Capture

Fallen

I have fallen
Was I pushed or did I jump?
Losing control in the dramatic plummet
Flailing about from the momentum
Such great force controlling my every move
Falling into blinding darkness
Falling from the sturdiness of my feet
Falling from the world I thought I knew
Falling to my knees

At first I stumbled
Trying to get my feet back under me
An awkward, painful fight
Desperate to keep the fall from winning
But the fight was lost before it even began
I was just so unwilling to admit it

My knees are hitting hard
Scraping the ground
The burn searing into the my core
Skidding on the hard cold ground
My head a deer in the lights
Spinning and nauseated from the fall

I have fallen to my knees
Unable to fight the momentum of my being
A stumble that was far from graceful
Left wounds that will never truly disappear
Pain that fills my heart beyond imaginable
Weakened from fighting the inevitable
Submitting to the reality that I am no longer standing

Stuck on my knees
Forced to relinquish my power
Giving in to the life which led to my fall
Genuflect to the ground which caught my falling body
The ground that has left my knees bleeding
It is my constant, my certainty
Its harsh reality embraces me
I must stay on my bleeding knees
Searching for peace through the pain
Learn to make friends with this cold ground

The PTSD monster inside me

There is something inside of me
Buried beneath my skin
Intertwining my soul
It’s inside of my body,
But it’s size towers over me

It’s been wrapped up tightly
Layers of heavy bandages and wraps
Binding me up in a contorted straight jacket
Those heavy bindings meant to control the monster
They are fraying from its strong force

This thing… it has such force
I can’t see it underneath it’s mummy-like wrap
But I can feel it’s strength pushing me
Knocking me over onto my knees

It has deceived me under its heavy hiding cloak
This mysterious monster that I struggle to describe
So much unknown
so much beyond my comprehension.
I just feel it’s force pushing me places I have no desire to go

I need help to get it out of me
I need help to survive its destructive force
I fear its escape will destroy this body that contains it
This monster will trample all over me

No one can see it lurking inside my chest
Twisting and turning my insides
The outer shell hasn’t broken yet
It’s just the pressure, bulldozing with such unrelenting force

I beg and plead for help
But no one knows how to save me
How to untangle me from the grips of the force
No words to explain, no idea how to begin

This nebulous monster trapped inside me
Weighing me down and throwing me off course
Bringing me to my knees pleading for help
Hopeless and trapped beneath its magnitude

Finding gratitude in unlikely places…

I heard someone speak on gratitude the other day.  Different layers of gratitude.  Some things are easy to be grateful for.  The beauty in my children’s laughter, a job that brings me meaning into my life, a husband that still stands by me despite my endless crazy antics and nonsense.  It is easy to say I’m grateful for those things and then go about my day.  Like my gratitude is contained to those brief moments that I set aside in the morning after the shower.  Then I get sucked into the momentum of the day and the crankiness has a tendency to override whatever gratitude I had mentioned while sipping my coffee.  Not that I’m not still grateful for those things, but sometimes it’s easy to get lost in the other emotions that bombard me throughout the day to keep the gratitude from shining through.  But goodness I am grateful.  And I choose to make that a more conscious part of my day, even when it takes more effort and is far from natural.

I am grateful for the tantrum that my son threw yesterday.  The one where he threw himself on the ground, shouting so loud that his face turned beet red as the tears streamed down his cheeks.  The one that brought looks from those passing by.  Today, I didn’t get lost in how hard it was to manage.  I felt beautifully blessed in that moment.  I have a developmentally normal child who was reacting to frustration like a normal four year old.  He had the words to tell me why he was so mad.  He has a good set of lungs that have kept him healthy.  He is lucky enough to be upset about not getting the candy that he wanted.  He wasn’t crying about not having enough food for breakfast or about feeling cold because we couldn’t afford heat.  But what I felt most happy for was that he felt safe to express his frustration.  He wears his emotions on his sleeve and carries no shame around for it.  It is a beautiful thing to witness.

I am grateful for my daughter’s homework.  Everyday she comes home with a worksheet of math and a book to read.  It gets added on to the to do list amongst the chaos of the nighttime routine.  It would be easy for it to get lost between doing the dishes, bath time, and cleaning up the endless mess that seems to invade my home.  But there is this worksheet.  That worksheet brings me to the table next to my daughter.  Leaving that bomb of toys and dishes and clothes that exploded onto the floor in the background, and it is just me and my sweet daughter deciphering the words in the instructions for those math problems.  And the book that she reads to me each night warms my heart.  Watching her evolve from stumbling from word to word to learning to read with inflections and emotions of the story.  Witnessing her brain making connections to the words.  This homework forces me to see my daughter grow before my eyes.  How amazing that is.

I am grateful for those bills that I have to pay each month,.  They are paying for a home that brings me comfort each night.  They pay for the food that I get to bite into and keeps my belly full.  I pay off loans for an education that I was fortunate enough to obtain.  To help me reach a career that challenges me and makes me laugh on a regular basis.  I don’t enjoy playing bills.  But those bills allows me to enjoy many fortunes that other only dream of.

I am grateful for having a midlife crisis a little earlier in life (at least I hope this isn’t the middle of my life or else I’ve been jipped a few years on this journey).  It has taught me a lot about self-acceptance and finding the joy in the small things.  It has also helped to teach me how to shake off all of those ‘should’s and ‘shouldn’t’s society has cast out there.  I am pretty sure that stating publicly that I have had a midlife crisis is on that list of things you shouldn’t do.  But, oh well society.  You can take that ‘shouldn’t’ and shove it.  I have a good, a bad, and an ugly just like every other human being out there.  All of those things that we are supposed to do to keep up with society’s expectations can really weigh a girl down.  Managing others’ judgments and expectations adds such a thick layer of stress to life.  All of those ‘supposed to’s and sacrificing my feelings and time in order to put everyone else’s needs and feelings before my own.  Funny thing is that I didn’t realize how stressful it was until I took off that heavy cloak weighing me down.   When you shake off all of those expectations and society rules, life is actually fun.  I can cry and scream and dance and laugh when my heart says so without worrying about the glares and murmuring side remarks of others.  How liberating.  So thankful for this midlife crisis for teaching me that valuable lesson.  Learning it was far from fun and I’m sure I will need regular reminders and refreshers, but it truly transforming.

Yes, I am grateful for that plummeting into the darkness breakdown that has consumed my life for the past two years.  There were times that I firmly believed I would never say that, but it is true.  Without it I would not have taken my head out of the sand to see my life with more clarity.  I would have still felt that there was something wrong with ME instead of wrong with my situation.  I would not have met some amazing people who have shown me that strength isn’t powering through life acting like nothing can hurt me, but instead life is so much more beautiful and profound when you show your vulnerabilities and those amazing people love you more because of it.  I never even knew that was a possibility.  And trust me, it take amazing warrior-like strength to make yourself truly vulnerable.  So many inspiring people would not be in my life if it weren’t for this tumbling into darkness.  Seeing others show their warrior sides inspired me to fight harder.  I am grateful that I don’t have to apologize for being who I am.  Something that seems so simple, but I truly did not feel that way just a short while ago.

Taking the gratitude to another point is going beyond being grateful for the good, the bad, and the ugly.  But being grateful that this morning I woke up again.  I woke up to someone asking me to make them breakfast, shortly followed by an argument over a toy.  The air moved into my lungs with ease and my body got out of bed without much difficulty.  My life continues on, regardless of how motivated I am to keep moving forward.  It continues.  And it continues to teach me lesson after lesson, many of which I didn’t really sign up for and I find quite painful.  But life keeps pushing me.  Challenging me.  Life is anything but easy, but the beauty that lurks behind those tests of endurance and patience is profound.  I have no doubt that there are countless things life has to teach me still.  And if I’m lucky enough, I will keep waking up to that annoying alarm, with stacks of bills to pay, sibling rivalries to referee, a husband who rolls his eyes at my nonsense, and a body that feels exhausted at the end of the day.  That is how I will know that I must be doing something right.

An unwelcomed guest came into my heart…

Sadness.  Sad seems like too simple of a word to really encompass the pain that has filled my heart.  For someone who has been tumbling around in a never ending spiral of darkness for a couple years now, you would think that sadness and I would know each other well.  But this?  This is a level of sadness that hasn’t reached my heart in a long time.  Panic?  Fear?  Anxiety?  Despair?  Helpless?  Hopeless?  Those things I am all too familiar with.  The amount of time I’ve spent with those fellows you would think that we are BFFs by now.  They have been my comfort zone.  And although I don’t always navigate them with grace, I have learned to maneuver my way through those ugly feelings in my day to day life.  But yesterday I was struck with such deep sadness.  The kind that brought waves of tears to a girl that never cries.  I was so convinced that there must be a better word to describe sadness of this magnitude that I’ve searched three thesauruses, but nothing seems to capture it the way that it has invaded the deep crypts of my heart and ripped it into pieces.  I was hoping that a good night sleep would help to shake its grip, but there I was in the shower this morning sobbing in a manner that made it hard to keep my balance.  And here I am late at night with tears rolling down my cheeks.  Sadness has invaded my life.  I hope it doesn’t get too cozy.

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A letter of reflection to myself….

This week I will celebrate my birthday.  I have always loved birthdays.  But my birthday last year was one full of turmoil after confronting my mom to have some space after six years of her forgetting my birthday and acting like it wasn’t significant.  Its hard not to approach my day with a sense of “woah, a lot happens in a year” kind of mindset.

I have always written letters to my kids on their birthdays (you can read one of them here http://finallyspeakingmytruth.com/2014/01/08/today-is-beautiful/).  It is a time for me to reflect on how much they have grown in the past year, treasure those special moments that shine who they are, and ponder how they have made my life more fulfilling by watching their journey.  So as one year of my life comes to an end and another is just beginning, I thought maybe I should write a letter to myself.  To acknowledge the shitstorm that I’ve been battling, the things I’ve learned in the process, and the start my new year with a slight sense of encouragement from myself.  For those of you who have been witnessing some of my flailing about this year, you know that supporting and nurturing myself do NOT come naturally.  But here is my attempt.  Fake it until you make it, right?

Dear birthday girl in the never ending life crisis,

Phew!  You made it one more year.  This year has shown you many challenges and left you with a few more battle scars that are getting harder to conceal.  The year hasn’t been pretty to say the least.  But those tumultuous roller coaster rides had an amazing way of showing the beauty in life and teaching you what is important in life.  As much as you roll your eyes at that statement, you have learned that deep down that there is truth to that.  These challenges have taught you some amazing lessons this year, often against your will.

One lesson that you still struggle with daily is to never apologize for your feelings.  It’s human to have feelings.  To deny your feelings is to deny your wholeness and your humanity.  I’ll admit that sometimes those feelings are going to suck.  It will feel like they’re are ripping a deep whole into your being.  But feel them.  Let them penetrate you instead of walling them off in some deep corner of your mind.  For if you let them pass through they will open holes in your hard outer shell to allow you to see the profound beauty behind them.  Once you find a way to open your heart to even those painful feelings, the beautiful feelings are able to reach your heart more as well.  And the joy of your kids will embrace you in ways that you can’t fathom.  Trust me, the bliss of your babes laughter and the sweetness of listening to them sing when they think no one can hear is totally worth even the deepest pain.

This has been a year of self care.  You are gradually learning that it is ok to take a time out to take care of yourself and your family.  It is ok to put your needs first.  Letting go of all the ‘should’s’ and ‘supposed to’s’ that society has cast out over the world.  Putting yourself first in that priority list.  Unfortunately, that is often misinterpreted and judged as selfishness.  Our society is really backwards sometimes, don’t you think?  We set the bar high on Pinterest boards and Facebook photos of peaceful, happy superwomen reaching perfection with ease.  You are encouraged to be so self-sacrificing and smile while continually putting others needs before your own.  Then everyone is perplexed when you feel empty and lost.  It’s ok to shake of that heavy guilt and tune out the judgments and unrealistic standards in order to hear your own heart again.

It has been of year of testing relationships and friendships.  Some have faded and dwindled as a result.  Fortunately, none out of anger or harsh judgement, more out of misunderstanding.  But some relationships have thrived and grown beyond expectations.  Sometimes you test people and they turn away from the challenge, but others can rise to the occasion.  You can bare your underbelly with an outstretched arm, and they see your wholeness and grab tight to your hand in return.  But somehow even when people meet you where you are, you still manage to be terrified.  Sometimes you need to learn to take things at their face value and stop chanting that old mantra of yours.  You know the one… The one that says your undeserving of others kindness and even makes you suspicious of others intentions.  That mantra is a haunting from your past.  And sticking to it will keep you spinning in your never ending circles.  If you want to breakout of that rut, you may need to find a new mantra.

Speaking of that circle you’re spinning in.  You’re doing so in the comfort of those strong walls you’ve built around you.  I’ve noticed you’ve knocked some bricks down in the process.  Did you notice nothing horrible happened?  In fact, some people have been able to reach their hands in to hold yours.  Grab on to those hands.  Even if it is just while you sit on the floor in the safety on your wall.  Sometimes just sitting still with others can be healing as well.  I know letting those walls come down is scary.  You don’t need a wrecking ball to break down all at once.  Brick by brick is ok too.

Funny thing about those walls and starting to take them down.  Those walls you’ve built have served some great purposes.  But you may have just built them in the wrong places and reinforced haphazardly.    No one will be warm and supportive all the time.  That is unrealistic.  But some people?  Some people throw a heavy cloak of shame and guilt over your shoulders to lighten their own load.  You know those select few.  Sometimes it’s ok to draw a line in the sand to protect yourself.  Hell, forget a line in the sand and dig a moat.  A big moat full of alligators and whatever else you may need to keep that moat protected.  But don’t dig that moat out of anger or bitterness.  That is letting their negativity reach over those waters to still invade your heart.  Do so with a parting warm embrace.  They are also on their own journey.  Respect their journey just as you are asking them to respect yours.  Just do so with a supportive wave from the safety across your moat.

Never let others dictate your path.  They will never know all the nooks and crannies of your story just like you will never be able to fully grasp theirs.  Many have good intentions, but can’t see the pieces of yourself that you have hidden deep in the shadows.  Take what help you can that they are offering, but it’s is ok to save some of their advise for another day.  Others may say things to try to alter your journey as a way to make their path a little more comfortable.  But you are not responsible for other peoples’ happiness.  Read that again.  Do NOT carry others happiness on your shoulders.  But unfortunately that goes both ways.  You can’t keep waiting until ‘he just does this’ or ‘she stops doing that’ to find your own inner peace.  Relying on others to fix things or rescue you could leave you waiting in that darkness far too long.  Get your big girl pants on and pull up your own boot straps.  Take a deep breath and dive in at your own pace to the murky swamp in your head.  It’s your mess to clean up in order to reach the happiness that is hidden below.

This upcoming year will likely only add to your challenges and push you in ways you can’t yet predict.  It is a race only against yourself.  You can drain yourself by spinning in circles or try stepping forward in your journey.  A balance of staying in the safety of your darkness and taking the risk of vulnerability out in the sunshine.  The race is long.  Harder than a dozen marathons.  But you’re another year older.  No one knows what twists and turns this year will bring with it.  The only thing certain is the clock ticking forward.  Hopefully with the added digits to your age you can uncover some wisdom.

Sincerely,
Your wiser self that keeps kicking you in the ass to get moving

Spinning

Spinning, spinning, spinning
The room spins around me
My world spinning so fast
Disorienting my head
Blurring my thoughts

I feel my feet on the ground
Wiggle my toes in my shoes.
My hands, white knuckled, gripping the chair tightly
Trying to find steady footing

But the images keep spinning
A whirlwind twist of present reality with my haunting past
Blurring together so quickly
Hard to tell what’s real, what can I truly lean on
Or what is just blurs from my past distorting my touch with reality

It all keeps spinning, spinning, spinning
The motion sickness taking hold of my body
Nausea that penetrates far beyond my gut and into every finger and toe
Dizziness so unrelenting that my body trembles from exhaustion

This turbulent, somersaulting sickness through my life
It’s picking up momentum
Just when I think it can’t go faster
Things start spinning and blurring at greater speeds
Knocking me down onto shaky ground
Some cruel ride fate has thrown me on
A game that tests the endurance of my sanity

I wiggle my ice cold toes
Wring my sweaty hands
Lying on the ground
Watching the dirty images blur before me

The spinning forces pulling be down
Making my body slide further and further away from my life
Losing things to grasp
Sliding closer to the edge

getup

Get back up

“It’s not how many times you get knocked down that count, it’s how many times you get back up.”
-George A. Custer

I had the rug pulled out from under me.  The tree branch that I had been holding onto for security snapped and I came tumbling down to the ground.  Blindsided with such a force that it knocked the wind out of me.  I found myself lying, curled up on the floor yet again.  I have become all too familiar with that spot on the floor.  It is in that dark corner of the room that the turbulent waves of self-hatred, shame, despair hit me with unrelenting force.  Beating me down further into the darkness.  Make me question if it is worth the fight anymore.  My head has spun in circles in those shadows of my past countless times, weighed down and unable to even imagine the possibility of getting back up.  Trust me, if you had asked me last night, I would have told you with conviction that I had given up completely.

But today, my trembling legs got up.  Still feeling disoriented by the fall yesterday, unsure what direction to move forward.  I’m leaning against the wall until I get my bearings again.  Every time it feels harder to move with that heavy weight.  Each time I get up slower than I did before.  But I’m up.  I’m standing.  The current score is:

Falls into darkness – 1,243,650                        Got back up – 1,243,651

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Let your light shine

Starting my Thursday off on this note:

“When you judge you project your shadows onto others, when you love you project your light.”

~ by Aine Belton.

Shake off the judgments and criticisms.  Follow your heart.  It is often so much smarter than your head.

Not everyone likes my decisions recently and I was taking on their criticisms, owning them and drowning in the resulting guilt.  But then I had this realization…  Those judgments are their hang ups and their discomfort that they are pushing onto me.  By doing so they are hoping to make me change my actions in order to ease their discomfort.  However, my actions and direction I am taking my life are done in order to find my own inner peace.  Creating space from those that cause the most pain in my life, not out of anger or retaliation, but just because they are drowning my light and weighing me down in their shadows.  And my head was totally buying into their criticisms and harsh words.  Selfish.  Dramatic.  Overreacting.  Cold.  Ruining peoples lives.  All because I said I need some space for a while…indefinitely.  I didn’t place blame or name call, but that is what I got in return.  And they pulled me back in.

But not today.  Today, I am going back to listening to my heart.  My heart is happier with space from those people that judge me.  Today I’m digging up my light from underneath that heavy, dirty mess of guilt and shame.  I danced at breakfast with the ones that I love dearly and those that love me for where I am.  They make my light shine brighter.  And their bright lights remind me of the beauty in the world.

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Broken beauty

They say with age comes wisdom.  I think it’s more accurate to say that with age comes knowledge.  It’s seems I’ve lost a lot of wisdom as I’ve gained some knowledge over the years.  My daughter reminds me of that often.

Today we were walking along the beach, kicking in the waves and looking for shells.  We had found lots of little shells and were talking about all the different colors we could paint them.  My daughter suddenly gasps in such a manner that I thought she must have found gold.  She runs up and pulls a large shell out of the sand.  I catch up with her and realize that it’s broken.  ‘Oh, that one is broken. Let’s put it back and look for some other shells.’

‘But mommy, it’s still beautiful even though it’s broken.  I thinks it’s perfect just like this.  I like the way it shines.  And if it weren’t broken I wouldn’t be able to see all of the pretty colors inside.  I want to keep it.’  And so it went in our bag.

I have felt very broken recently.  I have lost my writing voice and I have felt lost.  I’ve retreated to safety and into hiding, hoping to keep my broken parts covered up.  I’ve tried to keep only my outer shell presentable thinking that no one would choose to be with me if they saw my pain and shame.  But my daughter showed me that her wisdom was light years ahead of mine.  I may have knowledge of the world and how to do things, but the world has left my heart jaded and not trusting of others kindness.  I have lost the wisdom of the heart.

So today my daughter schooled me on loving kindness.  Not only are things that are broken still beautiful and lovable, but sometimes their brokenness allows you to discover such a deeper core of beauty that you can’t see on the surface.  For a brief moment today, I wasn’t ashamed of feeling broken.  If only we could all listen to the wisdom of a child.