i felt like me today

The new year — despite all the political crazy that comes with it — has definitely brought a shift in energy for me, and I so needed it! I’ve been slowly getting better… a lot of “two steps forward, one step back” kind of progress. Still some total meltdowns. And today, I felt unexpectedly confident, buoyant, … normal… like the me I was a year ago, before I got caught in grief’s powerful undertow. And I noticed and acknowledged this amazing feeling.

Since the new year, I’ve been reading a much-needed resource on meditation and practicing sometimes twice a day. Getting back into this self-care routine has helped. Then, a recent bout of despair led me to an entirely new insight about a story I tell myself… You see, I’m one of those children who was “an accident.” (My children, by the way, are both blessings who arrived on their own schedule — language is powerful — and I’ve always wanted two children.) So, even though my parents were and are loving and are still very much a part of my life, I must have translated this knowledge to something along the lines of feeling unwanted. That’s a painful and lonely realization — but, having had the realization, I can finally begin to do the work to let go of that baggage.

I’d already been working on releasing loneliness, aloneness and other adjacent sort of feelings that seemed relevant to the shit storm of triggers during Dec. 2015 through Feb. 2016. Probably some shame and abandonment, too, and hella anger. After hitting on the unwanted emotion and doing some meditation and tapping to release it, something shifted and I had an entirely new perspective.

Today’s positive mental health is definitely cause for celebration, but I have more work to do… Here’s something I’ve learned over the past year:

There’s no way around grief. You have to feel it, sit with it, wade through it. Even so, there comes a point where thinking about it triggers an automatic response in the body, which the body becomes addicted to, and then the chemicals in the body generate the thought and it becomes a vicious cycle. Lee’s departure was a big trigger for this pattern in me. Despite the months that have passed, it felt like a fresh wound and an ancient scar at once. My body has become addicted to feeling the heartache — and to break the addiction, I’ll have to use my brain as well as cleanse my body of these chemicals. I’m also going to check into a trauma acupuncturist who was recommended by a friend, because that’s what I’ve felt around my heart — a deep, unhealed trauma. I like the thought of asking for help in this way.

Now, I’m off for my nightly meditation.

And get ready… after being a sad sack for the better part of a year, Momma’s getting her mojo back!

are my feelings finally growing up?

There are things I don’t reveal here …and maybe shouldn’t ever reveal. Not every entry lends itself to complete and full-on truth. It’s not a journal I’m writing here; it’s a blog. And I want to shape each entry, to create form, something like a chapter. So I give about 95% and keep just a little sliver to myself, to enjoy, to revel in knowing a secret — my own secrets.

But here’s something I want to be straight about that I wasn’t really before. I was really attached to the idea of Chi-guy for a long time. And then I met more-like-it. In one 75-minute meeting, all of that attachment to a man in Chicago was snapped completely.

Don’t get me wrong, the love is still there. It’s a deep, true, generous and heartfelt concern for a truly wonderful human. But I’m detached about it now. I’m in a more mature place with it; I have a more objective perspective. Sometimes when Chi-guy and I talk now, we joke about the naughty things we’re going to do to one another when we see each other… but we make no plans to see each other. And if we did see each other, I’m fairly confident that we’re both going to live in the moment and do whatever feels right with acceptance, compassion, presence and love, whether that’s talking or touching or crying or laughing or gettin’ jiggy.

So the thought has crossed my mind more than once that more-like-it is someone who came into my life solely for the purposes of breaking the Chi-guy spell, proving there are more options, reminding me that really awesome guys live in this city and — this is my girlfriends’ summation — reminding me what type of man is “in my league.” Maybe that’s it, yet…

All this talk about more-like-it could easily lead one to believe that I’m hung up on him. But it’s not really like that. What I’ve felt all along is more like intrigue, a general interest in spending more time (which I’ve enjoyed) to see if I like him. I mean, I like him…yet I don’t know whether I like him. I’m not sure yet…I’m simply drawn in, curious. There’s been no instant infatuation, just an undercurrent of desire to see what might be around the next corner.

And, maybe because it doesn’t feel urgent or intense, my own feelings seem more mature. It’s not the kind of thing that Elizabeth Gilbert so eloquently wrote in Committed, “puts me through the wood chipper.” Maybe that’s why I want to feel more of it, and why I’m open to noticing and experiencing that feeling, from whatever direction it may come.

pain is good, yeah?

The last week has been emotionally challenging. As a matter of fact, it brought me to my knees. I’ve been hurting. Deeply. And this is a GOOD THING!

You see, I’m intellectual and a bit of an introvert. Which means, if left to my own devices, I’d spend way too much time inside my own head. I’ve had to consciously apply myself to the practice of presence, living in the moment, and actually living in body and experiencing my feelings. I’ve gotten much better at these things, particularly since having children, practicing yoga and meditating.

Three things happened this past week that hit me emotionally probably more than they “should” have. (I try to avoid “should-ing” on myself.) While I’m not going to address them all here and now, my response tells me that these occurrences were triggers that brought up some old pain that needs to be dealt with. I’ve really been feeling it. And physically. I’m low on energy, yawning a lot, there’s growling in my abdomen and I can feel a tenderness in my chest cavity accompanied by a very literal “knife in the back” sensation. And so I’m trying to deal, trying to process, trying to explore and heal an emotional landscape that no longer serves me and that might well be holding me back from attracting what I want into my life.

When I’m feeling this way — vulnerable, insecure and hurting — I see three possibilities:

  1. I could be unconscious and reactive about it, failing to self-reflect, and go on about my life without taking the time to feel, experience or heal.
  2. I could witness the thoughts I’m having and stop myself every time I notice a negative thought around these feelings in order to re-wire my brain. (Nerve cells that no longer fire together no longer wire together and, if I change my thought patterns, I will ultimately affect my feelings and moods.)
  3. Or I could feel — allow myself to feel deeply, truly experience and process these emotions and release them.

As you might have guessed, I’ll work within the latter two approaches. I’m trying to use my mental strengths to be a better friend and coach to myself. Like most of us, my internal critic is far more harsh than any words I would ever say to a friend, and I’ve long made a practice of lightening up and being kinder and gentler to myself.

I’ll address the feelings and physical symptoms by supporting myself and my best health (so much of which is chemical) through healthy eating, breath work, meditation, physical activity and practicing gratitude.

It almost seems contradictory to prevent myself from thinking certain thoughts while simultaneously allowing my feelings. But the old emotional attachments need to be felt and experienced in the body to be released, and that’s where I’ll break the chain. I won’t allow the feelings to feed the thoughts, and I’ll ensure the thoughts that feed the emotions are nurturing. I’m going to be the change and break the old emotional patterns for once and for all. Ah, growing pains!