The Mighty Oak Will Kill You

I mediated this morning on something that I told my child last night when he asked for advice about why someone in his life did what they did and about why it hurt him. I told him that this the person who had hurst him was not yet coursgeous enough to heal himself before he broke someone else, and that it hurt him because he cared about this person.

He depended on this person to not hurt him. He believed in this person. And for a child, that’s really scary and difficult because as a child you’re still learning to process emotions and understand what emotions are. It takes maturity at multiple levels to remain calm and to not hurt a child with you words. I suppose the same is true for adults – especially the way we treat and speak to ourselves.

So, I went on this very deep, very enlightening almost hour long soul journey with my own meditative backing track (coming soon, shameless plug) and it was one of those meditative experiences where you’re doing your meditative thing (eyes closed, body relaxed, going within your deeper, inner being and connecting with it) and it hurts.

It burns. It stings. It aches. Tears roll down your cheeks even though your eyes are closed. You feel every needle the porcupine of life has shot into you. But you keep going and you find yourself at the edge of your inner self and inner peace and you step into it, and you bathe in it’s light. While you’re there, you see things about yourself for what they are.

What did I see within myself? That being strong doesn’t require being fearless – it’s facing the fears that create the strength in the first place. That protecting yourself doesn’t require meanness, it requires patience and love. And, that being guarded and angry doesn’t deflect the things you don’t want to see as much as it blocks your blessings and wastes valuable energy and time.

This is hard. This process is one we are faced with numerous times in our lives. My son was faced with it for the first time last night, and I shared some of my experiences with him and it helped me to remember things that current shadows have been hiding: We learn as we go, but we don’t learn unless we put in the effort to do so.

We all know it takes more strength to be kind and to love anyway than to run. But if I didn’t run from my demented mother who randomly beat me with a cane because of her disease, if I handled that and still did my job as a daughter and in the role I was thrust into as her death doula…and I did it mostly on my own (because I was dealing with absent people and also still blocking spirit and blessings for so long), I can handle just about anything, right?

((Please note, there is a difference between running from yourself because of self-doubt and walking away from toxicity because of self-confidence. There’s always two sides to these memes. There’s always two sides to everything – and often a lot of gray.))

Personally, I am really struggling with a lot of negative and toxic emotions toward my body right now – and with a lot of negative and toxic energy surrounding me. The things my body and I have faced in the past two years have been unforgiving at times, almost suffocating at others. They’ve been so difficult, and continue to be in some moments. But that’s the thing. It’s moments. You learn to rest in the moments that you have to – especially in the moments that you NEED to – but not give up completely.

You learn to be ok with the fact that venting your fears and anger and concerns about things is NOT always “just complaining” and it’s not being ungrateful. It’s COPING. It’s figuring things out. It’s keeping your own balance. Because you can’t thrive in ANY way without balance. You learn that a response of kindness and empathy and gentleness is more powerful than a response of coldness and lack of depth.

After all, look at nature – what’s more beautiful and pleasant? The colors, the beauty, and the warmth of spring and summer and fall or the harshness and bone chilling cold of winter? Can winter be beautiful? Sure. But is it as pleasant and comfortable and conducive to joy? No – that’s why so many people struggle with seasonal affective disorder.

You very literally see that the people who told you throughout your life that you have to be good with yourself before you can be good with anyone else, and that you won’t have true peace until you do the work to heal yourself, was telling you the truth. You won’t ever find peace of mind and true and lasting joy in your soul until you learn to sit in the darkness and kill it with your own inner light and magic. And you have that. You ARE that. You are magic. You are made of literal “stardust,” for Christ’s sake.

Shine like you’re supposed to. Don’t let your circumstances and your old wounds or should have could have would haves or even the opinions and actions of others put out your light and stop you from sparkling like the diamond you’re supposed to become under pressure. If my mom’s stuff taught me anything, it was the harsh reality of that. Pressure and pain can grow you into a brilliant diamond or petrify you into a bland and plain stone.

Don’t let it be the latter. Don’t let your heart become petrified and your mind become stagnant. You aren’t here to be a rock, or you’d have been created as a rock that just lays there on the ground and does nothing. You’re here to LIVE. Not just survive, LIVE. In order to do that, you have to mind the diamonds – you HAVE TO DO THE WORK.

As I find myself struggling with my body, and with random triggers of mom grief (that’s a whole other blog) I’m not making the same mistakes I’ve made in the past and choosing to hide away or beat myself up (and thus, others). I’m going to continue to grow and one day I’m going to bloom, and y’all are all going to watch me do it. Actions speak louder than words, even as loud as words can be screamed.

I’ve been here before but I’ve learned and grown. After my last episode with my health, with depression and the thoughts that ran through my head, I’m terrified of only one thing: dying knowing I haven’t given all I could give or done the work I needed to do to live well and in peace and thus bring peace and joy to others. But, that work I can only do that for myself, with my own choices and actions. It’s a conscious choice we have to make over and over in our lives.

It was a conscious choice with a lot of conscious effort behind it to fight my body’s BS before, to fight depression, to fight my self doubt, to heal traumas and wrongs inside myself – especially around my mom so that I could care for her when there was no one else to do so. The shadow work had to be done. I took my little soul chainsaw and cleaned out the vines and the poison ivy and the dead trees of my past and my experiences and do you know what I find, over and over again? Baby trees. New growth that needs room to become.

There are stumps and scars in the garden of my soul that still feel tender sometimes but they remind me that I CAN heal and I have many times. The more times you go through this process, the more you learn to listen to spirit and see the signs and open up the natural spiritual gifts that we all have, the more you realize that nothing is ever in your control and that most of the time, when you stand like the oak, you’re standing in your own way.

You realize that when you break, that oak is gonna fall hard and it’s gonna crush anything in its way, and you’re going to be the one who has destroyed all the good you couldn’t see while you were fighting for more more more and fighting to look strong and hide your truth and avoid other people rather than to be your authentic self and to SHOW UP, for yourself AND for those you care about.

Vulnerability bends. Vulnerability can move with the moment – it can handle the pressure without breaking. It gives, it sways with the energy. And when the hurricanes and tornadoes and even the weight of the winter ice come, it can withstand them, because in reality? Softness is stronger than hardness when it comes to humanity and the soul.

It’s a metaphor we’ve been presented with eleventy hundred times in eleventy hundred ways in our lives: The oak is the ego. The willow is the soul. Don’t let your ego break you and those you care for. Don’t let your ego block your blessings and destroy your soul. Your peace and your heart (and the peace and hearts of others) are worth way more than that. Keep it open.

The more you give, the more you receive – even if it doesn’t come from where you are directing it. Life will surprise you. Let it surprise you with gifts, not problems. And remember, you create so much of both in the tiniest actions and choices you make.

Un-expectations. | Deep Love

First of all, this post is not an April Fool’s joke. That’s just how ironic and hilarious my life likes to work out.

I saw this and it led to thoughts. Since I have nothing better to do besides lay here right now, and read and write, I thought, “let me share my thoughts…”

“Deep Love

You cannot touch the depths of another until you have touched the depths of your own soul.

If you love yourself for your achievements, your current assets, the way you do things and handle the world—and despise yourself for failure in the same—it follows that your relationship with another will also be transient and superficial.

To achieve deep and lasting love of another person, you need to first experience the depth within yourself—an inner core that doesn’t change with time or events.

If it is the true essence, it is an essence shared by the other person as well, and deep love becomes unavoidable.

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman”

The thoughts this led to on this unexpected day?

I may not have time for material things anymore. And I’m ok with that. All I’ve ever wanted was to love and be loved – not necessarily romantically or in any specific way…just respected. And right now, unrelated to this shared post, really, I’m in love with my doctor in a professional way because he is being forthright, knows not to hide his concerns from me, and is concerned to the point that he doesn’t want me admitted because of my immune system so he’s given me tools and explained all the precautions so that I can be at home.

Instead of scaring me or belittling my intelligence or undermining my own concerns, he makes me proud to be intelligent and aware and doesn’t answer my questions with phrases like, “you just let me worry about that,” or, “we don’t need to get into definitions or science.” He WANTS me to be at the same level as him because if it comes down to a person’s life, why wouldn’t they? His job is to care for me and to do everything in his power to help me to recover. He doesn’t take me for granted as just another patient. He knows my body after all these years but he also knows I know my body better than anyone does and he respects that.

He asks me more questions than I ask him, and we work TOGETHER – it’s not like other doctors people tell me about that they’ve dealt with. It’s not like, “I’m the doctor, do what I say.” It’s more like, “you’re my patient, let’s discuss options and treatments and risks and concerns and fears and how we can combat possible and current difficulties.” He makes want to fight, he makes me better. Even just his voice on the Emergency On Call line this morning took me from panic to immediate calm. “Be at the office at 8, we’re going to handle this in the office before we do in the hospital.” He fights for me. Because of that, I feel strong enough to fight for myself.

And, we laugh. A LOT. Darkly. 😬🤣 He understands me (and enjoys my personality) that way.

THAT is the kind of relationship you pray for with your doctor. He loves his patients deeply – because healing and helping them is his passion, and purpose – not just his “job.” I may be very sick and dealing with some possible very high risks, but I am also so very blessed. 😭🙏🙏🙏

Never

Sometimes,

a thing needs to get lost,

never to be found again,

before I realize just how much

it really meant to me while I had it.

Her laugh,

her smile,

her scent,

her softness,

the sparkle in her eyes

when I’d tell her the secrets of my heart…

and the fire in them

when I’d tell her the pain in it.

I never expected to have a “her”

in my life.

I never expected “her”

to last twenty years…

Then, cancer.

Three years later,

three years since the end,

I’m more convinced than ever I

never will again.

Sometimes a thing,

like this one,

doesn’t get lost.

It is taken.

Stolen away,

for what seems like no reason at all.

That pain never heals.

Never.

~C.

Cancer | A Poem

**A memory…**

 

It is…

Dark soul…

Untamable.

Black.

Deep space, ever deepening.

Always expanding, demanding.

Churning black hole, hollow.

Sucking me in everyday,

Spitting me out every night.

Holding me hostage.

Prisoner.

Chained.

Bound.

Aching.

Swallowed.

But holding on.

No choice in the blackness.

Can’t afford to get lost…

Yet…

Feel my way around it…

Hold on to what can’t be seen:

Angel wings.

Butterflies in spring.

Positive thoughts.

Energetic streams.

Consciousness.

“They need…me.”

Private tears.

Silent screams.

Memories blur.

Sleep.

Restless dreams, where she smiles.

Brightness, but not enough to pull me out of pain.

Rain.

Tears inside.

Anger.

Resentment.

 

Shower it all away.

Scrub until the skin is as raw as the pain inside.

Sing Tiny Dancer…

Cancer…

Churning sucking churning sucking churn suck churn churn churn churn.

Today I thought we’d lost her.

((09-15-14))

Disorder, not Decision

I’m sitting here in her casino bathrobe, planning her deathiversary. I’m supposed to have an actual plan, you know, like my fairy godtherapist told me to. So far? I’ve managed to plan to not be alone and to go buy dog food at the corner store. Is that good enough? Wave your magic wand and make it so. 

I’m already a mess. Yesterday I kept flashing to trying to get there in time, over and over again. Today I am flashing to watching her leave. Tomorrow…I don’t know what to expect. I knew this would be a hard time. I didn’t expect to relive her death like this. CPTSD/PTSD cause people to grieve loss in very different ways. 

Another blogger e-mailed me this link and I read the page while having coffee. It didn’t help to consider that I’m complicated. But the truth is, everything about all of us is complicated and that’s ok… 

PTSD does prolong both grief and survivor guilt, along with all of its own characteristics. I’m struggling most with the stuff from the last year. But I’m also struggling with basically 3 years of nothing but grief, let downs, huge life changes, death, trauma and loss, which finally triggered childhood trauma memories and led to CPTSD.

If you’re struggling with any of these things, know that YOU are not complicated, it’s the external stuff that is, and there’s a number below that you can call for help. Here is an excerpt from the article that resonated with me: 

“While it is not clear exactly what causes prolonged or complicated grief, the cause of normal grief can most commonly be attributed to the death of a loved one. According to the University of Rochester, grief can also be caused by the following:

  • Loss of a job
  • Loss of a beloved pet
  • Loss of a friendship
  • Loss of a personal dream
  • Loss of a romantic relationship

The loss of anything important to you can cause feelings of grief. When you are unable to cope with that grief over a long period of time, you may be at risk for a grief disorder. If you or someone you love is having difficulty coping with grief, you can seek help by calling 1-888-480-5593. Our compassionate staff members are available any time of day or night to assist you in finding the most appropriate treatment for grief disorders.”

Check. Check. Check. Check. Check. Some double-checks. Some in bold AND italics. But, all in all, it’s just part of my story, and my story doesn’t end here. That’s what I am telling myself over and over again today. Somehow, we cope. Even if today that means not pushing through at all and instead sitting on the tree deck in her bathrobe watching old home movies on my phone all day, it’s coping. Deathiversaries are hard for me now. But when this week is over, maybe it will feel like just another day…

Sending all the love and support to you all today, and lots of cyber hugs. If you’re into that sort of thing, feel free to grab as many as you need. 

Lots of love,

C. 

Coping with Cancer #37162

I have written many of these posts over the last three years. Especially after her death, I haven’t shared them publicly. In fact, after her death I took most of the ones written when she was alive down… But today, I just feel compelled to share one. I feel compelled to share more of me. Again. 

This is my best friend and one of the soulmates in my existence. I took this photo on the day of the diagnosis, after a long ‘ol conversation and a lot of tears. It was not the first time that sitting on this front porch was heavy and difficult, not even the day it was heaviest and hardest (for me, that would be the day she died, and I was on this porch watching in disbelief and denial as they took her away). It was also not the first time smiles prevailed over hardship there… They always did. But, definitely this was the day that the truest miracle of friendship happened between us – the day we made the hardest promises, and kept them. 

I miss having this in my life – not just her but what we were. I can’t say I wish to have this in my life again – I don’t believe it exists for any of us more than once, if we have it once at all; it would almost feel selfish to ask for it, anyway. But to look back and to be so grateful to have had it once, for half my life, makes me so very aware – joyfully so – of the miracle I had in my life in these people, and still have to some extent because some things just can’t be destroyed by death. 

I don’t know why I’m so randomly missing them today – because that’s the way grief works, I suppose. But today, I do miss them – especially her – from somewhere deep inside my soul. Not just missing a moment or a memory but missing what felt…feels…like such an essential essence to my being. All I know to do is recycle it into whatever it is I can give to the world…

I miss my Dad, my dog, my family and my friends and my life being what it used to be. I want it back. I can’t have that, necessarily… Some things can be mended, some things can’t…either way, it’s never the same. But I feel this today without tears or doubts. I feel this today with nostalgia and gratitude, with a sense of reverence for what it was, and look to it to find the tools to build whatever is next. I feel like that’s such a powerful gift. I don’t want to waste it; I want to live on…and I am. 

This was the time she had a rainbow on her shoulder and it reminded me of Mardi Gras. This one seems fitting for today, being Fat Tuesday and all. I said to her, “when you get better we should go together,” and she said, “yes! And I’m taking my grandson to Utah, too!” Perhaps it’s silly to make plans when you’re not sure whether you’re gonna be there for them…but are we really ever sure? No. We’re really not. 

We plan our lives when we’re well. Then we (Ok, I) get into panic, depression and sickness and feel like our lives are over. We start to think things like, “the best years are behind me, I’m past my prime, I’m too old, I’m too sick, I’m too afraid,” when in reality – and I know this from experience lately – it’s all bullshit! None of it is valid or true. But we use those things as excuses not to live, because the reality within us is that we don’t feel like we deserve to. 

There are many days that I don’t feel like I deserve goodness, love, patience, etc. I’ve done some terrible things to some people in my life while at the same time thought I was doing wonderful things for other people in my life. Sometimes stories don’t align and sometimes relationships fall apart; sometimes while we are doing what we feel in our hearts is right for someone else we are inadvertently hurting another. We do these things because we are human, not because we are horrible people. 

I truly and deeply believe that we are all doing the best we can with what we have and what we believe in any given moment. We make mistakes, we screw things up, we lose people, we inadvertently “break” ourselves. But we forget that we can make ourselves whole again – and we are the ONLY ones who can do that for ourselves. Then, sometimes we realize and accept it but don’t have the strength or courage to do the work. Maybe we just don’t know where to begin. I haven’t, since she died. The lack of her light in my world has left it a very dark place, indeed – but only because I’ve put my own light out with my tears. Death is so final…

I’m doing my best, every day. There are some I wish I could make amends with. I think of them every day but I can’t contact them. That’s one of my inner battles. I just have to – try to – honor them with the way I live my life now, and hope that they know the love is still there, that the love never left. And that’s what I’m trying to do. 

No More “Why’s”

Deep morning thoughts:

My health isn’t good. Earlier this week I was made aware in a much more realistic way that my body is unhappy. Tests were done. More (very scary ones) have been scheduled. And for a moment I found myself frozen in fear. Utterly terrified. This is how people find out worse news. “Well, we see your problem with this area but whilst scanning for this problem we found these nodules or lesions and we need to further test them.” Then, a week later, “we’re sorry, it’s cancer.” That’s how it happens. Almost every time, that’s how it happens. At least this was true of both my daddy and Dorie. 

My therapist calls it irrational fear. I don’t see what’s irrational about it. First of all, the fear is not of being sick or of dying. It’s of not being able to take care of my son or my mom. These people NEED me. I don’t have time to be sick – no matter how trivial the situation is, no matter how quickly recovery from (possible) surgery might be. I don’t have time! Besides that, rational fear versus irrational fear is simple: a fear is rational if you’ve experienced a bad thing or result, or death has occurred (if fear of death is the issue) with the same or similar situation in the past. I have. Multiple times. HELLO? Same with my fear of driving in the rain. What an idiot, right? No, just a person who has experienced multiple bad things in that situation and has a very valid reason to fear the situation. 

Anyway, none of that is the point. The point is this. Lately, but especially yesterday, I have felt alone. I haven’t been, but it’s how I’ve felt. I’ve felt very distant and disconnected; from friends, from my family, from LIFE – just separate from everything. And then, this morning, it suddenly hit me. I’ve outgrown it. Maybe I’ve outgrown my life. I’ve outgrown it and I feel like I don’t belong anymore. Especially since the election, and living in America, I feel like I don’t belong – more profoundly and painfully than ever before. 

Perhaps it’s just my life in general. I stretch myself transparently thin to meet all the requirements of the roles I have to play and I’m tired. Exhausted. That’s what’s wrong with my health. It’s not that I don’t take good enough care of myself, it’s not that I stress too much or can’t emotionally handle it, it’s not ME AT ALL. Nobody – NOBODY – was ever created with the ability or the expectation of their creator to deal with this much weight on them. We just weren’t. 

Our bodies have limits and no matter how emotionally flexible we are, one can only bend their body so far (or push it so far) before it breaks. In my case, the doctor says I’ve done it to myself by mismanaging my stress. In that case? “Screw you, therapist – what am I paying YOU for! You’ll be receiving my medical bills as they pile up.” Ha! Admittedly stress is a factor but in this case, in a general sense, it’s not about how well I’m handling the stress. It’s just about being literally stretched between homes and people and being exhausted, and having only one of me to go around isn’t likely to change soon since cloning humans has yet to be made legal. 

In the end, there’s no one to blame. It’s just what happens. So, we fix it. People who believe in a Christian God will say that he never gives us more than we can handle. I think that’s BS. I think that’s a crock and a fairy tale that helps some people keep love and hope in their heart when their subconscious knows that otherwise they might fail, so that when they do (like I have), they have someone to blame. And if it helps them, that’s ok. But it doesn’t help me. “It was all part of God’s plan.” Pfft. What plan? To make you miserable? To make your loved ones miserable? To cause suffering in the world? To teach you or someone a lesson? OK. Maybe so… Or MAYBE, just maybe, it’s just the way the cards fell. The way the cookie crumbled. The way it was meant to happen. 

Maybe there doesn’t have to be a reason and it’s time to stop looking for one. Maybe you just feel what you feel, desire what you desire, need what you need, and want what you want, find beauty in what you find beauty in, are hurt by the things hurt you, are too sensitive or not sensitive enough or are too deep or not deep enough (labels often applied to me) because it’s just who you are. 

I’ve outgrown this rampant and cancerous behavior of society in general to constantly blame and not grasp the concept of personal responsibility, or to require an explanation, or to have anything make sense. At a personal level I’ve outgrown this ridiculous need I’ve always had to be accepted and to be a part of something “bigger than me.” By default, we will always be extremely small beings in an extremely large (immeasurable) universe, and that’s the reason I suppose so many of us long to feel like we belong… But I’m beyond it. I do belong – to me, and to the universe. Why are we so afraid to go it alone? Why have I been? I don’t know. I think religion and indoctrination into this idea that “the universe is a scary thing” is the reason. 

Since she died, I’ve outgrown a lot of things but the main thing I’ve outgrown and dropped off at life’s thrift shop is religion. I’ve completely shed my skin. I’ve shed the skin of my past and the skin of my captors – both secular and religious. I’m done with it. I’m me, and I’m ok even when I’m not ok. I have a handful of people around me who have outgrown their own versions of these things, or who are on their way at least, and the rest of it…well, I just don’t have time for it anymore. 

I’m almost literally barely surviving right now. My life is extremely heavy. It has been since she died. I mean, after daddy it was bad enough but then her…and I’ll be damned. You’d think that there would have been relief, and initially there was, but mostly? There wasn’t. It was just a whole other, different burden. At the end she said I’d be just fine and she accused me of being the strong one. In honesty, neither of us was. Nobody is. We are not strong or weak – we are just us. We do what we gotta, somehow. Strength and weakness are just labels we create and then give some sort of modifier to so that we can judge each other and tell ourselves whether we are doing ok or not, when in reality, we’re always ok – even when we’re not, as I’ve said so many times before.

She loved tulips – in fact, I took all these photos of tulips (including the cover photo for this post) to send to her while I was in New Orleans a couple of years ago. Tulips were her favorite. They’ve meant many things to me, especially since she got sick. But now, looking back at these photos, they remind me that, “why?” is not the question I need to ask. The question is simply, “what’s next?”

This’ll be a better blog someday, and maybe then it will make more sense. For now…the ideas and thoughts are just fuel for tears born of exhaustion and expressing them is the quickest and easier way of relieving the pressure on my heart. 

C.