My breaking writer’s block, and my broken body

I am relieved to find that as I began to read this morning, all of my own words began to take precedence over the page. A lot of times that’s how it happens. I’m also a little surprised because I feel too weak to even write. Reading felt somehow more resigned from my usual 1000 watt glow. Just after I wrote that line I felt immense gratitude for my mind and my self. Not everyone has this drive. There’s a dark underbelly to it though, and that’s a whole separate blog post, that isn’t quite ready to emerge from the Koi Pond that is my mind. Picture an over populated one with the fish frenzied and panicky and you might have an idea.

I had a Crohn’s attack last night. I have to get this out first so I can move on from it, otherwise it will impart a tone of sadness or less sparkle to my post, and you, the reader won’t know why. It’s been so long since I’ve had one I almost forgot I have this fucking disease. I think the fact I am able to forget for periods of time is a genuine blessing, and I also attribute it holistically to the peace and happiness I have found in this half of my life.

The attack goes like this this time. They can be different, and come on without warning. I typically limit myself to one drink these days as alcohol works very poorly with my system. This fact makes me feel socially stunted in certain ways. I’m at times jealous of my pals that can “have another round”, and not pay some price. But I’m finally getting over my id, and being able to accept my special instructions. I used to get really down about it. Severely worried I could turn a fun evening or getaway into a pity party for me, and inconvenience people by needing to leave quickly and without warning. I’m overwhelmed easily enough in those situations, without my body rebelling against me as well.

I had a cavatelli pasta with lobster in an old bay cream sauce. I also mixed some of my friends salad with it, because it was just sitting there. She was selling solar at the dinner table, and I was reading a debut blog post that I’ve been anxiously anticipating. Not the present dinner I would, normally go for, but I match affect almost naturally at this point. And there was live music, so struggling to hear one another was annoying me anyway.

The salad was probably the nail in the coffin. But I’ve realized by this point it’s not fair to me to try and figure out what I’ve done wrong in the scenario, sometimes I’m just fine. But any creamy sauce mixed with salad usually marks death, but I had been spared for so long that I forgot. I had one martini with lots of food drawn out over the whole evening. So when I became very dizzy when I got home, I couldn’t understand what was going on. My heart began to race and I thought maybe it’s just exhaustion let me lie down.

Next thing you know it’s 2 am and I wake up with my heart beating around 120 bpm, feeling like my stomach is simultaneously on fire, and also being squeeze and writhing like a boa constrictor trying to make its way out. I break out into a sweat all over. I barely make it to the bathroom, and while I’ll spare you the more gory details, the fact that much of anything can come out of one human made me actually feel like I might die. I felt as if all of my insides were being purged, not just the contents of my bowels. It hurt so excruciatingly badly that for a few moments I debated calling for my wife (what only to disgust her and embarrass myself, what could she do anyway), calling an ambulance, and then went down the path of wondering what they could do or would find. It started to radiate all through my back, aching, twisting, and the sharp chest pains that used to send me to the ER.

After a bout concluded and I was given sweet relief for a few brief moments, my heart rate would be down in the 70’s and I would begin to shiver violently. I got back in bed with my wife, she was loving, covering up my cold parts and becoming comforting, rather than annoyed she was dead asleep. She is a blessing. She asked if I was ok, I said no, but I refuse to begin panicking because once that starts it’s really hard on my body. So if I got her all up and concerned I would feel even more anxious.

I was hoping I could settle into a coma induced rest after that. A sweaty, tangled, dehydrated mess, thrashing between hot and cold. But then I heated up again and felt as if my face was burning, and my heart was high again. It was time for round 2, 3 came later. And by the time I went to sleep I know I was dehydrated enough that IV fluids would have really helped. I used to feel safe at the hospital and like they would be kind and comfort me. After so many experiences and them not believing you (before diagnosis) I’ve had such poor treatment at times, that I will be on deaths doorstep before I go.

As predicted I woke with a monster headache, squeezing and pulsating behind my eyes. And a weakness that could only be described as feeling like a corpse that has been summoned on All Hallows Eve. A lead block could have become mobile easier, but nevertheless I am a slave to my writer’s mind which wakes promptly around 6 am and will not stop yammering until I get it something to do.

So here I am in my beloved bath. I was very careful this am and even thought of skipping it, as losing even sweat at this point could probably put me in a life threatening situation. So the water is tepid, and I pre-gamed with slowly introducing fluids, a banana; a couple crackers and a Tylenol awhile before. My head is still pounding, but after being through hell much of the night, the water soothes my screaming joints, and cleans the stress and suffering off.

This seems so unfair my inside self throws a tantrum, the outside self unsure she can even make it out of the tub, let alone move or make her head throb worse. I should only feel like this if I were irresponsible and drank a ton and am hungover. Who gets the hangover without the party. The self pity is a seductive mistress. If this went on as it did before diagnosis for weeks, and any food became Russian roulette, perhaps it would get me again. But it never helps. I’ve learned I just have to care for my body better and be kind to myself when this happens. To not become enraged at the time it took from me, especially in recovery. A vibrant hyper strong woman reduced to barely being able to pick her head up.

I just go back to how blessed I am in life and love, and believe it will pass, rather than running all the scenarios and what if’s as I used to. This one snuck up on me so stealthily though. I am sad and hurting, while also trying to hold to the determination I have, and joy I feel writing. I must give myself permission to lay my truth on the page, and not believe that I needed to be able to whip up something witty and charming, to be able to take up space in the world. To not fear others as me seeking pity. I am seeking solace in the act of writing. And if one soul finds this kind of determination inspiring then amazing. If not I still have these thoughts written down so I can see myself in a compassionate light. I just want to hug her, and this was not always the case.

You see here is what’s been happening in my mind and my heart. First, I didn’t know I would spend most of my post on this, I expected to gloss right past. So this post shows me how much room my feelings around having this disease need, and how cathartic to write my truth as I’m experiencing it.

Truth be told whether it’s wanting to make sure I’m determined, or whether it’s another aspiring writer’s courage, it looks like my current writer’s block might be broken. Maybe yes, maybe no. The block itself I am recognizing has been caused slightly by the all consuming nature of trying to conceive. That’s actually what I meant to write about. How I can hardly think or focus on anything else. How even if we don’t talk about it, or take the advice of others “just don’t think about it”, wouldn’t that be nice.

It hangs in the air as if it’s one of those machines that freeze everything, but myself and my wife. Our journey is in movement, and the rest of the world is frozen. And I can’t move or breathe until we get that positive. And I can’t even know how I will feel, how she feels, how my family feels, because we are experiencing a great in between right now. Right in between a before and an after.

But you know where I’m not anymore? Purgatory.

I’ll be happy everyday for the rest of my life for this new in between. And I’ll take what comes, with as much grace as my fragile human heart can muster, including the ambiguities of this disease. Because love is my lighthouse, and no matter how rough the seas are, I can always find my way back to my heart now. We are not separated.

The Only Constant is Change

*this post comes to you from a yoga mat outside my home, after a 2 mile “run”, the reality of this is way less glamorous than you might picture. There was jiggling, struggling, and probably a decent amount of swearing.

It’s time Christina, my body has kept nagging at me. Having a good relationship with my body might just be my longest standing obstacle I have to overcome. I have been distracted by other things, but I can’t escape my most organic and long standing home base. My current mission is to make it a place I feel proud of. Not curb worthy, but deeply renovated and designed in a way that makes my senses dance with joy.

How could I not honor this home that has been through so very much. My long legs have carried me quickly out of danger many times in my young life. I was always able to run, a gift, and a necessity. It’s only now when I reflect on growing up, I see how so many would comment on it, and I at times do the same thing. Nothing terrible, but just so much focus on it. My Grandpa liked to joke about my large appetite, saying that “I had to fill up both of my legs also.” That memory makes me smile. It’s nice when I can find those amongst the minefield of others.

My young body was in some ways a great source of pride for me. I was slender regardless of eating habits, muscular and lean. Unfortunately due to asthma my stamina has always been poor. I think the fear of not getting my breath back in such a terrifying way, has definitely left an apprehension to running. I am trying yet again to work my way through that now. Despite this I was athletic and excelled at volleyball and basketball. I played on high school teams. I’ll even admit to shaving the underneath of my head. Having a Nike swoosh, and my basketball number in there at one point.

This mornings new try at “a run” is motivated by the visit of my Dear friend Steven, who makes his yearly visit from Virginia. Now that I am thinking about it, it may seem “small” or “odd” this tradition, however again I have found it to be one of the longest standing consistencies of my life. It has outlasted three marriages (don’t worry the third time really is the charm in this case), many relationships, job changes, higher education degrees, and millions of anxiety filled moments. Steven gives us an opportunity to vacation ourselves. When he is here we try new things, and have an excuse to go explore our digs with a new invigoration, the kind that comes with sharing joy with others. My favorite kind.

Anyway for the past two years my routine has been to get straight into the bathtub and write. I am grateful for this, however lately I can’t seem to write much and there is a great restlessness within me. If I am to translate in this moment, I’m picking up that my body is asking to no longer be ignored. It could be saying something like, “ok Christina I get this writing dream, and I’ll do my best to carry you through your many uncertainties, but it’s time you listen to my needs a little bit, you can only go on like this for so long.”

Awhile back I tried to join Weight Watchers. I usually begin things way before I’m actually ready, but somehow the beginning calls me back into line at some point, and despite my criticisms, I usually know what I’m doing. Yeah we will go with that, rather than I failed. There is still time, there always will be until my lungs no long take in oxygen. Until my body has had enough of housing me. This is why we must have a good relationship. Anyway weight watchers asked us at a meeting, what is your why? They say if you know your why, you’ll be more likely to succeed.

I am realizing right now in this moment that my why has already evolved even since beginning, and it includes a beautiful soul of a client who is grieving his mother, and Grandfather, and the childhood he deserved, one full of acceptance and kindness. This client’s courage gives me so much strength. He doesn’t even know what he has brought to my life.

His grief is a special kind of hell, the kind where his parent is between worlds, and asking for release, and he as a witness, would like to be released as well. And since that is not up to him, he allows me to sit in Hell with him. He runs, and writes, and tries to understand, and we laugh, and we cry, and try to understand. We look for glimmers of peace.

But what I have really taken from him is a new motivation for my health. As I watch him miss the Mother he once had, and struggle with the mixture of anger and pain around her having neglected hers for a time. I can’t bear to think of my children feeling what he is now. So I will learn in a new way that my momentary indulgences will not be worth their suffering in this way, if it can be helped. In the end we don’t know what our ultimate end will be, but what does it hurt to hedge our bets.

So dear dear Client, you are my new why. For every moment of your suffering I will run. So I can suffer alongside you 😉 no really running and I were never meant to be, but since there is a why, I WILL find a way.

So for now my routine has to change. Am I afraid I’ll lose my writing?! Of course I am. But I am going to have to trust my body, and ask it to help me adjust. I will ask myself if it could be possible getting up and out, the blood flowing, can’t actually help this cause. And that I lied to myself because that’s easier. I don’t want easier, because easier now is usually more difficult later. I want the whole dirty truth right up front, and to keep facing down my demons and my obstacles as I go. The truth is life is short, and our great moments are not guaranteed to keep building. Sometimes it’s only the memory that keeps us afloat (or holds us prisoner it feels like at times).

They will pass, and that is where the job of the mind, and writing, can capture and etch forever. Dear client, please keep writing your pain, and your heart onto the page, until it breaks and all the love and gratitude flow out as well. It’s all part of the process. And I’ll keep running and working on my relationship with my body, so I can be around to tell my stories, and to hold my client’s sacredly as well. The only constant is change and often we are not warned when those changes will take place. A before and an after. Be grateful for everything as you go, hold those memories close, because a time will come when you will be lost, and they will carry you through.

My Clients and my Family carry me through, they are my why. In my photo I am wearing one of my wife’s old Army shirts, because in it I hope to be brave like her. She had the courage to go to Iraq two times, to leave everything she knew and held dearly, not knowing if she would return or not. She had to know that was a possibility. And she couldn’t even have known at that time, that wouldn’t be the bravest journey she would ever be on. Right now, right here with us is that one. She took the care and time to make sure she knew she wanted this life with us. Again leaving behind her way of life as she knew it.

And now we are venturing into this journey of growing this family, amidst all the challenges that already exist. For all the brave souls I travel with, life is a delicious and grand adventure. I am blessed beyond reason.

Third Time is The Charm

*this was the case in Love, and hopefully it will become a theme and produce a baby for us to share all this love with, in our 3rd cycle of iui. I am dreaming of the moment.

Love was always my biggest battle. To achieve it, to know when it was real or not, to find it given freely and not with too large of a price tag. To balance it with the demands of a life of my own creation. This one I have struggled with particularly.

Over the years as most human beings I have received a great deal of various critical feedback on my love. The way I love, my beliefs about love, the way this has shown in my life. Particularly with regard to a certain set of rules around ex partners. What these well-meaning people intended I think was very different than what was delivered.

Healing loads of shame and critical judgment. So much that I almost lost trust in my self with regard to love. Almost.

Several days ago my ex wife got married. I was surprised to find this brought up a lot of emotions for me. It isn’t supposed to is it? I mean we have both moved on, and I am happy now. So I “shouldn’t” have those feelings or they should mean something threatening to my current marriage. Why do we do such things to ourselves.

My realization is that love in its purest form, the kind where no one intentionally wronged another (and we rarely do), is beautiful regardless of if it lasts forever or not. But isn’t it supposed to? There’s that damn word again. We can unintentionally cause so much pain to another by assuming we know the one correct way to do things. Such arrogance. What makes us think we know such an important decision for another’s story?

I have been shamed and criticized often for seeking connection or communication with people I have loved. Only now to realize that was their fear and insecurities and not actually some unhealthy behavior in me. I knew I was being genuine.

My conclusion is there are many different kinds of exes in our lives. Many are teachers, and companions for a length of our journey, not the duration. How much less might people suffer if we honored this process of trying for love, and licking our wounds with respect and dignity when it doesn’t work. Rather than being labeled a failure. Or being instructed in some particular way based on the advice givers perspective, thus causing more shame.

Love in its purest is never a failure, perhaps a redirection or a lesson, but never a failure. As if it doesn’t hurt enough to hold deep disappointment, without the criticism of society.

Time is one of the only things that can make the blur and confusion eventually clear. I am fortunate enough to see much more clearly after only a little time, and I’m a person who likes to reach with those truths. This does not mean that much of the rest of the world is ready for that variety of work. Because of its rare form, in my mind I always became “bad or wrong”, an easy legacy minted in childhood. I carried it too long.

So you can imagine my relief in this 37th year of my life when I examine love with such a different lens. When I watch a wedding video of my ex wife singing to her new wife, and can only find gratitude and joy for them. And also that little bit of sadness that is a part of my story now, when our paths diverged. Imagine my joy now that I have found that is not only allowed, but to me this is what it means to be enlightened. It means we can hold Love in our hearts for others, without it meaning anything but pure gratitude.

As a “doer” these are wires that were crossed for a long time for me. I thought a feeling meant you had to do something with it. I would charge boldly and often blindly forward, not even quite sure what I was doing, but always knowing it felt like some important truth to me. And then shortly after I would be bathed in shame of one variety or another. Other people aren’t like this. They move forward with a resolve of steel. I should be like those other people. Why am I so weird and wrong? I felt I was begging to be loved, and always at the core was my extreme dysfunction, and then the self-loathing would begin. This for me, was as easy a process to take over as breathing oxygen.

The profound gratitude for my whole story you will see written all over my body and face now is the gift. So I encourage anyone who finds their way to this post to learn to find closure within themselves, and to see their hearts and stories through the generous eyes they deserve.

And I will be here wishing in earnest for a baby, wishing that my ex-husband could find this clarity also so we could have a good relationship, wishing my ex-wife and her new bride all the happiness in the world, and wishing myself peace from a mind that would always try to find her at fault and shame her.

I am here working toward these goals in earnest. Also I wanted to share an excerpt from a part that after editing will be in my memoir someday.

“That was back when I thought pure love for someone meant you had to be with them…

I watched your wedding video and at first there was sadness. Sadness I would later identify as the unlived possibilities of our unfinished life together. And later I watched it again.. and smiled from ear to ear for your joy. For you getting your wedding, the one you wanted, with the dress and the family. And witnessing love, and being in the Love I have now, for some reason opens things, rather than closing them.

I am open to the truth of the gratitude I feel for the fact that our love was/is real. I see where this is non-traditional, or even crazy. By societal standards I am a stalker with an unstable mental state. But in my truth, the one I know, I’m just deeply grateful for my whole story, and you have a big place in that. You know from having been with me that I don’t travel by the standard rules of doing things, or what other people think. I had to find my truth. And the truth I feel today is nothing but unconditional love for my whole experience, for this home, for your family. For you.

Wouldn’t it be easier to just chalk you up as an ex and feel all the things one should about an ex. I think maybe now I can feel all the love I wasn’t able to then. Yes that is the sadness. Now that I have achieved this state of security within myself, I can see what was always there. I can weave a story that isn’t me being unhealthy or writing like a crazy person to an ex all those times. I was simply offering the real love I had found within myself. (With a very real side of the panic I have often lived with, rejection sensitivity, and PTSD, oh if only I could have found kindness for myself then)

And I can know now that you didn’t have to accept that offer for it to be genuine and real. In this way no one can actually take our own experience from us, no matter how things change. Wasted time is a lie we tell ourselves in the name of shame. I have never wasted a second, well ok maybe now with Instagram and Facebook, but never in my attempts at Love.

A favorite Rumi quote still on the fridge is “The heart is comforted by true words, just as a thirsty man is comforted by water.”

I have always found this to be true for me. Perhaps for you they will just be unnerving. It’s not an easy thing to have a mind like mine. At least in my earned security I can write into the Universe and for anyone who wants to read, and not make those who do not want those words uncomfortable. Boundaries were one of my biggest battles. One I am still working on. They get stronger each day, and they honor my self, rather than shame her.

I like this new awareness of the space I occupy in the world. My life feels like an authentic adventure story, and I find gratitude for every single part.