling over the years 😉 I also got a terrible stomach just at the moment we were cutting with no bathroom in sight and had been fighting a migraine all day. The stress and guilt and frustration at thinking I wouldn’t make it, to the outhouse blech, threw the migraine into full force. The anger thoughts are so tempting…. the why me’s, the I deserve’s….. the it’s not fairs of it all. I needed comfort and warmth, but instead was forced to be strong for my family. I wanted to show up. I always want to show up.

Strong seems to yield hard on self and others for me. So when my teenage son wouldn’t participate in photos I was anything but patient. He having just come off of being distressed the night before because his sisters were fighting over ice cream. The true result of the ice cream was hurt feelings. One feeling the other didn’t believe the best about her and being shamed etc. Hurt all around. He absorbed and internalized and it stayed with him that next day. And heaven forbid my dreams of a peaceful day be interrupted in such a manner. I wasn’t as patient as I would have liked.

All I can think here is that we need to help each other with this hurt. Shaming does not work. Blaming does not work. Anger does not work. Disconnecting does not work. Warm, open, gentle, understanding, kindness, effort, dialogue, patience…. these things work. If we don’t first give it to ourselves we cannot show others how to do the same. The model where we put ourselves to the side in an effort to give all to someone else doesn’t work either, because our unmet needs turn into anger and frustration that must find a way out somewhere.

If I did not feel so guilty for leaving during an important moment, due to something I couldn’t control, perhaps I would have been more patient. If I said to myself it’s ok Christina they all understand, maybe I could have been more understanding for my son. And then later would have been less likely to have an adult temper tantrum when I was afraid, and instead of showing up in warmth …. I froze in terror. I let my teenage son feel like he was responsible for ruining our day, with some words I allowed myself to say out loud.

The truth, my truth is that when it comes to observing intense suffering especially with my children (unthinkable) I freeze in terror. I have felt not nurturing because of this. I have felt like some important part is missing in me. I have had such a difficult time understanding why I can show up so well as a Counselor, but this aspect of motherhood always held places of deep fear for me. This is what PTSD does, it grips and holds and freezes.

As a Counselor I care deeply for my Clients, however the relationship has boundaries and I am an onlooker to their lives. I can stay and be present, and offer support and I mean it genuinely. In my relationship with my children it’s an entirely different ballgame. But I do sit and try and sort through these things. I believe that PTSD changes your wiring. And that you need to learn to work around your unique self. The self that matches your WHOLE story, not the parts that are more palatable. That you need to embrace and work with the parts that have been hurt, versus rejecting them. And that is the most difficult thing because who wants the injured parts? We want to rid ourselves. When you choose a puppy you choose the lively one that is energetic and happy, you don’t choose the sad one in the corner who looks as if it may be ill. But probably most of the time you give that puppy what it needs and it will likely perk right up and thrive like the rest. But if needs go unmet it will continue to suffer.

I had an interesting morning. I decided after a very draining experience last night in my family to rally and continue forward. I wrote an email and I called the school counselor, and I got up and helped my son wake up and I cared for him in the best ways I know how. I helped him get to school and drove him. He usually takes the bus. I pulled up and saw a woman sitting on a bench outside the school breaking down into tears. I looked once and thought you know what I don’t want to butt in, what if I make her more uncomfortable. What if it isn’t my place? So I went to leave…. something stopped me and I thought I can’t let that woman sit on that bench crying and not do a thing, when I know I can do something. Also the part of me that connected to my own pain thought, oh thank goodness I’m not alone, let me try and connect. I needed her as much as she needed me.

I approached gently and asked if I could sit with her. She stated she had just been fired from her job, and that her son who has behavior troubles was about to be arrested, he wouldn’t get out of her car so she was sitting on that bench. We realized that our children know one another in a significant way and I embraced her and sat with her. The school managed to help and her son went to school and she later told me her boss listened and let her keep her job. There’s still a lot that she needs, but this morning neither of us had to face the things on our plate alone.

If you see someone or something that has a need and you get that inclination to reach out…. turn toward it. Don’t turn away. You never know who you may be affecting, but you can guarantee that you will be impacted as well. It takes a village and we all need to be connected to each other.

If you have found love…. spread it as much as you can 💜💜💜

My first Counselor….

One post unlocks more….. or so it seems.

My first mental health counselor was Dr. Bob Murray. I saw him in New London at The Coast Guard Academy. This is who the military sent me to. It was about 45 min from my home in Milford Connecticut at the time.

I arrived at counseling because I was stuck. Because I thought having a husband and three beautiful children, a good man who loved me… was supposed to be the key to happiness. I thought this because my mother was never happy and she always focused on the fact that if she had a man who stuck around and who was good she could have been. At least that is what I heard. So I took that and ran with it. I was eager to watch what was around me and to learn. I am a spongey human being who easily fits in, takes on, and becomes what is around her. That is my default mode because it pleases others and receives so much positive feedback which I was starving for. Having been raised by grandparents who were very displeased at the fact their daughter got pregnant by an older man out of wedlock at the age of 19.

My mother was not capable of raising a child. My mother was not capable of caring for herself even. She enjoyed the romantic aspects of being a mother, but seemed to be unable to stay with the difficulties. Now that I am later on in years I understand this as her literally not having the capacity. The first half of my life I experienced a range of emotions around this. I couldn’t understand why she wouldn’t choose ME, choose to be my mother. Confusion is probably the most appropriate word here, and that confusion resulted in a lot of discomfort for me. But as anyone who is determined to “change their stars” I was unwilling to give in to that. I got strong, or perhaps I was born strong, or maybe both? I suppose this is the reason I am so interested in how much of things is how we are wired, and how much is what we are subject to. I’ve been considering and wondering about nature and nurture for as long as I can remember.

My grandparents stepped in and took over care of me (after court involvement and a try with being with Mom when I was young). They have both passed away now. Grandma (Mom) died of Lou Gherig’s Disease in 2006 at the age of 79. Grandpa (Dad) died of duodenal cancer in 2013 at the age of 89, or of missing grandma as I like to think. One of those married couples that had so completely fused that one can’t be without the other for long. The emptiness just kills them after separation. He hung in there for my younger brother I believe. To try his best to get him to more self-sufficient adulthood before giving in.

What I remember most about me and being a child was that I was primarily received as being a pain in the ass. I was loud, outspoken, semi-aggressive, very physical and touchy, exhibited many attention seeking behaviors (not shockingly), a hypochondriac long before I knew what that was. I was a “chatter box”. My aunt and her boyfriend would try in the car to get me to play a game they referred to as “Monks and the Vow of Silence”, in this game I was to be quiet until a gong rang. They probably got a couple of rounds of this in of me really wanting to succeed and win before I was onto them. I was FULL of life in a situation where my life had not been wanted there, at that time, in that way. That is an unfortunate circumstance for all involved. I frequently recall my grandparents saying out loud they didn’t understand why I always had to be on the go or wanting to be doing something, that when they were young they played with paper dolls and were told they were “meant to be seen, and not heard.” I was often told “children are meant to be seen and not heard”. Being highly sensitive what I never knew was how completely and entirely I internalized every single one of these messages. I was wrong, bad, flawed… even in these subtle ways, this then greatly compounded by my behaviors increasing as I reacted to the stress in my direct environment. This also compounded by my being different than most of my peers. I was a tomboy, wanted to dress like a boy, and ultimately be like one. My theory on this is that represented a strength and stability so opposite to me. I also think at that young age without realizing it I knew I would have more power as a boy and would be treated different. They seemed to be somehow more legitimate and I wanted that.

I wanted to feel valued, and like I belonged somewhere. Unfortunately consistenly the message was different. There was a lot of chaos around me, and it slipped inside too. It slipped inside so much that I would find later in life I would need to continue to create it so I could feel comfortable enough to function. It is what I knew.

A confused, sad, scared, lost little girl who wanted to belong to one of those families who planned for you and got excited about new life. Not whose legacy was “their mother was a slut”, and we are now burdened with the care of a child we didn’t ask for. We were going to travel in our retirement. The words always rang in my  mind. I always knew what was going on. I couldn’t be blissfully ignorant about it, and sometimes I feel like I wish I could have been.

There is so much more to unravel that happend prior to me getting to counseling. I have no model for how to unravel this so I’ll just have to say what  comes when it comes for now, until a better system develops. I will summarize for now to: a very unstable beginning led to me being a tiny adult and thinking at the tender age of 18 that my priority was to find a good man and get the heck out of dodge. And that’s what I did. I married a good and lovely man who was in no way shape or form a good fit for a life long partner for me. And the fact I didn’t already know that, couldn’t have seen it, then gave me great conflict because as you may have guessed it breaking my promise to myself and the world that I would immediately at age 18 create a better family than the one I had been given was unthinkable.

Ending up in a counselor’s office would be the thing that I didn’t know would save my life. It began with validation. That was step 1, but then there were so many more to go….. I had so many pre-conceived notions about what Counseling was. I was struggling with my sexuality at the time, but at the very beginning I was looking for more palatable reasons that could be, like perhaps sexual abuse (that would have been preferable than being gay, you see that could be managed and I could have kept my dream of staying married to one person and having the “perfect” family)… but if you thought I was gonna tell a heterosexual middle-aged man who worked on the base of my husband’s profession that… you would be wrong. I had decided I would tell him about my family life and do that work and it would end there. As I unfolded tales of my beginnings the thing that sticks out the most that he said to me was “he didn’t know how I had made it here to this point”. Those words seemed so foreign to me. What do you mean I’m fine? What is he even talking about? My defenses were grand at that time. My being strong and likeable on the exterior protected me, and it held me back. Week after week he continued to ask how I had come so far? And I continued to think is this guy nuts? Come so far? Don’t you realize I’m way behind? Don’t you know I’ve found myself in Connecticut amongst only people on their way to dazzling careers (and most already there at that age)…. I was an alien at that point.

I would write him …. my Counselor… I would write him agonizing pain filled e-mails full of angst and confusion. In the position I am in now I wonder how much worry that caused him thinking if he was doing the right thing to allow the letters, or if I was ok or not, safe I suppose is the more operate term here. I often wondered if it was fair of me to use his time in that way. But I felt like I didn’t have a choice. I had all of these thoughts and feelings and they needed to go somewhere. I write more because I need to write, ever than I just wanted to. It is only now I am realizing the full breadth of how important and intricately connected to my healing this gift is. And now in this almost 37th year of my life. I need to find a way to share this journey even further so others can benefit from it, the way I have benefited from those who have shared before me. My life has been saved many times over by Counselors and Authors, and they lit a spark and modeled a template for healthy love, that I fiercely continued to study and pursue. So much so that I am making it my life’s work. No one really gave me permission to do this, and that’s why it has taken so long. I am giving myself permission now. Flaying myself raw for the world in hopes that perhaps it can turn into something with the right parts humor, polish, or of whatever it is meant to be… to then be delivered to those lives whom it most needs to touch. I want that more than anything.

My Authors along the way include Paulo Coelho (The Alchemist, The Pilgrimage, Veronika Decides to Die, The Valkryies, and so many more), then there was Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love and Joan Anderson’s A Year by The Sea. These came at at time when I had lost so much hope in love, when I needed strength to be on my own. Now there is Brene Brown,  Pema Chodron, Cheryl Strayed, Glennon Doyle-Wambach, Anne Lamott, Anne Patchett, …. I could go on forever. These are the ranks of the people I want to fit in with. I want to be one of these. Someone who guides and speaks openly their truth and who shares wisdom with others. With others who respect and can realize the price tag this wisdom came with.

I think now more than ever this will be a book, or become one. Because of what I learned just today, and over these past weeks about blogging and writing. Once I begin more just flows, when I turn away from it, it shuts off almost like a faucet. These probably won’t continue to be small essay’s. The book will probably unravel from this. The book that has haunted me… and taunted me…. just out of grasp (only because I believed that was so).

Lastly the most important thing (because I just apparently have to choose a place to end because I would write feverishly all day I think). Is I want to tell you guys why this field means so much to me. This man… this first  Counselor of mine…. I didn’t talk to him for years and years, and then literally in true Christina fashion, impulsively I contacted him a few days before graduating from my Master’s Degree…. and I asked him if he would come. I invited him. He lives far away I believe, over an hour at least. It was a 7 pm  December graduation. It was December 14, 2014 to be exact. This man who hadn’t heard from me in years came to my graduation. He is the first person who ever truly validated and helped me understand my painful parts, and he is the only person who knew a young me in that way who came to my graduation. I had the closest thing I could ever get to a real parent invested in me there. I also had my supervisor Dr. James Dipisa who I am eternally grateful to and his wife, my children and my partner at that time Kat. These are all people who have held a deeply meaningful place in my journey. For me it hasn’t always been the same people, in fact my core people have changed quite often, and some have been throughout. I always thought so much more of what I didn’t have and how my life should be or could be, and now I realize I missed out on so much joy seeing life in that way. There isn’t one right way to live a life. Our stories are meant to be unique and to stand out from the crowd and to be shared.

Thank you for reading another piece……

A transforming love wipes away the shame….

I haven’t been able to write lately. It isn’t a  block. It’s more of this all or nothing. I’m on a roll and keep going, but when being present in life demands more of me it’s tempting to get pouty and give up. But I won’t this time. This is me not giving up this time. My morning writing reveals many things, even to me…. usually as our love approaches a year it’s revealing my gratitude and somehow I feel shame about writing about that. I feel it might be bragging, I might make someone else feel bad, I might be sharing too much of our life or gushing (you know one of those people). But truly it’s taken me nearly 1/2 a lifetime to learn healthy love. That has been my biggest battle, and I’m going to tell you the story of why. I’m going to tell you my story. And I’m going to tell it in a thousand pieces because that’s how it’s been for me. My self is a patchwork quilt I have crafted. It’s like someone took me before I was born and scattered me across  Universes and tasked me with putting myself back together. I’ve been patching myself up for so long. Then one day I realized I was extraordinarily beautiful just like this. I used to be so afraid. I wanted to be the pretty, normal, manufactured name brand product. I really did. The one people already knew was legitimate and loved from first sight. As a person I am a patchwork quilt and all the love I have received in small pieces are the threads that have held me together all these years. I am beginning to cry as I write this. Crying with the relief of placing true words, my true words on the page bravely for all to see.

I feel shame somehow for some unknown reason at how deeply I feel. Like I should just zip it up and keep it neatly away from others. Somehow like it isn’t fair I get to be this happy or it doesn’t belong. Like it’s too much or too big or will make people wince.  But the wincers are the hardened. And I don’t want to get through life by being hard inside any longer. I am thawing daily and encompassed by overwhelming, glowing, warm, love. It feels like wrap it up quick before someone sees you aren’t supposed to be allowed to live this whole.

So as I sit in the bath this morning. My sanctuary. These words floated in the air all a jumble and I had to tumble out of the bath soaking wet and slipping all over the place catching them. Covered in bubbles and tears. But here they are!

This (below) is the Facebook post that came out of my bathtub feeling space this morning. The place I can think. The place I am allowed to be fully me. The place where I don’t have to worry if  my jeans are digging into my belly or if I should be paying a bill or doing an administrative task. The place I can be naked in all senses of the word. This is where my writing lives.

“She gets me. Do you know what that feels like ? It feels like getting air after a lifetime of suffocating. What it feels like to not fight over petty things. She has the tiniest ego I’ve ever seen. If others are gonna brag about size I’m gonna take a min 😂 seriously though. She gets everything that I’m about and how I’m wired and how I work, and that anything that really does become an issue we will talk through. She’s patient when I’m like a giant Labrador puppy filled with enthusiasm. I bite off more than I can chew, I love too hard, and I work at my missions too long and then drop into a tired puddle, and she mops me up. But I’ll light our way with my fire.

She’s so brave and half the time she doesn’t even know it. She’s willing to have not just one but 4 relationships. She shows up every single day, even when she’s scared. It has changed our lives to be loved like this. To not feel like an obligation, a burden, or a giving up of something. She only acts like she’s won the lottery in family and love, and being adored like that is transforming. There isn’t a better word.

I can say anything to her. I can be 100 percent myself without watering down or filtering. In our year together I’ve never had to be afraid she won’t choose me because of something small. For someone who has had to earn every inch of her security this is beyond imagining.

If people knew this kind of love existed they would never spend years unhappy. We let the other be who they are and operate in trust. We invite more into our lives because of it. We create space for shortcomings and fears and hold them carefully with one another.

I’m allowed to be my full warm open self and adventure into the world in my connecting with people and it isn’t a threat. I want her to be all of her too, to be allowed to glow and be a guide to others with her gigantic heart and passion.

I think I write less about our love because I feel like I’m bragging or making others feel bad who don’t have that. But really I want to help anyone who is interested to find this as well. I want to teach because it’s inspiring.

I’ve found and created my family. At almost 37 I can say I wouldn’t have it any other way, and I can mean that now. I am ready to own my whole story and enjoy it, rather than cowering from the cover and letting it dust. Wishing I could only take out the good pages and make a compilation. I own my whole story, and I want to help others do the same, and I want to do it by her side with our amazing kids. And I do it armed daily with gratitude for all who have supported me, who have lifted me up when I was scared at one point. Every single word of encouragement is tattooed on my heart and now radiates to others as I lead. Thank you !!! This life is full of magic, but I spent a lot of time doubting, primarily myself. So thankful to not be in that place anymore. It is beyond words.”

I am filled with love lately …. almost beyond words love. And the root of all of it is gratitude….