Hauntings that Heal

On Marriage
 Kahlil Gibran

You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.

You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days.

Ay, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.

But let there be spaces in your togetherness,

And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.

Love one another, but make not a bond of love:

Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.

Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.

Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf

Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,

Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.

For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.

And stand together yet not too near together:

For the pillars of the temple stand apart,

And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.

A friend and I were recently discussing Kahlil Gibran’s book, “The Prophet“, which I remembered I had a copy of in the shed.  The above poem was I cherished by me and still is; it was a reading at my wedding so many moons ago. I never would’ve chosen it for a wedding reading for us if I’d known then what I know now.  The words spoke of a kept promise and a naive idealism;  written by one who had not experienced marriage.  I think it might be more appropriate for a second wedding, than a first (which most people probably aren’t hoping for).

In an instant,  I am transported to the day I looked into my then husband’s eyes.  My feelings of joy and elation took were mellowed by feelings of trepidation and fear.  I never was quite sure that I was wholly loved.  A portion of this was due to issues between he and I; a bigger part was caused by my own history and doubt.

This transportation is quickly followed by stomach churning waves of grief and anxiety, accompanied by a mind that wanders to the past arrive again, without invitation.  Her weary soul sounds the alarm bells.

“That’s unfortunate, it’s been a really great day”, she thinks to herself.  Rather than running from the feelings, she decides to utilize a tool that a dear friend and counselor taught her years ago.  Good music; ear buds to drown out the distractions; a pen and paper, this is all that is needed.  Oh…and set the alarm for 15 minutes.  She begins to write whatever comes, without pause and certainly without thought.  Unaware of  her tears until they splashed hot water stains onto the paper and the familiar salty taste ran across her lips. She continued to ferociously surrender to this process.   The alarm dings, it is time to stop.  Now take a breath and read when ready…then destroy for these are the most private thoughts.  They belong only to she and her soul.

In countless ways, she has always been an old soul.  In contradiction, lately, thereare ways that she is more akin to an 18 year old young lady than to the 45 year old woman she truly is.

She attempts to collect herself and ask her heart exactly what it’s feeling right now.  She comes up with a list.

Her 10 ponderings:

1)  She is incredibly self-aware, perhaps too much so at times.  Thus, she knows that she thrives on being needed.  As much as she resists it, her validation comes too often from this need to be needed.  Recently, there has been a switch in the status quo.  The lesson has been that simply because someone ‘needs’ her does not mean that she needs them.

2)  She has a long way to go as far as learning to surrender to what is.  She has often stated that her favorite game with God is to release her problems to Him, making it tangible by opening her palms and visualizing handing her burden to Him.  Just as quickly, she grabs that burden back and squeezes it tight in her fisted hand.  She is expert at this.  The illusion of control consistently comes back to wound her and she knows that she would benefit from relinquishing this terror.  She’s tried handing her problem to the universe, to others, to her journal…she always finds a way to get it back under her jurisdiction.

3)  No matter how hard one works, despite the entirety of heart, soul, prayer and effort put into a relationship, it does not always turn out as hoped for.  Also, no matter how big one’s faith may be, this is a hard one to field and might test every belief previously held.  Finally, it’s perfectly okay for these beliefs and faith to be tested, this is truth.

4)  Joy and pain can and do walk hand in hand.  This too, is okay.  It just is.

5)  Be the light, even when it’s dark.  When there is no energy left to be the light, seek the light…it’s there, even in the tiniest crack that you have to squint to see.  Squint and see darkness only? Reach your hand out, put one foot in front of the other and step.  Just keep seeking and for goodness sake, don’t freeze.

6)  I believe that nearly always, we do the best we can with what we’ve got. Concurrently, life’s all about choices.  Sometimes we make a sucky choice and sometimes others make a sucky choice.  Grace, love, forgiveness….and boundaries.  🙂

7)  Being gentle with herself doesn’t come easy.  She’s going to learn the art of doing so anyway.  This is wisdom.

8)  Rainy nights are healing for the soul, so are candles; bubble baths, snuggles (can be with people, a favorite blanket or comfort item or fur babies and I guess blow up dolls, but that’s not her preference).

9) Forgiveness is hugely, ginormously important.  Forgiveness does not mean a person belongs in your life.

10)  Real ghosts are the ones that leave echoing pain in a soul.  In this case, exorcisms (figuratively speaking) are worth serious consideration  If not willing to exorcise, contemplate excavating the heart.  However, if those hauntings are here to heal, let them.

She will leave you with this song that eloquently speaks to the hauntings in her heart…

“Ghosts That We Knew”

Listen here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wXiq5ZO-rNE

You saw my pain washed out in the rain
Broken glass, saw the blood run from my veins
But you saw no fault, no cracks in my heart
And you knelt beside my hope torn apart

But the ghosts that we knew will flicker from view
We’ll live a long life

So give me hope in the darkness that I will see the light
‘Cause oh that gave me such a fright
But I will hold as long as you like
Just promise me we’ll be alright

So lead me back, turn south from that place
And close my eyes to my recent disgrace
‘Cause you know my call
And we’ll share my all
And our children come and they will hear me roar

So give me hope in the darkness that I will see the light
‘Cause oh that gave me such a fright
But I will hold as long as you like
Just promise me we’ll be alright

But hold me still, bury my heart on the coals
But hold me still, bury my heart on the coals [Live and US versions say “And hold me still, bury my heart next to yours”]

So give me hope in the darkness that I will see the light
‘Cause oh that gave me such a fright
But I will hold on as long as you like [Live and US versions say “But I will hold on with all of my might”]
Just promise me we’ll be alright

[Live and US versions’ additional lines:
“But the ghosts that we knew made us black and all blue
But we’ll live a long life”]

And the ghosts that we knew will flicker from view
And we’ll live a long life

Cheers.  Namaste.  Just be.

How to take baby steps when you must eat an elephant

I was trying to do a good thing this morning; I woke up at 4:30 a.m., without an alarm. I decided to use this unexpected wake time to read my Bible and write a bit, it’s been too long since I’ve allowed myself these self care luxuries. Even mentioning self care right now makes me cringe; it feels like just another thing that I can berate myself for not doing or not doing well enough.

Gut level honesty….My physical reflection results in more self loathing. Yes, I know that I “should” celebrate my health and the mere fact that I can walk. That ability, I will never take for granted again. I want to puke as I admonish myself for being overweight, walking ungraceful lso that I sound like a herd of elephants or dropping and hitting everything with “lefty”. I recoil when I consider how far I’ve gotten away from my God and our closeness. My thinking is stinking….PEE-YOU! Yes, I have complete and utter awareness of what I “should” be doing and thinking. My head and heart are dual forces fighting against each other. Pretty ironic since I chose serendipity and synchronicity as my words for the year.

I’m aware that this is a problem. My brain knows that if I don’t care for myself first the rest will suffer. My body and spirit support this theory by expressing their various random aches and emptiness. I think back to two days ago when I took a first baby step by going for a 20 minute walk. Although my legs and mind were in motion; my spirit was quiet and my tears were flowing. I cry often. I cry out of oppressed rage; underlying guilt; heavy shame and unexpressed fear. As of late, tears of uninhibited joy; belly laughter; overflowing gratitude; scary vulnerability; and loaded sadness are amiss. I have hidden those deep inside me as I stay in survival mode.

I sobbed uncontrollably in front of someone I care for deeply just a short time ago. I cried for yesterday’s gone and for memories remembered. I cried for unspoken hurts and persistent grief. I knew this person was terribly uncomfortable with my tumultuous emotions; yet the harder I tried to make myself stop crying, the harder I cried. The event ended in an ugly, heated argument between the two of us. I did stop crying but my unshed tears converted to a slow simmering of emotions inside that eventually boiled over and now here I am. There is an abundance of fierce intensity churning inside of me; I am at a loss at how to ‘deal’ with it. Baby steps.

There was a walk…now there’s writing. These are good beginnings, trying to climb out of my poop filled rut.

Returning to “trying to do a good thing”….I woke up this morning and knew it was time to do the writing I have been putting off for so long. This heart sharing is a part of my healing; it’s an integral portion of my self-care. The house is quiet except for the load of laundry that is working hard to get clean. There are two sweet, snoring puppies on the bed to keep me warm with soothing piano music playing in the background. My bedside lamp is the only light on. In preparation mode, I snuggle in my soft sheets, propped up on pillows with my laptop in tow. I read Ruth from the Bible and today’s devotional from Jesus Calling. I indulge in a few sips of crème brulee coffee with the perfect amount of creamer, it is just right. I am ready.

My coffee spills. My coffee spills all over the floor (knocked over by my non-jerky hand), it runs under my bed and into my school bag. (Breathe again, say goodbye to my beautiful cup of coffee, clean said coffee up with newly bleached white towel.) Crawl back under covers, resituate myself…ready. I don’t really know where I want to go with this post; I’m trying (“there is not try grasshopper, only do or do not.”) to trust God in this process and let it flow.

I have been in a relationship for the last few months; my first since the divorce. I am learning some incredibly great things about myself through this; and a few harsh realities. Here’s what I’ve got…

1) I don’t know how to play the games and when I try to play the games, I lose. I lose because I don’t like the games, nor do I care for rules that get made up as I go along; nor do I care for uncertainty. (I’ve always known that last one, just feeling it big as of late).

2) I know how to be a wife. I am not familiar with knowing how to be a girlfriend or even how to date.

3) My initial goal after the divorce of learning to love myself is still very much in play. Honestly, I just don’t know how to get there. I thought maybe I was still grieving my sweet daddy’s death and the divorce from my precious mate. Im realizing I’m only just allowing myself to grieve.

4) I need great therapist. So do you. We ALL need a great therapist. No one (self included) has the right to put you on a feelings timeline.

5) I am a danger to myself as I am still exceptionally able and willing to contort myself into any shape for someone else’s happiness. I forget easily that I am at great risk of drowning in someone else’s emotions.

6) Dating is not therapy. I am not a therapist. I am not my dating partner’s therapist nor am I their savior. Amen. The End!

7) Being desired as a woman feels like a luscious longing is being fulfilled. Desiring a man is grand. Reciprocity is extraordinarily wonderful. None of this fills a spiritual or inside void.

8) It is not okay for someone to berate you, control you, gaslight or mess with your head and heart, no matter how hurt they’ve been. Never, ever, never. Take note, sometimes it feels okay, even good. If their stinking words and actions match my stinking thinking this almost feels comfortable and affirming…I was right.

9) After 45 years of living and 23 years of living that life loving one partner; sometimes you think you are upset at the person you are dating and really you are upset at a memory, a loss of a dream, a projected fear, etc. There is wisdom in reflecting on where our emotions are coming from. (which is a much better option than shoving the emotions down or numbing them with oreos…ask me how I know).

10)Listen to your gut, follow your heart, don’t forget your brain. Working on these. Like my friend Jenny always says, it’s just practice.

I think that’s it for now. Breathing in lavender from my bedside diffuser and wishing I could go back to sleep for a couple of hours. Thanks for letting me do this writing thing. It’s good for my heart and my prayer is that someone reading this needs it too.

I’ll leave you with this simple profundity. How do we eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Baby bites if we must.

Namaste, peace, beauty and love to you,

S.

Now

I got home from school around 10:20 tonight. (BTW, I am loving school!) Anyway…I came home wound up as all get out so I used that energy to do a quick clean. Laundry is in, kitchen sink scrubbed, all floors vacuumed, and the smell of bleach is permeating the air while the whites wash. All of this makes me happy…and suddenly, my abundance of energy has vanished.

My heart is slightly heavy tonight as I process letting go. I talked to a very wise soul today…(you know who you are). I was tearfully sharing my fears that there will not be another side to my journey, as well as the other terrors that haunt me. I shared that after Pathways, I had the BEST two years of my marriage that I never could’ve imagined and then, whoosh!, it was gone. I let her know I have a wee bit of mistrust and anger with God for not making this better and lots of mistrust and disappointment in myself for losing my magic wand.

She asked me something I truthfully have never considered and am pondering carefully tonight. “What if God gave me those two years to give me a glimpse of what a future love could look like? She asked me some other things, and the permeating thought I have left over as my summary is the one that begs an answer to the question…”how I am going to spend my now? Am I waiting to arrive at the other side before I settle in?”

I likely am waiting in ways, I tend to freeze a little when I am afraid. I have had to say too many goodbyes lately, as I discussed in my previous post…no way around it, they suck.  There have been goodbyes through a death, goodbyes through divorce, goodbyes and a goodbye to a dear, dear friend by choice.  None of them is better than the other.

My heart is telling me there are other goodbyes to say…another bit of  letting go that is weighing me down.  It’s time to say goodbye to things that aren’t working in my life as I learn to replace them with what is better, healthier, wiser.  It’s time to say goodbye to control (or my illusion of it), yet again…which means, hello surrender my friend.

 

It’s time.  It’s time.  It is time.

Shadow Dance

My internal world has been filled with an abundance of “AHEM” moments today.  AHEM moments don’t feel like the progress I like to feel after I’ve done the hard work of processing; they have yet to lead me to any “AHA” moments; and honestly, those are usually my goal.  AHEM moments are more like scathing, scary, scolding, self scuffling conversations that go on constantly between my head and my heart.  These moments are anxiety provoking…the kind of anxiety where although I continue to be productive and sufficiently distracted with work, there is the constant gnawing in my belly, the lump in my throat and the uptight breathing that accompanies the tense certainty that everything cannot be as okay as it seems.  I went through my day, doing the business of living and forgetting to find my place of surrender, my calm center, my joy…I just go and go and go as fast as I can.  No matter how much I do or how amazingly efficient I am, the chatter in the background will.not.stop!  That’s my day today.

Writing, praying, reflecting and sharing are healing for me, and I know there is something deep inside of me in need of healing as I write this or my heart wouldn’t be so overflowing with trepidation in this moment.  Selfishly, I’m ‘getting it out’ in hopes of being rewarded with peace.  Altruistically speaking, I hope the reader gleams some sort of self awareness from reading.

  • I made a decision a couple of weeks ago to do something totally out of character for me…I think.  As I ponder my actions more, I consider the possibility that this was absolutely something within my character but something I’ve never felt the freedom to do.
  • I had a hard and precious conversation with my ex husband today (I still feel as if I am speaking of someone else when I say those words…I’m working on owning them).  We are at a place of peace and we are able to ask questions of one another, this is beautiful but does not make the answers easier to bear.
  • I have had to distance myself from someone precious in my life in order to guard my own heart.  Boundary setting sucks.
  • It is less than a month away from the 9th anniversary of the stroke and just a few days away from what would be our 19th wedding anniversary.  My soul reverberates the echoes of what my mind wants nothing to do with.
  • I’ve been playing Words with Friends when I need a little break.  One of the men I have been playing with invited me to download an app on my phone today so we could ‘talk naughty’ to each other.  (I don’t know him, he is a ‘random’ stranger from the game).  I don’t really believe in random and after I found out his story, my belief that there are no accidents has been confirmed.  He is married and wanted to be honest with me, but felt that ‘talking dirty’ wasn’t a big deal.  He asked if I thought it was and I let him know that I guess that depended on where your personal boundaries were and that mine would not permit me to engage in these conversations with a married man.  We talked further, I shared with him my heart on the matter and my own story.  I encouraged him to find out what was missing within himself or his marriage and not go down this road, no matter how innocent the intentions were.  I don’t know what he will do, but I pray that our ‘meeting’ was of value to his heart.
  • We celebrated my beautiful sister Beth’s 60th birthday this weekend.  I have no words sufficient to describe the fullness in my heart that the love within my family provides to me.  No words.  No matter how many years go by, when I am naming my siblings, I always feel like I leave one out.  It’s my big brother Brent and he definitely left an empty space.  I celebrate his life in partiality by always ‘counting him in’.  My Daddy would’ve loved the party thrown for Beth, and he would’ve been immensely proud of all of us.  I miss him so.
  • I have haunting background thoughts that tell me I will never be the object of a worthy man’s love, that having extra pounds makes me less than valuable,  that I will get Alzheimers and not have enough money to have good care, that I won’t fulfill my purpose before I die….all of these crappy lies that won’t go away.  I don’t actually know if they are truth or lies, I do know that I am living my purpose right here and now, that I will have everything I need when I need it and that God’s plan is much better than my own.  I KNOW these things deep down but when the shouting between my head and heart gets louder than my knowing, I forget my truth.

So here I am….dancing with my shadows but the shadows mean that there is light, so I know I am okay.  That’s an AHA moment and the only one I really need right now.

 

Be blessed,

Sarah

 

 

 

Midnight Java….the Aftermath

My dear friend Traci let me know this morning that she is not concerned about my becoming an alcoholic.  She is, however, worried about my frequent late night coffee consumption.  I’m wondering if her unease about my exuberant consumption is something I ought to investigate further.

Though I have always found the aroma of a fresh brew intoxicating, I was never a consumer of this ‘nectar of the gods’ until I was a Preschool Director and momma of two babies.  My energy was low and the needs of those I cared for were high.  Simultaneously, they put a Starbuck’s in less than a mile from my home.  I took it as a sign, God was smiling down at me and it was a love at first sip!

Since then, I have kept my intake of this delicious cup of energy minimal to moderate.  One cup on a good day, two cups on a rushed day and 3 -4 cups when I was trying to keep the poo from hitting the fan.  I guess by now the poo has hit the fan and been splattered about, so it only makes sense that I have begun the sweet little ritual of late night coffee drinking.  I do this only occasionally, I can stop anytime I want…really.  I limit myself to this practice when the kids aren’t at home and I’m quite productive (sometimes) when I begin to drink coffee at midnight.

What’s the problem then?  I might be a wee bit sensitive to the caffeine but it’s a nice, harmless little buzz. It helps me stay awake so I can create, clean, or stare of into space contemplating my world.   There is nothing like coffee and candlelight!  Countless benefits, right?

It’s been a rough week in this life.  Last night was a cup at midnight…a cup at 1…and maybe a 1/2 cup at 1:30.  (Sorry Traci, I couldn’t bring myself to tell you the whole truth). I fell into a not quite sound sleep at 3:30’ish and was awake, ordering groceries at 5:30’ish.  I was on my way to work at 8’ish.  I’m feeling the consequences of two hours of sleep in a serious way.   No worries…nothing a little cinnamon dolce latte with extra espresso can’t fix!  It’s a cycle for sure…I just haven’t decided if it’s vicious or victorious!

Last night’s bender wound up in a great phone conversation with a beloved friend, a couple of loads of completed laundry, clean dishes, a bit of reading and A LOT of staring at my candle flicker while I chatted with God and weighed on all that is heavy on my heart.  I felt, and still feel, conflicted and afflicted.  As I mentioned, it’s been a rough week in this life.

I am incredibly proud of my ex husband and I.  We fought the good fight for our relationship and although the outcome wasn’t what either of us had hoped, we are still here.  Now we fight the good fight as parents who love their children dearly.  Still, the divorce is new and I find myself deep in thought as I adjust once again to a new normal.

I found myself in the middle of a devastating situation this week, I am thankful that I was present yet this is a situation that hurts every fiber of my being.  The ex and I have had to walk through some really difficult stuff with our kids this week and who knows if we are doing it right?  I am in a state of mind that leaves me aching to ‘fix’ and nothing is in my power to fix.

I think about the tragedies around us.  In my opinion, teens and social media combined have the ability to create a horrific impact and I am seeing this directly in action.  Our elders and our children are not cared for well in our society.  There are endless gaps in this world and too many people are oblivious to the societal impact until they are personally affected.  How do we radically meet those around us right where they are without pushing our own agenda onto them.  What are the long term repercussions for those who are harmed and for those who cause harm?

These thoughts are the aftermath of my midnight java.  Good thoughts….great thoughts…heavy heart and void of solutions for the most part.  Still, I march forward ready to embrace life as it comes and holding onto a mustard seed of faith that there is hope for my future…for our future as a whole.

Most of us are familiar with the quote,

“You must be the change you want to see in the world.” -Mahatma Gandhi

I’m pretty sure the original quote was, “You must be the change you want to see in the world, and it all begins with a late night cup of coffee, a candle, and a little chat with God.”

The aftermath of late night java….it’s a beautiful thing.

 

 

 

 

 

I am Nearly 45 and Exactly Where I am Supposed to Be…

Almost 45, and a little over one year ago, I was handed a “gift” that I tried with everything in me to return.  My husband of 18 years asked for a divorce…again…and this time, I conceded.  We had taken turns putting divorce on the table yet one of us always stayed grounded and talked the other down.  This time was different, I knew that my only choice was to let go.  Heartbreak had become a too comfortable friend and we were both weary.  I knew that he was trusting me enough to ask for what he truly felt he needed, I finally recognized that I loved him enough to graciously (a process indeed) give him what he was asking for.

In June, my sweet husband moved out of our family home and into his own apartment.  July brought the death of my precious Daddy, who had fought a brave battle with Alzheimer’s for 12 years.  August was full of transitions for the kids, one beginning a new journey with homeschooling and the other entering high school.  September was the beginning of returning to full time work for me.  In October, my precious Momma sold the home we all grew up in with she and Daddy and moved to a new home of her own. Alas, November and December brought bittersweet holiday celebrations, as we all adjusted to the consequential firsts that come with change.

Whew!  I have to catch my breath just remembering. This is life though, right?  It’s full of change.  Joy in the suffering, lightness  in the dark, triumph in the tragedy, beauty out of ashes and growth out of doing hard.  We have to search for the gifts…seek out the God in all of it.  Man, that is tough.

Only now am I beginning to get my feet back on the ground (that’s giving myself a ton of grace) and barely able to reach out my arms, hands open, ready to receive.  Only now am I embracing trace amounts of gratitude for my journey.  Only now….and this is okay, for only now is all we ever have.

Countless gifts in the mix, and the one gift that keeps re-emerging as a theme in my life is the opportunity to believe that I AM ENOUGH.  Despite a delay in my cooperation, I am now absorbing the truth that until I believe this and until I truly love myself, I don’t have all of me to offer anyone else. I wonder if I ever have truly and fully loved me for me, just as I am?  Even if I never opt to offer myself to another in a romantic relationship, isn’t it just as significant to offer myself the fullness of this kind of love?  I think, yes.

I am exceptionally gifted at meeting others where they are and loving them well. On the other hand, I am extremely inadept at doing so for myself.  I have an ongoing list of things I want in a future partner/relationship.  Ironically, all of the things I am seeking in someone else are things I really am seeking for myself within my own heart.

It is my soul’s desire to reconnect with God in a way that my human self has forgotten to do.  I know that He loves me and sees me in a light that I cannot easily fathom; I yearn to have  a glimpse of that view.

Here I am…nearly 45…with amazing opportunities before me.  This year is stunningly different than last year and next year will be incomparable.  I don’t know what all of this means, I just know this life is a one time gift and I intend to live it well.

 

“When you start to feel like things should have been better this year, remember the mountains and valleys that got you here, they are not accidents and those moment’s weren’t in vain.

You are not the same you, you have grown and you are growing, you are breathing, you are living.

You are wrapped in

Endless

Boundless

Grace

and things will get better, there is more to you than yesterday.  

-Morgan Harper